After the cancellation of the Fribourg International Film Festival initially slated for March 20th–28th 2020, due to the outbreak of COVID 19, the organisers have reeled out an abridged version of the festival with screenings of selected films from its 2020 programme at other festivals, online, on TV and at special one-off events during the year.
According to a statement released on Thursday, this quick change of plans would not have been possible without the incredible and overwhelming show of solidarity from the public and the festival’s partners, as well as the high calibre of the programme itself and FIFF’s important network of contacts.
The organizers revealed that selected partner events would go ahead as planned.
‘During Festival week, FIFF organised a series of events in partnership with other structures and institutions, a few of which will go ahead as planned, public health-related restrictions permitting, of course. The following events are confirmed:
To round off the Action Week against Racism, a free screening of three episodes of The Twilight Zone as well as the short films by Swiss film students which would have been in the running for the Foreign Visa Prize with Brunch at the Fri Art Kunsthalle Fribourg on March 22, 2020’
The following events at Fri-Son will also take place as planned: DJ night and God is a woman will take place on March 25, a performance by Rwandan band Cyusa n’Inkera, and an evening of film and music, with Emilie Zoé and Christian G. Gaucher who will pay their unique musical tribute to a cinematic masterpiece by director Roy Andersson will take place on March 27 and 29.
The Cinémathèque Suisse will host a William Friedkin retrospective of 13 of his films between 10th March and 28th of April. Friedkin was initially planned to be the special guest of the FIFF 2020 Sur la Carte’ the statement read.
FIFF’s organizers also showed gratitude for the overwhelming show of solidarity from other festivals.
“The FIFF team is incredibly touched by the spontaneous support that came pouring in from other festivals and institutions. A selection of films from the FIFF 2020 programme will now be screened at FIFOG in Geneva between June 8-14, 2020, NIFFF in Neuchâtel between July 3-11, Les Georges in Fribourg between July 13-18, Numerik Games Festival, with the Maison d’Ailleurs in Yverdon between August 28-30, the Internationale Kurzfilmtage Winterthur between November 3-8, and the Nuits du Court métrage in Fribourg and Lausanne between 2nd of October and end of November. Much closer to home, talks are still ongoing with Fribourg University Film Club, CinéBrunch and CinéPlus on possible link-ups. The Cinémathèque Suisse has flung its doors wide open, agreeing to screen almost the entire Genre Cinema: Topsy-Turvy Worlds programme, which this year takes a deep dive into alternate history” the statement from the organizer reads.
On his part, Philippe Clivaz, FIFF’s Director of Operation expressed his gratitude for the overwhelming show of solidarity from the public and the Festival’s partners while reiterating their readiness to keep alive the social responsibility of the Festival
‘Indeed, the public reacted to the sad news with an incredible outpouring of support by buying the catalogue and merchandise for a Festival that unfortunately never was. The Festival will honour its contracts – which are all maintained – of its permanent collaborators and will offer compensation to the auxiliary personnel (some of whom are employed on short time retainer) affected by the cancellation of the event. This is made possible thanks to the solidarity of the partners and the mobilization of the public since the cancellation announcement” he said.
The festival organizer further revealed that several partners have offered to stream selected films from the 2020 programme: between 30th March and 19th April the Festival Scope online and on TV
‘Of course, cinema screenings and direct interaction between the public and filmmakers will always be in FIFF’s DNA. However, given the current public health-related restrictions, the Festival will also show part of its programme on the small screen. Several partners have offered to stream selected films from the 2020 programme. Between 30th March and 19th April the Festival Scope, the online platform will show the feature and short films in the 2020 FIFF International Competitions; up to 200 free virtual tickets will be available worldwide for each film. The online platforms cinefile.ch and filmingo.ch (run by the trigon-film foundation) will offer the Swiss public the chance to watch some of the feature films on a pay-per-view basis. Radio Télévision Suisse (RTS) is currently in negotiations to purchase the TV broadcasting rights for one of the films on the FIFF 2020 programme; as of 12th March, RTS will also show Bulle, a new series starring the actress Claudia Cardinale, who was going to be a special guest of the 2020 Festival’ the organizer stated.
FIFF also expressed its readiness to continue its cultural projects.
“Cultural projects are an extremely important part of the FIFF mission. The 34th edition may be cancelled but FIFF’s outreach efforts will continue. A record number of teachers attended the orientation session last Saturday, during which director Pierre Monnard presented his latest film Platzspitzbaby. Before the school screenings were called off, over 11,000 students had already signed up. The Festival will offer schools the opportunity to host classroom screenings of a few films from FIFF’s renowned Planète Cinéma section. This autumn FIFF will also participate in the Festival Culture & École organised by the Fribourg cantonal government’ the statement said.
FIFF also expressed gratitude that an alternative was found for the top 10 unmissable films from the 2020 programme
“New Territory: Rwanda was a pioneering achievement for FIFF as the programme was set to showcase almost the entire cinematic output of the country’s nascent film industry. Thankfully, an alternative has been found: the films in this section will be screened over a long weekend as soon as the public health situation allows’
Thierry Jobin, FIFF Artistic Director, further explained, “Given the incredible amount of legwork that FIFF put into curating the New Territory: Rwanda section, not to mention the unprecedented interest from the Rwandan diaspora, there was simply no way we were going to let our plans go to the wall. We will, of course, reschedule the important public discussion events as well.” FIFF will also be involved in previews of the films on its programme before they open in Swiss theatres. Finally, the Artistic Committee has chosen “the 10 films [from the original selection of 116] that we were particularly looking forward to bringing to a wider audience.” These will be screened in several different locations: in the cinemotion and ARENA cinema theatres, during the Open Air Cinéma Fribourg, in other, less conventional, settings, as well as in Bern, Bulle and Lausanne. FIFF will also join forces with one of its partners at each of these screenings in order to show its gratitude for the unconditional support it has received since the decision to call off the Festival’s 34th edition” he said.
FIFF also revealed plans for the 35th edition slated for March 19-27, 2021 while lamenting the huge revenue loss accrued from the cancellation.
According to Mathieu Fleury, FIFF’s President, plans for the 35th edition are already in the pipeline
‘FIFF will postpone the 2020 section Decryption: History of Mexican Cinema by its Creators until 2021. Over the next year, it will continue to fine-tune the programme, which features the top 3 Mexican films as chosen by a panel of 30 or so Mexican directors. During this time, FIFF will also endeavour to bring more filmmaking voices onboard. While this section will live to see another edition, the rest of the 2021 FIFF programme will be created from scratch. The FIFF board and its committee would like to thank the entire team for their composure, energy and fantastic trouble-shooting ideas – especially the very original projects the technical team came up with – during this very difficult time. With projected losses of CHF 100,000, the Festival is not out of the woods yet, but plans for the 35th edition are already in the pipeline.” FIFF 2021 will be held from 19th to 27th March” he revealed.