Rasha Salti surveys the changed landscape of film festivals forced to move online as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and questions what the future holds for an industry in which the opportunity for face-to-face contact serves as a raison d’être. Drawing upon her recent experience as a participant at the 2020 online editions of the documentary film festivals CPH: DOX, Visions du Réel, and Hot Docs, Salti assesses the pros and cons of their virtual format, from the reduced carbon footprint and absence of jet lag provided by virtual attendance to the loss of the special alchemy of in person meetings and the power of the “here and now.” Noting how film festivals are complicit in the collective destruction of the environment that the COVID-19 pandemic has made impossible to ignore, Salti urges a reconsideration of the paradigms that dictate how international coproduction film markets operate.

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