Ballymahon's Still Voices Film Festival goes online this weekend

Jessica Thompson

Reporter:

Jessica Thompson

Email:

jessica.thompson@longfordleader.ie

Still Voices

Still Voices Short Film Festival will be online from August 13 to 16

In what should be the middle of the 2020 festival season, the organisers of Still Voices Short Film Festival are working hard to get the annual weekend event online.

Kicking off on August 13 and running to August 16, this year’s festival is shaping up to be diverse and exciting as ever, with 154 films ready to be screened online - completely free!

“We faced some unique challenges this year moving the festival online as opposed to running it physically,” explained Festival Director, Ronan O’Toole.

“Firstly, we knew we had to strip everything back if it was going to be economically feasible, so we cancelled everything except the Short Film Competition.

“From there, the main priority was to ensure the films were copyright protected against illegal downloads and piracy. Secondly, as we are treating the festival as another stop on the festival circuit for filmmakers, we needed to limit viewing capacity to Irish audiences only.

“Fortunately, we found a company in New Zealand called Shift72 (who also worked with the Galway Film Fleadh this year) who were able to provide a secure user-friendly platform that met all our needs, and after speaking to our partners, Creative Ireland, we were able to bring them on board for this year’s online edition.”

The online festival is being treated the same way as the physical one, with a different selection of programmes made available to watch each day. Full details can be found on the Still Voices website, stillvoicesfilmfestival.com.

Everything is free and film fans can simply visit the website, click on Online Festival 2020 and sign up for free to view the selection.

“You can ‘rent’ entire programmes for free or you can create your own list and add whatever films you want to view,” said Ronan.

“The films will not be available to watch until their assigned day and will only be available for that day.”

The decision to cancel this year’s physical festival was a difficult one, Ronan explained, and, while organisers were extremely disappointed to have to call it off, it was ultimately the right thing to do.

“Organising the festival is a huge amount of work,” said Ronan.

“We start developing each festival as soon as the previous one ends. So, having to cancel was a tough decision to make, but given the circumstances with Covid-19, it was absolutely the right choice.

“Hopefully by August 2021 we are back in our home, Ballymahon, screening films with the filmmakers and audiences present again.”

But, while an online festival is a very different experience to the craic and atmosphere that can usually be enjoyed in Ballymahon in August, there is one major bonus to going online - and that’s the extensive reach the festival will now have all over Ireland.

“While moving online is not ideal and a live event is always preferable, the online aspect does offer unique opportunities for us as a festival,” Ronan agreed.

“Audiences can now access far more content from the comfort of their home than they could if they were at the festival in person. So, it totally opens the festival regarding film availability.

“On the flip side, one of the core tenets of the festival is bringing film and filmmakers to Ballymahon and providing networking opportunities for not only the filmmakers, but for local audiences to meet and interact with these amazing artists.

“Like everything, moving online has its pros and cons and maybe going forward we could be looking at a hybrid of the two.”

And, while the festival had to be migrated to the web this year, organisers are extremely happy with the diverse and exciting programme they were able to put together for audiences.

“We are always committed to working towards a gender balanced selection and we are delighted that of the 154 films screening this year, over 50% are female directed,” said Ronan.

“Also, we are delighted to partner with Film Network Ireland who have interviewed some of the amazing filmmakers screening at this year’s festival for some incredibly special podcasts.

“We would recommend checking these out on Spotify, Google podcasts or wherever you find your podcast content, simply search for Film Network Ireland.

“Lastly, I would like to thank our main partners Creative Ireland, Longford County Council and Westmeath County Council and especially Mary Reynolds who has been so supportive and provided great calm and guidance in what has been a very turbulent and difficult year.

“I hope people enjoy the programme this year, as always Still Voices is for the people of Longford and the wider midlands region and we hope to be back in full next year having come through the worst of this pandemic.”

To view the programme, sign up to view the films, or just to find out more information, visit www.stillvoicesfilmfestival.com.