FARGO — For moviegoers and film enthusiasts, this year continues a long stretch away from the big screen and solidifies the emphasis on watch-from-home experiences.
Although last year’s in-person event was delayed by several months due to the pandemic, eventually taking place in a modified online setting last August, there is still hope for the Fargo Film Festival to go on this month thanks to a temporary shift to virtual programming.
“There is nothing better than seeing a movie on the big screen with an audience, and I miss it,” says Sean Volk, development and engagement manager for the Fargo Theatre.
Before COVID-19 put a stop to it, Volk says he was attending at least one new movie a week, with the annual festival in March serving as a source of anticipation all year.
“One of my favorite elements of the Fargo Film Festival is that we get to bring world-class talent to our community,” Volk says.
Just a few months into his new role in 2020, Volk experienced something no one expected: A whole setlist of movies never seen before in the area representing months of planning from staff and volunteers fell through the cracks.
And with no filmmakers making the trek to the Red River Valley to share their creative processes and offer one-on-one insights to audiences, festivalgoers missed out on an aspect of the festival that Volk describes as “electric.”
“My favorite thing about a Q&A is that it connects our audiences to world-class filmmakers,” Volk says.
Now on the heels of a new format, Volk and the rest of the festival team have a unique opportunity to connect with creatives around the world.
This year’s festival will feature 22 question-and-answer sessions with filmmakers and other special guests featured virtually, including interviews with people around the world in France, Norway, China, the U.K. and in cities across the United States.
“Each conversation is led by someone on the festival team, so you will get to see a friend or neighbor speak to one of the people who made the movie you just watched,” Volk says.
The prerecorded video calls are designed to allow viewers to feel like they are a part of the conversation, even if gathering in person at the historic Fargo Theatre isn’t possible.
Among many others planned for the festival, Volk will be leading conversations with the creatives behind documentary short “Colette.”
“The film has a remarkable message about the importance of history, and it was so moving to hear their perspectives," he says.
The conversation will feature Director Anthony Giacchino and Producer Alice Doyard and explore their time getting to know the main character of the film, Colette Marin-Catherine.
The film follows the now-90-year-old woman who fought in the French resistance during World War II as a child. Throughout the story, the main character visits the camp where her brother Jean-Pierre died.
The film has been shortlisted for the best documentary short award at the 2021 Oscars next month.
As for how festivalgoers will experience the film, it will be a new kind of experience.
“I love using the Eventive app on my TV,” Volk says about the streaming platform that's helping this year's festival happen virtually.
“My living room is not a movie theater, but I still silence my phone, turn off the lights and grab some gummy bears when it is time to start a movie," he says.
If you go
What: 2021 Fargo Film Festival
When: streaming online March 18-28
Where: streaming on Eventive
Tickets: available online for select films or blocks of short films; visit https://fargofilmfestival.org for a full schedule or to purchase tickets
This article is part of a content partnership with The Arts Partnership, a nonprofit organization cultivating the arts in Fargo, Moorhead and West Fargo. For more information, visit http://theartspartnership.net.