Have you heard of the online cinema festival?
Over the last few years, the Covid situation has seriously tested the creativity of creative people. Not being able to organise and visit live events has generated a lot of innovation in the creative world. For example, the experience of visiting a cinema is not easily transformable into a virtual format, there is also a personal and emotional dimension.
But with creative minds, there is always a solution. For example, in 2020 an A-class film festival, Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival (PÖFF) introduced besides reduced physical cinema visits an online cinema to solve the problem with restrictions.
Starting in 1997, the Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival has grown into one of the biggest film festivals in Northern Europe and the busiest regional industry platform, hosting more than 1000 guests and industry delegates and over 160 journalists. The festival screens around 250 features and more than 300 shorts and animations and sees an attendance of 80 000 people annually.
As of 2014, the festival holds the FIAPF accreditation for holding an international competition programme which puts the festival into the so-called A-category of film festivals, alongside other 14 festivals in the world.
The feelings before launching the online cinema platform were mixed – does the audience accept this format? Does someone come to see films? Now we can say the online cinema was a success and saved the festival at these complicated times.
The festival, which was partly online due to the coronavirus, received 101,883 visits. There were 34,862 cinema visits and 9,543 visits to the PÖFF online cinema opened for the first time. Considering that an average of two people watch a film with one ticket, more than 19,000 viewers took part in the virtual film program. The events of the PÖFF film industry event Industry@Tallinn & Baltic Event, which took place only online this year, attracted more than 22,000 visits from all over the world. The cinema proscreen.poff.ee for professionals watched an additional 9,800 films.
Due to strict safety measures and the audience’s sense of responsibility, no corona hotspots occurred in connection with the festival during the two and a half weeks. 172 feature films, 28 short films and 13 TV series in the main program, 44 feature films in the Just Film program and 303 short films (of which 132 animations) in the PÖFF Short program were screened.
It seems the online cinema came to stay. As of the introduction of the format, the number of visitors is growing. In 2021 there were already 71200 PÖFF cinema and web cinema visits and 795 cinema screenings were scheduled for PÖFF and there were 1.9million views from 164 countries to the PÖFF website www.poff.ee.
Photo: The head of Black Nights Film Festival Ms Tiina Lokk opens the festival during restrictions.
Photo by Aron Urb