Today marks the first day of the We Are One online film festival. The 10-day event from May 29th to June 7th, is a first of its kind online festival taking place for free on YouTube and marks a collaboration between 21 global film festivals from around the world.
Headed by Tribeca Enterprises, which organises the Tribeca Film Festival, We Are One will feature films curated by leading festivals including the BFI London Film Festival, Rotterdam International Film Festival (IFFR), Tokyo International Film Festival, and Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) among others. India will be represented by the Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival with Star.
The programme comprises over a 100 features, shorts and documentaries from 35 countries including 13 world premieres and 31 online premieres. The Indian films at the festival comprise of two features Eeb Allay Ooo! and Nasir, and two shorts Natkhat and Awake. In addition to the films themselves, the lineup will also include panel discussions recorded at previous festivals, featuring the likes of Ang Lee, Jane Campion, Guillermo del Toro, Viggo Mortensen, Francis Ford Coppola and Steven Soderbergh.
Ahead of the first day of screenings, the festival hosted a virtual press conference yesterday which saw a discussion between a number of festival heads of the 21 partner film festivals including Toronto International Film Festival's Cameron Bailey, Tokyo International Film Festival's Takeo Hisamatsu and Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival with Star's Smriti Kiran. Also in attendance were Tribeca Film Festival Co-Founders actor Robert De Niro and CEO Jane Rosenthal.
The panel spoke about the first of its kind initiative and the sheer extent of collaboration between so many global festivals. During the discussion, it was suggested that this may well go on to be an annual event depending on the response from audiences.
As to what the current crisis could mean for the future of film festivals and whether online festivals could be the new normal, the consensus was that the physical festival experience could never be replicated online. It was suggested that the current crisis could even prove to be a good thing for festivals in the long run, forcing them to be more nimble and build online capabilities which could run in conjunction with physical screenings in future. "One experience does not take the place of the other. You can watch a film online and watch it in the theatre and have two distinct experiences. Audiences now have more choices" said Ms. Rosenthal.
When asked about the significance of a film festival during turbulent times such as 9/11 (the Tribeca Film Festival was founded as a response to 9/11) Robert De Niro said the current pandemic was a very different crisis, comparing it to a science fiction movie. He went on condemn the current administration's handling of the crisis, adding "We could have gotten out of it a lot easier and this whole situation could have been minimized if we had the right team in the White House."
Jio MAMI's Artistic Director Smriti Kiran also called for kindness from festivals toward independent filmmakers, urging them to ease their rules and grant concessions on aspects like premiere status which are considered key to a film's selection.
The festival is accessible free of cost on the We Are One YouTube Channel. Ahead of the first day of screenings the channel already has close to 150k subscribers.
Each film or program will only be available to watch at the designated timings which can be found on the festival website. While the films can be watched for free, the aim of the festival is to raise money for COVID-19 relief related charities, for which a donation button will be included on each film's page.
The full line-up can be found on the festival website . Some of our picks are below.
Arun Karthick's Tamil film premiered at the International Rotterdam Film Festival (IFFR) where it won the prestigious NETPAC Award. It follows the story of a Muslim man working in a textile shop in Coimbatore whose life is upended by religious intolerance.
Eeb Allay Ooo!
Prateek Vats' Eeb Allay Ooo! swept the awards at the Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival with Star last year winning the Golden Gateway award. An imaginative blend of fact and fiction, it follows the story of a migrant hired as a monkey repeller in Delhi
Shaan Vyas' directorial debut will have its World Premiere at the festival. The short film stars Vidya Balan as a doting mother trying to teach her seven-year-old son kindness through bedtime stories.
The short from Atul Mongia is an exploration of power dynamics and patriarchy. The film stars Ishika Mohan Motwane as a photographer married to a man with a peculiar condition
Pint-sized kung fu masters face off with the evil Tiger Mafia in this action flick from Uganda's no-budget, film industry known as Wakaliwood.
The Israeli psychological TV thriller will have it's World Premiere at the festival. It follows an ambitious female film filmmaker who meets—and obsesses over—a younger femme-fatale screenwriter.
Rudeboy: The Story Of Trojan Records
Featuring Jamaican reggae and ska legends like Lee "Scratch" Perry and Marcia Griffiths, the documentary chronicles the multicultural revolution on the dancefloors of late '60s and early '70s Britain.
The Iron Hammer
Joan Chen's documentary debut charts the inspiring life and career of Chinese icon "Jenny" Lang Ping, who won historic volleyball gold and transformed a struggling national team into Olympic champions