No Masks or Social Distancing: Film Festival Offers Pre-Pandemic Experience

Photo from AFF Instagram

No Masks or Social Distancing: Film Festival Offers Pre-Pandemic Experience

By Cooper Dowd, Staff Writer

Although the worldwide entertainment industry suffered during the pandemic, the Adelaide Film Festival in South Australia will continue as it did pre-virus — with no social distancing and no masks.  

Nothing about the festival resembles the cancellations, regulations and virtual meetings that plague much of the world in the COVID-19 era.  

Opening night saw around 850 people gather without following guidelines that have handicapped much of the entertainment industry.

“Party like it’s 2020,” said Mat Kesting, AFF’s new CEO and the creative director.

It was almost a return to normal for the festival, which saw red carpets, in-person interviews on stage with filmmakers and talent, afterparties, drinks and shared party plates.

The festival is held biannually in October. 

Australia’s earlier film festivals in Sydney and Melbourne were forced to go digital with citywide lockdowns. 

However, Adelaide has not recorded a COVID-19 transmission since March 23. The city took significant steps to return to a normal way of life by lifting their national border closures, opening businesses and now the film festival. 

“Whilst we are taking precautions, the entire community feels it’s safe to go out and socialize and go back to cinemas,” Kesting said.  

The festival will feature 54 movies from 40 different countries.  Theaters across the city will offer 20 additional screenings. 

The festival could encourage others to return to a state of normalcy and is a bright spot for many amid the current turmoil of the entertainment sector.

Iranian Australian filmmaker Granaz Moussavi said that Adelaide is an example of how to support independent movies.  

“It’s crucial. It’s a good example of how film festivals and state bodies need to fund independent film. Otherwise, we can’t survive,” said Moussavi.