Vilnius International Film Festival (Vilnius IFF) Kino Pavasaris
The pandemic threatened the most beloved film festival. Digitalizing it brought joy to people confined at home.
Vilnius International Film Festival (Vilnius IFF) Kino Pavasaris is the most important and widely-attended cinema event in Lithuania. Each year, the two-week long movie marathon presents a diverse set of films aimed at introducing audiences to different cultural and industry developments.
The 25th anniversary of the festival proved to be not only the most joyous, but also challenging. The starting date virtually coincided with the implementation of the quarantine, which left the organizers with only two options: either no festival at all or move it online… in 48 hours.
"I think it is vital to embrace the challenges even if you are not sure of the outcomes, especially in a time of crisis. When you cannot go outside and the media is blowing up with negativity, it is hard to stay sane. Such initiatives help people to redirect their attention to more positive thoughts and, if only temporarily, escape the reality." – Algirdas Ramaška, Executive Director of Vilnius International Film Festival.
In the end, 118 films were uploaded onto five online platforms and almost 50 discussions with filmmakers from all over the world were live streamed, including the final award ceremony. While ticket-wise the numbers went down, the average viewership was two or more people per household, which brought the total views to about 151 000, up from 126 827 compared to last year.
Later, Vilnius IFF was invited to share its experience as one of the first successful digital film festivals with over 500 organizers and other industry professionals from around the world.
While many film festivals were facing difficult decisions on how to transform their events, the experience of Vilnius IFF that has already gone through that transformation, was seen as a valuable lesson.