Nobody got sunstroke. Mosquito bites were at a minimum. And no one was turned away from a screening.
That’s the good news about the Gimli Film Festival, which went entirely online this past week in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Festival director Aaron Zeghers says it is difficult to gauge the viewership of the online iteration of the fest for the simple reason that there is no way to count how many people are watching a streamed video.
"In a regular year, we can just count how many people are watching films," Zeghers says. "When you’re streaming from home, there’s at least one person in there but there might be two or there might be three.
"But the on-demand platform turned out to be quite popular," he says. "There were people from across the world buying tickets. In terms of total streams and tickets purchased through that platform, whether with a pass or individual tickets, it was just over 3,000 purchased.
"Our attendance last year was about 5,500," he says. "(Assuming) an average of 1.5 to two watching, we kind of hit our same numbers as last year," he says. "We’re hoping for an audience survey that will be able to get more information on the average amount of people that were watching at home.
"Generally we’re happy with how it went," he says, adding that an online component of the festival may be here to stay, beyond the pandemic.
"I think there will be remnants of this in all of our events," he says. "It’s forced us to figure out these things that we’ve been wanting to do for a long time but we’ve never had the impetus to make it happen."
The Gimli Film Fest may be able to pump up its numbers with the announcement of the GFF Extended Run. Cinephiles may stream a shortened list of GFF movies for two more weeks by purchasing individual tickets to stream 13 feature films and seven short programs.
The GFF Extended Run will run for two weeks until Sunday, Aug. 9. Only individual tickets to these screenings can be purchased for $10 to unlock one film. The available films may be selected at http://wfp.to/gimlifilm.
As usual, the Gimli Film Fest handed out awards to participating filmmakers. This year, the winners included:
Best Manitoba Director Award: Madison Thomas (Ruthless Souls).
On the Rise Award: Best Canadian Director to Watch: Matthew Rankin (The Twentieth Century)
Indigenous Spirit Award: The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open by Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers & Kathleen Hepburn
Achievement in Acting Awards: Mary Galloway (Ruthless Souls) and Milos Mitrovic (Tapeworm)
Best Manitoba Short Film Jury Prize: Northstarling by Daniel Gerson & Trevor Mowchun
Best Manitoba Short Film Audience Choice Award: Portage Place by Tiff Bartel
Best Canadian Short Film Jury PrizeWinner: Now is the Time by Christopher Auchter
Best International Short Film Jury Prize Winner: Mthunzi by Tebogo Malebogo
Grand Jury Prize: The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open by Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers & Kathleen Hepburn
RBC $10,000 Emerging Filmmaker Pitch Competition Winner: Joanne Roberts
Anak Audience Choice Award: Quan Luong and Erin Hembrador – Roadie
Best of Fest Audience Choice Award: Driveways by Andrew Ahn
In a way, Randall King was born into the entertainment beat.