By Richard Herskowitz, Artistic Director
2020 was a dramatic year for AIFF: we established our Film Center on Main Street, planned and then postponed our April 2020 festival, and successfully launched our first virtual festival in May and our virtual World Film Week and Best of the Fests series in October. While we wait for the pandemic to lift, The Film Center and the programs we had planned there are hibernating, except for the lively window exhibitions created by our talented Systems Manager Lisa Greene. If you have yet to experience these creative displays, stop by our offices on 389 East Main Street for a visual treat. And our monthly “Best of the Fests” series has been growing in popularity, with one of my favorite documentaries of 2020, Coded Bias, coming up January 15-21.
Thank you to all of our end-of-year donors for supporting us as we have evolved into more of a year-round exhibition and educational program, and less of a “Brigadoon” that materializes and disappears in April. Starting next month, we will be reintroducing our membership program and offering additional year-round benefits suited to our new level of activity.
Currently, we are revving up for our 20th annual festival, kicking off April 15 and running for two weeks, with a live and outdoors festival coming in late June (more details next month)! A group of about 25 screeners and programmers joined me over the past three months reviewing over 500 film submissions. Although submissions were down about 33%, everyone agreed that the quality level was higher than ever. As of this writing, we’ve narrowed down over 100 titles (shorts and features) we’d love to show, and sadly we can only fit about 60!
This means that the final roster of titles is going to be amazing, and I can guarantee you an exceptionally strong 20th anniversary festival. I’m lining up special guests and planning more live parties and opportunities to interact with filmmakers and fellow patrons. This is all so that we can maintain the sense of community that people value most about our festival, and that we have strived hard to maintain through this period of social distancing!