With COVID-19 shuttering film fests worldwide, YouTube has stepped in to launch a 10-day digital film festival this spring with 20 partners —streaming free to cinema fans everywhere.
We Are One: A Global Film Festival is being produced and organized by New York’s Tribeca Enterprises. The YouTube-hosted event will feature programming from 20 top film festivals including the Cannes Film Festival, Toronto International Film Festival, Sundance Film Festival, Berlin International Film Festival, Tribeca Film Festival and Venice Film Festival.
The online festival is set to run from May 29-June 7, 2020, and will be available at youtube.com/weareone. The free-to-watch programming, which will not include any ads, is to include feature films, shorts, documentaries, music, comedy and panel discussions.
For now, organizers aren’t identifying specific films expected to be screened in the We Are One fest. They said a full schedule will be available in the coming weeks.
Viewers will be asked to make donations for COVID-19 relief, which YouTube and Tribeca said will benefit the World Health Organization and local orgs in regions globally.
The individual film festivals will curate their own programming tracks. The 20 fests currently partnered with We Are One are: Annecy International Animation Film Festival, Berlin International Film Festival, BFI London Film Festival, Cannes Film Festival, Guadalajara International Film Festival, International Film Festival & Awards Macao (IFFAM), Jerusalem Film Festival, Mumbai Film Festival (MAMI), Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, Locarno Film Festival, Marrakech International Film Festival, New York Film Festival, San Sebastian International Film Festival, Sarajevo Film Festival, Sundance Film Festival, Sydney Film Festival, Tokyo International Film Festival, Toronto International Film Festival, Tribeca Film Festival, and Venice Film Festival.
One notable festival that isn’t part of the We Are One event is SXSW—which already pacted with Amazon to stream 39 films, shorts and series originally set for the 2020 festival in Austin last month. That virtual event, which is also free, kicks off this week.
“e Are One: A Global Film Festival unites curators, artists and storytellers to entertain and provide relief to audiences worldwide,” Jane Rosenthal, head of Tribeca Enterprises and Tribeca Film Festival, said in a prepared statement. “In working with our extraordinary festival partners and YouTube we hope that everyone gets a taste of what makes each festival so unique and appreciates the art and power of film.”
To be clear, the special 10-day streaming event on Google’s YouTube is not meant as a replacement for the standalone festivals. Amid the coronavirus chaos, organizers are hoping to salvage what they can of the 2020 film festival circuit. For example, Venice Film Festival organizers said they still plan to hold some kind of in-person event slated for September 2-12. Meanwhile, TIFF, which is also traditionally held in September, is gearing up for the possibility of a hybrid physical-digital program if necessary.
France’s Cannes remains up in the air after two postponements. Festival director Thierry Frémaux told Variety earlier this month that holding a virtual event “wouldn’t work.”
In a joint statement Monday, Cannes Film Festival president Pierre Lescure and Frémaux said, “We are proud to join with our partner festivals to spotlight truly extraordinary films and talent, allowing audiences to experience both the nuances of storytelling from around the world and the artistic personalities of each festival.”
Robert Kyncl, YouTube’s chief business officer, boasted that the 10-day digital film festival is “an event that’s never been done before and we’re proud to be the home for this fantastic content that is free to fans around the world.” (Variety)