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‘Planning for all of it’: Nevada City Film Festival moves online for this year’s event

Sam Corey
Staff Writer


What: Nevada City Film Festival

Website: http://www.nevadacityfilmfestival.com

Embarking on its 20th anniversary, the Nevada City Film Festival is walking into this year’s event celebrating its recent successes.

Established in 2001, the local festival was recognized this year by USA Today for qualifying for the top three best film festivals in the U.S.

But this achievement has come alongside recent challenges, as the festival has had to navigate how to hold its programming from Aug. 28 to Sept. 4 given the complications the coronavirus pandemic has wrought on large, crowded events.

Jesse Locks, the film festival’s director, said the local festival began to change its game plan when South By Southwest — a film and music festival in Austin, Texas — was canceled in March. With months of this knowledge on hand, organizers of the Nevada City festival have been planning to go virtual and, according to Locks, are excited about tackling the changes and challenges the medium will bring.

“We saw the writing on the wall and just knew that we needed to definitely make a pivot and look at going online,” she said.

The festival’s business model had to be rethought, said Locks, but that doesn’t mean it will shortchange its virtual attendees. This year’s festival will host 150 films and include Q&A sessions with filmmakers, as well as virtual workshops and film club exchanges with other film-goers, said Locks. The festival will attempt to connect attendees via Zoom, Facebook Live and other teleconferencing platforms, and hopes to conduct virtual tours of Nevada City.

Locks said the festival may even be able to get attendees to come into town to buy concessions from local merchants before returning home to watch this year’s films. If the county is further along into Stage 3 of reopening the economy, there’s also a possibility of allowing small groups to gather.

“We’re just really planning for all of it,” said Locks, adding, “We’re trying to make it a little more interactive.”

The festival will continue its tradition of hosting “Movies Under The Pines,” but in a drive-in style. That will likely only allow for 100 cars, to maintain physical distancing, said Locks.

The festival director said due to a wider reach among audience members, the local events have an opportunity to make more money than in years past with people from Vegas, the East Coast and Los Angeles already signing up because they saw advertisements online. But the director does not expect to break even considering the high cost of things like insurance.

Locks said the outdoor movies and film festival typically sells about 5,000 tickets, which she believes will double this year. Due to the changed venue, the pricing will be a bit cheaper. Tickets will cost between $35 to $55 for a full festival pass, said Locks.

Programming will include movie shorts, she said, in addition to a deeper look into the collaboration between music and film.


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To contact Staff Writer Sam Corey email scorey@theunion.com or call 530-477-4219.

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