On this morning after the Philadelphia Environmental Film Festival I took time to reflect on the experience; the first virtual film festival I’ve attended. The festival is normally held in the spring but this year was delayed due to the pandemic shutdown that rocked life in Philadelphia.
First, I note that the festival has been a powerful force in shaping my thinking and actions surrounding our local environmental issues over the past four years. Crisis response, environmental justice and community engagement are three areas significantly affected by the festival over the past four years. This year’s festival will continue that trend.
I saw fewer films through the online format this year than would have if I took three days away from home to spend at a live festival. Life at home is distracting compared to three days away at a festival.
The online platform sponsored by Eventive.org has a strict framework of when films can be “unlocked” and viewed, and I missed the email announcement on extending the viewing time until this morning when it was too late. I saw the films most closely related to my work but missed out on new ideas that would appear to be unrelated but can often prove to be surprisingly ‘mind expanding’.
Overall, I would say that this particular technology platform did not have the same effect of mimicking a live event compared to some of the live music festival platforms during this pandemic shutdown period. For example, compared to the technology platform of the Philadelphia Folk Festival last month that tried hard to recreate a live attendee experience.
Impact on local environmental issues
Since the release of “The Drowning of Money Island” documentary book last November (2019), I see increased interest in a local film by filmmakers. I don’t have any specific information on progress or projects. I’ve been working on a collection of notes titled “After the Drowning” but haven’t made a deal to work with any publisher or producer.
The festival films generally highlighted that the pandemic shutdown has been a step backwards for environmental causes. Out local issues reflect the same trend.
The Delaware watershed has been featured in each year of the festival. I hope that continues.
Lead Sponsor Role
I don’t see that the Philadelphia Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University on-screen discussions added any value to the program compared to the live discussion programs we’ve had in past years. I’d like to see the discussion in a different interactive format. That should be easy in a ‘Zoom world’.
Finally, without any pocket full of business cards as I usually have on the Monday morning after the film festival, I will need to create an outreach and follow-up plan from scratch. I took a page of notes and have already looked up a handful of people. But it will be different without the lobby connections made in past years.