The COVID-19 pandemic has deeply affected the arts industry as demonstrated by the many films that have been delayed so far this year. While St. John’s arts programs have also taken a hit, the St. John’s International Women’s Film Festival (SJIWFF) will emerge from 2020 stronger than ever due to their ability to adapt and overcome.
This year, the St. John’s International Women’s Film Festival (SJIWFF) won one of the 2020 St. John’s Board of Trade ‘Business Resilience’ award for the adaptations made to their festival. Specifically, the SJIWFF won the Boundary Pusher Award for not backing down at the daunting challenge of switching an event which has been founded on in-person screenings to an online platform.
From October 14-18, 2020, the 31st-annual festival kicked off online, allowing the non-profit to increase ticket sales. By increasing accessibility to the films through both the reduction of ticket costs and by allowing ticket holders to view films on an “on-demand basis” throughout the festival, the organization extended attendance to many people who could never attend before. While the festival typically takes place in-person in a theatre, this year’s change of programming offered the organization a large opportunity to branch out and increase accessibility to women-made films and culture.
The SJIWFF is Newfoundland Labrador’s flagship film festival. It has been occurring annually since 1989, making it “one of the longest-running women’s film festivals in the world.” In a province often left behind and in an industry dominated by men, the SJIWFF offers inspiration to women filmmakers. Being featured in the festival means gaining exposure and monetary gain, as well as the ability to share one’s art in a public space. By offering screenings and workshops, the festival works to increase accessibility to and diversity in the arts culture here in the city.
The slogan, “Made for Women, By Women,” is featured on their website. The importance of representation of diversity in culture is becoming increasingly salient. The SJIWFF works to further women’s involvement in film, offering women an opportunity to create freely, have their art showcased, and to inspire other women and girls who wish to create art.
As a non-profit, the SJIWFF runs on donations. If you are interested in donating to their organization, the link to do so can be found here.