‘Kidnapped Stó:lō Boys’ directed by Sandra Bonner-Pederson is one of two Chilliwack-made films in this year’s Chilliwack Independent Film Festival. (Kidnapped Stó:lō Boys)

Chilliwack film fest screenings will be at home instead of in theatre this year

Fourth annual Chilliwack Independent Film Festival is going virtual this year with 65 films

The Chilliwack Independent Film Festival (CIFF) is still going ahead for 2020, but all screenings will be at home instead of in a movie theatre this year.

Normally in November, CIFF founder, Taras Groves, would be gearing up to offer folks two full days packed with dozens of independent films at a local movie theatre.

Due to COVID-19, he’s now giving movie goers a chance to see the more than 60 films from the comfort of their home where they can “skip, pause, and watch at your leisure,” he said.

Over the past several months, Groves debated whether he should postpone the festival or move it online.

“It was a very difficult decision because one of the biggest draws of doing the festival is bringing people to Chilliwack and supporting local businesses,” he said.

But things are obviously different this year and after hearing other festivals had gone virtual, Groves followed suit.

“I felt it’d be great to support independent film in any way we can by providing an online platform,” he said. “Hopefully more people can watch from the comfort of their living room.”

At $7.99, a festival pass for CIFF 2020 comes at a very reasonable cost. People have two weeks to watch all of the independent films.

Among the 65 films are two Chilliwack ones: Kidnapped Stó:lō Boys directed by Sandra Bonner-Pederson and Climate Change: The Song directed by Carin Bondar.

As with previous years, there will still be awards handed out for CIFF 2020. Along with the nine physical wood-carved awards, each winner will receive a gift box filled with locally made items sourced from the Fraser Valley.

“If you can’t bring people to the Fraser Valley, you can bring the Fraser Valley to them,” Groves said.

The films will be available to watch online for two weeks, from Nov. 20 to Dec. 6 via a “Netflix-esque” CIFF platform. After people have purchased a pass, they will be sent an email with instructions on how to log in.

The films range in length from three minutes to 93 minutes, with the vast majority running less than half an hour. About half of them will have pre-recorded Q&A sessions with the filmmakers at the end.

Groves suggests people “get the popcorn going” and watch the films together with their family.

And for those who want to know the total running time of all 65 films together, it’s 1,216 minutes (or 20 hours and 16 minutes), so determined folks who have enough coffee and snacks on hand can, in fact, watch them all in one day.

To buy a pass for CIFF 2020, go to ciff.ca.

Note: System requirements to view the films are: PCs running Windows 7+, Intel-based Macs running OSX 10.12+, Android tablets and phones using Chrome, and iPhones and iPads using Safari.

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