Due to the ongoing global health crisis, the Blue Whiskey Independent Film Festival (BWiFF) Board of Directors have made the decision to postpone the 10th annual festival until July 2021 at Chicago Filmmakers, 5720 N. Ridge Avenue, in Chicago.
BWiFF 2020 was originally scheduled to be held in late July and was initially postponed nearly eight weeks to September 10-16. In a release issued on June 15, Executive Director Michael Noens stated that staff was preparing to postpone the 2020 season until next year if September was not looking promising.
“There are so many things we must consider and the safety of our guests are above all else,” said Noens. “We’re all disappointed to not be presenting a festival in this calendar year, but understand that this is the right thing to do if we are to remain committed to presenting an in-person event.”
Filmmakers accepted for exhibition and competition were notified regarding the updated postponement plan on July 29 and most have responded in full support as the organization changes their focus to next year.
According to Noens, “2021 will now be a massive event for us when it comes to overall duration.”
The organization is planning to present their 2020 and 2021 festivals back-to-back as BWiFF 20/21. The 2020 festival will run from July 16-22 followed by the 2021 festival from July 24-30. Both festivals will be held at Chicago Filmmakers in the Edgewater neighborhood of Chicago’s North Side. “We are so fortunate to be working with Chicago Filmmakers,” continued Noens. “Executive Director Brenda Webb and her staff have been so supportive of the decisions we’ve made every step of the way.”
While BWiFF 20/21 will be presented as one event, each festival will be judged and awarded separately. Festival Operations Director Jonathan C. Legat says, “The thing that makes BWiFF so unique and special is that our judging panel sits in the back of the house and experiences the films for the first time with a live audience. When the audience laughs, cries, or gasps, this has an emotional impact that carries to the judges.” This exhibition environment is the primary reason for the organization’s decision not to convert to a virtual format.
“We like that our judges don’t watch the films in a solitary environment,” continued Legat. “It is still early, but many on our 2020 panel have expressed interest in serving as a judge for both festivals next year depending on a number of personal circumstances.”
In the meantime, the festival will continue to participate in any virtual screening events presented by the Film Festival Alliance, as well as virtual offerings through the organization’s Cinema Centennial and Imbibe Cinema programs. “We’re excited to be launching a fundraiser through Bonfire [a web-based fundraising platform] later this month where fest-goers can get exclusive 2020 apparel,” said Director of Development Therese Mlynarczyk. “We ran a similar campaign in 2017 and were overwhelmed with the support we received.” Funds raised through the campaign will go to support next year’s back-to-back events.
BWiFF 2021 call for entries are scheduled to open on Tuesday, September 8, 2020 exclusively through FilmFreeway. According to Noens, “To provide submission budget relief to filmmakers during this time, we will be keeping entry fees for FilmFreeway Gold Members to only $15.00 per film for all BWiFF 2021 deadlines.”
For more information about Blue Whiskey Independent Film Festival and associated programs, VISIT HERE.
Blue Whiskey Independent Film Festival is a not-for-profit organization that seeks out independently produced cinema by bold and innovative filmmakers that utilize story elements in a new and exciting way, presenting character-driven independent cinema fueled by the filmmaker’s passion for the craft without studio support.