The coronavirus pandemic scuttled South by Southwest and delayed the Cannes Film Festival. Niche releases never got a chance to play across the country — and the theaters they would have played at face an uncertain future. But several festivals, theaters and art-house distributors have tried to offer online substitutes. This list should be considered a small sampling.
Tribeca Film Festival
Originally scheduled for April, Tribeca has been postponed until further notice. But since March 17, the festival has posted one short each day on its website under the rubric “A Short Film a Day Keeps the Anxiety Away.” All the shorts are made by Tribeca Film Festival alumni, and they tend to allude to the current state of isolation and uncertainty. “Let’s Not Panic,” from 2015, stars Lyle Friedman as a woman with a crush on her therapist — a crush that he assures her could only come to anything in the event of a complete breakdown of societal norms. Cue an asteroid, hurtling toward Earth.
ReelAbilities Film Festival: New York
This annual festival shows movies that raise awareness of the perspectives of the disabled, like “Code of the Freaks,” a documentary examining representation in Hollywood movies, and “25 Prospect Street,” about a Ridgefield, Conn., theater that hires people with disabilities. The festival will take place on its original dates, March 31 to April 6, but it has moved online at reelabilities.org. Screenings can be watched at their scheduled times or for 24 hours afterward, and Q. and A.s will be available as well.
TCM Classic Film Festival: Special Home Edition
After canceling its annual Hollywood-based festival of vintage films, Turner Classic Movies will instead run a kind of simulated festival on television from April 16 through 19. The lineup — “A Star Is Born” (1954), “North by Northwest,” “Lawrence of Arabia” — might not sound all that different from ordinary TCM programming, but interviews from past festivals will be interspersed with the movies.
Greenwich International Film Festival
This Connecticut festival, which was scheduled to start in late April, will instead unfold as an online event May 1-3, with a selection of films and interviews. (Certain live events have been postponed for the fall.) The virtual lineup includes a program of Connecticut-related shorts and a sampling of documentaries and fiction features, like the Argentine film “High Tide,” shown at Sundance, about an affluent woman who endures a string of Buñuelian complications after she has a fling with a contractor. Go to greenwichfilm.org for more information.
The distributor Kino Lorber began an innovative partnership to keep art houses in business. If you want to see the wild, acclaimed Brazilian feature “Bacurau,” Kino’s most recent theatrical release, simply go to kinolorber.com/film/bacurau and select the cinema you would like to “see” it at. (Pay attention to the dates it’s playing there.) A $12 admission gets you five days of streaming, and the theater you’ve chosen gets a share of the virtual ticket price. More than 100 theaters stand to benefit, ranging from Film at Lincoln Center in New York to the Austin Film Society in Texas, the Olympia Film Society in Washington and Alamo Drafthouse locations. (You can also see Ken Loach’s take on the gig economy, “Sorry We Missed You,” which benefits Film Forum in New York.)
Film Movement’s Virtual Cinema
This works more or less the same way as Kino Marquee but for a different distributor, Film Movement, which otherwise would have had five movies in theaters. They are: the kinetic Chinese noir “The Wild Goose Lake”; the Polish Oscar nominee “Corpus Christi”; Bertrand Bonello’s “Zombi Child,” an intellectual horror riff that cuts between present-day France and Haiti beginning in 1962; and two revivals, Bruno Barreto’s “Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands” (1978) and Luchino Visconti’s “L’Innocente” (belatedly released in the United States in 1979). Go to filmmovement.com, select the movie you want to watch, then pick the theater that you want to benefit. The partners include BAM Rose Cinemas in New York, the Gene Siskel Film Center in Chicago and the Loft Cinema in Tucson.
Music Box StreamLocal
Music Box Films follows Kino Lorber and Film Movement’s lead with its own theater-streaming partnership. The service begins Friday with the Georgian feature “And Then We Danced,” about a dancer who finds himself attracted to a male newcomer in his troupe — an attraction that could jeopardize his position with the homophobic company. The cinemas splitting profits with Music Box include the Little Theater in Rochester, N.Y., and the Belcourt in Nashville. Go to musicboxfilms.com/streamlocal for more information.
Oscilloscope: Circle of Quarantine
The distributor Oscilloscope Labs is holding off on putting the new releases “Saint Frances” (which opened last month) and “The Infiltrators” (which was scheduled to open March 27) online for now, but it is offering 10 digital downloads for $49.99, and giving $10 from each package to the Cinema Worker Solidarity Fund, a crowdfunding initiative to support out-of-work New York City theater employees. Go to store.oscilloscope.net and on the Circle of Quarantine page, there are instructions on how to sign up along with a lengthy list of available films, including “Meek’s Cutoff,” from Kelly Reichardt, whose “First Cow” was one of the casualties of the coronavirus theater closures.