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‘Reason Kicked In’: Malta’s Beloved Outdoor Short Film Festival Cancelled Amidst ‘Too Much Uncertainty’

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Malta’s film buffs got a heartbreaking update last night when they learned the 16th Kinemastik International Short Film Festival, which was planned for the end of next month, had just been cancelled. Moments later, a clarification on the issue was published.

“Like any other 16-year-old, after months of a black hole for where their social calendar used to be, our first impulsive and stubborn response was, screw you corona, we are going ahead,” the KISFF organised explained. “We, like many of you, are also hungry for something to happen, for a gathering under the stars, a couple of hours of good shorts, many more hours of seeing your ecstatic faces on the dance floor and to finally catching up, having a chat, seeing how everyone has been.”

“For better or for worse, the Kinemastik team is way past teenagehood however and reason kicked in,” the status went on. “We have been following super closely and with great interest all the developments happening in Malta and abroad, when it comes to event organisation, and we all agree that the festival needs to change its format this year for the following reasons.”

“There is still way too much uncertainty with this novel virus and we feel we can’t guarantee people’s safety at this point. We cannot bring you a KISFF as you know it.”

“With social distancing rules and all other recommended precautions, there won’t be a party until the break of dawn and we certainly wouldn’t want you to start sharing your drinks from 4am onwards,” the organisers went on, nostalgically referencing the popular after-parties that would go down in that glorious Floriana garden in the late hours of previous years’ summer nights.

“Kinemastik is a non-profit NGO but that doesn’t mean that we are not concerned about making ends meet. With reduced audience capacity and significant decrease from sales, we would not be able to break even and this puts into jeopardy all our future events,” the statement continued.  “We do not want to increase prices to make up for this difference as this goes against the very spirit of Kinemastik and making our events accessible to a wide audience.”

The good thing is that, while KISFF will not be going down as initially planned on 31st July, “an alternative plan” has been drawn up.

“All this said, we do not want to deny you the Kinemastik experience in 2020,” the organisers revealed. “So we came up with an alternative plan. While KISFF is definitely more than a sum of its parts, dismembering them into separate events felt like a good solution in the current circumstances. So behold the KISFF #16 in its new format.”

The festival will now host “separate events spread out like butter over too much bread, so you still get a taste but not your usual stuffing that takes three days of juicing to recover from”.

Kinemastik’s side screen, Neck of the Woods, will be taking the form of “a large physical installation in a public space”, spread over a longer period of time “to spread out the audience numbers”. While no official date has been announced on this, the organisers did tease the end of July

The second project – the KISFF’s main screen and competition and the big chunk of the festival – could this year be brought to audiences inside local cinema theatres over a weekend in early October. “We are aiming to make this a national event so you can check out the short film programme in your local cinema and cast your vote,” the organisers explained.

Finally, the popular after-party looks to be the furthest away, with the statement simply stating it could arrive “toward the end of 2020”. “Hopefully by then, we’ll be able to come together again in dark, small spaces with decibel levels above the current ‘keep it low so people don’t have to speak into each other’s ears’ rule,” the organisers continued. “And if that’s the case, we will send off 2020 back to pits of the corona hell where it came from in one epic party.”

While heartbreaking for many, Kinemastik’s latest announcement might not come as a particularly shocking surprise to people who have been following the festival’s organisers.

A couple of weeks ago, Slavko Vukanovic, who is behind both Kinemastik and fellow outdoor film festival the Valletta Film Festival, had said that while KISFF was still scheduled to go ahead, everything was still hanging in the air.

“We might have to move the dates, we might have to cancel it,” he explained, adding that the team would need to discuss the matter further with the relevant authorities to examine what the options moving forward would be.

Meanwhile, the Valletta Film Festival has been cancelled, with the pandemic proving to be “the final nail in the coffin” amidst ongoing issues plaguing the festival such as the lack of public funds.

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