We Are One logo (courtesy YouTube)

Among other mass event cancellations and closures precipitated by the COVID-19 pandemic, various film festivals have been forced to transfer their programming online over the past few months. As the possibility of longer-term quarantine looms, many major fests are having to consider their options, even though they aren’t scheduled to take place for several more months or longer. Cannes, which normally takes place in May, has stubbornly refused to outright cancel, instead delaying the festival twice now. To go online would be no small thing for the organization, one of cinephilia’s most illustrious institutions; they have defended the traditional moviegoing experience to the point of feuding with Netflix over their refusal to admit the streaming giant’s films into competition. What would it look like for them to host a digital festival?

But there will be a compromise of sorts for anyone hungry for Cannes programming (along with fare from many other festivals) this summer. YouTube and Tribeca Enterprises have announced We Are One: A Global Film Festival, an online festival that looks more ambitious than many of the hastily assembled digital editions different festivals have had to make do with so far. This comes shortly after the news that SXSW will be holding its own digital edition this year with Amazon.

YouTube, Tribeca, and 19 other film festivals, including Cannes, Sundance, and Toronto, are collaborating on the event. Films will be streamed free, without commercials, on We Are One’s new channel starting May 29. Each of the partner festivals will curate their own programming track. This festival is not meant to replace any of them, and each is still planning to hold its own screenings this year (whether in physical or digital space). YouTube and Tribeca are asking that viewers contribute to the channel’s fundraiser campaign, which will distribute all donations to the World Health Organization, as well as various other health organizations.

No programming has yet been announced, though the festival has promised a full slate not just of features, but also shorts, musical performances, and panel discussions. The full list of current partner festivals is as follows:

  • Annecy International Animation Film Festival
  • Berlin International Film Festival
  • BFI London Film Festival
  • Cannes Film Festival
  • Guadalajara International Film Festival
  • International Film Festival & Awards Macao
  • Jerusalem Film Festival
  • Mumbai Film Festival
  • Karlovy Vary International Film Festival
  • Locarno Film Festival
  • Marrakech International Film Festival
  • New York Film Festival
  • San Sebastian International Film Festival
  • Sarajevo Film Festival
  • Sundance Film Festival
  • Sydney Film Festival
  • Tokyo International Film Festival
  • Toronto International Film Festival
  • Tribeca Film Festival
  • Venice Film Festival

We Are One is currently scheduled to run May 29 through June 7.

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Dan Schindel

Dan Schindel is a freelance writer and copy editor living in Brooklyn, and a former associate editor at Hyperallergic. His portfolio and links are here.