‘Best of the best’ from Tribeca at Westport’s virtual short-film festival

WESTPORT — Short Cuts, the town’s annual international short-film festival, will have a different spin this year — a virtual screening that will simultaneously be shown at the town’s drive-in theater.

For the past nine years Short Cuts’ screenings has been held at Norwalk’s Garden Cinemas. But when the cinema closed its doors for good in early 2020, a new approach to the festival was sought through a collaboration with the Westport Library.

“The library has a state-of-the art screen, and we were very excited about moving the festival to a larger space and to new audiences working with the library,” said Nancy Diamond, Shorts Cuts’ producer. “That was our plan until COVID hit and then we reconvened with the library and said we can still do this virtually.”

Since the beginning of the state’s quarantine measures, the library has produced nearly 400 virtual programs and events. Diamond said while it would be great to be have the festival live, the innovative solution will will allow for an international audience.

“We’ll be screening the films live virtually from the library,” she said. “If they want, they can also cast them onto their larger TV.”

Diamond said a collaboration with the Remarkable Theater’s drive-in theater also provided an opportunity for residents to still see the films in person safely.

“It works for all of us,” she said. “There’s some folks that feel very comfortable going out in their cars and sitting outside and watching the films, and there are others that don’t yet feel comfortable doing that.”

Marina Derman, president of the Remarkable Theater, said the drive-in theater aimed to bring a safe, social aspect to a time where there were limited outdoor activities.

How to watch

Tickets to watch the films virtually through the Westport Library are $25. Tickets for one car of up to four people to watch the film at the Remarkable Theater's drive-in are $100. Tickets can be purchased at eventbrite.com/e/short-cuts-film-festival-tickets-116639376515?aff=ebdssbeac.

“There’s something about the shared experience of watching a movie together that draws people in,” she said. “That’s why movies in a theater of some kind are completely different from watching it at home.”

Derman said the Remarkable Theater was also pleased to collaborate and help organizations and local efforts during the pandemic.

“They also get to do something that says we’re still here and we’re still doing stuff,” she said. “That has really been gratifying to help them do that.”

The first screening will take place at 7 p.m. Oct. 8 with a second screening to be held Nov. 12.

The festival includes the work of two award-winners from the Tribeca Film Festival: “Cru - Raw” by Swiss director David Oesch and “No More Wings” by English director Abraham Adeyemi. Oesch’s film follows a young chef who learns lessons the hard way and won the Student Visionary Award. Adeyemi’s film captures two lifelong friends meeting at a divergent point in their lives at their favorite South London fried chicken spot and won Best Narrative Short.

Other films to be shown are “Vera” by Laura Rubirola, a Spanish director, “Gets Good Light” by Alejandra Parody, an American director, and “Toto” by Marco Baldonado, a Canadian director.

“We feel that we have the best of the best,” Diamond said. “Tribeca is one of the top film festivals of the world and then we choose the best of those.”

The festival, which is a program of the nonprofit JIB Productions, will also include a live talk-back component. Diamond said she will talk with the directors about the inspiration behind their films, how they put it together and more.

“There will also be an opportunity for audience members to type in questions,” she said, adding a silver lining in this year’s festival is being able to talk to more than one director.

Diamond said she hopes people will take advantage of the festival to see films they may not otherwise be able to see, and interact with directors from the comfort of their homes or car.

“There’s so many people who love film and the fact that we can bring them right here to Westport, I think, is worth doing,” she said.