There is a huge benefit to this year’s Vancouver International Film Festival (VIFF) going primarily online as it will allow audiences from across British Columbia and beyond to take part in the annual celebration of film.

Available throughout the province on the new VIFF Connect streaming platform, the 14-day Festival features more than 100 feature films and events, including a blend of Canadian, East Asian, documentaries, festival favourites and much more.

“Despite the roadblocks presented by the pandemic, we’ve sought out opportunities hidden within the challenges,” says VIFF’s interim executive director Kyle Fostner. “This year’s festival aims to remind us of a world of possibilities, and hopefully, for a moment, transport us somewhere we’ve never been.”

A limited number of in-cinema presentations will also take place, including the opening film and world premiere of Loretta Sarah Todd’s Monkey Beach. The adaptation of Eden Robinson’s novel will be screened at several independent cinemas throughout the province in compliance with COVID-19 capacity restrictions and the latest provincial health and safety regulations.

Among the in-person venues are the newly renovated VIFF Centre in Vancouver. The first major renovation in its’s 15-year history, the $2.8 million undertaking features a new 41-seat studio theatre, a dedicated education suite, a new media lab and a redesigned atrium. Additional theatre screenings will take place at The Cinematheque in Vancouver.

A $60 all-access subscription will make this year’s VIFF more accessible to film-goers. And while film programming will be geo-blocked to the province, some programming will be available across Canada and internationally, providing an unprecedented level of access to filmmakers and fans around the globe.

“At a time when we are unable to gather in large groups or venture far from our home communities, VIFF’s programmers have accomplished something extraordinary. They have assembled an astonishing collection of roughly 180 films that create shared human experiences,” says VIFF board chair Lucille Pacey. “In the midst of a pandemic, the team responded with vision and fortitude to launch a remarkable digital experience and demonstrate that there is no stopping powerful storytelling.”

With a more streamlined program this year, organizers say it will allow a greater focus on the stories and filmmakers. For 2020, diversity is also key.

“Of the 24 Canadian features at the festival, 14 are by female creators, and 11 are by BIPOC filmmakers, including must-see works by emerging and established Indigenous directors,” says VIFF associate of programming Curtis Woloschuk.

The 39th annual Vancouver International Film Festival takes place from September 24 to October 7. Visit viff.org for tickets and information.