Today, the online film festival We Are One is kicking off 10 days of films, talks, musical performances and VR experiences.
The event is a collaboration between Tribeca Enterprises (the organization behind the Tribeca Film Festival) and YouTube, with help from 21 film festivals from around the world.
Think of it as an attempt to recreate a little bit of the excitement of this year’s canceled festivals, and to showcase some of the films that would have screened there. Partner festivals include the Berlin International Film Festival, the Cannes Film Festival, the Sundance Film Festival, the Toronto Film Festival and the Venice Film Festival.
YouTube Chief Business Officer Robert Kyncl credited Tribeca for doing the “heavy lifting” of bringing all the festivals on-board and curating the lineup. He said that when the organization’s co-founder and CEO Jane Rosenthal first approached YouTube with the idea, “It sounded great to us, but it seemed impossible to actually execute — to get all of these important people around the world to agree to this one thing.”
However, Rosenthal and her team were able to pull it everything together in a short period of time, so YouTube is doing its part by giving the festival its online home. There will be more than 100 films screening on a schedule, just like a regular festival — although after many of the movies premiere, they will be available on-demand for the duration of the event.
And again, it’s not just movies, but the other festival programming too, like Tribeca Talks with directors like Guillermo del Toro and Francis Ford Coppola. YouTube channels like Lessons from the Screenplay, CineFix, Now You See It and La Blogotheque have also gotten involved by creating new content for the event.
Everything is available for free, and Kyncl said that neither YouTube nor Tribeca are monetizing the event. Instead, they’re directing viewers to donate to COVID-19 relief efforts, including the World Health Organization, UNICEF, UNHCR, Save the Children, Doctors Without Borders, Leket Israel, GO Foundation and Give2Asia.
“We just see this as an immediate response with no commercial intent on our side,” he said.
And while We Are One was created as a response to the pandemic, Kyncl was hopeful that YouTube could help to create similar online festivals in the future — though he hastened to add that online experiences will never fully replace the “human connection” of an in-person festival.
“The role that youTube can play for all the festivals in the future is, we can extend their reach … whether it’s creators who may be participants in their film festivals in the future, or just audiences who are absolutely participating, but I think we can expand their universe in any way they wish,” Kyncl said. At the same time, he added, “We’ve given zero thought given to it thus far. We’re all focused on making sure we can pull this off in a short amount of time.”