Submissions for Sjón 2021 closed—What Next?

Our Open Call has officially ended—thank you to all the filmmakers who sent in their anthropological works! We’re so excited to hunker down and review all the submissions for our upcoming programme.

As stated before, we will be notifying filmmakers of their selection status by January 11th, 2021.

In the meantime, some more news from the Sjón team on the state of film festivals during a pandemic …

As you might remember, we decided to postpone our event from October 2020 because we’ve always tried to make our festivals as interactive, participatory and multi-sensorial as possible—in ways we did not know how to accomplish digitally at that time.

Since then, the Covid-19 situation has continued to worsen around the world, including in Copenhagen, where we are based. We are entering a second lockdown in December, until January 3rd, 2021. All theatres are, understandably, closed down for the rest of the year.

Still, we are optimistic. We hope that cinemas will open again by February, at which point we’ll be able to welcome a max. of 40 people in Huset Biograf. While we’re crossing our fingers and toes & making offerings to any deity listening that we’ll be able to collaborate with Huset for Febr 19th-21st, we also know this will mean a smaller event experience than what we’re used to.

Our Sjón events are always open house and celebrate a fluidity of participation—guests can come and go as they please, stick around for a workshop or two, a movie or three, and chat with us. This kind of openness will unfortunately not be possible under current health & safety regulations. Our venue has a very strict attendance capacity, and we will have to abide by that, which means we’ll have to get creative in order to share our programme—in large part, made up by your wonderful films—with as many people as we want.

Enter Hybrid Sjón!

Like most film festival organizers throughout 2020, we’ve had to think long and hard about what our event means to us and what we hope to achieve with it. Our main goal with Sjón has always been accessibility. Sharing anthropological filmmaking and ways of thinking with a wider audience. Taking empathy, critical thinking, and multicultural sensitivities out of the ivory tower and into more mainstream spaces. Allowing anthropology and art to commingle and help enrich conversations about how we see, what we consume, or how we listen.

Of course, creating a physical space (or playground, as like to call it) for these films and performances and audiences has been an ideal way to interact and engage with each other. There’s nothing quite like the magical feeling of watching a life-changing story unfold on the big screen, in a darkened room, in the company of other strangers. There’s also no replacement for the kind of multi-sensorial experiences we’ve curated.

But there’s also no time like what we’re currently experiencing. If we don’t use this moment to question what we do and how we can improve or evolve, we risk not adapting and becoming static. Just like anthropology as a discipline has grown and evolved over the centuries, so must we too adapt to current needs and overcome obstacles.

Our current need—continue sharing anthropological filmmaking.

Our current obstacle… well, we all know this one.

So our proposed solution is to create a hybrid event. One that takes advantage of the limited physical space we can use under our circumstances, to re-create that nostalgic feel of “film festival”, while also making use of the new digital tools at our disposal, to increase the reach of our programme. We plan to screen films in Huset for a limited number of people, while, at the same time, sharing them online with the wider audience who’s not physically able to join us. We’re also working on translating workshops & experiences for the digital festival too.

Exactly what this hybrid programme will look like, we’re still developing.

But for now, we wanted to share with you our end-of-2020 optimism, and we hope you’ll join us for this new chapter in our journey in February 2021.