In case you missed the exciting news: we just relaunched the Film Comment Podcast last week after a yearlong hiatus. We’re glad to be back, and in this episode, we’re looking at one of the big developments that the film world has grappled with while we were away: the emergence of virtual film festivals.

As the pandemic shut down cinemas and made travel impossible, festivals adopted a variety of strategies to keep bringing movies to their audiences. Some, like Cannes, were cancelled; others went fully online; and many, like the New York Film Festival, Sundance, and the Berlinale, experimented with hybrid formats.

These new models have opened up a host of questions. Is it really a festival if you’re not in a cinema? What does the virtual format expose about the mechanics of festivals? And as theaters start to reopen, are these changes here to stay? In this episode, Film Comment editors Clinton Krute and Devika Girish invited two festival veterans—curator Abby Sun (DocYard; My Sight Is Lined With Visions), and critic Jessica Kiang (Variety, The Playlist)—to dig into these questions and more.

This episode of the Film Comment Podcast is sponsored by MUBI. Film Comment readers and listeners can get 30 days of great cinema free at