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Photo: Arts Court Theatre (Facebook)

Winter festivals postponed by the new state of emergency

By Greggory Clark on January 20, 2021

While there’s no guarantee Ontario’s stay-at-home order and state of emergency will be lifted by mid-February, organizers of Ottawa’s winter festivals say they are all for producing virtual festivals when it’s safe to do so. Winter Jazz Fest (originally scheduled for February 4–6) has been postponed until further notice and the Undercurrents Festival (original dates February 10–20) has pushed its dates to March 10–20, 2021.

Both festivals share a venue at Arts Court and had plans to record/stream live, physically-distanced performances with only artists and technicians working in the 130-seat theatre.

“Turns out, 2021 is just like 2020,” says Amanda Logan, Marketing Coordinator for Ottawa Fringe, the local performing arts organization which produces Undercurrents Festival.

With this year’s Undercurrents moving online for its audience, the indie theatre festival had planned to broadcast plays virtually in mid-February. That’s no longer possible because Undercurrents technicians and artists will not have access to their performance space.

The 2021 Undercurrents lineup has yet to be announced, but we expect it to include a combination of live-stream shows, audio plays, and pre-recorded performances. The annual New Play Tuesday event (always on the first Tuesday of Undercurrents) will go ahead as planned, with readings via Zoom of the new works created through Ottawa Fringe’s Playwrights in Quarantine unit.

Winterlude (February 5–21) is mostly cancelled this year—there will be no ice sculptures or dragon boat racing because of the pandemic—however, Canadian Heritage announced they will still have programming online.

IFFO, the International Film Festival of Ottawa, is launching online this March 11–21 after its unfortunate cancellation last year at the beginning of the pandemic. Emmy-award winning director Patricia Rozema is the first of many participants announced, discussing her impressive career from I’ve Heard the Mermaids Singing to her critically acclaimed most recent feature film, Mouthpiece.

In other film festival news, we’re thrilled to see that Mirror Mountain Film Festival will be back in an online format for two days this summer. On July 24–25, Mirror Mountain will offer a curated lineup of independent and experimental films. Submissions for the festival open very soon. We’ll post that call in Apartment613’s #ottjobs column when it’s ready.