A preview for a full length feature film played in front of mostly empty seats at the Palm Springs Cultural Center.
But, come late June, organizers for the 27th annual Palm Springs International Festival of Short Films hope the seats will be fuller with patrons socially distanced to help protect against the spread of Covid-19.
"We've been hoping and working toward the safe return back to theaters and we're excited to be doing that," said Lili Rodriguez.
Rodriguez is the Artistic Director for the Palm Sprigs International Film Society.
She is also the person in charge of selecting short films for the festival.
She says hours of thought and discussion went into the decision to screen in-person this year after last year's event was entirely virtual.
"On the one hand we want this to be an enjoyable experience but we also want to make it really safe. It's not something we take lightly," said Rodriguez.
The screenings will once again happen at the Palm Springs Cultural Center, where the General Manager says they'll working closely with the festival to follow several measures listed on the festival website aimed at keeping patrons and filmmakers safe.
"It will be an interesting festival. We are going to have to reinvent a lot things. We'll have to do lines differently and we'll be doing assigned seating," said Eric Smith.
Theater goers will also be required to wear facial coverings and following guidelines in place at the time ordered by the city, county or the state.
A film fan we spoke with has enjoyed the festival in the past and is looking forward to watching in-person.
She believes it can be done safely.
"I've had my shots and think the theater is positioned so you don't sit that close together," said Palm Springs resident Esther Shannon.
In years past the festival has screened upwards of 370 films.
But this year they expect fewer than 300 in order to allow sufficient time between screenings for proper cleaning.
The festival runs from June 22nd through the 28th.
Passes go on sale May 17th.
Use the link below to find more information at the festival's website.
The Palm Springs ShortFest will be the first film festival in California to hold all of its screenings in-theatre in 2021.
ShortFest will return in person to the Camelot Theatres (Palm Springs Cultural Center) from June 22 through 28, the Palm Springs International Film Society announced on Wednesday.
California plans to lift most coronavirus restrictions on businesses and workplaces June 15.
Theatregoers will be required to wear masks, and screening capacity will be determined by city, county and state guidelines at the time of the event
ShortFest passes will go on sale on May 17 with schedule and tickets available the first week of June. For additional information visit www.psfilmfest.org or call 760-778-8979 or 800-898-7256
Local Palm Springs residents along with California based filmmakers and industry representatives are expected to attend as guests.
Last year’s ShortFest took place as a virtual event in mid-June, making a selection of its 332 official films available on their website for free. The ShortFest Forum will return this year with virtual classes and panels featuring industry representatives, filmmakers and additional guests.
Accredited industry guests will have virtual access to the Short Fest Film Market library which will include thousands of submissions.
Awards and cash prizes worth $25,000, including five Academy Award-qualifying awards, will be announced on Sunday, June 27.
The Best of the Fest shorts will screen on the final day, Monday, June 28. With these plans, the ShortFest team remains dedicated to creating a platform to forge connections between creators, audiences and the entertainment industry at large.