Keep Calm and Cary Online

Our festival director, Dr Charlotte Crofts (Associate Professor of Filmmaking at UWE Bristol) presented a paper entitled ‘Keep Calm and Cary Online: Cary Comes Home Festival and Online Film Culture During the Pandemic’ at the #BAFTSS2021 the annual conference of the British Association of Film, Television and Screen Studies on 9 April 2021.


The Cary Comes Home festival seeks to celebrate Cary Grant’s Bristol roots, develop new audiences for his work and recreate the golden age of cinema going – but how does that work during a global pandemic?!  

In this presentation I will explore the impact of moving the 2020 Cary  Comes Home Festival online due to the corona virus crisis. The paper will first outline the sense of “communitas” that the physical festival usually egenders by inviting people to “make the pilgrimage” to Cary Grant’s home town Bristol. It will then explore how the 2020 festival attempted to recreate that sense of “communitas” virtually, reflecting on how online film communities can go some way to creating a sense of connection in isolation. The paper will situate the virtual festival within the wider context of the role of online film culture during the pandemic, drawing on Carol Morley’s #FridayFilmilmClub initiative that took place on Twitter, and how Cary Grant and Paul Newman trended in the early days of the first lockdown as people gravitated towards nostalgic film-watching.  

Whilst virtual events mean we cannot be co-present, we still experience them as embodied human beings. What are the affordances of the various platforms used (Crowdcast, Zoom, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google Docs) in terms of User Experience? How has moving online enabled people to access the festival who may not have been able to attend in person? How can you programme an international festival across timezones? How does hosting the festival on a platform like Crowdcast, which offers an asynchronous catch up or “watch again” option, provide the potential for a “long tail” of engagement?  

Given that we are experiencing the conference online, the paper will provide the opportunity to reflect on how some elements of the online experience – e.g. sustainability, inclusion – could be incorporated into live events when they resume.

You can watch the full presentation here.