The Poppy Jasper International Film Festival has always had a global reach, but never to the extent as it has in 2021.
One of the benefits of hosting a virtual festival this year is its accessibility to not just people from throughout the state or even the country, but the world.
Festival Director Mattie Scariot said she’s so far counted people from more than 30 different countries that have purchased tickets to the festival that runs through April 20. The virtual format has also allowed the filmmakers to more easily participate in the festival, which is showing 180 films from 35 countries.
“A lot of filmmakers are not able to come here, so we were able to meet them through Zoom,” Scariot said. “That was so rewarding. We not only got to know them, but they also got to know us.”
The complete PJIFF lineup includes features from across the globe including Austria’s “Return of the Thumb (Die Rückkehr des Daumens)” from director Flo Convey, Iran’s “One Night in Tehran” from director Farhad Najafi, and Germany’s “Brian Auger—Life on Tour” from director Michael Maschke.
The international shorts program will include Rena Dumont’s “Hapless Hans” (Germany), Florence Bouvy’s “Till the End of the World” (Netherlands), Jhosimar Vasquez’s “The Scorpion’s Tale” (USA) and Garth Jennings’ “Madame” (UK).
The festival also features panel discussions with filmmakers.
It will close with Community Achievement Awards on April 20 celebrating leaders who have made an impact on the local community.
Films can be screened from various devices using a platform called Eventive, and Scariot said viewers have the option to decide when and what they want to see throughout the duration of the festival.
The festival has expanded in recent years to include screenings in Morgan Hill, Gilroy, San Juan Bautista and Hollister. Scariot said cancelling the 2020 festival due to Covid-19 concerns was “like losing a friend,” but organizers began working with other film festivals across the country to determine how it could host an event in 2021.
“It’s been a long time coming and a lot of work,” she said. “I’m very proud and everyone on the team is very proud of what we’ve accomplished.”
Scariot said the all-volunteer organization is driven by its mission to promote inclusion, diversity and women empowerment through film, music and art.
“We are trying to change the way we see each other through film,” she said. “We need to get to a point where we are not acknowledged by the color of our skin, gender or sexual orientation, but we look at each other as human beings. That’s our focus. That’s what moves the volunteers of the festival.”