Rebecca Caraway | Fremont Theater is one of the venues the SLO Film Festival is held at.

The annual San Luis Obispo Film Festival is postponed until April 26 due to the rise of the Omicron variant. The festival was originally scheduled for March 8-13.

Skye McLennan, executive director of SLO Film Festival, said that the decision to push back the festival was caused by the rise of COVID-19 cases and the hopes for warmer weather in April. 

“We’re hoping this push back allows us to do some stuff outside and then hopefully we’ll be a little further away from the variant and can provide an overall safer event for our patrons,” McLennan said

This year, the festival plans to return to the same venues they held events at in the past, but there will still still be a virtual component, according to McLennan. In past years the festival has been held at the Fremont Theater, the Palm Theater, SLO Brew, Downtown Center Cinemas and Park Cinemas. 

In 2020, the festival was supposed to take place March 17 but was quickly moved online when the county went into lockdown on March 18. In 2021 the festival was held mostly virtual with two in-person events: one being at the Sunset drive-in and the other at SLO Brew Rock. 

In years prior to the pandemic, the festivals consisted of a panel of filmmakers from around the world, meet-and-greets with filmmakers, surf nights at the Fremont Theater, an honored celebrity guest as well as opening and closing night parties. 

The festival was originally founded in 1993 by Mary A. Harris, Cathay Peacock and Jim Dee. It is now being run by McLennan and associate director Grace Tucker. Today the SLO film festival is a six-day event and shows a variety of contemporary and classic films. 

“It was always kind of a takeover of SLO and a celebration of film and filmmaking,” McLennan said.

For in-person events, the festival will be asking for proof of vaccination or a negative COVID- 19 test. Masks will also be required in the theater. These policies could change if county or state guidelines change before the festival, according to McLennan. 

McLennan said that she hopes this year’s event allows for filmmakers to reconnect with audiences.

“I think they’re really missing that experience,” McLennan said. 

She said that filmmakers are excited to come to San Luis Obispo and share their films with the community.

“Regardless of the format, if you are in person or attending online, that you just find a really great film and you’re able to help champion that film and support it,” McLennan said.

McLennan said she wants students to know that they are still looking for volunteers for the event. Anyone interested can apply on their website or email the festival. 

“We would love to have the Cal Poly community come and get involved,” McLennan said. “We would love to see y’all!” 

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