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Loudoun Arts Film Festival was already in the works before the pandemic flipped everything on its head, leaving the programmers with some big choices to make; while many festivals have gone fully virtual during this largely socially distanced time, LAFF has decided to try its hand at both IRL and digital streaming.

“We had already lined up an ambitious schedule for a first-year festival, and then along came COVID. But we decided to make it work. What we now realize is we have access to a broader audience this way.” said, Kaeley Boyle,
Co-Founder and Festival Director.

The featured films (including 20 feature-lengths and 80 shorts) will be available to watch online from August 27th to September 19th. There will also be live-streamed discussions, Q+A sessions with the filmmakers, table-reads and virtual happy hours to help bring the online experience to life. Single tickets to the virtual screenings start at $12.

Drive-in screenings, meanwhile, are set to take place at 50 West Vineyards in Middleburg, Virginia on the weekends of September 10th – 13th and 17th – 19th. The films will be shown on a 40 foot inflatable movie screen at sundown, and sound will dispersed through car speakers. Tickets are $50 for general admission, or grab $75 VIP tickets, which include a prepared meal from Market Salamander delivered to your vehicle. Food trucks will also be on site providing bites from Ford’s Fish Shack, Red’s BBQ and Bilstad’s Beignets, and there will be socially distanced live music prior to the film screenings.

While some will likely be trepidatious about heading to a gathering of multiple people (even if everyone will be in their cars and/or socially distanced), LAFF is working to ensure everyone’s safety by enforcing the following measures:

“LAFF will be following all social distancing protocol implemented by the CDC and conducting temperature checks on all members of our staff, volunteers and attendees. Our bathroom trailers will be accompanied by an attendant tasked to wipe down the bathrooms after each use. Sanitizing stations will be placed throughout the event and we require face masks to be worn at all times. We will have extra masks on hand and available upon request.”

As someone who grew up fifteen minutes away from Middleburg, I can attest that early fall is a great time to head out to horse ‘n hunt country for a scenic weekend drive; it’s an added bonus that you’ll be able to catch movies under the stars. BUT, it’s also really nice that viewers can catch films right at home during these uncertain times; either way, definitely something to check out in one form or another. Scope the full schedule here.