Faced with the prospect of not going ahead due to COVID-19 social distancing restrictions, St Kilda Film Festival has instead opted to go online.

The virtual festival will run June 12 to 30, featuring a number a curated strands and the Top 100 short film competition. The full program will be announced in May, and all shorts free to watch for anyone based in Australia.

In a move to help support the impacted creative industry, all 598 entrants will also have their fees refunded with the help of film submission site Film Freeway. In addition, all films selected for the Top 100 will be paid a screening fee.

“Cinema is about action and ideas, so we’re embracing the opportunity to deliver the Festival in this new form,” said festival director Richard Sowada.

“The virtual program will be just as packed, providing audiences nationally the chance to experience the hub of emerging Australian talent the Festival is known for.”

The short film festival, now in its 37th year, remains an Academy Awards qualifying event; films that win awards are eligible for consideration in the Short Film and Documentary Short Subject Oscars.

City of Port Phillip Mayor, Bernadene Voss, said: “We know the creative industry has been hit hard during this time and the City of Port Phillip really thrives on creativity. We hope the St Kilda Film Festival will not only provide a vital voice for the Australian filmmaking industry during this time, but also continue to celebrate the arts for everyone in our community to enjoy.”

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