From deserted island to streaming service viewing, festivals keep finding new ways to show movies.

If you’re somehow craving even more isolation after nearly 10 months of stay-at-home orders, have we got some news for you.

The Göteborg Film Festival in Sweden has canceled all in-person communal screenings and organized, in their place, a one-person viewing experience… alone on a rocky island in the middle of the North Sea. The Isolated Cinema on Pater Noster is not for the faint of heart. Although one (lucky?) applicant will have all they need to physically survive their seven day stay on the island, the cinema is called ‘isolated’ for a reason.

“You can't bring anything with you: no phone, no computer, not even a book,” says Jonas Holmberg, the festival’s artistic director. “You can watch the waves and you can watch the films.”

In addition to food, drink, and lodging, the chosen moviegoer will enjoy individual access to Göteborg’s 60-film lineup—which includes a number of this year’s submissions for the International Feature Film Oscar—Denmark’s Another Round, Poland’s Never Gonna Snow Again, and Ivory Coast’s Night of the Kings to name a few.

The festival team is looking for a film enthusiast, yes, but also someone “emotionally and psychologically suited to spend a week in this kind of isolation.” As such, the winner will act as a bit of a lab rat, recording daily video blogs about what it’s like to see all those movies in such unusual conditions.

While Göteborg’s experiment is certainly one of the most inventive cinematic responses to the coronavirus, film festivals have been forced to make these sorts of ingenuous adjustments non-stop since early 2020.

While some have found ways to maintain public cinema screenings (with masks, distancing, or in the form of drive-ins), many have simply gone virtual, offering remote access to their lineup for the price of a festival pass. Coming in at much more of a bargain is this year’s Malaysia International Film Festival (MIFFest).

The festival is the first we’ve heard of to abandon virtual pass sales and instead opt for premieres by way of a streaming service. That’s right, you’ll only need a subscription to cinephile-friendly platform MUBI (also quite wallet-friendly, at $10.99/month) to watch this year’s MIFFest lineup. As an added perk for locals, movie lovers living in Malaysia can sign up for a complimentary 30-day MUBI trial and attend the virtual fest completely free of charge.


Running the gamut from utterly exclusive to nearly universal, the Göteborg and MIFFest innovations offer a snapshot of the range of creative festival responses to COVID-19. And it’s not too late to experience either one: The Isolated Cinema is accepting applications through January 17, and MIFFest will run on MUBI from January 15-21.