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  • Writer's pictureDeborah Yaffe

Back in the screening room

Last year, as beloved Jane Austen festivals across the globe moved online, one brand-new event managed an in-person debut, complete with masks, hand sanitizer, and social distancing. And now the Jane Austen International Film Festival, held last September in Bath, England, is back for a second year, with a July 23 deadline to submit films for consideration.

The festival, which runs this year from September 21 to 24, accepts work in ten categories, including animation, comedy, drama, documentary, horror, and music video. Most of the films can run no longer than fifteen minutes, but a few categories accept films up to ninety minutes in length.

Although the film festival is named for Our Author, a one-time Bath resident, and takes place during Bath’s ten-day Jane Austen Festival, a Janeite extravaganza that draws costumed fans from around the world, that seems to be the sum total of its connection to her work, unless you count the encouragement to attend in Regency attire. *

I admit I would be more excited about this event if the submitted films were required to incorporate Jane Austen story elements. Jane Austen and horror! Jane Austen and music videos! I mean, it's not as if it can't be done. Heck, it's not as if it hasn't been done, everywhere from Hollywood to YouTube.

Still, after the year we’ve had, it’s nice to see a public event with Jane Austen’s name on it, even if she’s got very little to do with it.

* And don’t confuse JAIFF with the annual summertime Jane Austen Film Festival in Washington D.C., during which filmed adaptations of Austen novels are screened outdoors, on the grounds of the historic Dumbarton House.

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