The decision to have the film festival now, in times so difficult for the world in general and Belarus in particular, was not an easy one. First, we survived the festival cancellation in April 2020 due to the horrifying COVID-19 situation and due to the inability to show films in theatres and host foreign guests. Then we put ourselves together and saw a new possibility in the difficulties that we were facing, so we took a risk to hold the festival in late September. However, the political situation was a change to our plan. Because of the internet lockdowns, as well as the violence towards the participants of peaceful protests, our mental strength withered, and we failed to prepare the festival on time. Everything had to be cancelled once again. However, not hosting the festival in 2020 at all seemed an even worse decision. The festival program was ready back in April, so there was no point in putting it off for the next year and making the films even less relevant. After all, with most Belarusian festivals postponed or cancelled this year, holding Northern Lights means expressing our support, solidarity, and involvement through something we can do well.
We do realize that cinema may not be most people's primary concern these days. The point is, the program of Northern Lights has never been meant to entertain in the first place. As long as the festival exists, and this year is no exception, the program has been touching upon the issues relevant to the conscious, empathetic community. The 2020 festival films could not relate to Belarus' most burning issues any better. Take Feminister for example. The film portrays Margot Wallström, Sweden's former minister of foreign affairs, who was the first to present the feminist agenda. Another illustrative example is Force of Habit, a Finnish film about inevident cases of the use of force and violence towards women.
We hope that the Northern Lights' program, so vibrant and of such relevance, will help us keep and fortify our belief, strength, and love.