Karlovy Vary Intl. Film Festival, Central and Eastern Europe’s leading cinema event, has canceled this year’s edition due to the coronavirus pandemic. Instead, it will offer a selection of movies from its lineup in theaters across the Czech Republic, as the country prepares to open up cinemas again. It will stage its industry program online.

“We strongly believe that seeing a movie with other people in a theater is a powerful and irreplaceable experience,” said Jiří Bartoška, president of the festival. “And because the Karlovy Vary Intl. Film Festival is one of the most important cultural events in the Czech Republic, we have decided that holding an alternative version would go against the festival’s main mission: to bring together audiences, filmmakers, and people from different walks of life in order to collectively enjoy works of cinema.”

During preparations for the edition, the festival’s programming department chose “a variety of intriguing films they knew would be popular with festival audiences,” the festival said. Since the Czech government’s plan for loosening the lockdown on June 8 will allow cinemas to screen movies to 50 viewers, the festival has decided to organize a special version of its traditional “KVIFF at Your Cinema” program, in which the best of the festival tours cities around the country. Now moviegoers nationwide will get a chance to see the festival’s selection of films over the nine days originally planned for the festival, July 3-11.

The festival will present a virtual version of its industry program, KVIFF Eastern Promises, on July 6-8. Film projects in various stages of development and production from Central and Eastern Europe, the Balkans, the former Soviet Union, the Middle East and North Africa will be presented to sales companies, international buyers, and festival programmers.

The festival has also joined the YouTube project We Are One: A Global Film Festival.

The 55th edition of the festival will take place July 2-10, 2021.