Doc Edge, New Zealand’s annual factual film festival, will this year become an online-only event. Instead of cancelling due to the disruptions to production and travel caused by the coronavirus outbreak, the festival will move all screenings and events into the virtual space.

The virtual festival is scheduled to run between May 28 and June 21, with the industry sidebar Doc Edge Forum running on May 29 and 30.

Details of the film lineup and the screening platform have yet to be announced, but organizers said they will “(offer) as close to a real-world festival experience as possible, to build a sense of community while in isolation.”

“The current global climate has created a perfect opportunity to re-examine the core of humanity, exploring stories and having conversations about how our world is changing,” said executive director Alex Lee.

The forum program will include Doc Edge Pitch, with a panel of local and international funders, commissioners, sales agents and industry. Covid-19 raises significant issues for the screen industry and audiences, including the future of documentary production, co-productions, funding and delivery, and further components of the forum will be announced through April.

Organizers gave a taste of what is to come over the last weekend, when they put online a clinic for film makers. They have also confirmed that Tom Oyer, awards manager at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, will give a keynote address at the forum.

“Our motto is ‘Life Unscripted’, so we couldn’t shy away from this, even though our country is currently in lockdown,” said Lee. “When life throws us lemons, we make gin and tonics.”

The real world festival was scheduled to run May 28 – June 7, 2020 in Auckland, and June 11 – 21 in Wellington.

On Thursday, New Zealand announced 76 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the previous 24 hours. In total, the country has 723 confirmed cased and has registered one death. Strict travel restrictions have been in place since mid-March.