I am sure everyone has questions, and hopefully I have answers. The big one is “What happened to the festival this year?” My answer is the same as it is for everything else right now. Covid-19 has ruined everything.
Initially we were going to move the dates back but unfortunately the world went insane. This pandemic has been stressful for everyone and while, ideally, SimsFilmFest would have been a nice distraction, that was not possible. The staff lives in not only different parts of the United States, but different parts of the world, and everyone has been affected differently. Continuing with the festival while the staff has been stressed out dealing with the upheaval of their lives and needing to focus on self-care would have irresponsible on our part. Not only that, I assume it is hard to focus on creative projects while feeling overwhelmed with what is going on in the world. The pandemic has led to an increase in stress, depression, anxiety, and other mental health concerns.
While adapting to life during a pandemic we also witnessed the murder of George Floyd at the hands of a police officer and the flood gates opened. Protests happened everywhere, even in small towns. I never thought that I would witness our local police force throw tear gas and flash grenades into a group of protesters. One of our local delegates was even maced by a police officer while helping a child. It is unfortunate, and it makes me angry, that during a pandemic that is has killed over a hundred thousand people in the United States alone that people have to take to the streets to protest against an unjust system. While people should be worrying about their health, they also have to worry if they are going to be the next causality of a racist system.
But this is the world we live in now.
SimsFilmFest is supposed to be a celebration of creativity. EA/Maxis claims that The Sims promotes and embraces diversity, however, members of the community say that is up for debate. I have read those complaints. Sometimes I feel as if people are looking for potentially racist things to complain about. The truth is there is a lot of implicit bias that people are not aware of, and that implicit bias is, in part, responsible for a lot of microaggressions that people deal with.
Not only is it hard to proceed with this year’s festival in light of the pandemic, it is harder than ever to overlook the problems with The Sims and EA/Maxis. Like it or not, by using The Sims as our chosen medium for film-making we are supporting a game made by a company that has come under fire for substandard black skin tones and saying that “ethnic hair is hard to make”. The custom content community does not seem to have a problem filling in where EA/Maxis is lacking.
SimsFilmFest will return next year when hopefully the world is a saner and safer place. All entries that we have received so far will be honored for next season, and the number of entries allowed will be lifted. The website will be updated within the next month to reflect new dates and the rule changes for the next season.
Meanwhile, everyone stay safe!