After announcing its opening dates a few weeks ago, the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival will go completely virtual due to the recent rise in COVID-19 cases.

The 22nd annual festival was originally slated to take place both in-person and online, with screenings at the Plaza Theatre, Landmark’s Midtown Art Cinema. the Sandy Springs Performing Arts Center, and online in the festival’s virtual cinema. However, in light of rising COVID-19 cases and the Omicron variant, the festival will be completely virtual.

“We’ve spent the better part of this past year planning for and fully expecting a return to theaters for our 22nd edition,” said AJFF Executive Director Kenny Blank in an emailed statement. “But we recognize the evolving circumstances of the pandemic, and our first obligation is to community safety. Fortunately, we are well positioned to offer audiences the full festival experience from the comfort of home.”

According to the Georgia Department of Public Health, as of Jan. 19, there have been 203,982 new COVID-19 cases in the state over the past two weeks. DeKalb County has had 11,516 new cases in the past two weeks, and Fulton County has had 17,434. As of Jan. 20, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists DeKalb and Fulton counties as areas of high COVID-19 transmission. 

The festival will still take place from Feb. 16-27, offering over 50 films from 18 countries. Some feature films set to play at the festival are “The Survivor,” starring Danny DeVito, Peter Sarsgaard, and Vicky Krieps, and a documentary called “Women of Valor.”

The festival will also still continue its new shorts program, and release a new short film on every Wednesday leading up to the festival. All the shorts will be available to watch on the festival’s website. Some of the short films featured in the festival will be “Meadow” from director Klil Kovesh, “My Kippah” from director  Ilan Rosenfeld, and “Sophie and Jacob” from director Max Shoham.

“We join our fellow movie lovers in longing for the day we can be back in front of the big screen,” Blank said in an email. “Until then, we feel privileged to share the gift of cinematic stories with festival goers in our Virtual Cinema, where they can choose their passion, pursue and journey through this year’s extraordinary film lineup.”

Tickets go on sale on Feb. 9 online. More information about how to stream films can be found on the festival’s website. Reporter Newspapers/Atlanta Intown is a media partner for the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival.

Update: this article has been updated with festival line-up changes. More than 50 films representing 18 countries will play in the festival. “An American Hippie in Israel” is no longer playing. A spokesperson for AJFF also sent a correction for Kenny Blank’s quote.

Sammie Purcell is Associate Editor at Rough Draft Atlanta.