The 15th Tacoma Film Festival (TFF) is going virtual in 2020 due to COVID-19.

The festival will take place Nov. 6-15 with a variety of shorts packages and feature-length films available for audiences to view from the comfort of their homes.

Tickets and passes go on sale Thursday with free festival passes being offered to Tacoma and Pierce County students from primary school to college. Tickets can be purchased through the TFF website.

David Dinnell is the director and programmer for the festival, which he anticipates will be enriching even though it will be in a remote format.

“It’s very exciting even though it’s taking on a much different form this year,” Dinnell said. “I think that people who have been to TFF will still be able to experience the range of cinema that we always offer.

“The commitment to showing independent film, especially by up-and-coming filmmakers, remains consistent.”

The event has typically taken place in October. This year required a pushing back of the schedule to accommodate the changes in taking the festival all online.

Last year, the festival opened with the documentary-thriller hybrid “The Infiltrators” and closed with the coming-of-age drama “To the Stars.”

This year, the festival was named to MovieMakers 25 Coolest Film Festivals in the World.

Dinnell is confident all the films can be streamed smoothly.

“We’re going with a service that a lot of the larger festivals have gone with,” Dinnell said. “We’re confident it will be a good viewing experience.”

As for the program itself, the films vary in the number of available tickets and limited windows to watch them.

When it comes to getting those tickets, Dinnell recommends “jumping on things earlier rather than later, especially for some of the feature films.”

Dinnell said it isn’t likely any events could be in-person, even with recent steps by Gov. Jay Inslee to relax restrictions on theaters.

“Our main concern would be even if restrictions are relaxed is whether it would be a safe experience,” Dinnell said. “We’re not counting on it. I don’t think it’s looking great for Pierce County.”

What Dinnell is focused on is working to make the virtual festival as good as it can be and continuing to provide quality film programming.

“The festival does have a loyal core audience, and we just want to be able to continue that connection,” he said.

Chase Hutchinson covers art and culture for The News Tribune as well as writing film reviews. He previously worked at The Puget Sound Trail, the college paper of the University of Puget Sound from where he graduated.