Virtual Cinema FAQ

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In compliance with New York State law and Cornell University recommendations, Cornell Cinema is hosting Virtual Cinema screenings in lieu of in-person screenings. While we are disappointed that we won’t see you in the beautiful Willard Straight Theatre this Spring, we are pleased to be able to offer our virtual screenings to the Cornell and Ithaca community for free on a limited basis. We appreciate your understanding. If you’d like to donate to support our virtual efforts, you can do so at

How do I access Cornell Cinema’s Virtual Cinema?

Cornell Cinema has a limited number of “tickets” for each Virtual Cinema screening, which will be made available starting one week prior to a film’s “opening” date. To request a ticket, you may RSVP here. You will then be sent an email with a unique streaming link for the film. We will take RSVPs and distribute access links throughout a film’s screening window or until all free views have been given away, whichever comes first.

Virtual Cinema screenings will take place on a variety of platforms, depending on how the film is distributed. Technical and access specifics vary across platforms, but generally they are meant to be accessed via a web browser. Most films are only accessible in North America.

How far in advance do I need to RSVP?

We will start accepting RSVPs one week prior to a film’s “opening” date. RSVPs received earlier than a week in advance will not be processed. Given that we have a limited number of free views, we recommend sending your RSVP as soon as you know you would like to watch a particular film (as long as within the one week window). We will continue to accept requests into a film's run as long as free views still remain. We also recommend sending your RSVP at least one business day in advance of when you would like to watch. We cannot guarantee that we will be able to respond in time if you send your request between these times during a film's run: Fridays at 4pm and Mondays at 6am.

How long do I have to watch a film once I start it?

This will depend on the film. Most films are available for 48 or 72 hours once you have started watching; some for just 24 hours.

What is the price for these virtual screenings?

Most Cornell Cinema Virtual Cinema screenings will be presented for free. For any titles that we cannot offer free tickets, there will be a single ticket price for students and community members alike. This price will be noted on the event listing. At the moment, the only title we are offering this Spring for which there will be a fee-per-view is the 21st Annual Animation Show of Shows, at $9.99/view. A portion of the proceeds from the film will come back to Cornell Cinema to help us cover the costs of all the free films we're offering, so please keep this in mind!

If there is a cost, how do I pay it?

When you receive your screening link, click on it, and it will take you to the payment page. Generally, a credit card is required, but sometimes payment apps can be used.

What happens if Cornell Cinema runs out of tickets?

We will indicate that the film is “sold out” on the individual film’s page, and inform any enquiring patrons that our cutoff has been reached. We will also record any attempted RSVPs on a waitlist should we be able to increase the number of available tickets.

You sold out of free tickets—can I pay for a ticket to see a film?

Unfortunately, a variety of technical and governance reasons prevent us from being able to switch to a pay-per-view system after all our free tickets have been disbursed. You can often find some place to view the film via your search engine of choice. If you do seek out another streaming option, we encourage you to support independent cinemas elsewhere in the country, all of which are hurting during the pandemic.

Are you still selling an All-Access Pass?

Since most of our Spring 2021 virtual screenings are being offered for free, we will not be offering an All-Access Pass this semester. We hope to offer the All-Access Pass again in Fall 2021.

Will you still have guest speakers or visiting filmmakers?

Yes! We will still have guest speakers and visiting filmmakers; however, these will be Virtual events. Dates and times are in our schedule:

If I haven’t RSVPed to a Virtual Cinema screening of a film for which there is a guest speaker or filmmaker, can I still view their Q&A?

Yes! We will add the link to the virtual Q & A/panel discussion on the film's page once we have it. For talks hosted by Cornell Cinema, we will record them and upload when ready.

I’m currently outside the United States. Can I still access Cornell Cinema’s Virtual Cinema offerings?

Unfortunately, probably not. Most of the films we have licensed for virtual screenings come from distributors with only US/North American screening rights and are accessible only to people with a US-based IP address.

Technical Tips

Content will be offered on a variety of platforms, and we expect that you in the audience have a variety of computers, televisions, and peripherals. As a result, we can’t offer complete technical advice, but hopefully the following general pointers are useful.

My video keeps freezing – how do I fix this?

This is usually because there is an issue with your internet connection. Try restarting your router, changing to a different web browser, reloading the page, or restarting your laptop/computer. If others in your household are also streaming video content this can also slow down your film streaming.

How do I watch on a Laptop/Mobile phone?

Open up the web browser of your choice, click the link we sent you, and enjoy!

How do I watch on a TV?