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Muskoka Post Staff
TIFF says that the “traditional in-person ﬁlm festival will be contingent on the province’s reopening framework to ensure that festival venues and workplaces practice, meet and exceed public health guidelines."
TIFF announced that this year’s event will include “physical, socially-distanced screenings” as well as “drive-ins, digital screenings and virtual red carpets, press conferences and industry talks.”
The 45th edition of the Toronto International Film Festival is taking place September 10–19, and this year’s selection comprises a lineup of 50 new feature films, five programs of short films, as well as interactive talks, film cast reunions, and Q&As with cast and filmmakers.
Organizers say information regarding film selection, screening venues, ticket sales for both Members and the public, accreditation and TIFF’s Industry Conference will be available in the coming weeks.
Part of the festivals' statement on its website regarding this years event says that "the worldwide health crisis has affected everyone working in the cultural industries, and TIFF has been severely impacted. Its role in the ecosystem of the film industry was the impetus to move forward, to deliver a film festival that inspires and engages audiences, and to serve as a beacon of hope for Toronto, for filmmakers, and for the international film industry. TIFF is the cornerstone of a $2-billion-a-year film industry in Toronto, generates more than $200 million in annual economic activity for the City of Toronto and the Province of Ontario, and is the chief market to launch Canadian film content into the global marketplace."
Over the first five days, TIFF’s full slate of films will premiere as physical, socially-distanced screenings. Festival-goers can also enjoy drive-ins and outdoor experiences that take them beyond the movie theatre. TIFF is working closely with the Province of Ontario, the City of Toronto, and public health officials on the safe execution of the Festival, with its number one priority being the health and well-being of both Festival filmgoers and the residents of the entire community.
For the first time in its history, TIFF will launch a digital platform for the Festival, affording new opportunities to connect with audiences beyond Toronto. TIFF has partnered with Shift72 to develop this industry-leading online platform. Over the 10 days, the platform will host digital screenings, as well as numerous talks and special events.
“The pandemic has hit TIFF hard, but we’ve responded by going back to our original inspiration — to bring the very best in film to the broadest possible audience,” said Cameron Bailey, Artistic Director and Co-Head, TIFF. “Our teams have had to rethink everything, and open our minds to new ideas. In countless video calls over the past three months we have rebuilt our Festival for 2020 drawing on our five decades of commitment to strong curation, support for filmmakers and engagement with audiences. We have listened to this year’s urgent calls for greater representation of underrepresented voices. You’ll see that this year at the Festival. And we have watched as audiences have embraced cinema’s ability to transport them through screens of all sizes. You’ll see that too. We’re excited to present thoughtful, high-impact programming this September that reflects our belief that there’s no stopping great storytelling.”
TIFF also says "the global health crisis and its financial impact has affected everyone, making partnerships and alliances essential to aid in the recovery of the film industry. TIFF 2020 represents an unprecedented collaboration with other film festivals in Toronto, like our long-time partners the Reel Asian International Film Festival and Inside Out; across Canada with the Vancouver International Film Festival; and internationally, with Venice, Telluride, and New York, to support filmmakers and bring the gift of cinema to audiences.
TIFF temporarily closed its year-round offices and cinemas at TIFF Bell Lightbox in March due to the pandemic. Immediately following the closure, TIFF launched the successful Stay-at-Home Cinema programme in partnership with Bell Media’s Crave, which has seen hundreds of thousands of Canadians and film fans from around the world engage with top talent from past Festival favourites. TIFF is taking the necessary steps to prepare for reopening, ensuring its facilities are outfitted with appropriate health precautions in preparation for when the Province permits larger public gatherings, and working with medical advisors and public health officials to ensure the safety of audiences, partners, and staff.
Earlier this week, TIFF confirmed the reduction of 31 full-time staff positions as a response to the financial impact brought on by COVID-19 and the temporary closure of its building. The global health crisis also necessitated a redesign of TIFF’s business and activities, for both TIFF Bell Lightbox and the Festival, in order for the organization to continue to deliver on its mission to transform the way people see the world through film. These factors, along with the restrictions on travel and large gatherings as well as a projected slow return to normal audience behaviour, resulted in a forecasted 50% reduction in revenue from 2019.
As a non-profit, TIFF continues to develop ways to secure financial support. TIFF’s For the Love of Film Fund was launched earlier this spring and supports TIFF’s work to re-imagine the in-cinema experience in the digital age for its audiences, and invests in TIFF’s recovery and the future of film. The Koolum Foundation will match every dollar donated to the For the Love of Film Fund.