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Toronto Film Festival unveils 2020 edition plans

TIFF vows re-imagined festival to feature new films, talks, interactive experiences

The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) announced on Saturday plans for its 45th edition which is set to take place on 10-19 September.

The festival will be tailored to fit the moment, with physical screenings and drive-ins, digital screenings, virtual red carpets, press conferences, and industry talks.

This year’s selection comprises a line-up of 50 new feature films, five short films programmes, interactive talks, film cast reunions, and Q&As with cast and filmmakers, TIFF said.

“The worldwide health crisis has affected everyone working in the cultural industries, and TIFF has been severely impacted,” the festival said in a press release.

It added that its role in the film industry’s ecosystem has provided the impetus to move forward and deliver a film festival that inspires and engages audiences. It also looks to serve as a beacon of hope for Toronto, for filmmakers, and for the international film industry.

TIFF is the cornerstone of Toronto’s $2bn-a-year film industry, generating over $200m in annual economic activity for the city and the province of Ontario in which the city is located. The festival is the chief market in which to launch Canadian film content to the global marketplace.

As the 2020 line-up comes together, the festival said that its programming teams are working to curate the most memorable experience possible for its audiences. This will take place through a diverse selection of the highest quality films from around the world.

“Films on offer will reflect first-rate international cinema, documentaries, and Canadian creativity,” the festival said. It added that the representation of women amongst TIFF’s film programmers is reflective of the organisation’s continuing commitment to normalising gender parity and equality for future generations.

TIFF 2020 line-up

TIFF announced that, to date, films that will be screened at this year’s festival include: Ammonite, directed by Francis Lee (UK); Another Round, from director Thomas Vinterberg (Denmark); Bruised, the debut film from director Halle Berry (USA); Concrete Cowboy by Ricky Staub (USA); Fauna , by Nicolás Pereda (Mexico/Canada); Good Joe Bell by Reinaldo Marcus Green (USA); Spring Blossom, the debut film by director Suzanne Lindon (France); and True Mothers by Naomi Kawase (Japan).

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 film theatre.

TIFF said it is working closely with the Province of Ontario, the City of Toronto, and public health officials on the festival’s safe execution. Its number one priority remains the health and well-being of both festival goers and the community residents.

“This presentation of TIFF’s 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,” the festival organisers added.

TIFF offers digital screenings

For the first time in its history, TIFF said it will launch a digital platform, affording new opportunities to connect with audiences beyond Toronto. 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, which is to bring the very best in film to the broadest possible audience,” said Cameron Bailey, Artistic Director and Co-Head at the festival.

Bailey added, “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.”

Speaking at a press conference, Bailey said, “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.”

Joana Vicente, Executive Director and Co-Head, TIFF said the festival “has a proud history of programming award-winning films and expanding the conversation to include a multitude of voices”.

Vicente also emphasised the festival’s ability to create boundary-pushing initiatives for the industry.

“In doing so, we’re aiming to advance what a film festival is capable of delivering — for audiences and the film industry,” Vicente said. “We could never have anticipated the seismic global changes we would be facing in 2020.”

Vicente also noted, “We tapped into the original spirit of the Festival from when it began in 1976 as our guiding light. The distilled edition of TIFF 2020 reflects a deep love of film, passion for our loyal audiences, commitment to the industry, and a whole lot of heart.”

TIFF Tribute Awards

TIFF will also present its annual TIFF Tribute Awards, acknowledging and celebrating outstanding contributions to the film industry.

Launched in 2019, the TIFF Tribute Awards honoured, among others, the remarkable talents and contributions of silver screen legends including Meryl Streep, Taika Waititi, Mati Diop, and Joaquin Phoenix.

This tradition will continue in 2020, with audiences worldwide able to experience the Awards virtually. Additional information on the Awards and the 2020 honourees will be announced in the coming months.

TIFF’s Industry Conference will welcome thousands of film professionals as always, although this year many of the activities will have transferred online. Industry and press screenings will, for instance, take place on the festival’s digital platform.

Industry delegates can also expect advanced security and anti-piracy measures, access to buyers, and opportunities for networking. International and Canadian press attending TIFF will be able to experience in-depth conversations with actors and filmmakers, at the same time as having access to filmmakers for interviews.

Now in its third year, TIFF’s Media Inclusion Initiative will continue to accredit eligible Black, Indigenous, People of Colour, LGBTQ+, and female emerging film critics who are working towards amplifying their voices in the press corps.

New this year, the festival is offering companies and individuals the opportunity to gift industry access to 250 underrepresented emerging filmmakers from around the world. It is hoped that this will open doors for those who need it most. The global health crisis and its financial impacts have affected everyone, making partnerships and alliances essential to aid in the recovery of the film industry.

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