2020 took everyone by surprise with COVID-19, and loss followed wherever the pandemic ended up. But even as the world seems to be slowing down, people are working hard to keep it moving. There are all kinds of events that people anticipate each year, and despite fear of the virus, people seem to fear event cancellationseven more. Luckily for film fans, TIFF 2020 is here to stay.
The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), which hosts over 400,000 attendees annually, continues to welcome fans for 2020 in their belief that “there’s no stopping great storytelling.”
TIFF has been offering a variety of high-quality films from around the world since 1976. This popular event is essential to Toronto’s $2 billion-a-year film industry and helps Canadian content reach the global market.
With changes to accommodate for safety, the 45th edition of TIFF will look a bit different this year. The festival, which runs from September 10-19, will offer digital screenings, drive-ins, and virtual red carpets, alongside modified press conferences, industry talks, and physical screenings. With safety as their highest priority, TIFF is working with public health officials to ensure the best setup possible.
During the first five days, TIFF’s full selection of films will premiere via socially-distanced physical screenings in three different venues. While last year featured a whopping 333 titles, this year’s lineup spans only 50 feature films and five programmes of short films. It’s a smaller, but ever mighty, selection with highly anticipated worldwide premieres such as Francis Lee’s Ammonite (United Kingdom), Halle Berry’s directorial debut Bruised (USA), Suzanne Lindon’s debut Spring Blossom (France) and Naomi Kawase’sTrue Mothers (Japan), among many others. TIFF will also welcome a star-studded guest list of ambassadors, filmmakers, and actors, including Taika Waititi, Nicole Kidman, Martin Scorsese, Priyanka Chopra, Tantoo Cardinal, Zhang Ziyi, Anurag Kashyap, Viggo Mortensen, David Oyelowo, Lulu Wang, Alfonso Cuarón, and Rosamund Pike.
Since COVID-19 still lurks, crowds of thousands of people would be a hazard. However, to make the best out of this situation for festivalgoers, TIFF is offering drive-ins and outdoor experiences. To the thousands of people unable to attend the festival in person, TIFF has you covered. For the first time ever, TIFF is launching a digital platform where screenings, talks, and special events will stream online throughout the festival’s 10 days.
“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,” says Cameron Bailey, TIFF’s Artistic Director and Co-Head, in an official release.
The team behind TIFF has worked to change this problematic pandemic into an opportunity – an opportunity to connect with audiences beyond Toronto. As the film industry struggles to recover, TIFF is collaborating with other festivals like Toronto’s Inside Out and Reel Asian International Film Festival, the Vancouver International Film Festival (VIFF) , and large-scale events like the Venice Film Festival, Telluride Film Festival, and New York Film Festival.
Despite all these changes, TIFF 2020 will find some familiar footing. The Tribute Awards, which began in 2019, will still be hosted and available online to acknowledge and celebrate the industry’s exceptional contributors. There is also TIFF’s Industry Conference with advanced online security for film professionals to network and interviews available for Canadian and international press. Finally, this year will host the third edition of TIFF’s Media Inclusion Initiative to recognize and amplify the voices of eligible Black, Indigenous, people of colour, LGBTQ+, and female film critics. As a new addition to this initiative, companies and individuals can now gift industry access to 250 under-represented filmmakers globally.
Throughout the pandemic, TIFF has suffered temporary closures of its offices and cinemas, reduction of full-time staff, and predictions of a 50 per cent reduced revenue from last year. But even with these hardships, the festival commits to keeping the celebration of film alive. As stated in an official release, “the world is still bursting with stories not yet told, places not yet seen, and most importantly, voices not yet heard.”Individual tickets for TIFF members will go on sale starting August 28, opening up to different tiers each day until September 5, when tickets go on sale to the public at 10 a.m. You can find ticket pre-sales and additional information at tiff.net.