The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) has brought diverse and quality films to its audiences since 1976 and the 45th edition is set to take place on September 10-19 of 2020. Like the rest of the entertainment industry, however, TIFF has been severely impacted by the current pandemic. Due to the effects, the Coronavirus has had on the film industry, TIFF was forced to complete a redesign of its businesses and activities and had to eliminate thirty-one full-time staff positions. What’s more, the festival typically generates more than $200 million annually for the city of Toronto and the Province of Ontario, but due to lay-offs, building closures, and event cancellations, the organization expects a 50% reduction in revenue from 2019. Despite recent setbacks, TIFF is dedicated to continue their tradition and to play its “role in the ecosystem of the film industry” and to provide 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.”
Although, traditionally, TIFF is a 10 day long, in-person film festival that serves as the launchpad for Canadian film content into the global market, over the past three months TIFF has rebuilt the festival to be a hybrid of physical and digital screenings, drive-ins, virtual red carpets, conferences, and more. As large gatherings are still not permitted in Toronto, the festival (particularly the in-person activities) is contingent on Toronto’s “reopening framework” and public health guidelines. Currently though, fifty new feature films– including “Kate Winslet-starrer Ammonite, Thomas Vinterberg’s Another Round, Concrete Cowboy with Idris Elba, Fauna from director Nicolás Pereda, Good Joe Bell starring Mark Wahlberg, Suzanne Lindon’s Spring Blossom, True Mothers by Naomi Kawase and Halle Berry’s directorial debut Bruised”– are set to play over the event’s first five days as physical, socially distanced screenings. In addition to the films, there will be five programs of short films, interactive talks, film cast reunions, and Q&As with cast and filmmakers. Then, for the first time in its history, TIFF (partnered with Shift72) will launch a digital platform for the Festival which will provide access to audiences outside Toronto.
Joana Vicente, executive director and co-head of TIFF remarked, “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.” Still, TIFF recognizes that the world has not only been plagued by illness, but also social and political strife. Therefore, along with its efforts to “bring the very best in film to the broadest possible audience” TIFF will also present its annual TIFF Tribute Awards that acknowledge and celebrate outstanding contributors to the film industry, and TIFF’s Media Inclusion Initiative will continue to accredit eligible black, indigenous, people of color, LGBTQ+ and female emerging film critics.
Megan Kern is a second-year law student at Case Western Reserve University School of Law in Cleveland, Ohio.