(Credit: Gabbo T)

TIFF 2020: Toronto Film Festival adapts to COVID-19

The 45th annual Toronto International Film Festival will go on despite the restrictions placed on public events by the current pandemic, by means of drastic and creative changes in the festival’s format, hopefully changes that will not diminish the experience for film lovers. “We’re aiming to advance what a film festival is capable of delivering — for audiences and the film industry,” commented Director and Co-Head of TIFF, Joanna Vicente.

Adding: “We could never have anticipated the global seismic changes we would be facing in 2020. 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.”

To begin with, the usually extensive selection of films has been limited to a mere 50 feature films, along with documentaries and 40 short films. The event will host only a few physical screenings in Toronto; the majority will be offered online only. Live screenings include a very few indoors, socially distanced shows in the larger cinemas; along with drive-in and other outdoor screenings. The usual programmes of interactive talks and Q&A events with actors and filmmakers will be offered online.

TIFF has declared its continued dedication to providing access to a wide range of international films, and work from diverse voices. In particular, the festival has emphasised its commitment to the programme known as Share Her Journey, which ensures that women are represented among both the festival’s curators and the actual filmmakers, an effort TIFF calls “reflective of the organization’s continuing commitment to normalizing gender parity and equality for future generations.” Share Her Journey also provides funding, mentorship, and networking opportunities for female filmmakers. The festival is pleased to have achieved 50/50 gender parity across all industry conferences and programmes and close to 50% female filmmakers represented in its festival selection.

Even in its curtailed version, TIFF will still welcome an array of celebrities. 50 acclaimed actors and filmmakers will act as ‘TIFF Ambassadors,’ including directors Ava DuVernay, Taika Waititi, Atom Egoyan, Martin Scorsese, Claire Denis, Alfonso Cuaron, and Denis Villeneuve; and actors Nicole Kidman, Isabelle Huppert, Viggo Mortensen, David Oyelowo, Rosamund Pike, among others.

The annual Tiff Tribute Awards will also be distributed this year, but virtually rather than in a live ceremony. TIFF 2020 will run from September 10 – 19.

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