Organizers of the event, which was scheduled to run June 14-17, said they heeded public direction from the World Health Organization, the Canadian government and the Alberta government in making the “difficult” decision.
Netflix content chief Ted Sarandos was among the keynote speakers set to appear at the event, which was to be held at the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel in Alberta.
Delegates will have the option of transferring their registration to next year or receiving a full refund.
Banff’s 2020 Rockie Awards International Program Competition will still take place, remotely with an international jury of industry professionals currently judging entries, while Banff will also continue its Spark Accelerator for Women in the Business of Media and third edition of the Netflix-BANFF Diversity of Voices Initiative.
“Cancelling the festival after 41 years of success was not a decision that we took lightly, but it was the right thing to do for festival delegates, speakers, and staff,” said Randy Lennox, President of Bell Media and Chair of the Banff board of directors. “I commend the Banff team and our board for making this tough but necessary call, and I’m confident that the festival will come back better than ever in 2021. Please stay safe everyone.”
“Although we had kept hope up in recent weeks, it became clear that it would be impossible to hold the festival with no certainty regarding what the safety situation might be by June in addition to restrictions on large gatherings and travel bans in place at most media companies,” said Jenn Kuzmyk, Executive Director, Banff World Media Festival. “We are not able to gather in person this year, but our team is already working on new ways to connect, inform, inspire and serve our industry. We look forward to working with all of you in the coming months to do just that.”