The fall festival trifecta – Venice, Telluride and Toronto – plus the nearby New York Film Festival, say they are ditching competing this year to focus on collaboration and supporting the cinema biz through the pandemic era.
Traditionally the first port of call for films intending to launch into awards season, the fests are facing major changes to their 2020 editions due to ongoing virus disruption. In a joint statement today the event’s top brass say they are looking beyond the typical competitiveness that exists. It’s not clear exactly how that will manifest, but it may mean less of the typical scrapping to secure the top premieres in the best slots – the events are already planning to scale back their programs this year, and the Oscars being postponed to April 21 for 2021 also puts less pressure on landing those big contenders.
As Deadline detailed yesterday, upcoming festivals around the world are now game-planning for how they will operate in this new era. Several major events have already revealed how they will have hybrid physical and online editions this year. First up will be Venice, which is pressing on with plans for its physical edition in the first week of September – yesterday the event outlined the changes it will be making, including a reduced program of 50-55 movies.
Today, the four fests issued the below statement signed by their directors.
This year, we saw the COVID-19 pandemic devastate communities all over the world, and bring life as we knew it to a halt. As supporters of global cinema, we watched as the work of film artists stopped in its tracks, and the culture of film itself was challenged. Films come alive with audiences, who could no longer gather in the ways we had for over a century.
The art form we love is in crisis. Our own organizations have seen unprecedented challenges to our work and our financial security. The pandemic caught each of us as we were preparing for the biggest event of our year in the fall of 2020. We knew we had to adapt. We decided to collaborate as we never have before.
Venice is the origin story for every film festival in the world. Telluride is one of the world’s most influential festivals. Toronto is home to the world’s largest public film festival. And the New York Film Festival curates for one of the world’s most storied, sophisticated film cities. Our four festivals share a love of cinema and a devotion to filmmakers. We also share a short span of six weeks each autumn.
This year, we’ve moved away from competing with our colleagues at autumn festivals and commit instead to collaboration. We are sharing ideas and information. We are offering our festivals as a united platform for the best cinema we can find. We’re here to serve the filmmakers, audiences, journalists and industry members who keep the film ecosystem thriving. We need to do that together.
We believe cinema has a unique power to illuminate both the world around us, and our innermost perceptions.
In a crisis, films can transport us. They can enchant, inform, provoke and heal. As we work through challenging circumstances this summer to prepare our festivals, we will work together, in support of film.
Cameron Bailey, Toronto International Film Festival
Alberto Barbera, Venice International Film Festival
Eugene Hernandez, New York Film Festival
Julie Huntsinger, Telluride Film Festival
Tom Luddy, Telluride Film Festival
Joana Vicente, Toronto International Film Festival