EXCLUSIVE: In another example of the reality of the Covid world we, and the entertainment industry, are living in, Deadline has learned the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will not be traveling to Colorado for its annual member trip to the Telluride Film Festival this upcoming Labor Day weekend, and as such will not be holding its usual cocktail reception which has been a highlight of the fest in recent years and was expected to once again draw a packed room of Oscar voters, as well as AMPAS officials including President David Rubin and CEO Dawn Hudson. Sources tell me the current Delta Variant surge is a key reason the Academy is skipping the fest this year out of “an abundance of caution.” In recent weeks the Academy had been mulling whether to stick with tradition and attend or forgo the festival this year.
Of course Telluride is considered a key starting point for Oscar season and will be showcasing numerous awards hopefuls, between September 2-6, so not having the usual AMPAS contingent in town will be a disappointment for those launching their contenders there in about three weeks time. Had they decided to attend it is likely the reception itself would have moved to an outdoor area in order to comply with all the various national, state, and local guidelines of safety and social distancing. In past years the reception was such a must-attend event and so crowded it was difficult to maueuver. The last time the Academy landed in Telluride was 2019. Due to Covid fears the festival was cancelled last year for the first time ever. Telluride is a very insulated town and has generally had very low Covid case rates.
Despite the absence of the Academy, it is still all systems go for the festival, in terms of studio and distributor participation. In fact, I have been contacted by at least one major player with several films this year asking if I am comfortable attending their planned event “as long as all precautions are taken”. I have heard of no one so far canceling or changing their plans regarding participation at Telluride. The festival keeps its lineup secret until the day before it starts and has so far not officially announced just who and what will be there, but there is lots of informed speculation and it appears festival honchos are putting together a very strong and promising lineup of films and tributes including in-person star and filmmaker participation. The Telluride Festival is also reinforcing all healthy and safety guidelines and requirements including proof of vaccination that will be part of everyone’s official pass. Earlier this week the festival sent an email to all attendees adding another requirement of a Covid test taken within 72 hours of arrival, with written proof a stipulation of getting your pass when you arrive.
Here is what they wrote:
“First, we are beside ourselves with anticipation – however mixed it is with every other emotion of this particular time in history. We cannot wait to see you.
As you all are aware, we are not just a film festival, but also a family and collectively a powerful force for cultural good. To maintain the “good” part, we ask again for you to assist us in creating a secure environment for reconvening the Telluride experience.
We have noted the challenges posed by new variants of COVID-19 and after consulting with leading health professionals and with respect for the fundamental science at play, we are electing to add new health protocols as outlined below. We have done so with an eye to likely near-future restrictions legislated locally, though restrictions may differ between the Festival and local businesses.
No organization can fully control all risks associated with a public gathering of any size and we respect the decisions of those who have decided to stay home. However, we believe the following protocols substantively address the dangers of infection and serious illness posed by current COVID-19 variants. We are closely monitoring changing conditions and remain in close contact with health professionals and may add further changes prior to the start of THE SHOW.
In previous communications, we outlined the following:
• All attendees, including staff, must be fully vaccinated against the virus and to carry proof of their vaccination status with them at all times. No one will be permitted to receive their pass without having uploaded their vaccination card and photo ID using the link created for this purpose.
Today, we add the following protocols:
• All attendees traveling to Telluride for the SHOW, must present proof of a negative PCR test conducted within 72 hours of arrival in Telluride. Local passholders will also need to present proof of a negative PCR test conducted within 72 hours of collecting passes. In both circumstances we ask for a printed copy of the test results to be presented for each passholder when passes are collected at the SHOW Box Office. If unable to provide negative test, the attendees will be unable to pick up the pass and pass will be held until negative test provided.
•. A mobile antigen and PCR testing unit will additionally be made available to all attendees for added peace of mind while in Telluride
• Masks covering nose and mouth will be required for audiences at all film screenings
• Masks covering nose and mouth are required when awaiting, boarding, traveling on, or disembarking all Festival transportation, including charter flights
We ask that you not attend if any of the following is true for you or anyone in your party:
• Within 14 days before attending the festival you have tested positive, or been exposed to someone who has tested positive for, COVID-19
• Within 48 hours prior to attending the festival, you have experienced symptoms of COVID-19 (e.g., a fever of 100.4F or higher, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, chills, repeated shaking muscle pain/achiness, headache, sore throat, loss of taste or smell, nasal congestion, runny nose, vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue or any other symptoms associated with COVID-19 identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
• Within 14 days prior to attending the festival, you have travelled to any international territory identified by federal or applicable state or local governments as being subject to travel or quarantine advisories due to COVID-19.
THANK YOU for trusting that this will be a worthy use of your time and resources, we will be working our hardest to not let you down!!!! With preparation, care and grace, we will experience a SHOW like no other.”