Filmmakers and movie lovers can reunite at Toronto International Film Festival this fall. The festival announced plans for a fully in-person event for its 47th edition after adapting to hybrid live/digital events in 2020 and 2021 amid COVID-19 safety concerns. This year’s festival resumes the 11-day run of the pre-COVID days and kicks off September 8th. The September event gives ample legroom for planning as Ontario quit COVID safety protocols cold turkey at the end of March with over 80% of the eligible population having received at least two vaccine doses.
The announcement came yesterday at a live event at TIFF Bell Lightbox to mark the return to in-person gatherings. TIFF CEO Cameron Bailey announced that red carpets would be back at TIFF Bell Lightbox, Roy Thomson Hall, the Visa Screening Room at the Princess of Wales Theatre, and Cineplex Scotiabank. New this year is the Royal Alexandra Theatre among TIFF’s screening venues. The 1000 seat venue will take over the gigs hosted by the Winter Garden and Elgin Theatres. (Capacity is about two thirds of the Elgin and slightly larger than the Winter Garden.) The addition of the premium site keeps the festival along the King Street Strip. Festival Street will also return with the usual mix of festivities to take in between screenings.
Biz Is Back
“The city of Toronto is buzzing with excitement, as celebrations that make this city so unique return in full force,” said Bailey in a statement from TIFF. “Restrictions have lifted, borders have opened up, and travelling back to Toronto has become much easier. As TIFF celebrates the full cinema experience, we are proud and overjoyed to be welcoming our audiences back. Film lovers can enjoy screenings of the most exciting new cinema from around the world in the heart of the city, including the newly announced Royal Alexandra Theatre, feel the hustle and bustle of Festival Street, and catch a glimpse of their favourite stars — but most of all they can immerse themselves back into that moviegoing experience Toronto audiences love.”
TIFF also announced that two of its marquee industry events—the Industry Conference and the TIFF Tribute Awards—will be in person. The Industry Conference, running September 9–13 at the Glenn Gould Studio, invites film professionals and speakers to return for discussions and networking after two years of Zoom. The 2019 industry programming included some of the biggest names in documentary, including Barbara Kopple, Alan Berliner, and Alanis Obomsawin. Further industry trade will resume as well with the Industry Centre returning to the Hyatt on King Street. Further announcements on the programming and industry plans will roll out this summer.
The TIFF Tribute Awards gala fundraiser will take place on Sunday, September 11 at Fairmont Royal York. The awards have quickly become a springboard for festival titles to launch their Oscar campaigns. Previous TIFF Tribute Award winners include Joaquin Phoenix, Chloé Zhao, Anthony Hopkins, and Jessica Chastain, all of whom went on to win Academy Awards. While TIFF enjoys its status as the world’s largest public festival, the parallel industry festival is where the business really happens.
While TIFF won’t be doing digital offerings during the festival proper after mixed success last year, it will expand the digital offerings available through TIFF.net. The festival announced yesterday that Norm Wilner would assume responsibility of the digital programming. Wilner revealed earlier in the week that he was stepping down from his long-time role as the senior film critic for NOW Magazine, whose publisher declared bankruptcy on Friday after shfting from weekly to monthly print publication in March. Wilner has hosted TIFF’s “Secret Movie Club,” which offers sneak peeks of hot-ticket titles for cinephiles and will continue the gig along with his digital programming.
Correction: This article previously stated that NOW had ceased print publication. It has transitioned from weekly to monthly print publication.