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Home / World News / Toronto Film Fest is going hybrid as show must go on during pandemic

Toronto Film Fest is going hybrid as show must go on during pandemic

TIFF is adapting to Covid-19, with in-person screenings restricted to 50 physically-distanced persons, outdoor showings at drive-ins and an open-air venue as well as a digital debut.

world Updated: Sep 09, 2020, 14:30 IST
Anirudh Bhattacharyya
Anirudh Bhattacharyya
Hindustan Times, Toronto
A still from Indian-American director Mira Nair’s TV adaptation of Vikram Seth’s novel A Suitable Boy, which will be featured as the closing gala presentation at the 45th edition of the Toronto International Film Festival.
A still from Indian-American director Mira Nair’s TV adaptation of Vikram Seth’s novel A Suitable Boy, which will be featured as the closing gala presentation at the 45th edition of the Toronto International Film Festival.(TIFF)

Amid the Covid-19 pandemic, Toronto International Film Festival, one of the three major movie events in the world, is going hybrid with socially distanced in-person screenings, drive-in shows and an online debut. The 45th edition of North America’s largest movie event will still span 10 days from Thursday.

“We began this year planning for a festival much like our previous editions, but along the way we had to rethink just about everything. This year’s line-up reflects that tumult,” said Cameron Bailey, TIFF’s artistic director and co-head.

TIFF has usually featured close to 400 films. But 2020 will witness a pared-down slate, with 61 features, 36 shorts and another 30 films that will be restricted to the industry to keep its marketplace buzzing.

Among the novelties for regular festival-goers will be the “outdoor experience”, with screenings at two drive-in venues and an open-air cinema in Toronto. Physical screenings will be limited to a maximum of 50 persons in the theatre.

The online platform will also debut this year and feature all the films available to the public, though they will be geographically limited to Canada.

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Unlike previous years, stars will be unable to visit Toronto in person due to mandatory quarantine requirements. But they will make online appearances to interact with audiences.

Given the backdrop, TIFF is also partnering with a healthcare company for the festival.

The festival will open with African-American director Spike Lee’s filmed version of David Byrne’s American Utopia, a Broadway musical from the founder and frontman of the classic band Talking Heads.

India will be represented at TIFF this year by The Disciple, a film from Mumbai-based director Chaitanya Tamhane. In addition, the closing night presentation will feature episodes of Indian-American director Mira Nair’s TV adaptation of Vikram Seth’s novel Suitable Boy.

“We could never have anticipated the global seismic changes we would be facing in 2020,” TIFF’s executive director and Co-Head Joana Vicente said.

And while TIFF 2020 will miss the adulatory crowds swarming around stars for selfies, organisers hope it will be a memorable experience in a year of duress.

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