The Toronto Film Festival has unveiled details on a slimmed-down and virtual industry conference set to take place Sept. 10 to 15.
Toronto added to its list of Hollywood and global film talent that traditionally walks up the September event’s red carpets into movie premieres and industry events, who will appear this year instead as “festival ambassadors” as TIFF is reimagined for the COVID-19 era.
As part of its industry conference lineup, director and screenwriter Derek Cianfrance will lead a Dialogues session and Hollywood actor David Oyelowo will be a guest speaker as part of the TIFF Rising Stars program in September. Also joining TIFF’s talent lineup as fest ambassadors is Brie Larson, Barry Jenkins, Natalie Portman, Darren Aronofsky, Gael García Bernal and Tatiana Maslany.
Toronto has additionally lined up for virtual appearances Carey Mulligan, Zachary Quinto, Isabella Rossellini, Wim Wenders, Olivia Wilde, and Donnie Yen. They join previously announced ambassadors that include Ava Duvernay, Nicole Kidman, Jason Reitman, Martin Scorcese, Riz Ahmed, Priyanka Chopra, Alfonso Cuaron and Claire Denis.
TIFF organizers said the industry conference will be a virtual gathering this year owing to the coronavirus pandemic. “The conference, now online, will feature a smaller lineup of talks than previous years, and will comprise master classes, dialogues, perspectives, microsessions, and spotlights. speakers will include TIFF Ambassadors in addition to other leading and emerging voices in the film industry,” the festival disclosed.
Toronto’s September event plans in-theater screenings for only around 50 indie titles as well as online screenings, red carpets, press conferences and industry events on a first-time digital platform. The festival’s proposed in-theater play for movies, including David Byrne’s American Utopia on opening night, is contingent on a greenlight from city and provincial health and safety authorities.
The City of Toronto has okayed TIFF holding outdoor drive-in movie screenings at Ontario Place, on the city’s waterfront. At the same time, city health authorities have canceled all major festivals and events in Toronto until September 30, sending them online as a safety precaution for audiences.
“This year, delegates can expect to find community, connection, inspiration, and talent — the foundation that will serve as the way forward,” Geoff Macnaughton, senior director of industry and theatrical at TIFF, added in a statement about the festival’s overall virtual plans. That includes all press and industry screenings of films streaming online as part of TIFF’s digital screening platform, developed by Shift72.
The Canadian festival is urging the entertainment media not to travel to Toronto as TIFF mostly heads online this year as a safety precaution during the pandemic. Toronto will also bring back its media inclusion initiative for a third year to bolster the ranks of under-represented journalists at the festival.
TIFF said it will focus on Black, indigenous, and People of Color as it adds to its press corps in September.