Only 50 new feature films will be in the lineup while red carpets will be virtual. The festival will also launch a digital platform to show movies.

People stand on a red carpet behind the TIFF logo at the Toronto International Film Festival in Toronto, September 3, 2014.
People stand on a red carpet behind the TIFF logo at the Toronto International Film Festival in Toronto, September 3, 2014. (Reuters)

The Toronto film festival is going ahead in September despite the coronavirus pandemic, organisers announced on Wednesday, but red carpets will be virtual and far fewer movies will be premiered.

"The pandemic has hit TIFF hard," Toronto International Film Festival co-head Cameron Bailey said in a statement. But it will persevere "to bring the very best in film to the broadest possible audience."

"We're excited to present thoughtful, high-impact programming this September that reflects our belief that there's no stopping great storytelling," he said.

North America's largest film festival – which has become a bellwether for Oscar-conscious studios and distributors – usually screens 300 to 400 feature and short films from dozens of countries each year.

Only 50 new feature films will be in the lineup for its 45th edition, tailored for the global health crisis, September 10-19.

No major film festival has been held since the global onset of Covid-19. France’s Cannes Film Festival, Austin’s SXSW and New York’s Tribeca Film Festival have all been shut down and forced to improvise. Cannes went ahead with a selection announcement, to help celebrate the movies it had intended to screen.

Staff reduction

Earlier this week, the Toronto film festival cut 31 staff as its revenues were forecast to plunge.

Over the first five days, the festival's full slate will be screened with social distancing measures in place at local movie theatres and drive-ins.

This will be contingent on meeting public health guidelines.

Titles revealed on Wednesday include "Bruised," the debut film from director Halle Berry, Thomas Vinterberg's "Another Round," and Naomi Kawase's "True Mothers."

Guests such as Ava DuVernay, Nicole Kidman, Martin Scorsese, Alfonso Cuaron, Claire Denis, Viggo Mortensen, Zhang Ziyi and Denis Villeneuve are expected to appear on virtual red carpets and take part in interactive online talks.

Last year’s festival included the world premieres of “Knives Out,” “Jojo Rabbit,” “Harriet,” “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” and “Just Mercy,” among many others.

For the first time in its history, the festival will also launch a digital platform to show movies. Over 10 days it will host screenings, as well as talks and special events online.

Thousands of industry professionals looking to scoop up film distribution rights and rub shoulders with the world's top or up-and-coming directors and actors, meanwhile, will be asked to move those meetings online.

Press screenings will also go digital.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies