Toronto International Film Festival Prepared for Fall Film Festival Season Amidst Industry Strikes

Toronto International Film Festival Prepared for Fall Film Festival Season Amidst Industry Strikes

The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) is marching forward despite the industry strikes that have gripped Hollywood. In an interview with Deadline, TIFF CEO Cameron Bailey expressed his confidence in the festival’s upcoming line-up, stating, “TIFF is on. Our dates are the same, the films are coming.” As the film festival troika of Toronto, Telluride, and Venice faces uncertainty, Bailey assured that TIFF’s line-up of over 200 features will surpass last year’s offerings.

TIFF has established itself as a platform for both international and Hollywood films, with a standard ratio of 70% international films to 30% Hollywood/awards season films. This year is no different, as major studios continue to showcase their awards season contenders. Already playing at the festival is Taika Waititi’s soccer comedy, “Next Goal Wins,” which has garnered critical acclaim and is generating buzz among audiences.

Despite the ongoing strikes, TIFF remains committed to its traditional red carpet events and the closure of King Street. During the first in-person TIFF since the Covid shutdown, the festival maintained its iconic trolleys on King Street, which is typically closed for the first four days of the event. Furthermore, advance festival passes for this year are already outpacing last year’s numbers, indicating strong audience interest and anticipation.

However, the strikes have raised concerns about the attendance of stars at the fall festivals. If the strikes continue for more than four weeks, publicists have indicated that it could impact the presence of celebrities. Nevertheless, there is still hope for the festivals, particularly in the realm of starry independent acquisition titles. These films, backed by talent agencies, may not be subject to the strikes as they are not from AMPTP companies. Bailey emphasized the festival’s extensive collection of sales titles, featuring A-list actors, which could provide a workaround for stars to promote their projects at the festivals.

Bailey acknowledged that the situation is complex, stating, “There are some films that are not from the companies that are being struck by SAG-AFTRA. What’s their reality? It depends on each film and each actor.” He emphasized that every member of SAG-AFTRA will make their own decisions regarding participation, even if an interim agreement is in place. The festival is working closely with filmmakers, directors, and actors to navigate the gray areas and understand the choices available to them.

Furthermore, TIFF has made adjustments to its format this year. There will be no film press conferences, a departure from previous editions. Bailey clarified that this decision was not directly related to the strikes but rather a response to the scheduling conflicts that arise between press conferences and film screenings for journalists. While other festivals like Cannes continue to hold press conferences, TIFF has opted to prioritize the screening experience for journalists. Despite these changes, the festival’s awards gala will proceed as planned, featuring directors and international talent who are not affected by the Hollywood union labor restrictions.

As the industry strikes persist, Bailey acknowledged the need for preparation. He stated, “We have to prepare for the possibility that the strike will extend into the fall.” TIFF remains committed to providing a platform for diverse films and supporting filmmakers, even in the face of uncertainty.

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