Toronto Film Fest Gets Tough on Film Premieres

Toronto Film Festival

The Toronto Film Festival has tightened the rules for its premieres during the first four days of this year’s festival — insisting that Toronto titles cannot be shown first at the Telluride Film Festival.

TIFF artistic director Cameron Bailey has been spelling out the policy in meetings in Los Angeles in recent days. Telluride, which opens a week before Toronto, eschews use of the word “premiere” but showed several films last year — “12 Years a Slave,” “Gravity” and “Prisoners” — that were subsequently shown at TIFF as North American premieres.

“All films playing in the first four days of the festival must be world premiere or North American premieres,” Bailey said. “‘World premiere’ means the first public screening of the film anywhere in the world. ‘North American premiere’ means the first public screening anywhere in Canada, the United States or Mexico.”

TIFF will run for 11 days, starting on Sept. 4 — its usual start date of the first Thursday in September. Bailey also said that other invited films that have debuted at Telluride or elsewhere will be scheduled for the last week of the festival from Sept. 8 on.

“Invited films that screen elsewhere in North America prior to their Toronto screening will be scheduled from the Monday of our festival onward,” Bailey said. “In additional the festival’s Opening Night film must be a world premiere. The closing night film must be a world or international premiere.”

Telluride’s seen an impressive list of awards contenders in recent years, serving as the launching pad for “Argo,” “The King’s Speech,” “The Descendants,” “Slumdog Millionaire,” “Juno,” “Brokeback Mountain,” “Capote” and “The Last King of Scotland.”

Unlike the Venice and Toronto fests, however, Telluride continues to opt for a straightforward presentation without red carpets or awards competitions. The organizers refuse to tout any title as a “premiere.”

A rep for Telluride said the festival had no comment.

The news was first reported by Indiewire.

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  1. I’m a Toronto boy. I love TIFF. I see between 40-50 movies at our wonderful fest every year. I’m mixed about this decision because a) when critics/press/industry see some of the big movies at Telluride, that means more seats for the rest of us the following week, and b) their first reactions help us alter our scheds accordingly in the case that a few of those big premieres are turkeys like the Fifth Estate, which are not worth paying through the nose for.

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