Banff TV fest gets intimate

Focus shifts from big sessions to smaller groups

TORONTO — Delegates can expect to get cozy at the 26th Banff World Television Festival, which kicks off Sunday.

Focus of the fest at the Alberta resort town has shifted from big sessions in favor of smaller and more intimate meetings where it’s easier for delegates to mingle and network.

Revamp comes thanks to Robert Montgomery and his company Achilles Media, which took over shortly before last year’s event after the fest ran into fiscal hot water.

The opening ceremonies, keynote speech and pitchfests will take place in one third of the giant ballroom in which they were traditionally held; the delegate lounge, renamed the Telefilm Canada Banff Marketplace, has been moved and expanded to the remainder of the ballroom and will feature an Internet cafe with wireless access.

There are more one-on-ones, set up either as formal 10-minute face-to-face sessions or via the Web site’s delegate rendezvous, which allows anyone who’s registered to email a meeting request.

Industry luminaries appearing at Banff include “CSI” creator and executive producer Anthony Zuiker; Jon Cassar, director and co-exec producer of “24”; Oscar-winning writer Lionel Chetwynd; “Bad News” author and former CBS news correspondent Tom Fenton; and “Carnivale” and “Six Feet Under” director Jeremy Podeswa.

A number of delegates will arrive early for NextMedia, an international interactive media fest that runs Saturday through Monday, overlapping with the TV fest, which closes Wednesday.

As for the social events, fest kicks off with a charity golf tournament. Karaoke night has been replaced by comedy night, which will showcase delegate actors and performers. Fest closes with a barbecue.

One thing that’s unpredictable is the weather — well known locally for providing four seasons in one day. Snow is not forecast so far.

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