In today’s film news roundup, film festivals in San Franciso and Toronto are being canceled or postponed, the American Cinematheque stops screenings and veteran executive Jon Berg lands a new gig.
Two prominent mid-size film festivals in San Francisco and Toronto have joined the avalanche of cancellations and postponements due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The San Francisco International Film Festival, which had announced on March 6 that it was going ahead, said Friday that it had opted out of what would have been its 63rd iteration.
“We are deeply saddened and disappointed to announce that we are canceling the 63rd San Francisco International Film Festival,” it said. “As the situation with COVID-19 evolves and concerns around public safety grow, SFFILM is committed to being a part of the solution to keep our community, audiences, and artists safe and is abiding by the current recommendations from state and city health officials.”
Hot Docs, North America’s largest documentary festival, is postponing the 2020 edition of the event, which was scheduled to unfold April 30 to May 10 in Toronto. Last year’s event drew more than 220,000 attendees.
This decision by the organization follows the province of Ontario’s chief medical officer calling for the immediate suspension of gatherings with more than 250 people, while many companies are placing restrictions on their employees’ attendance at large events.
“We remain committed to bringing these outstanding documentary films to our audiences and are currently investigating ways that we can do so at a later date,” the organization said in its official statement.
American Cinematheque has suspended all screenings and public events at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood and the Aero Theatre in Santa Monica until further notice.
“This is in response to the Governor of California’s recommendations that large gatherings of over 250 people should be postponed or canceled and that smaller gatherings in venues that do not allow for social distancing of six feet per person should be postponed or canceled,” the organization said. “Our top priority is the safety of our patrons, members, staff and volunteers, and we will continue to monitor this health crisis, particularly as it impacts the film exhibition industry and the city of Los Angeles.”
Netflix has been in negotiations since last year to buy the historic Egyptian Theatre.
Jonathan Berg has joined Greg Silverman’s Stampede Ventures as president of production to oversee the day-to-day development and production of the company’s film slate.
Berg, the former Warner Bros. co-president of production, recently departed from Roy Lee’s Vertigo. Berg produced “Elf” and his DC credits include “Doctor Sleep,” “Justice League,” “Wonder Woman,” “The Dark Knight Rises” and “Aquaman.” He also oversaw “The Blind Side,” “Argo” and “American Sniper.”
Silverman launched Stampede Ventures after departing from Warner Bros. Pictures in 2016. Stampede’s latest project is “Pink Skies Ahead,” which stars Jessica Barden, Marcia Gay Harden, Michael McKean and Henry Winkler and had been slated to debut Friday at SXSW before the festival was called off.
Stampede’s lead investor and co-chairman is Gideon Yu, former CFO of Facebook and YouTube, and co-owner of the San Francisco 49ers.