The Venice, Toronto, Telluride and New York Film Festivals have joined forces in an alliance that will see the prominent fall events, all positioned six weeks from each other, collaborate rather than compete in a spirit of post-pandemic solidarity.
The statement announcing this alliance provides scant details of what concrete form it will take, beyond saying that they “are offering our festivals as a united platform for the best cinema we can find.” But what appears clear is there will be a truce when it comes to the usual frenzied jockeying for world premieres. This is probably facilitated by the fact that the Oscars have been moved to April 25, which eases the pressure on certain festivals serving as a film’s awards season launch pad.
“This year, we’ve moved away from competing with our colleagues at autumn festivals and commit instead to collaboration,” reads the statement. “We are sharing ideas and information. We are offering our festivals as a united platform for the best cinema we can find. We’re here to serve the filmmakers, audiences, journalists and industry members who keep the film ecosystem thriving. We need to do that together.”
Venice, which runs Sept. 2-12, is positioned on the calendar ahead of Toronto, which runs Sept. 10-20, and New York, which will take place from Sept. 27-Oct. 3. Venice largely overlaps with Telluride, which will run Sept. 3-7.
These fall festivals all have plans to take place as a physical event, albeit to different degrees. Venice and Toronto, which has said will combine physical and online screenings, have both announced they are slimming down their lineups, both to roughly 50 titles. It’s a pretty safe bet that some of those titles will be the same, which has actually also been the case prior to the coronavirus crisis.
The fall festival alliance does not include the Cannes Film Festival, which usually takes place in May and has forged an alliance with Spain’s San Sebastian Film Festival, which will run Sept. 18-26 and where several Cannes Label titles will unspool.
Venice chief Alberto Barbera and his Cannes counterpart Thierry Fremaux had reportedly been in talks to collaborate in a spirit of post-pandemic solidarity. While this collaboration may still take place in some form, it will not involve showing the same films. Barbera was not available for comment at press time.
Below is the joint statement in full:
This year, we saw the COVID-19 pandemic devastate communities all over the world, and bring life as we knew it to a halt. As supporters of global cinema, we watched as the work of film artists stopped in its tracks, and the culture of film itself was challenged. Films come alive with audiences, who could no longer gather in the ways we had for over a century.
The art form we love is in crisis. Our own organizations have seen unprecedented challenges to our work and our financial security. The pandemic caught each of us as we were preparing for the biggest event of our year in the fall of 2020. We knew we had to adapt. We decided to collaborate as we never have before.
Venice is the origin story for every film festival in the world. Telluride is one of the world’s most influential festivals. Toronto is home to the world’s largest public film festival. And the New York Film Festival curates for one of the world’s most storied, sophisticated film cities. Our four festivals share a love of cinema and a devotion to filmmakers. We also share a short span of six weeks each autumn.
This year, we’ve moved away from competing with our colleagues at autumn festivals and commit instead to collaboration. We are sharing ideas and information. We are offering our festivals as a united platform for the best cinema we can find. We’re here to serve the filmmakers, audiences, journalists and industry members who keep the film ecosystem thriving. We need to do that together.
We believe cinema has a unique power to illuminate both the world around us, and our innermost perceptions. In a crisis, films can transport us. They can enchant, inform, provoke and heal. As we work through challenging circumstances this summer to prepare our festivals, we will work together, in support of film.
Cameron Bailey, Toronto International Film Festival
Alberto Barbera, Venice Film Festival
Eugene Hernandez, New York Film Festival
Julie Huntsinger, Telluride Film Festival
Tom Luddy, Telluride Film Festival
Joana Vicente, Toronto International Film Festival
(Pictured: Eugene Hernandez, Julie Huntsinger, Alberto Barbera, Joana Vicente, Cameron Bailey)