The Toronto International Film Festival has unveiled early plans for a festival that more closely mimics pre-pandemic celebrations, after going hybrid for the 45th edition of the annual festival last year. TIFF will begin ten days of film on September 9 with over 100 films in its Official Selection, many of which will be revealed later this summer. The festival has announced 12 films that have already been confirmed for the schedule, including Denis Villeneuve’s IMAX premiere “Dune” and Edgar Wright’s thriller “Last Night in Soho.”
TIFF wants to “bring the theatre experience back to life” and “maintain its status as both a pioneer in amplifying under-represented cinematic perspectives and a bellwether for screening award-winning films from across the world,” according to the statement.
Who will really come out to watch such titles, though, remains to be seen. The festival’s virtual platform was not expected to include high-profile studio titles like “Dune.” TIFF co-heads Cameron Bailey and Joana Vicente said in a joint interview with IndieWire that all films have been asked to debut both in-person and digitally for Canadian viewers and that the press and industry screening network established last year would remain in place. “This will continue to be a feature of the festival,” Bailey added. “We saw a lot of events go online as a must, but it’s now a feature for us.”
The Canadian border remains blocked to U.S. passengers, while the United States just extended the shutdown for all but necessary travelers until July 21. It’s unclear whether that deadline will be met. While the original vaccine distribution in Canada was hampered by a strategic choice to postpone second doses, current figures suggest that the situation has improved, with 75 percent of Canadians receiving the first dose and 25% being fully vaccinated. Canadians and those who work in the nation will be able to leave and return to the country without any quarantine restrictions starting in early July.
The Cinesphere Theatre at Ontario Place, the world’s first permanent IMAX theatre, will host the IMAX showing of “Dune,” which will follow its global debut at the Venice Film Festival. “It was a huge score for us,” Bailey added. “Denis Villeneuve is a Canadian director who uses Canadian technology, and we’re exhibiting it at the world’s first IMAX cinema. I believe the movie will have a unique impact. It’ll be breathtaking to view it that way.”
Bailey also mentioned that the film, which will be released on HBO Max and in cinemas on October 1, has the potential to win accolades. “Denis has done something very difficult for any director — he’s created a visual language for these novels and directed an entire cast,” he added. “I’m hoping that awarding bodies will acknowledge that. Production design, cinematography, and sound design are all excellent. I’m hoping it won’t be punished for being such a huge film.”