The talk leading up to the Toronto International Film Festival’s press conference on Tuesday was less about the films and more about the beef Canadian distributors had with the rising price of doing business with the festival. But after a deal was met with distributors and the festival announced its opening galas, the talk is about the lack of a Canadian opener.
The Toronto International Film Festival held a press conference Tuesday to announce the gala films that will screen at this year’s festival. Doc announcements won’t come out until next week, but in the meantime the festival’s co-director Cameron Bailey and CEO Piers Handling announced that the opening film would be the British feature Creation about the life of Charles Darwin, rather than a Canadian feature, as it has been all but twice in the fest’s 34-year history. Creation will be the third non-Canadian film to open TIFF.
Bailey and Handling say this does not indicate waning support for Canadian features from the festival, and that there will be another press conference in a few weeks to announce the Canadian lineup. But their assurance doesn’t seem to be stopping critics in the Canadian media from jumping on the festival for turning its back on homegrown films and filmmakers.
Prior to the press conference, local media was reporting TIFF was getting criticism from Canadian distributors about high costs associated with doing business with the festival. Handling announced that a revenue-sharing agreement was made between TIFF and the distributors on Monday, which will address travel and talent costs needed to market non-studio films at the fest.
The festival’s CEO also spoke about how the economy is affecting the festival, saying it has resulted in tighter budgets and cuts and trims inside the organization (including trimming travel budgets, starting seasonal staff later and renegotiating contracts), but he feels the audience won’t see a difference in the festival.
The only mention made of documentaries at this kick-off press conference was Bailey’s comment that the theme of the eternal conflict between faith and reason reflected in submissions and selected films this year spills over into the docs that are programmed.
The Toronto International Film Festival runs from Sept. 10-19.