TIFF downsizes September fest as it gamely grapples with coronavirus concerns


Ricky Staub’s “Concrete Cowboy,” a young-adult drama starring Idris Elba and Caleb McLaughlin, is one of 50+ features TIFF will be screening at its 2020 edition Sept. 10-19, a dramatic reduction from the 245 features of the 2019 festival. (Photo courtesy of TIFF.)

Viral times for the Toronto International Film Festival mandate a radically smaller September event (50+ features, down from 245 in 2019), many online and fresh-air screenings (drive-ins and other “outdoor experiences”) and a one-day shorter run (now Sept. 10-19).

But Toronto's premier fall fest promises to deliver a slate of terrific new films for its 45th edition, covering “the same quality and range you’d expect” from a traditional event, said Cameron Bailey, TIFF’s co-head and artistic director.

He and Joana Vicente, TIFF’s co-head and executive director, unveiled eight of the 50+ features to be screened come September. They include Ricky Staub’s “Concrete Cowboy,” an adaptation of the young adult novel Ghetto Cowboy starring Idris Elba and Caleb McLaughlin; Halle Berry’s sports drama “Bruised,” her directorial debut in which she also stars; Reinaldo Marcus Green’s “Good Joe Bell,” the fact-based story of a man’s cross-U.S. walk, starring Mark Wahlberg; and Nicolás Pereda’s “Fauna,” a drug war drama and Mexico-Canada co-production.

The four other films announced Wednesday were originally planned to premiere last month at Cannes 2020, which was cancelled due to the coronavirus. They are Francis Lee’s “Ammonite,” a drama of illicit romance starring Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan; Thomas Vinterberg’s alcohol-fuelled drama “Another Round,” starring Mads Mikkelsen; Naomi Kawase’s tug-of-love drama “True Mothers”; and writer/director Suzanne Lindon’s feature debut “Spring Blossom,” a coming-of-ager in which Lindon also plays the lead role, a 16-year-old girl who falls for an older man.

“The pandemic has hit TIFF hard, but we’ve responded by going back to our original inspiration – to bring the very best in film to the broadest possible audience,” Bailey said.

“Our teams have had to rethink everything, and open our minds to new ideas. In countless video calls over the past three months we have rebuilt our Festival for 2020 drawing on our five decades of commitment to strong curation, support for filmmakers and engagement with audiences.”

Twitter: @peterhowellfilm

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