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Telluride Film Festival Announces It Will Go On With The Show; Plans Continue To Hold Important Oscar-Precursor Event On Schedule

Deadline

The Venice Film Festival has said they are bound and determined to do their event this year, even in light of the continuing Coronavirus pandemic. Now, the second wheel in the traditional Fall Festival Trifecta that launches awards season, Telluride, has sent an email to all, indicating that they intend to move ahead and hold their annual Labor Day weekend festival. The festival is adding a day (as previously reported here) by starting on Thursday September 3, rather than Friday, and by adding an extra charter flight from New York City to make it easier for East coasters.

“We are not ignorant of the devastation facing the world. We feel the fear and distress too. This is why we are committed to observing all guidance as suggested by the consensus of voices of the scientific community with whom we are consulting now. This will not be a business as usual event. Things will look and feel very different,” the Festival said. “We’re contacting you today to let you know we’re hard at work to provide a safe and joyous environment that will include an extra day to allow more space within and between screenings, along with all of the necessary safety tweaks and adjustments you’ve become very familiar with, regardless of where you call home.”

The question of which films, and just how many the festival can attract this year, is still out there. Word in recent weeks is that some studios and distributors who normally attend will not be doing so. Netflix, which has been a key presence in the last couple of years is sitting this one out, at least at this point.

One source at the streamer told me they would love to participate, but their films, which include David Fincher’s Mank and Ron Howard’s Hillbilly Elegy, both strong awards contenders, won’t be ready. Logistics in traveling talent is also a bit overwhelming. Netflix right now plans to entirely skip the festival circuit. Of course, there is great uncertainty about other big name films being ready for any fest, and the situation is fluid, to say the least.

One possibility would appear to be Fox Searchlight’s Wes Anderson film French Dispatch, which was reported to appear in Cannes and open in May. It has been moved to an October launch, which would make it an obvious choice for Telluride and Toronto, especially since Searchlight almost always has at least one premiere, and often more, in the pipeline for these fests.

Telluride is notoriously secretive about its lineup, which includes all sorts of film programs, retrospectives, and, of course, hot titles aimed at Oscar, and never officially unveils it until the day before the fest. So there is time to get this together. Several titles always come from Cannes, so we can probably expect some of them when Cannes reveals the lineup they had set for the May fest that didn’t happen. That will be on June 3, and those films will be able to carry the Cannes Film Festival 2020 label. So Telluride toppers Julie Huntsinger and Tom Luddy will certainly be looking at those. Time will tell, but for right now, both Venice and Telluride are in. Your move, Toronto.

Here is the complete message from Telluride Film Festival:

From the very beginning, the founders of the Telluride Film Festival declined to call it an “annual” event. Like most things with the SHOW, this was intentional. There was an understanding that life is indeed full of uncertainty. Maybe there wouldn’t be a festival every year…and it has made each eventual Labor Day celebration that much sweeter.

We see clearly the obstacles that are cruelly, tragically and stubbornly in our way this year in orders of magnitude our dear founders might not ever have envisioned.

But there has been a determination to proceed, in large part fueled by the voices in our community. This community understands that movies really are empathy machines, that when we assemble to witness the glories of cinema together, something magical happens. We humbly suggest that our world needs the light of cinema and its beautiful by-products of compassion and emotional storytelling alchemy like never before.

We are not ignorant of the devastation facing the world. We feel the fear and distress too. This is why we are committed to observing all guidance as suggested by the consensus of voices of the scientific community with whom we are consulting now. This will not be a business as usual event. Things will look and feel very different.

We’re contacting you today to let you know we’re hard at work to provide a safe and joyous environment that will include an extra day to allow more space within and between screenings, along with all of the necessary safety tweaks and adjustments you’ve become very familiar with, regardless of where you call home.

The festival will begin Thursday, September 3, instead of Friday, and will end on Monday, as usual. We will have a charter from New York City, in addition to our usual charters from Los Angeles, to ensure easier and more controlled transit for our East Coast friends.

Your comfort and safety are the most important things to us. A defining characteristic of our community and especially of the dedicated volunteers who bring you the SHOW, is remarkable willpower – and grit. We promise to marshal these qualities to create the most secure environment possible for all of us.

For those of you who opt to not join us, we absolutely understand and support this decision. Your reasons surely involve heightened personal health concerns and you must do what is the very best for you. We trust and hope you’ll be back with us the next time we can provide optimal conditions for the SHOW. May that be soon.

In the meantime, we will let you know additional and specific information in the coming weeks.

For every gesture of support you have shown us, we thank you — very, very much.

FIAT LUX!

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