The return of “festival season” has come as a welcome sign of a return to normal times in the movie business, with all the major festivals reconvening. Tribeca was the first to test the waters of renewed in-person screenings (June 9-20), followed by Cannes (July 6-17), Venice (September 1-11), Telluride (September 2-6) and now Toronto (September 9-18).
Each organizer has taken slightly different approaches to maintain health and safety while still delivering an enjoyable festival experience. At Venice, there were reports of long lines for screenings due to a policy that required at least one empty seat between audience members. While this dampened the spontaneity at screenings, it also reassured festivalgoers that the event would be safe to attend. A parade of A-listers made their appearance, including Zendaya, Kristen Stewart and Bennifer (Ben Affleck & Jennifer Lopez). In Toronto, organizers were late to commit to holding an in-person event and wound up with a hybrid event that included virtual screenings. An important achievement for all this year’s festivals is that they appear to have avoided becoming COVID-19 super-spreader events, laying a foundation for a successful season next year.