To outsiders, the grumbling each year from press and industry folks as the Toronto International Film Festival unveils its lineup can seem precious. The common complaint is that there’s simply too much, leading to screening conflicts and an impression that programmers will pretty much slot anything into the lineup. (We know, we know, boo hoo, you have too many movies to choose from at TIFF.) Well, no more, because in 2017, things are going to change at TIFF.
THR reveals that this year, organizers plan to snip their lineup significantly, by 20% or 60 films. Cameron Bailey, artistic director of TIFF, promises “tighter curation” and recognizes that this will only serve the scores of industry folks in Toronto each year much better.
“We want to make it a little easier for the media to find films, for the industry to do their work and for the business that happens at the festival to take place,” he said.
However, there are plenty more reasons why TIFF slimming down the bloat is a good thing for the festival. For the past few years, the fest has struggled as both Venice and Telluride has scooped the world premieres on big movies like “La La Land,” “Gravity,” “Moonlight,” and “Birdman,” taking considerable shine off the Toronto bows. And while publicly TIFF has pivoted to the position of being cool with that, and touting the size of the audiences, they now quietly have greater leverage — studios can’t just assume TIFF will make space for their prestige movie if they go to Venice or Telluride first.
Meanwhile, a smaller lineup means (hopefully) a few less big-league titles cramming up the schedule, which leaves space for smaller movies (like, say, Adam Leon‘s terrific “Tramps,” which Netflix acquired in Toronto, but almost no one talked about) getting a better chance to shine and break out. I think in past years, TIFF has leaned perhaps too hard on being the center of the awards-season conversation while forgetting they also have a role in fostering new talent and giving a platform for new cinematic voices to take root.
It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out. It’s always a balancing act when it comes to programming a fest the size of TIFF, weighing world premieres with highly anticipated movies, and giving tinier movies a place to find an audience. But TIFF certainly looks to be attempting to change the landscape this year.
TIFF runs from September 7th to 17th this year.