“As the shock of Sunday’s fatal city shootings hung in the air, the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) hierarchy cancelled Tuesday’s opening press conference in favour of a more modest platform to unveil a Galas and Special Presentations line-up that includes world premieres for Steve McQueen’s thriller Widows and Claire Denis’ first English-language film, High Life.
‘Toronto is in the same boat as many other big cities around the world now – that’s become a reality, so we’re dealing with that,’ TIFF artistic director Cameron Bailey told Screen in light of the weekend’s mass shooting iin the city’s Greektown district in which two people died and 13 others were injured.
‘We’re still reacting to [the tragedy] and it seemed too soon to have a press conference that would be a drain on the media’s attention – they’re busy focusing on this developing story. We wanted to make sure we got our news out but did it in a way that wouldn’t distract from where the city is. We’re still reeling from this.’
Bailey added it was too soon to consider whether or even how to stage some kind of tribute or reaction to the events during the festival, which runs from September 6-16. ‘We haven’t really gotten to that point yet,’ he said. ‘We have of course been working on increased security as an ongoing [process] and we’ll certainly make sure we have every way possible to keep everybody attending safe this year.’
The artistic director said he was ‘especially happy’ to present McQueen’s heist thriller and Denis’ sci-fi starring Robert Pattinson. TIFF’s early roster of 21 world premieres includes Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight follow-up and James Baldwin adaptation If Beale Street Could Talk, as well as Felix van Groeningen’s father-son drama Beautiful Boy starring Steve Carell and Timothée Chalamet” says Jeremy Kay.