New movies from Halle Berry, Idris Elba, Kate Winslet, Saoirse Ronan, Mark Wahlberg, and more will debut as the Oscar-positioning film festival announces changes amid the coronavirus pandemic.

By Joey Nolfi
June 24, 2020 at 11:13 AM EDT
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One of awards season's premier festivals will soldier on through the coronavirus pandemic.

The Toronto International Film Festival — which each year shepherds major Oscar contenders into the race — unveiled Wednesday the first portion of its modified 2020 lineup, alongside announcing significant alterations to the way it typically presents its films in the wake of the spread of COVID-19.

Notable titles joining the festival's 2020 edition include Halle Berry's MMA-centered directorial debut, Bruised, Ricky Staub's Idris Elba-starring drama Concrete Cowboys, the Kate Winslet/Saoirse Ronan same-sex romance Ammonite (which was previously confirmed as part of this year's canceled Cannes lineup), and Reinaldo Marcus Green's Good Joe Bell, which stars Mark Wahlberg as a father who sets out on a walk across America in honor of his son. Other announced titles playing at this year's TIFF are Nicolás Pereda's Fauna, Thomas Vinterberg's Another Round, Suzanne Lindon's Spring Blossom, and Naomi Kawase's True Mothers. 

More titles are expected to be confirmed in the coming weeks, though the festival has reported that its crop of new features will tally around 50 for the 2020 festival, with a further five programs of short films rounding out its annual offering. Interactive talks, film cast reunions, and Q&As are also expected to accompany the feature slate, which will unfold via socially distanced physical screenings, outdoor events, drive-ins, and digital screenings paired with virtual red carpets, press conferences, and industry talks. A festival press release stresses that TIFF's "in-person film festival will be contingent on the province’s reopening framework to ensure that festival venues and workplaces practice, meet and exceed public health guidelines."

In addition to TIFF's ongoing TIFF Tribute Awards ceremony, the festival will also welcome various ambassadors, whose presence will help boost the event's profile this year. Those expected to attend include Ava DuVernay, Taika Waititi, Anurag Kashyap, Nicole Kidman, Martin Scorsese, Nadine Labaki, Alfonso Cuarón, Tantoo Cardinal, Riz Ahmed, Rian Johnson, Jason Reitman, Isabelle Huppert, Claire Denis, Atom Egoyan, Priyanka Chopra, Viggo Mortensen, Zhang Ziyi, David Oyelowo, Lulu Wang, Rosamund Pike, Sarah Gadon, and Denis Villeneuve, among others.

“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,” said TIFF's Cameron Bailey, artistic director at the festival. “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. We have listened to this year’s urgent calls for greater representation of underrepresented voices. You’ll see that this year at the Festival. And we have watched as audiences have embraced cinema’s ability to transport them through screens of all sizes. You’ll see that too. We’re excited to present thoughtful, high-impact programming this September that reflects our belief that there’s no stopping great storytelling.”

Though TIFF will continue with its 2020 festival, other global cinema events have either postponed or canceled their yearly editions during the coronavirus pandemic, including Cannes, which previously nixed a physical presentation despite announcing an official lineup. In response to the spread of COVID-19, the Oscars also announced it had pushed its 2021 ceremony back two months in addition to extending its eligibility period for contending films into the first portion of next year.

The TIFF 2020 runs Sept. 10-19, with information regarding film selection, screening venues, ticket sales, and press accreditation expected to become available over the next few weeks.

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