Monday, June 17, 2024

Film Festivals in Virus Transition as Toronto, New York Plan Digital Events, “NYFF58 will be different” Says Director


Eugene Hernandez, new  director of the New York Film Festival (but long time on the staff) Tweeted his thoughts about this year’s get together.

Hernandez writes: “A lot to consider — our city is still in crisis — NYFF58 will be different. We’re exploring in-person & digital experiences for 2020, watching films & making selections.”

The festival is set for September 25th through October 11th. They’ve just announced their programming team, and are taking submissions. This won’t be easy. All movie production stopped around March 15th, if not before. A lot of films that would have been ready by September aren’t done and won’t be finished in time for the festival.

Knowing Eugene, he’ll figure something out, but it’s not going to be your grandmother’s New York Film Festival. He can take his cues from the cancelled Tribeca and Cannes Film Festivals. Venice is now up in the air, even though they say they’re putting on a show. (I seriously doubt it.)

Also in purgatory right now are Telluride, and Toronto. The latter is really in jeopardy. Earlier this week, the Toronto Music Festival, which follows the film festival in September, cancelled. A top TIFF source told me this week: “Canadian Music Week announced the cancellation of their festival yesterday. Although their festival takes place in September, they are working from a live entertainment business model that is very different from ours. We are still planning a modified version of Festival this September and are exploring a number of scenarios, including digital models, as well as adjustments to the physical aspect of Festival knowing that social distancing measures will likely still be mandated by government. We’ll be in a better position to share what Festival will look like for 2020 later in June.”

Eugene also said in his Tweet that in June there would be more NYFF info. I think everyone’s hoping the sun comes out, the heat kills the virus, movies theaters open, and we all sing “Kumbaya.” I know I keep dreaming that will happen.

Meantime, here’s the updated structure of the festival. They’ve added some new features. I hope we get to see them!

  • The MAIN SLATE, which is the heart and historic core of the festival, brings together the films that promise to define the year in cinema. The selection committee for this section will be Dennis Lim (Chair), Florence Almozini, K. Austin Collins, Eugene Hernandez (NYFF Director), and Rachel Rosen.
  • A new section called CURRENTS will be added to the lineup and is designed to complement the Main Slate. The CURRENTS section traces a more complete picture of contemporary cinema, with an emphasis on new and innovative forms and voices. The section will present a diverse offering of short and feature-length work by filmmakers and artists working at the vanguard of the medium. The newly formed selection committee for this section will be Dennis Lim (Chair), Florence Almozini, Aily Nash, and Tyler Wilson.
  • The new SPOTLIGHT section will be NYFF’s showcase of sneak previews, gala events, screenings with live or performance elements, guest-curated selections and other special evenings. This section will be programmed by Eugene Hernandez and Dennis Lim.
  • The REVIVALS section connects cinema’s rich past to its dynamic present through an eclectic assortment of new restorations, titles selected by the festival’s filmmakers, rarities, and more. This section will be programmed by Florence Almozini and Dan Sullivan.
  • The TALKS section will supplement NYFF’s screenings with a series of free and ticketed panel discussions and in-depth conversations with a wide range of guests. This section will be programmed by Eugene Hernandez, Devika Girish, and Madeline Whittle.




Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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