Yesterday Indiewire‘s Anne Thompson and TheWrap‘s Steve Pond reported on a firm “either-or” declaration by Toronto Film Festival artistic director Cameron Bailey, to wit: if producers/distributors henceforth unveil their Oscar-bait films at the Telluride Film Festival, they can’t show them during the first four days of the 2014 Toronto Film Festival (9.4 thru 9.14). How will producers/distributors respond? I’d be hugely surprised if they decide to blow off Telluride, which is easily the more preferred venue for award-season kickoffs.
Anyone who knows the game will tell you that Toronto is the Chicago stockyards — an overcrowded, market-driven clusterfuck — while Telluride is a serene haven of refined taste and film-nerd worship — the ideal launch for any film that needs the right people to see it and embrace it (or at least thoughtfully kick it around) and begin the conversation.
Toronto’s “uh-oh” bell sounded last August when the reps of J.C. Chandor‘s All Is Lost, Joel and Ethan Coen‘s Inside Llewyn Davis and Alexander Payne‘s Nebraska decided to preemptively cast their lot with Telluride and sidestep Toronto. Bailey didn’t have to threaten them by withdrawing TIFF slots during the first four days — they decided to ignore Toronto altogether. This initiated what I called “a relatively new fall-festival phenomenon — the Oscar-contending, Telluride-preferring, Toronto-blowoff movie.”