Film festival season is in full swing. The 10-day Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) begins Thursday, and the Venice Film Festival, which kicked off at the end of August, will run through Saturday.
Both are star-studded events, featuring a plethora of distinct films — at Venice, there are 50 films screened, and in Toronto, 250. This because TIFF has increasingly become a market as well.
Historically, the most popular films in Toronto win big during U.S. Awards season. Last year’s TIFF winner The King’s Speech also took home an Academy Award.
But this year the same seems to be true for Venice, too. The festival kicked off with George Clooney-directed The Ides of March, which is already generating Oscar buzz. Among the other films getting a lot of attention there are Roman Polanski’s Carnage and David Cronenberg’s A Dangerous Method, which could easily be Oscar or Golden Globe nominees.
While Venice is more of an old world film festival, Toronto has a sales market component, with several distributors taking suites at the Hyatt Hotel. It’s the burgeoning sales market that attracts Ken DuBow, of Opus Distribution. “[The sales market at TIFF] has been a little spontaneous over the last few years, and the festival organizers haven’t discouraged it,” he said.
Some sales companies will take suites at the Hyatt and meet with clients there. Others will have more informal meetings, at hotel lobbies and coffee shops.
Dubow is planning for the latter in Toronto, where his main focus will be on buying. Two years ago, his company bought Passchendaele, a Canadian film, at TIFF.
“Toronto has the potential to become a full market if that’s what the festival wants,” said Dubow, “but I don’t think that’s what they want. It would mean taking on the AFM for fall supremacy. And a market can dilute the festival a little. But look at Berlin — that started as a festival and has grown to be a market. They saw an opportunity with the loss of MIFED and the change of dates for AFM.”