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Festival Organizers Band Together to Demand COVID Support from Policymakers

Venice Film Festival director Alberto Barbera noted that the "global film industry has never been hit so badly in its entire history" in a joint letter.

FILE - In this Thursday, Sept. 6, 2018, file photo, a view of a festival sign appears on Day 1 of the Toronto International Film Festival in Toronto. TIFF organizers announced Tuesday, July 23, 2019, that the upcoming festival will include the premieres of the superhero film “Joker,” a Mister Rogers biopic starring Tom Hanks and “Hustlers,” a film about strippers scamming Wall Street bankers, with Jennifer Lopez and Cardi B. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP, File)

The Toronto International Film Festival is planning a hybrid in-person/online festival with slimmed-down offerings.

Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP

Over 40 major international film festivals and eight film industry organizations have banded together and signed a joint letter to urge policy makers across the globe to support the film industry, which continues to be seriously destabilized by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Tuesday letter, issued by FIAPF (the International Federation of Film Producers Associations), highlighted film festivals’ “significant contributions to the cultural, economic, and social development in the territories where they are established. Prominent organizations attached to the joint letter included the Cannes, Venice, Toronto, and Berlin film festivals, among others.

“The global film industry has never been hit so badly in its entire history,” Venice Film Festival director Alberto Barbera said in the letter. “On the eve of the reopening of theaters and restart of film shooting, it is more than necessary to join forces and make the maximum support possible. Festivals are a powerful tool at the service of cinema, culture and social development, but they have been weakened too and need to be reinforced to be able to continue their crucial and indispensable work.”

The entertainment industry has been significantly destabilized by the ongoing pandemic, which ground most film and television productions to a halt in March. The coronavirus pandemic also forced festivals and other major entertainment events, such as Comic-Con and SXSW, to go virtual — which is no small feat — or be cancelled entirely. In the joint letter Toronto International Film Festival organizers implored policymakers to support festivals due to their positive economic impact in the cities they take place in.

“Coming together to explore new cultures and celebrate creativity will always be important and film is the perfect medium for that,” TIFF co-heads Cameron Bailey and Joana Vicente said in a statement. “Film festivals are an exceptional tool for crossing the communication channels from the most distant places, giving audiences the ability to hear a rich diversity of voices. Speaking about TIFF specifically, the economic impact the Festival has on its host city is significant, creating jobs, bringing in tourists from all over the world, and stimulating employment in the service industries.”

The full list of the joint letter’s signatories is available via Variety.

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