Last year’s fall festival season, mired as it was by the pandemic, delivered a silver lining: Many of the buzziest films were available to watch online courtesy of the Toronto International Film Festival and New York Film Festival’s virtual offerings. As the world slowly moves forward to some kind of normalcy, this year’s festivals are largely in-person affairs, though there are some opportunities to enjoy their offerings remotely.
Canadians can buy tickets to watch many of TIFF’s 100-plus films online anywhere in the country during the festival’s September 9-18 run. Those with press and industry passes can stream many titles anywhere in the world, though some of the biggest movies, like “Dune,” “Last Night in Soho,” and “Spencer” won’t be available online for the public or industry passholders.
But there’s plenty of discovery titles and highly anticipated ones available online: Phillip Noyce’s “Lakewood,” which stars Naomi Watts as a woman who must race to save her child during an active shooter incident; Jonas Poher Rasmussen’s animated refugee documentary “Flee” that premiered at Sundance to raves; and “Beba,” a personal documentary and feature debut from Afro-Latina New Yorker Rebeca “Beba” Huntt, which is already being called a potential breakout ahead of its TIFF premiere.
NYFF has largely pivoted back to a brick-and-mortar festival, set for September 24-October 10: there will be no public or P&I online screenings. Both festivals will stream non-screening events online. Details about NYFF’s online offerings are forthcoming.
Below find a roundup of some of the must-know information about enjoying TIFF virtually.
The digital TIFF Bell Lightbox for the second year in a row will host virtual screenings of some of the festival’s official selections. The process has been streamlined this year: Digital screenings have a scheduled start date and time, ticket holders have a four-hour window to start and complete each film. Tickets are either $19 or $26 (Canadian).
The chance to buy digital ticket packages has come and gone. Individual ticket sales are underway now for TIFF members, with rolling availability based on membership level through September 5.
Individual tickets go on sale to the general public beginning September 6 at 10 a.m. ET. More info on ticketing is available on TIFF’s website.
In addition to screenings in theaters and drive-ins in Toronto, TIFF is also holding satellite screenings of “Dune” and other titles in five cities across Canada. More info on those here.
Virtual options are limited for the general public outside Canada. One exceptions is TIFF Bell Digital Talks, which are available worldwide. The talks include conversations with Benedict Cumberbatch, starring in two festival films this year, “The Power of the Dog” and “The Electrical Life of Louis Wain”; Steven Yeun, who is at the festival with “The Humans”; and Kristen Stewart, who stars as Princess Diana in “Spencer.”
Access is free for TIFF members and $12 (Canadian) for everyone else.
Events are noted in the schedule, click through to each event’s page to buy tickets.
Much more of the festival experience is available online for accredited press and industry. Passholders have access to the Digital Talks above, plus the TIFF Digital Cinema Pro platform, which will host P&I screenings, the Industry Conference, press conferences, and the TIFF Industry Selects market.
A lineup of events is available on the festival’s main schedule. Some titles are not available for virtual screenings, and others are geoblocked to specific regions. Movies roll out at specific times and are available to stream for 48 hours after they first become available.
TIFF notes that it has no say in which films are available for streaming (or where); that decision is up to rights-holders. There’s a tapestry of availability that ranges widely from film to film. Some are available only in certain countries, others are available only to press.