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Why Major Film Festivals and Studios Aren’t Showing Movies Online This Fall

Some audiences aren't thrilled that Telluride and NYFF won't have virtual programming, but who's behind those decisions?

In this Jan. 19, 2012 photo, film feeds from the platter to the projector at the Palace Theatre in Lockport, N.Y., are seen. With the movie industry's rapid switch to digital technology, some people wonder if the historic movie houses can afford to survive the switch to digital. (AP Photo/Doug Benz)

As the summer season gives way to the fall, the film festival circuit is all too eager to get back to business as usual, by launching movies into Oscar season. Easier said than done, of course.

With the Delta variant continuing to complicate any and all plans, nobody really knows how safe it is to go back to the movies. Last year, festivals acknowledged that challenge by going virtual. This year is a different story: Some of the fall’s most prominent film events — Venice, Telluride, and NYFF — will take the form of in-person gatherings with no significant online presence. Meanwhile, studios aren’t making all of their major new releases available for press via links. That has left some journalists and others in the industry frustrated over an inability to access films without putting themselves at risk. But before anyone gets too wound up over access, it’s worth asking: who’s actually making the call here?

In this week’s Screen Talk, Eric Kohn and Anne Thompson discuss the challenges faced by festivals and distributors over how to formulate their plans this year. They also discuss new additions to the TIFF lineup and share their thoughts on the Oscar prospects for “Respect,” which opens this week.

Watch the full episode above or listen to it below.


Screen Talk is produced by Leonardo Adrian Garcia and available on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify, and hosted by Megaphone. You can subscribe here or via RSS. Share your feedback with Thompson and Kohn on Twitter. Browse previous installments here, review the show on Apple Podcasts, and be sure to let us know if you’d like to hear the hosts address specific issues in upcoming editions of Screen Talk. Check out the rest of IndieWire’s podcasts on Apple Podcasts right here.

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