Magazine article Screen International

Festivals in the Digital Age

Magazine article Screen International

Festivals in the Digital Age

Article excerpt

The nature of film premieres in the internet age means Telluride can't exist in a vacuum.

Toronto's Cameron Bailey has told Screen's Jeremy Kay about the festival's change of policy for films that world premiere in Telluride.

Telluride had said its programme, since it wasn't pre-announced, was full of 'sneak previews' not world premieres.

For some it has seemed the perfect David vs Goliath story, the huge festival picking on the smaller event. But even as I think Toronto is a bit too Goliath sometimes, on this I agree that the nature of film premieres in the internet age means Telluride can't exist in a vacuum.

I was in Venice last year waiting for the world premieres of films such as Under The Skin, yet seeing instant tweets and reviews out of Telluride.

Some might have been high praise, but it took a bit of the shine off Venice's launches.

These films were being reviewed and tweeted about elsewhere, and in the digital age you can't say that's a sneak preview. Once the cat's out of the bag, you can't stuff it back in.

Even if Telluride managed to embargo reviews from professional journalists (in itself a struggle), there's no way to contain the ordinary punters from spreading the digital word.

I've never been to Telluride (can't afford it!) but I have heard many anecdotes about what a special place it is, the welcoming vibe from a small community of film lovers that makes a film's first showing a different experience to the Toronto behemoth. Telluride is valuable to build buzz for a film before it hits the huge Toronto programme. But let's also be honest, the Telluride selections are usually must-see films in Toronto anyway.

What's important is that the films and their distributors shouldn't suffer from the politics of premiere positioning. By moving any film with a Telluride premiere into a post-first-weekend slot, Toronto knows that some of the industry and critics will start to trickle out of town and miss out. …

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