Cameron Bailey and Anita Lee

Source: TIFF

Cameron Bailey and Anita Lee

TIFF’s plans to launch an official content market in 2026 has got the Croisette buzzing and sparked mixed reactions, with some industry sources expressing enthusiasm while others have cautioned against a more cluttered calendar.

CEO Cameron Bailey and chief programming officer Anita Lee announced the initiative yesterday. Backed by a $16.9m (C$23m) investment by the Canadian federal government, it will expand on the existing unofficial marketplace and include film, series and XR screenings, and tentpole packages.

The annual September event will run concurrently with the festival and operate out of dedicated venues in Toronto, with Canadian talent showcases and works in progress sidebars on the cards.

Sarah Lebutsch, managing director of international sales at the UK’s Independent Entertainment, was positive. “We have all wanted that to happen for years. Having a market run alongside a buzzy festival like TIFF is good for business.”

Stuart Ford of AGC Studios agreed, adding that while TIFF has always been a vital sales nexus it lacks a focal point. “I see it as a development that makes logistical and strategic sense for everybody.”

One common question mark was the event’s potential impact on the American Film Market (AFM), which takes place less than two months later and is relocating to Las Vegas this year after a troubled time in Santa Monica.

“This could be an issue for AFM,” said one source. “Going to both is likely too expensive for many companies.”

Another added the TIFF plan put “huge pressure” on AFM organiser Independent Film & Television Alliance to bring that market “back to Los Angeles in 2025”.

Jean-Christophe Simon, CEO of Films Boutique, said: “TIFF [has been] very similar to a market. The big question will be about the number of buyers that will come.”

Two sources suggested it would be “an uphill battle” for sales agents to put pre-packages together by September after the summer holidays.

Another opined that faced with a choice when planning budgets, more buyers would prefer to visit the US West Coast warmth in November as opposed to Toronto in late summer.

Additional reporting by Tim Dams and Mona Tabbara.