Contrary to previous reports, the Toronto International Film Festival will stay the course, proceeding with the films, press conferences and Rogers Industry Centre events as scheduled for Wednesday 12 Sept. In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks in the US on Tuesday morning, the Festival cancelled screenings and events scheduled for the balance of the day.
TIFF Press Office Director Gabrielle Free told Screendaily, "Every effort is being made to reschedule the 28 public and 13 press and industry screenings that were cancelled." However, a party to be hosted by the Festival on Wednesday night, Celluloid Celebration, is cancelled.
At first it seemed that logistical obstacles would prevent the Festival from continuing, given the closures of Toronto's Pearson Airport and the US-Canada border. Departing guests have been stranded in the city while arriving filmmakers and, in some cases, their films have been kept out. But, according to Free, enough of the prints are available to justify continuing. Free said the Festival would increase security at its venues where appropriate.
Through Tuesday morning and afternoon, Festival sites were scenes of confusion and concern as persons from across the spectrum of the industry sought to contact loved ones and colleagues in the stricken cities. Others gathered around televisions to follow events.
The Festival has arranged for a trauma response team from Warren Shepell Consultants to assist Festival guests and staff. A call centre was established and the Festival was working with hotels to accommodate those guests unable to leave the city. Most of downtown Toronto was closed by midday Tuesday, including the financial district, the CBC Broadcast Centre and the CN Tower.
In a statement, the Festival commented: "We are devastated by the shocking developments in the United States and extend our heartfelt support to all those affected by this incomprehensible tragedy."
Screen International extends its sincerest sympathies to all its friends and colleagues in the US.