Toronto's dates traditionally shift with the calendar (the first Thursday after North American Labour Day). Venice's dates this year are August 27 - September 6 against Toronto's September 4 - 13. Next year Venice could start Wednesday, September 2, 2009 while Toronto 2009 runs September 10 - 19. The overlap will be the same three days as always.
Toronto Film Festival spokespeople were keeping mum yesterday on the Venice move which Venice artistic director Marco Mueller and Biennale president Paolo Baratta said they were considering earlier this week. 'We don't comment on speculation,' said a TIFF source.
But if there was palpable consternation at a clash between the two festivals, it is probably a function of a down-beat Venice which suffered a dearth of high-profile world premieres and a commensurate decline in celebrity appearances this year. TIFF is rumoured to have taken a harder line this year on world premiere exclusivity.
Industry executives arriving in Toronto were already wading in to a potential conflict. One US seller who asked to remain anonymous said: 'Should Venice decide to move and overlap Toronto completely it will go the way of Mifed. Venice is expensive and overcrowded and there hasn't been a lot of business there.'
Others were more sanguine. Wouter Barendrecht of Fortissimo Films who gave Venice a pass this year said the festivals serve different sectors. 'It's true Venice is more expensive but there are several European distributors who only go to Venice.' He said Fortissimo did not attend Venice this year because the company's sales slate is 'more audience-driven it will have a better home in Toronto.'
Nicolas Chartier of LA-based sales outfit Voltage Pictures added: 'Venice is a great place to launch a film in Europe. Many independent films are financed with prebuys from major European buyers and without a US distributor. And we sell the US in Toronto. So how do we choose which one to go to''