Dune remake to lead Toronto film festival's return to in-person moviegoing


OTTAWA (AFP) - The Toronto film festival announced on Wednesday (June 23) it will resume in-person screenings at its September gala - including Denis Villeneuve's Dune remake - after the pandemic forced it to scale down and go virtual last year.

But there won't be any popcorn at the Sept 9-18 event as theatre snack bars will be closed.

And the red carpets will look different due to social distancing and masking rules, as well as a possible clampdown on large crowds.

Canada also currently prohibits foreigners from entering the country for discretionary travel, so it's not yet clear if Hollywood movie stars will be in attendance.

"We are so proud of the calibre of the films and the diversity of the stories we will be presenting this year," festival executive director Joana Vicente said in a statement.

"It is so powerful to be able to share these films with festival-goers in theatres," she said, noting the world is finally and "definitely moving towards a degree of normalcy."

Villeneuve's highly anticipated adaptation of Frank Herbert's epic sci-fi fantasy novel Dune will have its first Imax screening in Toronto, roughly one week after its premiere at the Venice film festival.

Other films at the Toronto festival will include the Alanis Morissette documentary Jagged, the film Petite Maman directed by Celine Sciamma, Kenneth Branagh's Belfast starring Judi Dench, the Naomi Watts-led thriller Lakewood, and the documentary Dionne Warwick: Don't Make Me Over.

The largest film festival in North America is in a normal year crucial for Oscar-conscious studios and distributors, attracting hundreds of filmmakers and actors to Canada's largest city.

This year's hybrid festival, which will see reduced cinema seating as well as screenings at drive-ins, is doubling to 100 the number of films that will be shown from last year, but is still down from its pre-pandemic average of roughly 300 feature and short films.

Digital screenings introduced last year will also return and likely continue into the future, allowing cinephiles across Canada to see the films from the comfort of their couch.