The Telluride Film Festival announced Tuesday that it plans to go on as planned this September—and is even adding another day to the event. The announcement marks Telluride as one of the only major film festivals pledging to go forward rather that shutting down due to dangers from the coronavirus pandemic. (The Venice Film Festival has also indicated that it intends to go forward as scheduled in September.)
If it does manage to happen, Telluride might be the first sign of normalcy in the entertainment industry, which just Monday introduced a new plan to get back to making new films and TV shows despite the pandemic. Along with Venice and the Toronto International Film Festival, Telluride typically marks the launch of award season, and is a critical place to build buzz for Oscar consideration.
Festival organizers alerted the press about their plans in an email, which, according to IndieWire, stated that “things will look and feel very different” at Telluride 2020.
“We are not ignorant of the devastation facing the world. We feel the fear and distress too,” the message said. “This is why we are committed to observing all guidance as suggested by the consensus of voices of the scientific community with whom we are consulting now. This will not be a business as usual event.”
That means “all of the necessary safety tweaks and adjustments you’ve become very familiar with,” the festival added. In other words: expect masks, physical distancing, and other common guidelines. The event will expand from three to four days, and begins on Thursday, September 3—a day earlier than originally planned—to accommodate all the added restrictions.
That plan to extend has been in the works since April, not long after entertainment gatherings around the world were abruptly canceled or postponed due to the virus, which has claimed more than 376,000 lives globally—over 105,000 in the United States alone.
As many states beginning to reopen, it’s unclear what impact those actions will have on spiking cases. But studios and theater owners have been bullish about getting new movies back into theaters by July—with the Russell Crowe road-rage film Unhinged set for July 1, and Christopher Nolan’s Tenet aiming for July 17.
Telluride’s message cited “a determination to proceed” based on demand from the community, although it didn’t specific which community it meant—festivalgoers or locals in the mountainous Colorado town who benefit from the economic bonanza of the event.
“This community understands that movies really are empathy machines, that when we assemble to witness the glories of cinema together, something magical happens,” Telluride’s message said. “We humbly suggest that our world needs the light of cinema and its beautiful by-products of compassion and emotional storytelling alchemy like never before.”