Filmmakers will be able to apply to the prestigious September event from around the world via one website through 2022.
The Toronto International Film Festival is jumping on the FilmFreeway submissions platform.
The prestigious festival has inked a three-year exclusive deal with the Canadian startup to handle all films submitted to its annual September event. Submissions for the 2020 edition of TIFF will officially open Feb. 11 on filmfreeway.com.
Toronto joins Sundance, Tribeca, AFI Fest, Santa Barbara, Edinburgh and the San Francisco film fests in using FilmFreeway as an online festival submissions platform. The announcement was made Thursday by Zachary Jones, chief technology officer and co-founder of FilmFreeway, and TIFF artistic director and co-head Cameron Bailey.
FilmFreeway, which launched in 2014, touts its online platform as giving around 1 million registered filmmakers a way to easily find and submit their projects to film festivals worldwide and pay required fees.
"The reliable and user-friendly submission experience that FilmFreeway provides aligns with our mission and will help us reach and better serve diverse groups of storytellers from all over the world,” said Bailey in a statement.
The FilmFreeway partnership is also another sign that TIFF is embracing the digital world, following the unveiling a deal Wednesday with Canadian media giant Bell Media to see 11 feature films that debuted at the 2019 edition of the fest play on Canada's Crave streaming platform.
The three-year exclusive deal with TIFF also allows FilmFreeway to crack another top-tier film festival with its digital offering.
Added Jones in his own statement: "We are thrilled to be working with TIFF. To serve as the exclusive submission service for such a prestigious film festival is such an honor. We have worked closely with TIFF's programming team to develop custom functionality to serve their unique processes and demonstrated for them the level of attention and quality that festivals have come to expect when working with FilmFreeway."
Festival co-head Cameron Bailey will hold a virtual chat Friday night with Mandy Patinkin, before 'The Princess Bride' streams on partnering service Crave.
Self-isolating Canadians are being invited to grab their popcorn and view virtual chats with Hollywood stars led by Toronto Film Festival artistic director Cameron Bailey, followed by movie screenings on the Crave streaming service.
As TIFF joins other major film festivals in moving online during the coronavirus pandemic, Bailey, who is also festival co-head, will tonight launch a Stay-at-Home Cinema offering by chatting via Instagram Live @tiff_net with Homeland star Mandy Patinkin.
That will be followed by Rob Reiner's 1987 film The Princess Bride, starring Patinkin as Inigo Montoya, streaming on Crave, which competes in the Canadian streaming market against dominant players Netflix and Amazon Prime.
"TIFF has a longstanding partnership with Bell Media and Crave, so it was a natural progression to work together during this global health crisis,” said Joana Vicente, TIFF executive director and co-head, in a statement as she notes Crave-parent Bell Media is the festival's biggest corporate sponsor.
TIFF's Bailey is set to host at least the first three virtual chats with Hollywood stars and movie screenings, which have yet to be scheduled and announced, organizers of the Stay-at-Home offering said Friday.
Netflix, Amazon and Crave have long battled to sign up Canadians increasingly viewing movies and TV shows on their TV sets, tablets or smartphones, with competition only now accelerating as Canada imposes strict stay-at-home measures to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
In 2018, Netflix's Outlaw King nabbed the opening night slot at TIFF, which angered first-night sponsor Bell Media. In a sign of Bell's muscle, TIFF opened its 2019 edition with the Crave documentary Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and The Band.
"During these challenging times, we continue to look for ways to keep people connected, comforted and entertained, and the power of film and TV accomplishes just that," Bell Media president Randy Lennox said in his own statement.
TIFF's Stay-at-Home Cinema initiative comes as the Canadian festival looks beyond the coronavirus crisis to being able to stage a physical event in September, long considered a key launching pad for Hollywood's awards season, or prepares to move the event online this fall as a safety precaution.