Toronto Film Festival artistic director Cameron Bailey has told L.A. Times reporter Steven Zeitchik that the reason he changed Toronto’s policy vis a vis the Telluride Film Festival was because of the intense “hothouse” press coverage of first-anywhere Telluride screenings. In other words, he changed TIFF’s policy because of Telluride snap judgments and predictions by the likes of Zeitchik, Deadline‘s Pete Hammond, myself, The Hollywood Reporter‘s Scott Feinberg and Todd McCarthy, Awards Daily‘s Sasha Stone, In Contention‘s Kris Tapley and Greg Ellwood, N.Y. Times critic A.O. Scott, Indiewire‘s Anne Thompson and Eric Kohn, Variety‘s Scott Foundas and Justin Chang and maybe…what, five or ten others if that? MCN’s David Poland used to cover Telluride but when was the last time he showed? Last year Vulture‘s Kyle Buchanan covered only Toronto (or so I recall). Who else? Will Toronto Star critic Pete Howell come to Telluride this year? Has Grantland‘s Mark Harris (“It’s September, for God’s sake!”) ever attended?
Argo director/star Ben Affleck, Hollywood Reporter critic Todd McCarthy at 2012 Telluride Film Festival picnic.
Marion Cotillard, Hollywood Reporter award-season columnist Scott Feinberg at Sony Pictures Classics lunch during 2012 Telluride Film Festival.
In other words, the elite award-season blogging mafia takes the temperature of Telluride and lights the initial fuse…blows the trumpet, sets the bar, guides the conversation, launches certain films and puts others on hold, says what goes, starts things off, rides the horse through town and says “the British are coming!”, etc.
Zeitchik: “Telluride has been screening high-profile North American and world premieres for a number of years. What changed this year?”
Cameron Bailey: “For a long time, it was fine. There had always been agreement that these [Telluride] screenings were sneak-peek screenings that happened before the actual premiere. But the internet and the blogosphere has changed, and the films started being reported on very differently. There’s a rush to judgment to get opinions out there that you didn’t have before. The intimate atmosphere that used to happen with a sneak preview has been replaced by a hothouse atmosphere. People handicap awards chances as the final credits are rolling. That changed for other festivals and it changed for us.”
What he means, in part, is that because of its Telluride debut, 12 Years A Slave was a widely-agreed-upon Best Picture lock before it even played Toronto last year, and this raised Bailey’s hackles. Less than an hour after Jason Reitman‘s Labor Day (escaped convict Josh Brolin baking pies for Kate Winslet and son) had its first Telluride screening at the Chuck Jones it was all but decided it was finished as a potential award-season player, and that meant subsequent Toronto Film Festival showings were more or less moot. On top of which the Telluride-shown Inside Llewyn Davis, All Is Lost and Nebraska deciding to blow off Toronto surely rattled Bailey’s cage.