In a piece about whether or not the big film festivals will happen in the early fall, Variety‘s Owen Gleiberman has threatened the Telluride Film Festival honchos Tom Luddy and Julie Huntsinger with a guilt-trip scenario.

“To be or not to be — that’s the question the fall film festivals face,” Gleiberman writes. “As it turns out, there is now a liberal answer to that question and a conservative answer, and the two are at radical odds. The liberal answer states that unnecessary risk, at a time like this, is unforgivable, and that as a society we should err on the side of collective caution. The conservative answer is that the economy needs jump-starting, as soon as possible, and that too much caution is for snowflakes.

“But that creates a problem for festivals, because they are among the most liberal environments on the planet. [Let’s] pretend that it’s two years from now, and that the very issue we’re talking about is the subject of a documentary that’s playing at the 2022 Toronto Film Festival. Which side of the issue do you think that documentary, or the audiences watching it, is going to come down on?

“They’re likely to come down on the same side of the issue that I do — believing that six months into the eruption of this pandemic, the risk of spreading the virus makes the international gathering of people at a film festival an untenable, and unlikely, proposition.”

HE response to Gleiberman: The Toronto Film Festival will be a pale shadow of its usual self, if that. And very few will want to attend the Venice Film Festival in disease-ridden northern Italy.

But robust, mountain-fresh, virus-free Telluride has a real shot, and yet you’ve just put the fear of God into Julie and Tom by suggesting that a 2022 documentary about Hollywood and the pandemic might portray them in a bad light.

What about offering tests to everyone who attends a week before Telluride? Or as everyone arrives? If you test negative you get to attend partially filled theatres and maybe even attend an outdoor party or two. If you test positive you’re immediately escorted out of town with instant refunds for your condo or hotel costs along with your pass.

Award season has to launch with some kind of hype-generating event. If not Telluride, what? The NY Film Festival isn’t going to happen as usual.

What may happen is that the year 2020 won’t officially “end” until 1.31.21 or perhaps sometime in February. And that the Oscar telecast won’t happen until March. They’ll need extra time to fit everything in.

The summer is dead, cancelled — we all understand that. But not the fall, and not Oscar season…please!