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Toronto Film Festival Makes ‘Adjustments’ to Anti-Telluride Policy

Festival will no longer prevent Telluride titles from playing its first weekend, though it retains significant restrictions

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The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) has altered its controversial 2014 policy of not allowing films to play the first weekend of its festival if they have previously played the Telluride Film Festival, though with significant restrictions still in effect.

But a festival spokesperson told TheWrap that TIFF will retain its “Premieres Policy,” which prevents films that play in Telluride the week before Toronto from billing themselves as world premieres.

In recent years, Toronto has rankled as a number of high-profile films and awards contenders were booked at TIFF as world premieres, but then went on to play Telluride. That festival, which is significantly smaller than Toronto, doesn’t announce its schedule ahead of time, leaving a loophole that allowed some films to claim they were not officially premiering at the Colorado fest.

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Last year’s policy change prevented films that played Telluride from screening in Toronto for the first four days of the festival, which is when most of the international media is in town and when the majority of major premieres take place.

This year, films that have played Telluride or any other North American festival will be able to play on the first weekend, though they cannot bill themselves as world premieres and they cannot play at TIFF’s three largest venues: Roy Thomson Hall, the Princess of Wales Theatre and the Visa Screening Room at the Elgin Theatre.

Those theaters host most of the high-profile premieres screenings at Toronto, and are the centers of the festival’s red carpet and gala activity. They will be restricted to world premieres and North American premieres for the opening weekend of the festival.

According to the TIFF spokesperson, Canadian premieres — i.e., films that have previously played in the U.S., most likely at Telluride — will be able to screen during the first four days of the festival at any other TIFF venue, or after that at the three showcase venues.

The change in policy, said the spokesperson, came in the wake of last year’s festival, when organizers “reached out to a number of key stakeholders that were impacted by the policy and solicited their advice.”

The changes in policy, which TIFF describes as “minor adjustments,” do not affect the booking policy of the festival.

This year’s Toronto International Film Festival runs from Sept. 10-20. Telluride begins on Sept. 4, and ends three days before the beginning of Toronto, on Sept. 7.