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Toronto’s Hot Docs festival postponed

Canadian documentary festival Hot Docs, which was scheduled to run from April 30 to May 10 in Toronto, has been postponed, making it the latest TV industry event to be impacted by the global Covid-19 pandemic.

The move comes after Ontario’s chief medical officer called for the immediate suspension of gatherings with more than 250 people and it emerged that many companies expected to attend the event are now placing restrictions on their employees’ movements.

Hot Docs organisers said plans are currently underway to bring together filmmakers, producers and industry decision makers in an online environment and to deliver the event’s pitch presentations and one-on-one meetings via the internet.

Hot Docs attracts audiences of more than 220,000 each year, along with thousands of filmmakers and industry delegates from over 55 countries, organisers said.

“Hot Docs regrets to announce that due to the recent declaration by the World Health Organisation of Covid-19 as a pandemic, and with the health and safety of Hot Docs participants at our festival as our first priority, we will be postponing this year’s festival,” the event’s organisers said on Friday.

Yesterday also saw the cancellation of Germany’s Stuttgart International Festival of Animated Film (ITFS), which was scheduled for May 5 to 10. This comes after gatherings of more than 1,000 people were banned by local authorities in an attempt to contain the spread of coronavirus.

“To protect the health of our staff and audiences from the region and the whole world as well as anyone involved in our events has, of course, the highest priority for us, not only with regard to the current coronavirus threat,” ITFS organisers said.

The news comes as cancellations and postponements of industry events continue to stack up, now including the LA Screenings, the New York Upfronts, MipTV, SXSW and Seres Mania, and with the pandemic posing major questions for the international TV business’s day-to-day operations.

Following last week’s cancellation of the LA Screenings, this year’s edition of LA Screenings Independents event has been axed by EventsTM and Natpe. The event runs alongside the LA Screenings.

Natpe said that at this time, the remainder of its event slate for 2020 – which includes Natpe Budapest International, due to be held between June 30 and July 3 – is set to go ahead as planned.

Meanwhile, other events to be recently cancelled include Animation Production Days (APD), which was due to take place in Stuttgart between May 6 and 8.

APD partner events FMX: Conference on Animation, Effects, Games & Immersive Media and the Stuttgart International Festival of Animated Film have also been axed. Accreditation fees already paid for APD 2020 will be refunded.

“This step has not been easy for us and it is of great concern to us that the projects selected for APD 2020 receive the attention they deserve and that the registered broadcasters, investors, distributors and platforms have the opportunity to learn more about these projects. We will develop ideas for this in the coming weeks and keep in contact with all registered participants,” the organisers said.

ONSeries Lisboa, the first edition of which was due to take place April 28-29, has been rescheduled to September 28-29. The new marketplace and networking event for drama series is run by Conecta Fiction producer Inside Content.

Elsewhere, the second annual French Riviera Film Festival (FRFF), a Cannes event for short film and shortform content, is moving location and has been rescheduled to June 8-9 in Santa Monica, California. This is despite a ban on flights from Europe into the US, which came into effect last week.

The FRFF had previously been due to take place from May 16 to 17 during the Cannes Film Festival, which is still set to go ahead as planned.

“After thoughtful consideration about the likely downscaling or even cancellation of the Festival de Cannes, we have decided to move our festival’s location this year to Santa Monica, California, in June,” said FRFF co-founder Nicole Goesseringer Muj.

“Often described as the ‘Riviera West,’ we felt Santa Monica would be the perfect alternative for our festival this year. We plan to hold the third annual instalment of the festival once again in 2021 in Cannes, home to the most prestigious film festival in the world.”

Over the weekend, the organisers of various events coming up later in the calendar year issued statements saying they intended to go ahead as planned.

Patrick Zuchowicki Jucaud, president of Discop, admitted the company was “one of many event organisers facing extraordinary circumstances” amid the virus crisis.

Zuchowicki Jucaud said Discop had carried out a risk-assessment study to decide whether it should postpone its events and, “considering the relatively light spread of the virus in sub-Saharan Africa at this hour,” had chosen to push forward with its upcoming events in the Ivory Coast and South Africa.

Both Discop Abidjan (May 27-29) and Discop Johannesburg (July 29-31) are due to go head, although South Africa began imposing travel restrictions and bans on large-scale events over the weekend, which could change the situation.

“Given the current level of uncertainty and countries discouraging their citizens from non-essential trips abroad, we don’t expect our international partners, sponsors and currently registered and expected delegates to reconfirm and/or commit to travelling plans for the next 30 days,” said Zuchowicki Jucaud.

Meanwhile, the organisation behind the Monte-Carlo Television Festival said the June event would go ahead despite the crisis.

“With the measures taken so far by different countries and the Monte-Carlo Television Festival being held in three months, we can be confident that the organisation of the 60th edition will not be impacted,” the organisers said.

“Unless otherwise advised by the Monegasque authorities, and depending on the evolution of the epidemic, the Monte-Carlo Television Festival will take place as planned from June 19 to 23 at the Grimaldi Forum in Monaco.”


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