Coronavirus: Hot Docs Film Festival is postponed

As film festivals cancel, Toronto movie theatres unveil policies in order to stay open

The Hot Docs Film Festival has been postponed over coronavirus concerns.

The world’s largest documentary festival – which was scheduled to run from April 30 to May 10 in Toronto – announced on March 13 that “due to the recent declaration by the World Health Organization 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 postponement of the world’s largest documentary film festival was just the latest industry announcement in the 24-hour period that also saw the cancellation of all Canadian Screen Week events, Toronto Comicon and the postponements of the Water Docs Film Festival, the Canadian Film Fest and New York’s Tribeca Film Festival.

Meanwhile, the organizers of the Cannes Film Festival remain committed to going forward as scheduled, with president Pierre Lescure telling Le Figaro he remains “reasonably optimistic” that the pandemic will peak well before the festival opens May 12.

In Toronto, movie theatres continue to operate with minor modifications. In a statement on March 12, Cineplex announced it had implemented “enhanced cleaning protocols” in all of its locations and adjusted their employment policies “so that our hourly staff are protected and not penalized financially if they need to stay home.”

Earlier today, the Revue Cinema announced it would be limiting attendance to 50 per cent of capacity for scheduled screenings, and “increasing our usual thorough cleaning practises” The Royal also announced it was working with its janitorial company “to increase the scope and focus of their regular cleaning to include daily disinfectant spray on all ‘frequent-touch’ surfaces” and limiting the capacity of the venue to 200 until further notice.

The Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema is similarly limiting its capacity – to 250 – while adding more hand sanitizing stations and disinfectant wipes throughout the cinema, and increasing the venue’s cleaning schedule. The theatre is also suggesting a three-seat separation policy for patrons.

And if you’re feeling reckless, the Grand Gerrard is holding a “Coronavirus Movies + Rave” event tonight in honour of Friday the 13th, screening a PWYC double-bill of Outbreak and Contagion and selling $5 tall cans of Corona. “Event and afterparty will run until everybody gets infected,” because hardee har har.

Check out NOW’s constantly updated list of Toronto events cancelled by coronavirus here.


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