No proof of vaccine required at TIFF; masks, testing for media, talent mandatory

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TORONTO — The Toronto International Film Festival says proof of COVID-19 vaccination won’t be required to enter its venues, but masks will be mandatory for anyone attending in-person screenings, and talent and media will be tested regularly.

Organizers say actors, filmmakers, TIFF executives and others attending events will need to be tested for COVID-19 every 48 hours, in addition to out-of-country visitors being tested within 72 hours of arriving in Toronto.

Talent will also wear masks at festival venues, except when onstage or on the red carpet. There was no word yet on celebrities who may attend.

TIFF anticipates 4,000 members of the industry will be accredited for this year’s festival, running Sept. 9 to 18, and says more than 1,400 journalists have been accredited.

Reporters invited to cover red carpets and interact with talent will also need to provide proof of negative COVID-19 tests every 48 hours.

TIFF says staff at festival venues who interact with talent — including festival photographers, drivers and backstage teams — will have to take a rapid antigen test every 48 hours and wear a three-layer, non-medical mask.

TIFF says there will be no printed tickets or passes, requiring guests to provide mobile tickets instead, and no concessions will be sold at the festival venues.

TIFF venues include: TIFF Bell Lightbox, the Princess of Wales Theatre and Roy Thomson Hall, Scotiabank Theatre and the Cinesphere IMAX Theatre at Ontario Place. Outdoor screening venues at Ontario Place Festival Village include the Visa Skyline Drive-In, RBC Lakeside Drive-In and the West Island Open Air Cinema.

Red carpets will take place inside Roy Thomson Hall and the Visa Screening Room at the Princess of Wales Theatre, where TIFF says all government-mandated social distancing measures will be in place.

Organizers say public digital screenings will be availableon its online platform,digital TIFF Bell Lightbox, but will be limited to Canadian audiences and festival time- and date-release windows.

The festival was altered to virtual platforms and drive-in screenings last year due to the pandemic.

Canada opened its border to non-essential travel from the United States this week, and expects to further open to international travellers on Sept. 7.

On Thursday, organizers said Benedict Cumberbatch has been named a recipient of this year’s TIFF Tribute Actor Award, joining previously named honorees Jessica Chastain and Quebec director Denis Villeneuve. The pre-recorded event will be broadcast nationally by CTV and streamed internationally by Variety.