The Toronto International Film Festival has announced its inaugural TV slate, an eclectic lineup that will include premieres of Hulu’s new comedy series “Casual” and NBC’s genre reprise “Heroes Reborn.”
Known as Primetime, the section will show one or more episodes from a half-dozen shows. All of them are new series; most of them are world premieres.
Highlighting the list is “Casual,” which was created by Zander Lehmann and saw its first episode directed by Jason Reitman. The show examines an Internet entrepreneur and a newly divorced sister living under the same roof and will debut Oct. 7.
Meanwhile, NBC’s September big bet, “Heroes Reborn,” will also make its debut at the fest. The limited series has creator Tim Kring returning to the world of ordinary people with special powers, this time with Hiro, the Haitian and the rest of the crew dealing with the aftermath of a terrorist attack in Texas. The festival premiere will lead in to the series debut on the network later in the month.
The Primetime list also includes foreign programs such as Icelandic small-town mystery series “Trapped” from “Everest” director Baltasar Kormakur; the Argentine eco-thriller “Cromo"; and the French reincarnation drama “The Returned,” based on Robin Campillo’s 2004 film “Les Revenants.”
And “Keith Richards: Under the Influence,” from “20 Feet From Stardom” director Morgan Neville will make its world premiere north of the border before premiering on Netflix.
“We wanted to do something that speaks to what’s going on with the world of entertainment,” said artistic director Cameron Bailey in an interview, underscoring the platforms where the works would eventually be showcased. “It’s a lineup that demonstrates not just the range of where these shows are coming from but the many different ways of making television.”
Bailey said that fan-favorite returning series might be in the cards down the road; it was timing, he noted, that made all of this year’s shows new ones. Basic and premium cable were also a priority, he said; FX was among the networks he and his team met with this year.
As the worlds of film and TV have become more cross-pollinated, festivals have begun experimenting with TV. Sundance this year premiered HBO docuseries “The Jinx” and the independent Duplass Bros.-produced comedy “Animals.” Still, they must overcome a basic problem: Festivals rarely have the bandwidth to show more than a few episodes, which means the debuts amount to more of a tease than they do the self-contained experience of most festival screenings.
Networks have said they’re open to festival screenings, particularly for new shows, which could greatly benefit from the added fan and media exposure.
Also Thursday, Toronto announced that it was breaking out 12 new international films in a section called Platform. The movies were likely to have been at the festival anyway but will be given a higher profile as part of the new section. Among this year’s selections are world premieres for Ben Wheatley’s apartment-house drama “High-Rise,” the Dutch-Croatian drone tale “Full Contact” from David Verbeek, and the WWII story “Under the Mine” from Martin Zandvliet.
“We were looking for the kind of thing that’s about the original vision of the filmmaker, without concern for red carpet names or anything like that,” Bailey said. “It was just about the quality of filmmaking really being high.”