The “TV is the new film” argument got quite a bit stronger Thursday when the Toronto International Film Festival announced a new section devoted solely to television.
Known as Primetime, this year’s inaugural program will bring “the best in international television on the big screen” and will feature titles from the United States, Iceland, France and Argentina.
Perhaps most familiar to American audiences is “Heroes Reborn,” a revival of the popular science fiction drama from creator Tim Kring that aired on NBC for four seasons from 2006 to 2010. The first two episodes of the 13-episode limited series will screen at Toronto ahead of a broadcast debut Sept. 24.
“Television has entered an artistic renaissance; we’re seeing, among other things, many filmmakers experimenting with that medium to broaden their forms of storytelling,” said festival programmer Michael Lerman in a press statement. “The strongest storytellers are masters of change, and TV offers a narrative flexibility, a platform and a luxury for filmmakers to explore ways of telling longer stories that delve deeper into their characters.”
The Primetime lineup will also include the world premieres of “Casual,” a comedy from creator Zander Lehmann and director/executive producer Jason Reitman about a bachelor tech entrepreneur living with his recently divorced sister, which will come to Hulu later this year; “CROMO,” an Argentinian eco-thriller about a team of scientists fighting environmental crimes; "Keith Richards: Under the Influence,” a documentary portrait of the Rolling Stones guitarist directed by Oscar-winner Morgan Neville, which will be available on Netflix beginning Sept. 18; and “Trapped,” a thriller from director Baltasar Kormákur (“Everest,” “The Deep,” “101 Reykjavik”) about a murder mystery in a small town in Iceland.
Rounding out the category is the international premiere of the second season of “The Returned (Les Revenants),” the acclaimed supernatural drama about a picturesque mountain town in France where the dead suddenly and inexplicably return to life. It returns to SundanceTV this fall.
Toronto, which marks the unofficial start of awards season and is a crucial launching pad for Oscar contenders, is the latest prestigious film festival to expand its programming to acknowledge the creative boom in television.
All six episodes of “Top of the Lake,” the miniseries from Oscar-nominated director Jane Campion, screened at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2013, ahead of its television premiere two months later.
In 2014, the Sundance Institute, the nonprofit organization that has fostered emerging flimmaking talent through writing, directing and editing workshops, made a major push into television with its inaugural Episodic Story Lab, designed as a kind of boot camp for future showrunners.
South by Southwest has also become a popular venue for television premieres. This spring USA brought its hacker drama “Mr. Robot” to the increasingly popular film and interactive festival in Austin, Texas.
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