Festival organizers for the Banff World Media Festival's 2020 edition announced that the event, scheduled for June 14-17, is the latest Canadian TV industry event to be cancelled as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Individuals who paid to attend will have the option to transfer their registration to next year's event or receive a full refund. “Although we had kept hope up in recent weeks, it became clear that it would be impossible to hold the festival with no certainty regarding what the safety situation might be by June, in addition to restrictions on large gatherings and travel bans in place at most media companies,” Banff World Media Festival Executive Director, Jenn Kuzmyk said. “We are not able to gather in person this year, but our team is already working on new ways to connect, inform, inspire and serve our industry. We look forward to working with all of you in the coming months to do just that.”
The decision to cancel was discussed with the World Health Organization, as well as the Canadian and Albertan government. It was also influenced by a reunion between Telefilm Canada, the NFB, the CMPA, and eight other Canadian associations, funding agencies and municipal organizations last week, created to address the country’s government with one voice through the Covid-19 Production Industry Taskforce. The news also follows the cancellation or postponement of most forthcoming events in the country, including Hot Docs, the Canadian Screen Awards, Canadian Film Fest and the Writers Guild of Canada Screenwriting Awards. “Cancelling the festival after 41 years of success was not a decision that we took lightly, but it was the right thing to do for festival delegates, speakers and staff,” President of Bell Media and Chair of the Banff Board of Directors, Randy Lennox said.
The 41st annual edition of the festival was set to feature Netflix’s Ted Sarandos, who was scheduled to participate in a fireside chat as part of the festival’s Summit Series. Other scheduled speakers included Minister of Canadian Heritage Steven Guilbeault and EbonyLife Media CEO Mo Abudu. Banff confirmed that despite the event’s cancellation, its 2020 Rockie Awards International Program Competition will continue and winners will be named later this year. Banff will also continue its Spark Accelerator for Women in the Business of Media, which will be reaching out to the inaugural cohort of 50 participants with details on its plans and the third edition of the Netflix-BANFF Diversity of Voices Initiative, both supported by the Canadian Government. Plans are underway to announce the second round of cohort participants. The festival is still accepting applications for the IPF Producer Bursaries until Thursday, the 9th of April. The Corus Writer’s Apprentice Program, however, recently closed with a record number of applications. BANFF will be announcing the 2020 participants soon.
We are not able to gather in person this year, but our team is already working on new ways to connect, inform, inspire and serve our industry. We look forward to working with all of you in the coming months to do just that.” Jenn Kuzmyk Banff World Media Festival Executive Director