SAG-AFTRA Strike Leaves Fall Film Festivals in Uncertainty: Will Hollywood Stars Be Absent?

Fall Film Festivals Await Resolution to SAG-AFTRA Strike

As the highly anticipated SAG-AFTRA strike was announced on Thursday, fall film festivals are bracing themselves for the possibility of a season without the presence of stars. The Toronto Film Festival and the Venice Film Festival, two prominent events in the film industry, have expressed their hope for a quick resolution to the strike. The impact of the strike on these festivals and the industry as a whole cannot be overlooked. Both festivals are currently moving forward with their planning but are prepared to adapt if necessary.

The Toronto Film Festival, scheduled to run from September 7 to 17, has already locked in the world premiere of Taikia Waititi’s Searchlight comedy “Next Goal Wins.” Waititi’s previous film, “Jojo Rabbit,” premiered at TIFF and went on to receive critical acclaim and several Oscar nominations. French director Ladj Ly’s latest feature, “Les Indésirables,” has also been programmed for the festival’s 48th edition.

Meanwhile, the Venice Film Festival, which takes place from August 30 to September 9, is set to showcase Michael Mann’s “Ferrari,” starring Adam Driver, and Yorgos Lanthimos’ “Poor Things.” However, the looming SAG-AFTRA strike has caused concern among publicists and awards-season strategists. Without a resolution, the fate of these films and their festival presence remains uncertain. The potential absence of casts on red carpets raises questions about whether distributors will invest in taking movies with directors to festivals without their star power.

While discussions about alternative solutions, such as bringing a director alone, are ongoing, the primary focus is on resolving the strike. “This has to get solved,” emphasizes an awards strategist, acknowledging the significant financial stakes for the movies involved. While studios could navigate a strike by attending fall film festivals with star-studded lineups, this requires careful planning and coordination. The current situation echoes the challenges faced in 2021 when film festivals had to scale down due to the ongoing pandemic.

Earlier today, the SAG-AFTRA strike had already started to impact events around the world. The Galway Film Fleadh in Ireland was forced to cancel a Q&A session with actor and former SAG presidential candidate Matthew Modine. These cancellations serve as a reminder of the potential consequences of the strike for the industry.

Film festivals, industry professionals, and movie enthusiasts alike are closely monitoring the developments surrounding the SAG-AFTRA strike. The hope is to find a swift resolution that allows stars to once again grace the red carpet and bring the magic of cinema to audiences worldwide. The coming weeks will be critical in determining the future of the fall film festival season.