Toronto film festival talent say TV's rise welcome, not a threat

Thu Sep 17, 2015 1:50pm EDT
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By Jeffrey Hodgson

TORONTO (Reuters) - A boom in high-quality television should be welcomed rather than feared, said actors and film makers attending this year's Toronto's International Film Festival, which for the first time included a program dedicated to TV shows.

Organizers of the 10-day event, a key launching pad for Hollywood's award season, said the inclusion of TV shows reflected the "growing convergence and artistic equality between television and cinema."

But the ascent of television is also partly the result of Hollywood studios favoring big-budget franchise films, often based on comic books, that appeal to a wide audience, industry veterans said.

Many writers and directors who are keen to produce more complex and challenging stories are looking elsewhere, said Matt Damon, who won an Oscar for co-writing "Good Will Hunting."

"A lot of us spent our adult lives thinking about two hours and three acts. (We're) now migrating to television going, 'OK, how do I tell this story over 20 hours?'" he told Reuters.

"The movie that was my bread and butter for years, the $25 million to $50 million character drama, is just gone. They just don't make that anymore."

The six programs in the Sept 10-20 festival's "Primetime" section include U.S. family comedy "Casual," Icelandic crime drama "Trapped" and French supernatural thriller "The Returned."

Some critics say the so-called second golden age of television, which has produced the likes of "Breaking Bad" and "Mad Men," has supplanted movies as the more sophisticated and influential medium.   Continued...

Actor Matt Damon and his wife Luciana Barroso arrive on the red carpet for the film "The Martian" during the 40th Toronto International Film Festival in Toronto, Canada, in this September 11, 2015, file photo. REUTERS/Mark Blinch/Filer