The San Sebastian and Zurich film festivals have announced plans to introduce more productions at their events later this year, given the massive disruption to the spring and summer cinematic calendar caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

José Luis Rebordinos, Director of the San Sebastián Film Festival (SSIFF), and Christian Jungen, Artistic Director of the Zurich Film Festival (ZFF), confirmed their intention to offer a wider programme that will include films originally selected for showcasing at SXSW and the Tribeca Film Festival. The latter was officially postponed, but new dates have not been announced. Considering that the global efforts to flatten the curve will likely spill into the late summer, we’re not sure when or if we’ll get new dates for Tribeca.

According to Deadline, SSIFF and ZFF will aim to welcome buyers from across the globe, marking a first for both festivals. They will also be introducing new sales projects. CAA Media Finance is supporting this endeavour to transform San Sebastián and Zurich into greater sales markets that will bring together a massively international consortium of agencies, foreign sales companies, financiers, distributors and buyers. Independent film companies are said to be backing this initiative, Wild Bunch and Film Nation included among them.


Business has been done at these events before, but never on such a scale. ‘If the festival can be held under normal conditions, because the health authorities allow it, we want this edition to serve as an opportunity for films that have not been able to be seen at the festivals for which they were originally selected, to be shown to an audience of buyers and distributors and, at the same time, for these professionals, representatives of the most important companies in the world film industry, to get to know the size of the San Sebastián Festival, its line-up and its activities focused on the film industry’, Christian Jungen said.

He went on to add: ‘We live in disruptive times which also shatter the traditional festival landscape and threaten independent cinema. Many high-profile titles are orphans of a real premiere their cast and crew deserve. So, we are happy to help out holding screenings for buyers together with our friends of San Sebastián.’

The Zurich Film Festival is scheduled from 24th September till 4th October 2020. We’ll find out more about screenings and programming at a later date. Venice and Toronto might also attract a larger marked if they’re allowed to go ahead. Cannes, unfortunately, is still a mystery, though there are plans for online market options if the physical event is cancelled.