Embracing Cinema Through Screens of all Sizes

By Pickle  September 21, 2020

TIFF’s industry platform welcomed 3,926 international professionals digitally this year, and remains a force for market activity with strong deals continuing to be made

“TIFF 2020 was a year we won’t soon forget,” said Cameron Bailey, TIFF Artistic Director and Co-Head. “Over the last 10 days, we have experienced community in the truest sense. The pandemic hit TIFF hard and we responded by going back to our original inspiration — to bring the very best in film to the broadest possible audience and transform the way people see the world through film. We heeded the urgent calls for greater representation of under-represented voices. And we watched as audiences embraced cinema’s ability to transport them through screens of all sizes by joining us online from all over this country — something that we would never have seen in previous years. TIFF delivered on its promise to provide Festival-goers and the industry with impactful programming. We are very proud of what the TIFF team accomplished.”

“The films and talent featured in this year’s Festival have left us inspired and moved,” said Joana Vicente, TIFF Executive Director and Co-Head. ”In a time where the very future of our beloved art form was in question due to cinema and production shutdowns and film festival cancellations, we have seen a tenacity of spirit. We’re heartened by the support and generosity from TIFF’s loyal sponsors, donors, members, and public audiences who encouraged us to deliver a reimagined Festival. We’re grateful for the industry delegates and press corps who championed TIFF’s decision to go ahead with the Festival. We are excited by the fact that 46% of the films screened this year were either directed, co-directed or created by women. We are inspired by the generosity of the industry, who gave their time to be present — virtually — in support of the Festival. And, finally, we are genuinely moved by the commitment of all TIFF’s stakeholders who helped us deliver the TIFF Tribute Awards to Canadian and international audiences.

TIFF’s industry platform welcomed 3,926 international professionals digitally this year, and remains a force for market activity with strong deals continuing to be made. The following films were sold at TIFF 2020: Another Round, Bruised, Good Joe Bell, MLK/FBI, Night of the Kings, One Night in Miami… , Pieces of a Woman, Shadow In The Cloud, Shiva Baby and Summer of 85, with many other sales continuing to be negotiated for films in and out of selection.

TIFF’s Industry Conference presented 35 digital sessions, including Master Classes with Viola Davis and Julius Tennon, Luca Guadagnino, Ted Hope, and dream hampton. The Dialogues stream featured conversations with directors Radha Blank, Stella Meghie, and Lulu Wang; writers Tracy Oliver, Cord Jefferson, and Leslye Headland; Primetime directors Derek Cianfrance and Lenny Abrahamson; and documentarians Sam Pollard and Shola Lynch.

Additionally, Perspectives sessions included “Narrative Sovereignty” with TIFF Tribute Award honouree Tracey Deer, and “From Micro to Macro: How Data Can Drive Anti-Racist Action in Film and Television.” Popular Microsessions encouraged conversations in “Reclaiming Our Time, Stories and Screens for Under-represented Canadian Creators” and “Harnessing Media to Make Positive Social Change,” to name just a few, and Spotlights featured countries such as Russia, India Israel, Ukraine, and the United Kingdom. The Conference also offered two special industry events: “Aaron Sorkin on The Trial of the Chicago 7 ”, and “Women on the Rise: 2020 TIFF Rising Stars, a panel presented by OLG.”

Talent development also remains at the forefront of TIFF’s commitment to the industry. The Filmmaker Lab provided emerging directors with an immersive learning experience. This year, 20 directors were selected to participate — 10 from Canada and 10 from around the world. The Lab, designed to be inspirational, brought filmmakers into contact with some of the finest creative talent in the world and was supported by Telefilm Canada, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the RBC Female Creator Initiative, Anne-Marie Canning, and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) with Filmmaker Lab Fellowships generously supported by Hudson’s Bay Foundation, Canada Goose and TIFF’s Share Her Journey campaign. For 2020 the HFPA selected three of our Filmmaker Lab participants for their three-week residency programme: Maha Al-Saati (Saudi Arabia), Álvaro Gago Díaz (Spain), and Jeff Wong (Canada).

In order to acknowledge the heroes working to keep people safe during the global health crisis, TIFF presented a special screening of Concrete Cowboy to 500 invited frontline workers on Monday, September 14. The screening was held on TIFF’s online film platform, Bell Digital Cinema, and sponsored by Fasken.

TIFF partnered with Toronto area hospitals Sinai Health, Toronto General, St. Michael’s, and St. Joseph’s (Unity); long-term care facilities Baycrest Hospital, Homes First, and South Riverdale Community Health Centre; and mental health care partners CAMH (PHP, ENCORE, Gifts of Light), CMHA, Real Canadian Superstore, and the TTC in order to facilitate outreach to 500 frontline workers in the Greater Toronto Area. Many of these partners work closely with TIFF year-round as part of our Mental Health Outreach programme, which supports individuals on their path to wellness by harnessing the unique power of film to unlock imagination and encourage curiosity.

For the first time ever, TIFF’s leading fundraiser, the TIFF Tribute Awards, was broadcast across Canada on CTV and ctv.ca, and streamed internationally to the rest of the world by Variety. During the one-hour broadcast, Academy Award–winning actress Kate Winslet and Academy Award–winning actor Sir Anthony Hopkins each received a TIFF Tribute Actor Award ; Nomadland director Chloé Zhao was awarded the TIFF Ebert Director Award; Academy Award–nominated filmmaker Mira Nair was honoured with the Jeff Skoll Award in Impact Media; Grammy Award– winning composer Terence Blanchard, whose work was featured in this year’s films Bruised and One Night In Miami… , received the TIFF Variety Artisan Award; and Beans director Tracey Deer was awarded the TIFF Emerging Talent Award.

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