After Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) organizers announced the majority of their Canadian feature films, shorts, and installations Wednesday morning, Piers Handling (Director and CEO of TIFF) and Cameron Bailey (Artistic Director) took to the stage to address the media at the 2015 Festival Canadian Press Conference.
Now in its 40th year, TIFF is a Canadian institution, one whose impact on Canadian cinema inspired, launched, and solidified countless filmmaker’s careers. Wednesday’s press conference drove home the significance of TIFF’s cultural impact on both new and established Canadian talent. Featured speakers Toronto Mayor John Tory and directors Patricia Rozema and Andrew Cividino each used their time at the podium to express the importance of TIFF to the entertainment industry as well as the city of Toronto.
The humble and self-professed “re-emerging filmmaker” Patricia Rozema (Mansfield Park), used her time in front of the audience to speak glowingly about TIFF. Rozema won the room over by stating her belief that TIFF is the world’s greatest film festival, while insinuating that a certain well known European film festival was nipping at TIFF’s heels. Rozema continued singing TIFF’s praises stating, “It’s not nothing to be chosen to show your work, by people who have possibly the most refined and educated taste in film.” Rozema’s film, Into the Forest is so new that there wasn’t even a clip available to share with the eager audience. Instead, Rozema took a moment to ask the crowd to come to the Winter Garden Theatre for her film’s festival debut.
Over the past 40 years, TIFF has acted as a spotlight as well as a beacon for young Canadian talent. Multiple generations of filmmakers have aspired to have their films accepted into TIFF, before inspiring the next crop of filmmakers to follow their lead. Up and coming director Andrew Cividino, offered a first-hand account of the impact that TIFF can have on a young filmmaker’s career. Cividino’s film Sleeping Giant played at TIFF as a short, which in turn provided a platform to draw attention, funding, and the confidence required to expand the film into a feature. Now TIFF is presenting the feature length Sleeping Giant at this year’s festival. Cividino summed the process up by stating, “TIFF has really been in the DNA of this film.”
TIFF’s cultural impact on the city of Toronto extends beyond those fortunate enough to snag tickets to glitzy galas and movie screenings. Cameron Bailey announced that after last year’s successful debut, Festival Street will be returning for a second year. Bailey stated, “Festival Street is a fun, interactive, and free space which brings our festival to the people of Toronto, offering everyone a chance to participate in the festival spirit.” Festival organizers are withholding further details regarding Festival Street programming, but Bailey did offer a glimpse of what the public can expect with a short video package. The upbeat video featured festival-goers embracing their inner paparazzi as they took advantage of their close proximity to a waving Jake Gyllenhaal to snap photos. The rest of the video was jam packed with D.J.s, movie screenings, poets, concert performances and people literally dancing in the streets. Toronto Mayor John Tory stole the show when he gleefully stated, “How much do I love TIFF? I’m a man that ran for the Mayor of Toronto on the basis of getting traffic moving.” Tory took a moment to properly articulate his enthusiasm before continuing, “To not only go along with, but to ardently, enthusiastically support sponsor and get behind the closure of King Street, during rush hour, on a week day. That is how much I love TIFF!”
Into the Forest Patricia Rozema, Canada ,World Premiere
In a not-too-distant future, sisters Nell and Eva find themselves shuttered in their home. Surrounded by nothing but miles of dense forest, the sisters must fend for themselves using the supplies and food reserves they have before turning to the forest to discover what it will provide. They are faced with a world where rumour is the only guide, trust is a scarce commodity, gas is king and loneliness is excruciating. And yet somehow miraculously, love still grows. Starring Ellen Page and Evan Rachel Wood.
Sleeping Giant Andrew Cividino, Canada, North American Premiere
Spending his summer vacation on rugged Lake Superior, teenager Adam befriends Riley and Nate, smart aleck cousins who pass their ample free time with pranks, vandalism and reckless cliff jumping. The revelation of a hurtful secret sets in motion a series of irreversible events that test the bonds of friendship and change the boys forever.
The 2015 Toronto International Film Festival will run from September 10th to the 20th.