|Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF)|
The festival is headquartered at TIFF Bell Lightbox, which opened in 2010.
|Location||Toronto, Ontario, Canada|
|Number of films||least, 85 (1978); most, 460 (1984)|
The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) is a publicly attended film festival held each September in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. In 2012, 372 films from 72 countries were screened at 34 screens in downtown Toronto venues, welcoming an estimated 400,000 attendees, over 4000 of whom were industry professionals. TIFF traditionally kicks off the Thursday night after Labour Day (the first Monday in September in Canada), lasting for eleven days.
Founded in 1976, TIFF is now one of the most prestigious events of its kind in the world. In 1998, Variety magazine acknowledged that TIFF “is second only to Cannes in terms of high-profile pics, stars and market activity.” In 2007, Time noted that TIFF had “grown from its place as the most influential fall film festival to the most influential film festival, period.” This is partially the result of TIFF’s ability and reputation for generating “Oscar buzz”.
Notable films to have had their world or North American premiere at Toronto include Chariots of Fire, The Big Chill, Husbands and Wives, Thirty Two Short Films About Glenn Gould, Downfall, Sideways, Silver Linings Playbook, The King’s Speech, Argo, Moneyball, and Crash.
The Toronto International Film Festival was founded by William Marshall, Henk van der Kolk and Dusty Cohl. Piers Handling has been the festival’s Director and CEO since 1994, while Noah Cowan became Co-Director of TIFF in 2004. In late 2007, Cowan became the Artistic Director of TIFF Bell Lightbox, while long-time programmer Cameron Bailey succeeded as Co-Director; as of 2013, Bailey also holds the position of Artistic Director.
TIFF was once centered on the Yorkville neighbourhood, but the Toronto Entertainment District later gained a greater level of prominence. TIFF is known for the celebrity buzz it brings to the area with international media setting up near its restaurants and stores for photos and interviews with the stars. With the Fall 2010 opening of TIFF Bell Lightbox, TIFF’s permanent home in the Entertainment District, it seems likely that TIFF will continue to spread out from its traditional centre to embrace other locations in the city.
As of 2013, TIFF’s primary focus is independent cinema, and the festival features retrospectives of national cinemas and individual directors, highlights of Canadian cinema, and a variety of African, South American, and Asian films. In particular, the world premieres of a number of Indian films have occurred at TIFF.
The Toronto International Film Festival, known originally as “The Festival of Festivals”, was founded in 1976 at the Windsor Arms Hotel by Bill Marshall, Henk Van der Kolk and Dusty Cohl. Beginning as a collection of the best films from film festivals around the world, it had an inaugural attendance of 35,000. Ironically however, Hollywood studios withdrew their submissions from TIFF due to concerns that Toronto audiences would be too parochial for their products. In the years following, TIFF continued to concentrate on bringing the best films from around the world.Through consistent investment and promotion by its organizers and sponsors, the Toronto International Film Festival has also grown to become a vital component of Hollywood’s marketing machine.
In 1994, the decision was made to replace the name “Festival of Festivals” with “Toronto International Film Festival”. From 1994 to 2009, the umbrella organization running TIFF was named “Toronto International Film Festival Group” (TIFFG). In 2009, the umbrella organization TIFFG was renamed to TIFF.
In 2001, Perspective Canada, the programme that had focused on Canadian films since 1984, was replaced by two programmes:
- Canada First!, a forum for Canadian filmmakers presenting their first feature-length work, featuring eight to 15 films, and
- Short Cuts Canada, which includes 30-40 Canadian short films.
In 2008, Rose McGowan caused controversy at a TIFF press conference for her film Fifty Dead Men Walking, when she noted that “I imagine, had I grown up in Belfast, I would 100% have been in the IRA.”
In 2009, TIFF’s decision to spotlight films from Tel Aviv created a controversy with protesters, saying it was part of an attempt to re-brand Israel in a positive light after the January 2009 Gaza War.
Notable film premieres
Films such as American Beauty, Ray, The Wrestler, Mr. Nobody, Antichrist, 127 Hours, Black Swan, Singapore Sling, and I Am Love have premiered at TIFF. Jamie Foxx‘s portrayal of Ray Charles ultimately won him the Academy Award for Best Actor while Slumdog Millionaire went on to win eight Oscars at the 2009 Academy Awards. Precious, which won the 2009 TIFF People’s Choice Award, went on to win two Oscars at the 82nd Academy Awards. The King’s Speech, the winner of the 2010 TIFF People’s Choice Award, won four Oscars at the 83rd Academy Awards, while Silver Linings Playbook, the winner of the 2012 TIFF People’s Choice Award, went to win the Academy Award for Best Actress for Jennifer Lawrence.
Many Hollywood studios premiere their films in Toronto due to TIFF’s easy-going non-competitive nature, relatively inexpensive costs (when compared to European festivals), eager film-fluent audiences and convenient timing.
TIFF Bell Lightbox
In 2007, the Festival Group began construction on TIFF Bell Lightbox, a new facility at the corner of King and John Streets in downtown Toronto on land donated by Ivan Reitman and family. The $181 million facility is named for founding sponsor Bell Canada, with additional support from the Government of Ontario and Government of Canada.
In 2010, the organization opened a new headquarters at the intersection of King St and John St, in a facility called TIFF Bell Lightbox. The facility, designed by local firm, KPMB Architects, provides extensive year-round galleries, cinemas, archives and activities for cinephiles. The 5-storey facility contains 5 cinemas, 2 gallery spaces, film archives and an extensive reference library, study spaces, film lab facility, and a research centre. There is also a gift shop, two restaurants, a lounge, a cafe, and a three-storey atrium. Cooperatively with Daniels Corporation, there is a 46-storey condominium atop, called the Festival Tower.
The first film screening was Bruce McDonald‘s Trigger. The first exhibition was a retrospective on Tim Burton, organized by the Museum of Modern Art (New York). Subsequent exhibitions included Fellini: Spectacular Obsessions, Grace Kelly: From Movie Star to Princess, and Designing 007: 50 Years of Bond Style, all of which were organized by TIFF, as well as one called Essential Cinema, featuring posters, images and props from TIFF’s The Essential 100 list of films.
People’s Choice Award
Given that TIFF lacks a jury and is non-competitive, regular awards handed out at other festivals for categories such as “Best Actress” or “Best Film” do not exist at the Toronto International Film Festival. The major prize, the People’s Choice Award, is given to a feature-length film with the highest ratings as voted by the TIFF-going populace. The following list shows past winners:
- 2013 12 Years a Slave (2013)
- 2012 Silver Linings Playbook (2012)
- 2011 Where Do We Go Now? (2011)
- 2010 The King’s Speech (2010)
- 2009 Precious (2009)
- 2008 Slumdog Millionaire (2008)
- 2007 Eastern Promises (2007)
- 2006 Bella (2006)
- 2005 Tsotsi (2005)
- 2004 Hotel Rwanda (2004)
- 2003 Zatôichi (2003)
- 2002 Whale Rider (2002)
- 2001 Le fabuleux destin d’Amélie Poulain (2001)
- 2000 Wo hu cang long (2000)
- 1999 American Beauty (1999)
- 1998 La vita è bella (1997)
- 1997 The Hanging Garden (1997)
- 1996 Shine (1996)
- 1995 Antonia (1995)
- 1994 Priest (1994)
- 1993 The Snapper (1993) (TV)
- 1992 Strictly Ballroom (1992)
- 1991 The Fisher King (1991)
- 1990 Cyrano de Bergerac (1990)
- 1989 Roger & Me (1989)
- 1988 Mujeres al borde de un ataque de nervios (1988)
- 1987 The Princess Bride (1987)
- 1986 Le déclin de l’empire américain (1986)
- 1985 La historia oficial (1985)
- 1984 Places in the Heart (1984)
- 1983 The Big Chill (1983)
- 1982 Tempest (1982)
- 1981 Chariots of Fire (1981)
- 1980 Bad Timing (1980)
- 1979 Best Boy (1979)
- 1978 Girlfriends (1978)
TIFF also presents seven other awards for People’s Choice Best Documentary, People’s Choice Best Midnight Madness film, Best Canadian Feature, Best Canadian First Feature, Best Canadian Short Film, FIPRESCI’s Special Presentation Winner and FIPRESCI’s Discovery Section Winner. Since 1984, every decade TIFF has produced a Top 10 Canadian Films of All Time list.
In 2012 TIFF hosted 1,200 members of the press and print media outlets such as the Toronto Star, The Globe and Mail, The New York Times, The Times of India, Los Angeles Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Miami Herald, and the Toronto Sun have published a significant amount of festival coverage. Also, the major industry trade magazines Variety, The Hollywood Reporter and Screen International all produce daily editions during TIFF. TIFF reports also appear in weekly news magazines; American, Canadian and international entertainment shows; news services; and a wide range of film and celebrity blogs.