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Wrapping Up TIFF 2019

Martin Eden

The first edition of the Toronto International Film Festival under the co-leadership of Artistic Director Cameron Bailey and Executive Director Joana Vicente has come to a conclusion with 245 features, 82 shorts and 6 television series from 83 countries being watched by approximately 480,000 attendees with 1,400 of them being members of the media. A significant effort was made for the inclusion of female filmmakers with 35 percent of the titles either being directed, co-directed or created by them.  A major addition was the introduction of the Tribute Gala which honoured the careers and contributions of Meryl Streep, Joaquin Phoenix, Roger Deakins, Mati Diop and Participant Media as well as served as a fundraiser for the year-round programming.  In a rather surprising move award winners were announced via social media rather than holding the traditional ceremony.  The list of winners are: Platform Prize: Martin Eden,  Grolsch People’s Choice Award: Jojo Rabbit, Grolsch People’s Choice Award Midnight Madness: The Platform, Grolsch People’s Choice Documentary Award: The Cave, NETPAC Award: 1982, Canada Goose Award: Antigone, City of Toronto Award: The Twentieth Century, International Critics’ Prize (FIPRESCI), Discovery Program: Murmur, International Critics’ Prize (FIPRESCI), Special Presentations Program: How to Build a Girl, Short Cuts Award for Best Short Film: All Cats Are Grey in the Dark, and IWC Short Cuts Award for Best Canadian Short film: Delphine

Jojo Rabbit

Jahmil X.T. Qubeka and Trevor Hogg

Compared to past festivals, the atmosphere was a lot quieter, at least from the media perspective.  I saw 20 films which were a combination of viewing online screeners, attending advance studio screenings, and attending press and industry screenings being held during the 11-day event.  Oddly, enough on the official first day I went in the opposite direction for a studio showing of Ford v Ferrari and then headed downtown for The Whistlers.  In order to manage the three hours worth of traveling and have enough time for writing and submitting my reviews, I did not go beyond watching two films each day.  When it comes to my favourite movies the honour goes to Ford v Ferrari and This is Not a Movie, the biggest disappointment was The Other Lamb, pleasant surprise was The Goldfinch, and the most audacious was A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.

Check out all of our TIFF coverage

However, my coverage extended beyond the darkened theatres to hotel rooms and lobbies, pubs, cafés, and the offices of the National Film Board of Canada conducting interviews with filmmakers from Canada, Singapore, America, Germany, Britain, Poland and South Africa.  If there was a common theme for me, it was getting to meet in person publicists and filmmakers with whom I usually communicate by email, phone or Skype, with highlights being James Mangold (Ford v Ferrari), Roger Deakins (The Goldfinch), and Phedon Papamichael (Ford v Ferrari).  I also got the opportunity to reconnect with John Crowley (The Goldfinch) and Jahmil X.T. Qubeka (Knuckle City) as well as get introduced to composer Trevor Gureckis (The Goldfinch), actress Yeo Yann Yann (Wet Season), screenwriter Mateusz Pacewicz (Corpus Christi), and filmmaker Ina Weisse (The Audition). Then there was an unplanned encounter with a gracious David Thewlis (Guest of Honour) while both of us were taking part in separate press junkets being held by the same publicist.

Yeo Yann Yann in Wet Season

Personally, I did not mind attending press and industry screenings at the Bell Lightbox because Cineplex was refusing to showcase productions from Amazon and Netflix; however, the theatrical chain is going to have to come to terms with the viewing habits and preferences of a society that communicates through mobile devices.  A question mark is whether a programme built around virtual and augmented reality will be reintroduced as the new medium is not going to go away anytime soon.  I would also love to see more animation movies and shorts screened as the selection is nominal.  It is a shame that productions that already have a theatrical release push those in need of distribution later into the schedule when members of media have already left but understand that is part of the consequence of running an event that caters to the public.  Even though the 44th Toronto International Film Festival is over, I still have a lot of work to do orchestrating further interviews associated with the movies I watched as well as writing the corresponding articles.   But I would not have it any other way!

Matt Damon as Carroll Shelby in Ford v Ferrari

Trevor Hogg is a freelance video editor and writer who currently resides in Canada; he can be found at LinkedIn.

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