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Virtual 2020 TIFF Awards Announced

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My ninth year of covering the Toronto International Film Festival reflected a dramatic shift in viewing habits that existed before the COVID-19 pandemic.  The battle between theatres and streaming services was highlighted back in April 2018 when under pressure from the French exhibiters’ association FNCF, the Cannes Film Festival banned the screening of movies being released by Netflix.  Like with anything there are pros and cons to both viewing methods.  Theatres take advantage of the epic visual and sonic scope of movies within a communal environment.  I have a fond memory of seeing Victory with audience members cheering and booing as if they were actually watching a real soccer match.  However, the financial price of being part of that experience has increased tenfold without a significant increase in the quality of the theatrical presentation.  Streaming is great for filling in time gaps either on the go or at home but in the process, movies have gone from being a cultural event to a disposable consumer product.

Beans presentation with filmmaker Tracey Deer and lead actress Kiawentiio.

In the end, what was it like virtually reviewing what the 45th Toronto International Film Festival had to offer which involved 61 features/TV series and 36 short films compared to previous physical edition that had 245 features, 82 shorts and six series?  It was a calmer affair as I did not have to get up at 5 am, spend a total of three hours on public transit, stand in line, rush off to the next screening, and write my reviews upon arriving home.  Everything was much more immediate.  As soon as I saw a movie, I would write my review before going on to the next one.  I was also able have my parents join me each night during a screening which was very cool.  The downside was not being able to interview in-person filmmakers I wouldn’t otherwise have had the opportunity to do so and not getting to speak to the those seated around me who have come from around the world and range from being fans to industry professionals.

Check out all of our TIFF coverage

In a press release, TIFF Artistic Director and Co-Head Cameron Bailey stated, “TIFF 2020 was a year that we won’t soon forget.  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.”  As for what was deemed award worthy, Nomadland won the prestigious People’s Choice Award, People’s Choice Documentary Award went to Inconvenient Indian and Shadow in the Cloud was lauded with the People’s Choice Midnight Madness Award.  Other honourees include Amplify Voices Awards for Inconvenient Indian, The Disciple, and Night of the Kings, FIPRESCI Prize to Beginning and NETPAC Award to Gaza mon amour as well as Tribute Awards to Anthony Hopkins, Kate Winslet, Terence Blanchard, Chloé Zhao, Mira Nair and Tracey Deer.

Nomadland

My own personal favourite is Nomadland which would still be getting awards attention even if the festival was at full capacity as Chloé Zhao was able to capture a tour de force performance by Francis McDormand that is subtle, naturalistic and emotionally affecting.  Winning a third Oscar is a strong possibility for McDormand.  A trio of documentaries were fascinating and quite different from each other.  MLK/FBI provides historical insight into the racial divide in America by exploring the antagonistic relationship between Martin Luther King Jr. and the FBI, filmmaker Werner Herzog collaborates for a third time with academic Clive Oppenheimer to make science fun and illuminating with Fireball: Visitors from Darker Worlds, and a niche industry is given a quirky and enjoyable treatment in The Truffle Hunters. Despite One Night in Miami getting so much hype it was letdown by the one-note performance of Kingsley Ben-Adir as Malcolm X; this is to do with him having the thankless task of being the antagonist.  The pleasant surprise was Wolfwalkers by Irish animation studio Cartoon Saloon which is building a catalogue that rivals Pixar, Studio Ghibli and Laika; the creative imagination and storytelling infused with the trademark Celtic imagery adds a fresh spin on the werewolf mythology and female empowerment making it a serious Oscar contender.   And that is a wrap until my decade anniversary next year which may result in a hybrid version being implemented on a much bigger scale.  Now that will be really interesting to see in person and virtually!

Wolfwalkers

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

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