Toronto International Film Festival

Coordinates: 43°38′48″N 79°23′25″W / 43.64667°N 79.39028°W / 43.64667; -79.39028

Toronto International Film Festival
people milling around King Street in front of the TIFF Bell Lightbox, with rails and ropes set up around a carpets in front of the building
The festival is headquartered at TIFF Bell Lightbox, which opened in 2010.
Location Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Founded 1976
Number of films least, 85 (1978); most, 460 (1984)[1]
Language International
Official website

The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) is a publicly-attended film festival held each September in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. In 2010, 339 films from 59 countries were screened at 32 screens in downtown Toronto venues. In the last few years, total attendance at TIFF has exceeded 260,000, with 287,000 public and industry admissions in 2009, and a further 239,000 from the free programming scheduled at Yonge-Dundas Square.[2][3] The festival begins the Thursday night after Labour Day (the first Monday in September in Canada), lasting for eleven days.

Founded in 1976, the TIFF is now one of the most prestigious film festivals in the world. In 1998, Variety magazine acknowledged that "the Festival is second only to Cannes in terms of high-profile pics, stars and market activity." In 2007, Time noted that the festival had "grown from its place as the most influential fall film festival to the most influential film festival, period."[4] This is partially the result of the festival's reputation and ability to generate "Oscar-buzz".[5] Further, many Hollywood studios premiere their films at TIFF due to the festival's easy-going non-competitive nature, relatively inexpensive costs (when compared to European festivals), eager film-fluent audiences and convenient timing.[6][7][8] Notable films to have had their world or North American premiere at TIFF include Chariots of Fire, The Big Chill, Husbands and Wives, Thirty Two Short Films About Glenn Gould, Downfall, Sideways, and Crash.

In recent years, films such as American Beauty, Ray, The Wrestler, Antichrist, Up In The Air, 127 Hours, Black Swan, and I Am Love premiered at the festival, garnering much favourable attention and press. 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 People's Choice Award at the festival, went on to win two Oscars at the 82nd Academy Awards while The King's Speech, the winner of the 2010 People's Choice Award at the festival, won four Oscars at the 83rd Academy Awards.

The 36th Toronto International Film Festival occurred between September 8 and September 18, 2011.



The festival was once centred around the Yorkville neighbourhood, but in recent years, the Toronto Entertainment District has gradually overtaken Yorkville in its importance to TIFF.[9][10] The festival 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 the TIFF Bell Lightbox,[11] the festival's permanent home in the Entertainment District, it seems likely that the festival will continue to spread out from its traditional centre to embrace other locations in the city.[12]

Content-wise, though the festival has begun to give more attention to mainstream Hollywood films, it still maintains its focus on independent cinema. It features retrospectives of national cinemas and individual directors, highlights of Canadian cinema, as well as a variety of African, South American, and Asian films. In particular, a number of Indian films have had their world premieres at TIFF.[13]

The Festival was founded by William (Bill) Marshall, Henk van der Kolk and Dusty Cohl. The Director and CEO of the Toronto International Film Festival has been Piers Handling since 1994. In 2004, Noah Cowan became Co-Director of the Festival. In late 2007, Cowan was promoted to Artistic Director of Bell Lightbox, the Toronto International Film Festival Group's (TIFFG) future home, while long-time programmer Cameron Bailey succeeded as Co-Director.


Festival box office at the Manulife Centre in 2006

TIFF, known originally as "The Festival of Festivals", was founded in 1976 at the Windsor Arms Hotel.[14] Beginning as a collection of the best films from film festivals around the world, it had an inaugural attendance of 35,000.[15] Ironically however, Hollywood studios withdrew their submissions from the festival due to concerns that Toronto audiences would be too parochial for their products.[16] In the years following, the festival continued to concentrate on bringing the best films from around the world.[citation needed] Through consistent investment and promotion by its organizers and sponsors, TIFF has also grown to become a vital component of Hollywood's marketing machine.[citation needed]

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 the festival was named "Toronto International Film Festival Group" (TIFFG). This was replaced in 2009, with the acronym TIFFG jettisoned in favour of naming the umbrella organization as the same as the festival itself, "Toronto International Film Festival" or TIFF.[17]

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 2004, TIFF was featured as the site of murder mystery in the film Jiminy Glick in Lalawood, a comedy film starring Martin Short.

In 2007, the Festival Group began construction on the 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 facility is named for founding sponsor Bell Canada, with additional support from the Governments of Ontario and Canada. The facility opened September 12, 2010 and provides extensive year-round galleries, cinemas, archives and activities for cinephiles.

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."[18] Later that year in October, TIFF Group was named one of "Canada's Top 100 Employers" by Mediacorp Canada Inc., and was featured in Maclean's newsmagazine. Later that month, TIFF Group was also named one of Greater Toronto's Top Employers, which was announced by the Toronto Star newspaper.[19]

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[20] in a positive light after the January 2009 Gaza War.[21][22][23]

The TIFF Group occasionally polls critics, programmers, and industry professionals, asking them to identify their top 10 Canadian films. The TIFF Group has conducted three such polls, in 1984, 1993, and 2004.

It is estimated that TIFF generates an economic benefit of $170 million CAD.[24]

People's Choice Award

Given that the festival 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 festival-going populace.[25] The following list shows past winners:

Other awards

The festival 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. The first two were inaugurated in the 2009 edition of the festival.[26]

Media Coverage

TIFF, along with Cannes, Venice, Berlin, and Sundance has become one of the most important and influential media events on the film and entertainment journalism calendar. The festival's unique position as a launch-pad for likely Oscar nominees, brings film and entertainment journalists from around the world to Toronto every September. Print media outlets devoting significant coverage to TIFF include dailies such as the LA Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, Miami Herald, New York Times, Toronto Star, Times of India, Globe & Mail and the Toronto Sun. Weekly news magazines covering TIFF include Time and Der Spiegel. American, Canadian and International entertainment shows and news services devote considerable resources to coverage of the festival. They include Access Hollywood, Entertainment Tonight (ET), Red Carpet Diary, eTalk, Entertainment Tonight Canada, Reuters, The Canadian Press, Canapress and UPI. TIFF also attracts significant coverage from a wide range of film and celebrity bloggers. The major industry trade magazines: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter and Screen International, all produce daily editions during TIFF.

See also


  1. ^ "35th Anniversary Fact Sheet: TIFF Facts and Figures" (Press release). Toronto International Film Festival. 2010-07-27. Retrieved 2010-09-21. 
  2. ^ "Toronto International Film Festival Sponsorship". September 2011. Retrieved 2011-08-25. 
  3. ^ "Toronto International Film Festival Sponsorship". September 2010. Retrieved 2010-09-30. 
  4. ^ Keegan, Rebecca Winters (August 2007). "Big-Screen Romance". Time (magazine).,9171,1657363,00.html/. Retrieved 2010-05-28. 
  5. ^ CBS News (2009-09-19). "Toronto Film Festival: Oscar Buzz Begins". CBS News. Retrieved 2011-08-25. 
  6. ^ Ebert, Roger (September 2008). "Starting off the season". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2010-06-08. 
  7. ^ "TIFF unspools with celebrities eager to connect with fans". CTV. September 2009. Retrieved 2010-06-08. 
  8. ^ Rich, Joshua (January 2005). "Fest intentions". Entertainment Weekly.,,695291,00.html. Retrieved 2010-06-08. 
  9. ^ Raju Mudhar (2010-08-25). "From mega clubs to mega culture in Entertainment District". The Toronto Star. Retrieved 2010-09-07. 
  10. ^ Kate Allen (2011-08-24). "TIFF's great migration". Retrieved 2011-08-25. 
  11. ^ Adams, James (May 2010). "Largest TIFF theatre to be open for this year's festival". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 2010-05-29. 
  12. ^ Phaneuf, Ingrid (September 2008). "From car wash to new home of the stars". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 2010-05-29. 
  13. ^ Indo-Asian News Service (2009-08-18). "TIFF to have strong Indian flavour". NDTV. Retrieved 2011-08-25. 
  14. ^ Stavrou, Philip (September 2005). "Film Festival events return to their roots". CTVglobemedia. Retrieved 2008-07-19. 
  15. ^ "35th Anniversary Fact Sheet: TIFF Facts and Figures" (Press release). Toronto International Film Festival. 2010-07-27. Retrieved 2010-09-21. 
  16. ^ Sterritt, David (April 2010). "Film Festivals - Then and Now". FIPRESCI. Retrieved 2010-06-08. 
  17. ^ "TIFF History". Toronto International Film Festival. Retrieved 2010-09-21. 
  18. ^ Belfast Telegraph (2008-09-19). "Director apologises for Rose McGowan's IRA comments". Belfast Telegraph. Retrieved 2011-08-25. 
  19. ^ "Reasons for Selection, 2009 Canada's Top 100 Employers Competition". 
  20. ^ Brand Israel set to launch in GTA, Canadian Jewish News, August 21, 2009.
  21. ^ TIFF focus on Tel Aviv draws protests. Globe and Mail. September 8, 2009.
  22. ^ We don't feel like celebrating with Israel this year, Globe and Mail, September 10, 2009.
  23. ^ Canadian director protests TIFF Tel Aviv spotlight, CBC News.
  24. ^ "Festival Announces Boundary-Pushing Visions Titles" (Press release). Toronto International Film Festival. 2011-08-16. Retrieved 2011-08-25. 
  25. ^ Walmsley, Katie (September 2009). "Oprah flick 'Precious' wins top award at Toronto". CNN. Retrieved 2010-06-08. 
  26. ^ Knegt, Peter (September 2009). "'Precious' tops Toronto winners". Indiewire. Retrieved 2010-06-08. 

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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