Female directors an undeniable presence
With films Jennifer’s Body directed by Karyn Kusama, An Education directed by Lone Scherfig and Bright Star directed by former Oscar-nominated Jane Campion claiming sought-after spots on TIFF’s opening night, it is evident that female directors are a stronger presence than ever before at this year’s festival.
90 per cent of directors at American studios are male; female directors are still battling to find their place in the industry, and the obvious presence of women at this year’s TIFF is undoubtedly a step forward. Other highly-anticipated female-directed films at the festival include Drew Barrymore’s Whip It and Rebecca Miller’s The Private Lives of Pippa Lee.
Recession leaves big films awaiting buyers
In light of the recession, film industry buyers are reluctant to make a move before seeing finished products and audience reactions. As a result, many large films at TIFF are without distribution deals, including films like Chloe directed by Atom Egoyan and Ondine directed by Neil Jordan. At TIFF 2008, The Wrestler and Slumdog Millionaire had buyers eagerly competing for them; this year, many larger films are going unrecognized by the industry.
Director of TIFF sales and industry office Stefan Wirthensohn has insisted that this may not be such a bad thing, arguing that this allows for films to stand on their own, without distribution deals influencing the audience.
Festival breaks tradition
For the first time in recent memory, TIFF chose to open on Thursday, Sept. 10 with a non-Canadian film. The opening film, Creation, directed by Jon Amiel, was made in the United Kingdom.
Coalition of cultural players protest TIFF’s support of Tel Aviv film
The festival’s choice to spotlight the city of Tel Aviv with 10 films as part of its City to City program – designed to spotlight cities in the world that are exploring cutting-edge movie-making – has drawn unrelenting protest from a large group of individuals from the arts community.
Personalities including Danny Glover and Jane Fonda have signed their name to a letter protesting the choice of Tel Aviv, citing that TIFF has become complicit in pro-Israeli propaganda. The letter was written in response to Canadian filmmaker John Greyson’s decision to withdraw his documentary Covered from the festival in protest.
Other prominent figures like Jon Voigt have spoken against the protest, claiming it is decidedly anti-Israeli. TIFF representatives insist the government of Israel had no role in the festival’s decision to highlight Tel Aviv.