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The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) is a publicly-attended film festival held each September in Torontomarker, Ontariomarker, Canadamarker. The festival begins the Thursday night after Labour Day (the first Monday in September, in Canada) and lasts for ten days. Between 300-400 films are screened at approximately 23 screens in downtown Toronto venues. Annual attendance at TIFF exceeds 300,000 from public and industry audiences. In terms of prestige, it is regularly ranked in the top five alongside the Cannes Film Festivalmarker, Berlin International Film Festival, Venice Film Festival, and Sundance Film Festival.

Founded in 1976, the TIFF is now among the top 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." Quoted by the National Post in 1999, Roger Ebert claimed "...although Cannes is still larger, Toronto is just as great...." It is the premiere film festival in North America, from which the Oscar race begins.

The festival is centered around the Yorkvillemarker neighborhood, an upscale area in the downtown core. The festival is known for the buzz it brings to Yorkville and cameras and media have taken to covering the red carpet with fashion and interviews with the stars. Although the Festival has begun to give more attention to mainstream Hollywood films, it still maintains its independent roots. It features retrospectives of national cinemas and individual directors, highlights of Canadian cinema, and a variety of African, South American, and Asian films.

The festival is considered a launch pad for many studios to begin "Oscar-buzz" for their films; for example, Taylor Hackford's Ray premiered at the festival and garnered much attention for Jamie Foxx's portrayal of Ray Charles (for which he ultimately won the Academy Award for Best Actor); and Slumdog Millionaire, that went on to win 8 Oscars at the 2009 Academy Awards.

The Director and CEO of the Toronto International Film Festival, since 1994, is Piers Handling. 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.

For last year's 2008 festival, please see: 33rd Annual Toronto International Film Festival.

History

TIFF, known originally as "The Festival of Festivals", was founded in 1976 at the Windsor Arms Hotelmarker. It began as a collection of the best films from festivals around the world. It has since, through consistent investment and promotion by its organizers and sponsors, grown to become a vital component of Hollywood'smarker marketing machine.

Many notable films have had their global or North American premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, including Chariots of Fire, The Big Chill, Husbands and Wives, Thirty Two Short Films About Glenn Gould, Downfall, American Beauty, Sideways, and Crash.

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.


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.

In October 2008, 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.

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 a new facility at the corner of King and John Streets in downtown Toronto (on land donated by Ivan Reitman and family) - Bell Lightbox, named for founding sponsor Bell, with additional support from the Governments of Ontario and Canada. The facility will open in 2010 and will provide extensive year-round galleries, cinemas, archives and activities for cinephiles.

In 2009, TIFF's decision to spotlight, with financial support from the Israeli government, films from Tel Avivmarker 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.

The Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) is a major sponsor of the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF).

People's Choice Award



References

  1. Brand Israel set to launch in GTA, Canadian Jewish News, August 21, 2009.
  2. TIFF focus on Tel Aviv draws protests. Globe and Mail. September 8, 2009.
  3. We don't feel like celebrating with Israel this year, Globe and Mail, September 10, 2009.
  4. Canadian director protests TIFF Tel Aviv spotlight, CBC News.


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