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Interview with Cameron Bailey, Toronto Film Festival’s Artistic Director

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Prior to the grand opening of TIFF 2016, we were able to pin down its Artistic Director Cameron Bailey, albeit via email (he’s a busy man), for a little Q&A.

We grilled him on the festival’s reluctance to dish out awards, its impact on awards season and the festival’s selection process. Check out our interview below.


What does TIFF mean to you?

I work in the service of the biggest and most enthusiastic film festival audience in the world. It doesn’t get any better than this.

What is it that you do that makes you stand out from the thousands of other film festivals around the world?

Our audience. They snap up about 500,000 Festival tickets each year and their reactions to movies like Room, 12 Years a Slave and Slumdog Millionaire help set the conversation for some of the biggest movies of the year.

What is the reason behind not giving awards?

We began as a non-competitive festival, where filmmakers could present their work directly to our audience, free from the decisions of a jury. Forty years later we do present awards for Canadian films, for instance, and just launched a new directors’ section, Platform, but our audience prize is still our most important one.

The festival is generally regarded as a testing ground for a film’s Oscar campaign – how do you think this affects the type of submissions you get?

Oscars do have a golden glow, don’t they? Of course we get many films submitting to Toronto hoping to capture some of that awards-season aura, but we make decisions based on the quality of the films and how much we think they’ll connect with our audience.

At what point did you realise TIFF had become such an important platform for Hollywood’s award contenders?

There were several watershed moments over the years: The Big Chill in 1983; The Princess Bride in 1987; Shine in 1996; American Beauty in 1999; Hotel Rwanda in 2004; Slumdog Millionaire in 2008. Each one of those films first met their public in Toronto and each won our People’s Choice Award.

Tell us about the selection process. What do you look for, and how do you choose the gala and special presentation screenings?

We have a terrific team of 21 programmers who are looking for films of every kind and all over the world. For the Galas, Special Presentation and Platform sections, I work closely with our CEO Piers Handling and the programming team to shape the final selection.

Is there a lot of pressure to have a high profile opening night?

Imagine a dinner party with all of your closest friends, your family, plus your boss and say, the mayor of your city. That’s what deciding on our Opening Night film is like: we’re trying to prepare a meal that will satisfy many different people with different points of view, all of whom are important to us for different reasons. And it has to taste good, too!

What do you feel about the whole awards lobbying thing, and do you feel TIFF plays an indirect part in that, by perception alone if nothing else?

From our vantage point in September, the Academy Awards, BAFTAs, Golden Globes and Cesars seem a long way off. We can’t predict which of our films will go on to awards-season success, so we don’t worry about it when we invite films. For us, the most important thing is to call attention to films that we believe help define where cinema is going and the best of what it can do.


The 2016 Toronto International Film Festival begins from 8th September 2016. Are you going? Tell us what you’re looking forward to…

CLICK HERE FOR THE TIFF WEBSITE INC. MORE INFO & FULL PROGRAMME

Oscar and film awards expert. American Beauty, Grease and The Texas Chain Saw Massacre are prominent DVDs on my shelf.

Awards News

TIANA – Hollywood Music in Media Awards

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American singer-songwriter TIANA has been nominated Best Independent Music Video, for the fun sounds and fresh visuals associated with her debut record ‘Just My Type’, by the prestigious Hollywood Music in Media Awards, being held at the Avalon Hollywood on November 14.

Directed by Ali Zamani and produced by Zeus Zamani of AZ Films, with choreography by Reyna Joy Banks, of F.H.G Entertainment, the ‘Just My Type’ music video, filmed in Los Angeles, stars recording artist TIANA, Marlon Wayans (White Chicks), Rob Schneider (Saturday Night Live) and Brely Evans (Just Wright).

The long-form version of the music video, which has a fun and explosive scene between actor-comedians, Marlon Wayans and Rob Schneider, will be exclusively released during the night of the Hollywood Music in Media Awards.

Produced by Jovan Dawkins (Nicki Minaj, Bruno Mars) of Heritage Music Group in Hollywood, along with the writing talents of Candace Wakefield, Stanley Green Jr., Jovan Dawkins, Jevon Hill and Theodore Simon, the ‘Just My Type’ single release, is currently topping the Top40 Indie Chart through Universal Music Distribution.

Other Hollywood Music in Media Award nominees include; Bradley Cooper’s directorial debut ‘A Star Is Born’, ‘Black Panther’, ‘BlacKkKlansman’ and ‘Quincy.’ The awards ceremony features presentations, performances, and a special achievement award. Past honorees include Diane Warren, Smokey Robinson, and Glen Campbell.

The Hollywood Music in Media Award nominations are selected by an advisory board and selection committee which includes journalists, music executives, music-media industry professionals comprised of select members of the Society of Composers and Lyricists, The Television Academy, the AMPAS Music Branch, NARAS, and performing rights organizations. A portion of proceeds benefit Education Through Music – Los Angeles.

Follow TIANA – IG | Twitter: @TianaKocher

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Awards News

Black Panther Aiming For Best Picture, Not Best Popular, According To Chadwick Boseman

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It’s Hollywood’s worst-kept secret; Marvel Studios’ chief Kevin Feige wants an Oscar. And not just a technical Oscar either. Following in the footsteps of Walt Disney, Feige’s ultimate goal is for one of his movies to win Best Picture. With Black Panther being a cultural juggernaut, the producer-extraordinaire sees it as his best chance yet and has reportedly hired veteran award strategist Cynthia Schwartz’s company – Strategy PR – to push for the nomination.

However, The Academy themselves threw a spanner in the works last month, when they announced the introduction of a brand new category at next year’s awards ceremony: Best Achievement in Popular Film. With Black Panther presently the highest-grossing film of the year domestically, and the second-highest internationally, it’s the clear favourite to win in the new category (at least, to the best of everyone’s knowledge – The Academy have, frustratingly, refused to define the new award). However according to King T’Challa himself, Black Panther actor Chadwick Boseman, that’s not the goal.

“We don’t know what [Best Popular] is, so I don’t know whether to be happy about it or not,” Boseman told The Hollywood Reporter, “What I can say is that there’s no campaign for Popular Film; like, if there’s a campaign, it’s for Best Picture, and that’s all there is to it.”

“A good movie is a good movie,” the Get On Up star continued, “and clearly it doesn’t matter how much money a movie makes in order for it to be ‘a good movie’ because if [it did], the movies that get nominated and win [predominantly low-grossing, highly-praised art-house fare] wouldn’t get nominated; and if it doesn’t matter, it doesn’t matter on both sides. For my money, the only thing that matters is the level of difficulty.”

“What we did was very difficult. We created a world, we created a culture … we had to create a religion, a spirituality, a politics; we had to create an accent; we had to pull from different cultures to create clothing styles and hair styles. It’s very much like a period piece. … So, as far as that’s concerned, I dare any movie to try to compare to the difficulty of this one. And the fact that so many people liked it — if you just say it’s [only] popular, that’s elitist.”

Chadwick has a point – the gross of a film has never, and should not, affect a film’s chances at winning Best Picture. However, whilst The Academy has made clear that a film can be nominated for both Best Film and Best Popular (frustrating many members who have then rightfully asked what the point is), they have somewhat written themselves into a corner when it comes to Black Panther. See, through a very specific sequence of events, The Academy have manufactured a situation where the most likely events to play out on the night will be Damien Chazelle’s buzzy First Man, a movie with an all-white cast and crew, winning Best Picture… whilst the all-black cast and crew of Black Panther accept the new ‘separate but equal’ award for Best Achievement in Popular Film. Yikes.

Black Panther is available on Digital, DVD, Blu-Ray and 4K now, and is rated 12A.

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Danny DeVito To Receive Lifetime Achievement Award At The San Sebastian Film Festival

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Batman Returns star Danny DeVito is set to receive the coveted Donostia Award, honouring him for his career achievements, at the sixty-sixth annual San Sebastian Film Festival this September.

“The award recognizes a career of almost five decades related to acting in theatre, film and television, telling stories as an actor, producer and director,” the Spanish festival’s organisers said in a statement, “The Golden Globe and Emmy Award winner is known for his roles in television series Taxi and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and movies such as One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, Terms of Endearment, Romancing The Stone, Twins, Ruthless People, and Tin Men.”

“He has also directed – and starred in – hugely emblematic films, including The War of the Roses (1989), Hoffa (1992), Death to Smoochy (2002), Throw Momma From the Train (1987), Curmudgeons (2016), Duplex (2003), The Ratings Game (1984), and The World’s Greatest Lover (1977).”

The San Sebastian Film Festival will run from the 21st to the 29th of September. Danny DeVito can next be heard in animated children’s flick Smallfoot, which will premiere on the 23rd at the Festival.

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