For 11 days in September, Toronto in Canada becomes the centre of the world’s film and cinema industry. Visitors from around the globe cram themselves into this diverse city, alongside the associated media wagon. The vibrant Entertainment District, explodes with the energy created by 400,000 people watching, analysing and discussing hundreds of films from across the planet. The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) is widely recognized as one of the most prestigious film festivals in the world, second only to Canne.
The Toronto International Film Festival began in 1976, with an inaugural attendance of 35,000, screening the best films from other film festivals. Initially, Hollywood was reluctant to show films there, viewing it as too ‘Canadian’. Now, many Hollywood studios choose to premiere their films at TIFF, due to its friendly, non-competitive approach, great location and inexpensive costs.
Central to the film festival is the TIFF Bell Light box, a year round facility offering screenings, lectures, discussions, festivals, and workshops beyond the main festival.
TIFF takes place annually in September. Toronto cinema’s work together to show the festival’s chosen films to its estimated 400,000 visitors. Although TIFF has hosted many major Hollywood films, it has retained a focus on independent cinema, from around the world. The films are chosen by 21 TIFF programmers drawn from 6 continents. TIFF attracts international celebrities and media, generating huge amounts of publicity for both the stars and their films.
Famous Film Premiers:
- American Beauty
- The Wrestler
- Mr. Nobody
- 127 Hours
- Black Swan
- Singapore Sling
- I Am Love
Instead of having a competition for Best Film, or having awards chosen by an industry or celebrity panel, TIFF has the People’s Choice Award. This award is for the best full length film, based on ratings from audiences. The People’s Awards are seen as an early indication the Oscar nominations.
Some notable films that won the People’s Choice Award are:
- 1981 Chariots of Fire
- 1983 The Big Chill
- 1988 Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (Mujeres al borde de un ataque de nervios)
- 1990 Cyrano de Bergerac
- 1991 The Fisher King Terry Gilliam
- 1992 Strictly Ballroom
- 1999 American Beauty
- 2000 Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon* (Wo Ho Cang Long)
- 2001 Amélie (Le fabuleux destin d’Amélie Poulain)
- 2004 Hotel Rwanda
- 2008 Slumdog Millionaire
Other TIFF Festivals
The International Film Festival is not the only festival offered by the TIFF organisation. It also arranges and hosts:
- Canada’s Top Ten Film Festival
- TIFF Kids International Film Festival
- TIFF Next Wave Film Festival
- Human Rights Watch Film Festival