TIFF20: Chloé Zhao’s ‘Nomadland’ wins People’s Choice; top 3 films all female-directed for the first time ever
Chloé Zhao’s ode to the American nomadic lifestyle also won the Venice International Film Festival’s Golden Lion, making it the first time ever a film has won both prizes
People’s Choice, IMDbPro Short Cuts, Canada Goose Amplify Voices and Shawn Mendes Foundation Changemaker Awards close the Festival
It was a very different festival than in years past, as the coronavirus pandemic kept the majority of physical audiences from attending and gathering to watch the usually hundreds of films available at the Toronto International Film Festival. This year also saw a fraction of the amount of press covering the fest; about 500, one-third its normal number that flood the streets and the Scotiabank escalator.
This year, Canadian audiences watched films at the RBC Lakeside Drive-In at Ontario Place, the Visa Skyline Drive-In at CityView, the West Island Open-Air Cinema at Ontario Place, OLG Play Stage at Ontario Place, TIFF Bell Lightbox, and all watched them at home via digital screenings on the Bell Digital Cinema platform or press platform.
The 45th edition of TIFF wrapped last night with the Closing Night Presentation of Mira Nair’s A Suitable Boy at the RBC Lakeside Drive-In at Ontario Place.
“TIFF 2020 was a year we won’t soon forget,” said Cameron Bailey, TIFF Artistic Director and Co-Head. “Over the last 10 days, we have experienced community in the truest sense. The pandemic hit TIFF hard and we responded by going back to our original inspiration — to bring the very best in film to the broadest possible audience and transform the way people see the world through film. We heeded the urgent calls for greater representation of under-represented voices. And we watched as audiences embraced cinema’s ability to transport them through screens of all sizes by joining us online from all over this country — something that we would never have seen in previous years. TIFF delivered on its promise to provide Festival-goers and the industry with impactful programming. We are very proud of what the TIFF team accomplished.”
“The films and talent featured in this year’s Festival have left us inspired and moved,” said Joana Vicente, TIFF Executive Director and Co-Head. ”In a time where the very future of our beloved art form was in question due to cinema and production shutdowns and film festival cancellations, we have seen a tenacity of spirit. We’re heartened by the support and generosity from TIFF’s loyal sponsors, donors, members, and public audiences who encouraged us to deliver a reimagined Festival. We’re grateful for the industry delegates and press corps who championed TIFF’s decision to go ahead with the Festival. We are excited by the fact that 46% of the films screened this year were either directed, co-directed or created by women. We are inspired by the generosity of the industry, who gave their time to be present — virtually — in support of the Festival. And, finally, we are genuinely moved by the commitment of all TIFF’s stakeholders who helped us deliver the TIFF Tribute Awards to Canadian and international audiences.”
Awards are a part of a film’s ecosystem, and TIFF’s annual awards are committed to celebrating creativity, originality, and authentic voices and stories.
The TIFF 2020 People’s Choice Award winner is: Nomadland dir. Chloé Zhao. The first runner up was One Night in Miami… dir. Regina King. The second runner up was Beans dir. Tracey Deer. This is the first time in TIFF history the top three films for the People’s Choice were female-directed films. All films in TIFF’s Official Selection were eligible. Zhao’s Nomadland also won the Golden Lion at the Venice International Film Festival, making this the first time a film has won both prizes.
The TIFF 2020 People’s Choice Documentary Award winner is Inconvenient Indian dir. Michelle Latimer.
The TIFF 2020 People’s Choice Midnight Madness Award winner is Shadow in the Cloud dir. Roseanne Liang.
This year’s FIPRESCI jury members include Jon Asp (Sweden), Jihane Bougrine (Morocco), and Adriana Fernández (Mexico).
The 2020 FIPRESCI prize is awarded to the film Beginning, directed by Dea Kulumbegashvili. The jury released the following statement: “The prize goes to a brave and fresh quiet storm of a film that depicts the condition of being a woman in Georgia, masterfully portrayed in a universal manner by Ia Sukhitashvili. The film’s precise dialogue is perfectly balanced by an ominous silence that creates a full sensory experience. This is an emotionally compelling debut feature by a filmmaker whose voice feels established and one to watch.”
The NETPAC jury, composed of Dr. Sharofat Arabova (Tajikistan), Dr. Latika Padgaonkar (India), and jury chairperson George Chun Han Wang (Hawaii), selected Tarzan Nasser and Arab Nasser’s Gaza mon amour as this year’s NETPAC Award winner. The jury selected this film “for a heartwarming, thought-provoking and poetic tale of unspoken emotions portraying daily life in Gaza.”
SHAWN MENDES FOUNDATION CHANGEMAKER AWARD
Presented by the Shawn Mendes Foundation, the 2020 Changemaker Award is awarded to a Festival film that tackles issues of social change, and comes with a $10,000 cash prize. The winning film was selected by TIFF’s Next Wave Committee, a group of young film lovers who recognize cinema’s power to transform the world. The Shawn Mendes Foundation will also be making an annual contribution in support of TIFF Next Wave, helping TIFF deliver key initiatives to elevate young voices. The jurors for the Changemaker Award are members of TIFF’s Next Wave Committee: Saharla Ugas, Sia Mehta, Emanuel Ntwig, Julia Yoo, Daeja Sutherland, Lina Zhang, Delphine Winton, Joe Ning, Caterina Ferrari, Visaree Bradshaw-Coore, Andrea Landaeta, and Diego Lopez.
The 2020 Changemaker Award is awarded to Black Bodies, a short film by Kelly Fyffe-Marshall.
On making the announcement, the jury said Fyffe-Marshall’s film perfectly fits the criteria and aims of the award. Through its striking visuals and sound design, combined with spoken word, the film powerfully captures the emotional and physical trauma Black people experience and the injustice of police brutality against them. These are issues the Committee felt are particularly important and relevant to young people today.
“Kelly Fyffe-Marshall’s Black Bodies powerfully shows what it is like for Black people to live in an unjust society,” said the Committee. “It is moving because the words are too real, it hurts because of all the lives lost to police brutality, and it reminds us how unjust it is that we live in a world where we as young people need to fight to affirm that Black Lives Matter. It is activism against police brutality in moving colour. We’re honoured to award this prize to such a talented and important emerging filmmaker and social activist in our community.”
“It is such a blessing to receive this award, to be acknowledged, to be seen and to be heard,” said Fyffe-Marshall. “Thank you to the Shawn Mendes Foundation and to the Toronto International Film Festival. I want to use this special moment to further push for change. This year the world seemed to have paused, and we finally heard the call for equality. What we are being called to do doesn’t take much. We just need each of us to do what we can, where we can, and make ripples where we are.”
AMPLIFY VOICES AWARDS PRESENTED BY CANADA GOOSE
Canada Goose embraces diversity in all its forms and definitions, including technique and passion that transports storytelling to the screen. This year, Canada Goose presents the Amplify Voices Awards to the three best feature films by under-represented filmmakers. All feature films in Official Selection by BIPOC and Canadian filmmakers were eligible for these awards, and the three winners will receive a cash prize of $10,000 each, made possible by Canada Goose.
The three Amplify Voices Awards presented by Canada Goose winners are:
Amplify Voices Award for Best Canadian Feature Film: Inconvenient Indian, dir. Michelle Latimer
Jury’s statement: “Michelle Latimer’s documentary is a deeply thought-provoking adaptation of Thomas King’s classic non-fiction book. It is a scorching indictment that interrogates the narratives we tell about ourselves and whose humanity is valued in that exercise. Expansive yet pulsing with energy and life, it ponders big questions and harkens the coming of a new era of truth and reclamation.”
Special Mention: Fauna, dir. Nicolás Pereda (Canadian Film)
Jury’s statement: “Tonally precise, with a cunning sense of humour, and led by brilliant performances, this film unpacks the influence of violent stereotypes in popular culture on the Mexican psyche.”
Amplify Voices Award: The Disciple, dir. Chaitanya Tamhane
Jury’s statement: “Masterful in its restraint, this film about a struggling classical Indian musician explores the tension between traditional discipline and the contemporary impulse to be instantly validated. The Disciple is a visually sumptuous and insightful journey into the life of an artist.”
Amplify Voices Award: Night of the Kings, dir. Philippe Lacôte
Jury’s statement: “A bold distinctive voice that pushes the boundaries of traditional cinematic storytelling, weaving together myth and reality in a beguiling trance of a movie. The film seduces with its captivating performances from newcomer Koné Bakary and a chorus of performers moving in rhythmic harmony.”
Special Mention: Downstream to Kinshasa, dir. Dieudo Hamadi
Jury’s statement: “A visceral gut punch of a documentary that explores the courage and determination of survivors of war crimes in the Democratic Republic of Congo. A harrowing boat journey becomes a visual metaphor of their struggle to be recognized and their resilience in the face of adversity.”
The 2020 jurors for the Amplify Voices Awards presented by Canada Goose are actor Sarah Gadon, filmmaker Danis Goulet, and producer Damon D’Oliveira.
IMDbPro SHORT CUTS AWARDS
The 2020 IMDbPro Short Cuts Awards are for Best Film, Best Canadian Film, and, new this year, the Share Her Journey Award for best film by a woman. IMDbPro will provide each of the three winners with a bursary of $10,000 CAD and a one-year membership to IMDbPro, the essential resource for entertainment industry professionals, to help them continue achieving success in their careers. These awards build on IMDbPro’s nearly 20-year history of empowering entertainment professionals to discover new talent and projects, and on its ongoing commitment to supporting and collaboratively working with organizations that create greater diversity, equity, and inclusion in the entertainment industry, including TIFF’s Share Her Journey campaign.
The winners of the three awards are:
IMDbPro Short Cuts Award for Best Film: Dustin, dir. Naïla Guiguet
Jury’s statement: “Dustin Muchuvitz’s performance pulled us on a journey from night into morning that still lingered with us long after the film ended. Naïla Guiguet has offered us a relatable yet often unseen perspective on growing apart.”
IMDbPro Short Cuts Award for Best Canadian Film: Benjamin, Benny, Ben, dir. Paul Shkordoff
Jury’s statement: “A quiet yet powerful fim that told us so much about race and class through simple but focused direction.”
IMDbPro Short Cuts Share Her Journey Award: Sing Me a Lullaby, dir. Tiffany Hsiung
Jury’s statement: “This film offered viewers an emotional look at resolving generational trauma.”
Honourable mention: O Black Hole!, dir. Renee Zhan
The 2020 jurors for the IMDbPro Short Cuts Awards are filmmakers Stella Meghie, Adam Piron, and Chloé Robichaud.
TIFF’s industry platform welcomed 3,926 international professionals digitally this year, and remains a force for market activity with strong deals continuing to be made. The following films were sold at TIFF 2020: Another Round, Bruised, Good Joe Bell, MLK/FBI, Night of the Kings, One Night in Miami…, Pieces of a Woman, Shadow In The Cloud, Shiva Baby and Summer of 85, with many other sales continuing to be negotiated for films in and out of selection.
TIFF’s Industry Conference presented 35 digital sessions, including Master Classes with Viola Davis and Julius Tennon, Luca Guadagnino, Ted Hope, and dream hampton. The Dialogues stream featured conversations with directors Radha Blank, Stella Meghie, and Lulu Wang; writers Tracy Oliver, Cord Jefferson, and Leslye Headland; Primetime directors Derek Cianfrance and Lenny Abrahamson; and documentarians Sam Pollard and Shola Lynch.
Additionally, Perspectives sessions included “Narrative Sovereignty” with TIFF Tribute Award honouree Tracey Deer, and “From Micro to Macro: How Data Can Drive Anti-Racist Action in Film and Television.” Popular Microsessions encouraged conversations in “Reclaiming Our Time, Stories and Screens for Under-represented Canadian Creators” and “Harnessing Media to Make Positive Social Change,” to name just a few, and Spotlights featured countries such as Russia, Israel, Ukraine, and the United Kingdom. The Conference also offered two special industry events: “Aaron Sorkin on The Trial of the Chicago 7”, and “Women on the Rise: 2020 TIFF Rising Stars, a panel presented by OLG.”
Talent development also remains at the forefront of TIFF’s commitment to the industry. The Filmmaker Lab provided emerging directors with an immersive learning experience. This year, 20 directors were selected to participate — 10 from Canada and 10 from around the world. The Lab, designed to be inspirational, brought filmmakers into contact with some of the finest creative talent in the world and was supported by Telefilm Canada, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the RBC Female Creator Initiative, Anne-Marie Canning, and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) with Filmmaker Lab Fellowships generously supported by Hudson’s Bay Foundation, Canada Goose and TIFF’s Share Her Journey campaign. For 2020 the HFPA selected three of our Filmmaker Lab participants for their three-week residency programme: Maha Al-Saati (Saudi Arabia), Álvaro Gago Díaz (Spain), and Jeff Wong (Canada).
In order to acknowledge the heroes working to keep people safe during the global health crisis, TIFF presented a special screening of Concrete Cowboy to 500 invited frontline workers on Monday, September 14. The screening was held on TIFF’s online film platform, Bell Digital Cinema, and sponsored by Fasken. TIFF partnered with Toronto area hospitals Sinai Health, Toronto General, St. Michael’s, and St. Joseph’s (Unity); long-term care facilities Baycrest Hospital, Homes First, and South Riverdale Community Health Centre; and mental health care partners CAMH (PHP, ENCORE, Gifts of Light), CMHA, Real Canadian Superstore, and the TTC in order to facilitate outreach to 500 frontline workers in the Greater Toronto Area. Many of these partners work closely with TIFF year-round as part of our Mental Health Outreach programme, which supports individuals on their path to wellness by harnessing the unique power of film to unlock imagination and encourage curiosity.
For the first time ever, TIFF’s leading fundraiser, the TIFF Tribute Awards, was broadcast across Canada on CTV and ctv.ca, and streamed internationally to the rest of the world by Variety. During the one-hour broadcast, Academy Award–winning actress Kate Winslet and Academy Award–winning actor Sir Anthony Hopkins each received a TIFF Tribute Actor Award; Nomadlanddirector Chloé Zhao was awarded the TIFF Ebert Director Award; Academy Award–nominated filmmaker Mira Nair was honoured with the Jeff Skoll Award in Impact Media; Grammy Award–winning composer Terence Blanchard, whose work was featured in this year’s films Bruised and One Night In Miami…, received the TIFF Variety Artisan Award; and Beans director Tracey Deer was awarded the TIFF Emerging Talent Award.