Today, Cameron Bailey, CEO of the Toronto International Film Festival, announced that Academy Award–winning filmmaker Sam Mendes will receive the TIFF Ebert Director Award. The TIFF Tribute Awards are presented by BVLGARI and will return to an in-person gala fundraiser during the 47th edition of the Toronto International Film Festival on Sunday, September 11 at Fairmont Royal York Hotel.
TIFF will be presenting the Canadian Premiere of Mendes’ most recent work Empire of Light, which he wrote, directed, and produced. Mendes made his feature film debut at the Festival in 1999 with the World Premiere of American Beauty (1999), a TIFF People’s Choice Award winner, for which he was honoured with an Oscar in the Best Director category.
“From his first appearance at TIFF with American Beauty, director Sam Mendes brought his exacting and lyrical vision of cinema to Toronto,” said Bailey. “We are delighted to honour his unique voice and body of work with this year’s TIFF Ebert Director Award.”
Set in an English seaside town in the early 1980s, Searchlight Pictures’ Empire of Light is a powerful and poignant story about human connection and the magic of cinema. Starring Olivia Colman, Micheal Ward, Tom Brooke, Tanya Moodie, Hannah Onslow, Crystal Clarke, with Toby Jones and Colin Firth, Mendes also teams up with award-winning cinematographer Roger Deakins, who was also a TIFF Tribute Award recipient in 2019.
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The TIFF Ebert Director Award recognizes filmmakers who have exemplified greatness in their careers. Named after legendary film critic Roger Ebert, the Award marks an evolution of the Festival’s Roger Ebert Golden Thumb Award, which in past has gone to celebrated visionaries such as Martin Scorsese, Claire Denis, Ava DuVernay, Wim Wenders, and the late Agnès Varda. Past recipients who received the Award since the TIFF Tribute Awards were introduced include Denis Villeneuve (2021), Chloé Zhao (2020), and Taika Waititi (2019).
Mendes joins the recently announced list of 2022 TIFF Tribute Award recipients, the ensemble of My Policeman, who will receive the TIFF Tribute Award for Performance presented by Polestar. More information on the 2022 TIFF Tribute Awards event and this year’s honorees will follow in the coming weeks.
The TIFF Tribute Awards have served as an awards-season bellwether, with past honorees such as Deakins, Waititi, Zhao, Jessica Chastain, Sir Anthony Hopkins, and Joaquin Phoenix going on to win awards on the international stage.
The 47th Toronto International Film Festival runs September 8-18, 2022.
Photo: Francois Duhemal