Toronto International Film Festival – A Brief History

In a few days from now, the biggies at the Hollywood will be coming together at the Toronto International Film Festival, also known as TIFF. One of the biggest film festivals that has drawn the attention of filmmakers and film lovers alike, TIFF is often known as the stepping stone of feature films, vying for the top awards. It’s believed by filmmakers, a film shown to the viewers at TIFF can change its destiny. Founded in 1976, it has become one of the most respected and admired film festivals, across the globe. But it wasn’t always like that. Like every other big thing, TIFF also had its beginning sowed in adversities and difficulties. Let’s take a tour back to history, to see how TIFF shaped up to be one of the biggest of them all.

Early Days

Founded in 1976, it was originally called the ‘Festival Of Festivals’. Conceptualised at the Windsor Arms Hotel, by co-founders Bill Marshall and Henk Van Der Kolk, along with their friend late Murray Cohl, as an initiative to bring the Canadian Film Industry to the world’s notice. The ‘Festival Of Festivals’ began with showing films of international acclaim and reputation but soon ran into troubled waters, as many Hollywood studios had reluctance in showcasing their films to the Canadian people, believing their content to be a little too much for the so-called conservative audience. Eventually, the word of mouth spread like wildfire and soon, it became the yardstick of success, as films from the international circuits made ‘Festival Of Festivals’ their favourite hunting ground.

In 1981, the inevitable happened as ‘Chariots Of Fire’ which had won the People’s Choice award, eventually went on to win the Academy Award for the best film. This stamped the authority of the festival as a true predictor of future award ceremonies. Stalwarts such as Robert Duvall and Robert De Niro started making appearances in the festival, bringing the festival to notice of the press, American and International alike. In 1994, the name of the festival was officially changed to Toronto International Film Festival, abbreviated to the much famous TIFF.

TIFF – As We Know It Today

Over the years, TIFF has become a force to reckon with other renowned film festivals such as Sundance Film Festival and Festival De Cannes. In 2007, the construction of the TIFF Bell Lightbox began which was opened for the public in 2010. The Lightbox features two gallery spaces, five cinemas, film archives, research centre and many more. It became the permanent home for TIFF, which now offers Programming for 365 days a year, featuring lectures, screenings, festivals, workshops, discussions for upcoming filmmakers and fans. 

Films that have premiered at the TIFF

Films that have premiered at the TIFF, have often gone on to garner critical acclaim all over the world. Here’s a look at the some of them –

I, Tonya (2017)  

Academy Nominations  – Best Actress, Best Film Editing, Best Supporting Actress

Academy Wins – Best Supporting Actress (Alison Janney)

Ray (2004)

Academy Nominations – Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor

Academy Wins – Best Actor (Jamie Foxx)

American Beauty (1999)

Academy Nominations – Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Actress, Original Music Score, Film Editing

Academy Wins – Best Picture, Best Actor (Kevin Spacey), Best Director (Sam Mendes), Best Original Screenplay (Alan Ball), Best Cinematography (Conrad Hall)

Black Swan (2010)

Academy Nominations – Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress, Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing

Academy Wins – Best Actress (Natalie Portman)

The King’s Speech (2010)

Academy Nominations – A whopping twelve nominations, including the big five!

Academy Wins – Best Picture, Best Actor (Colin Firth), Best Director (Tom Hooper), Best Original Screenplay (David Seidler)

Slumdog Millionaire (2008)

Academy Nominations – A whopping ten nominations!!

Academy Wins – Best Picture, Best Director (Danny Boyle), Best Adapted Screenplay (Simon Beaufoy), Best Cinematography (Anthony Dod Mantle), Best Editing (Chris Dickens), Best Original Score (A R Rehman), Best Original Song (‘Jai Ho’), Best Sound Mixing (Ian Tapp, Richard Pryke, Resul Pookutty)

TIFF begins September 6th and will continue up to 16th this year. Culturally, this festival has put Toronto firmly on the cinematic atlas and continues to shine brightly as the lodestar of Canadian Film industry and the cinema around the world. This year, The Cinemawala will bring you all the news and reviews from the ground zero itself. See you all at the Movies !!! 

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