There’s a whiff of winter wind all over Canada. And it’s the time the school year begins. The most sought-after summer starts moving into the rearview mirror of the year. The Toronto International Film Festival, otherwise known as the Festival of the Festivals due to its worldwide participation and strength, is a few days away from happening. It enters the 48th season in its pomp and circumstance on Sep 07, 2023, for the next ten days.
Unlike earlier years, the sad part that stands conspicuously up this time is the absence of South Indian films as a whole. Among the selected 280 films out of the 4200 submitted from around the world, six films have been qualified in various categories from India. They are ‘Laa Pataa Ladies’ produced by Aamir Khan and directed by Kiran Rao, ‘A Match’ by Jayanth Somalkar, ‘Dear Jassi’ by Tarsem Singh Dhandwar, ‘Thank You For Coming’ by Karan Boolani, ‘Kill’ by Nikhil Nagesh Bhat, and ‘The World Is Family’ by Anand Patwardhan.
Anand Patwardhan’s deeply evocative personal film, which highlights the Hindu-Muslim camaraderie during the tumultuous period of India’s freedom struggle, draws his parents’ involvement to those days.
Compared to previous years, there is an influx of movies from the Arabian Gulf. The movie, ‘Yellow Bus’, directed by Wendy Bednarz, has noteworthy performances of the Indian actors Tannishtha Chatterjee and Amith Sial. The film, set against the backdrop of a scorching summer, narrates a true tragedy that unfolded in the UAE a few years ago.
In the Platform category showcasing the top ten films that garnered high recognition from the selectors, ‘Dear Jassi’ is included. Ten countries from three continents are represented in this category with their world premieres. Renowned filmmaker Barry Jenkins, actress and director Nadine Labaki, and actor-producer Anthony Shim are the jury members who decide the awards in this group.
The previous years’ Contemporary World Cinema programme that used to showcase contemporary films around the world will henceforth be known as Centrepiece. “The rebranding of the TIFF programme, formerly Contemporary World Cinema, is a reflection of the festival’s vision to provide an elevated platform for the international cinema for acclaimed titles from festivals around the globe, highly anticipated premieres from Canadian and international talents and the latest work of influential filmmaking luminaries”, said Anita Lee, the Chief Programming Officer of the festival. There are 47 movies selected from 45 counties in this programme. ‘Laa Pataa Ladies’ by Kiran Rao will certainly be an attraction in the Centrepiece programme.
‘Next Goal Wins’ by Taika Waititi, ‘The Strange Way of Life’ by Pedro Almodovar, ‘Shoshana’ by Michael Winterbottom, ‘The Boy and the Heron’ by Hayao Miyazaki, ‘The Critic’ by Anand Tucker, ‘The New Boy’ by Warwick Thornton, ‘Queen of My Dreams’ by Fawzia Mirza, are some of the films being showcased at the festival.
This year’s TIFF Tribute Awards go to the Spanish Director and Screenwriter Pedro Almodovar (Jeff Skoll Award in Impact Media), American filmmaker Spike Lee (Ebert Director Award), Canadian Director Shawn Levy (Norman Jewison Career Achievement Award) and actor Colman Domingo (Performance Award). This is the fifth year since the TIFF started its Tributes Gala Awards, besides the recognition package given to the best movies screened. Unlike the regular awards presented on the festival’s last day based on jury findings and audience voting, the TIFF Tribute Awards are presented to people or organizations picked up by the governing body and announced before the festival. The Tribute Award distribution will take place on Sep 10 at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel, Toronto.
Spanning over 30 years on stage and screen, Domingo is a prolific actor. He’ll be seen in Greg Kwedar’s ‘Sing Sing’ premiering at the festival. ”Colman Domingo’s performances are a masterclass in the art of storytelling”, says Cameron Bailey, the artistic director and CEO of the TIFF.” Domingo’s presence on stage and screen is a gift to audiences and his work continues to resonate, leaving an indelible impact. He’s a true visionary in the world of performances, and we’re excited to honour him this year,” Bailey adds.
The renowned curator, critic and director Meenakshi Shedde is there as part of the TIFF 2023 as the Senior Programme Advisor for South Asian films.
Recognized as the world’s largest public film festival, TIFF used to have an average of 480000 audiences and over 2000 volunteers besides the delegates from the categories of press and industry.
The Toronto Film Festival 2023 will conclude on September 17th.
Suresh Nellikode is a regular at Toronto International Film Festival