News / Arts & Entertainment

No Shortage of Star Power at Toronto Film Festival

Director Madonna arrives on the red carpet for the film "W.E." during the 36th Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) in Toronto September 12, 2011.
Director Madonna arrives on the red carpet for the film "W.E." during the 36th Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) in Toronto September 12, 2011.

Multimedia

Audio
Alan Silverman

There was no shortage of star power at the Toronto International Film Festival or "TIFF" as it's known locally. Celebrities from Brad Pitt to George Clooney to Madonna walked the red carpet at the premieres of their latest titles.



But with more than 250 features from 65 countries screened during its 10 days, the 2011 TIFF was also a major showcase for smaller, independent films.

The top award, selected by audience ballots, went to Where Do We Go Now? a bittersweet piece by Lebanese filmmaker Nadine Labaki about Muslim and Christian women finding common ground in their war-torn village.

Nigerian-born writer-director Akin Omotoso was also at TIFF with his film,  Man on Ground, set in South Africa.



"I'm a fan of the festival. I have come here over the years, and it's just a real honor to have my feature film premiere here," says Omotoso.

TIFF co-director Cameron Bailey heads a programming team that travels the world year-round to select entries for the festival. Bailey says, like audience favorite Where Do We Go Now?, Omotoso's violent and disturbing drama shows how films can spotlight current issues.

"The film Man on Ground by Akin Omotoso is about a very real issue that is happening in South Africa today which is the conflict between South Africans and migrants who have come into the country from other parts of Africa looking for better lives and facing incredible hostility and in some cases quite brutal violence. It's a real conflict and something that the director wanted to address and addressed it truthfully," Bailey explains.

While there is no formal theme to the festival, Bailey acknowledges that many of this year's choices tackled the ticklish topic of sex.



"Steve McQueen's new film Shame, about a sex addict, is a powerful film …very intense and graphic in some ways. A film from France, Elles, by Polish director Malogoska Szumowska, with Juliet Binoche giving one of her best performances in many, many years [is] also very confrontational, in a way, about sex," notes Bailey. " There are a number of films like that where I think filmmakers are taking more risks. As a festival programmer and director, I like to see the filmmakers pushing the limits of what they are comfortable with and what their audiences might be comfortable with, as long as it's in the aim of greater truth."

That search for "greater truth" can run up against political obstacles. As Bailey explains, the government in Tehran prevented the makers of an Iranian film from attending this year's festival.

"The Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi is under a ban in Iran and is forbidden from making films and is not allowed to leave the country. But he made a documentary in his apartment with a co-director, Mojtaba Murtahmasb," Bailey says. "The co-director was scheduled to come to Toronto. He had a plane ticket and at the airport he was detained and he was also not allowed to leave the country. We were very disappointed, but we were lucky that Panahi's wife was able to travel to Toronto with their daughter, so they were able to present the film to the audience here. But it was a fairly stark reminder that what filmmakers do …what artists do generally …is often under political constraints and that is really unfortunate."

With the 2011 TIFF now over, Cameron Bailey and his team are already starting their search for new works to present at next year's event.

You May Like

Ukraine Purges Interior Ministry Leadership With Pro-Russian Ties

Interior Minister Avakov says 91 people 'in positions of leadership' have been fired, including 8 generals found to have links to past pro-Moscow governments More

US Airlines Point to Additional Problems of any Ebola Travel Ban

Airline officials note that even under travel ban, they may not be able to determine where passenger set out from, as there are no direct flights from Liberia, Guinea or Sierra Leone More

Nigerian President to Seek Another Term

Goodluck Jonathan has faced intense criticism for failing to stop Boko Haram militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

Beyond Category

At Washington’s Blues Alley jazz singer Jane Monheit and her quartet perform songs made famous by Judy Garland. Monheit sits down with "Beyond Category" host Eric Felten to talk about her music, the singers who influence her, and her life traveling with family on tour.