News / Arts & Entertainment

No Shortage of Star Power at Toronto Film Festival

Director Madonna arrives on the red carpet for the film
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

Turkish Public Fears Jihadists More Than Kurds

Turkey facing twin threats of terrorism by Islamic State and PKK Kurdish separatists, says President Erdogan’s ruling AK Party More

Video One Year After Massacre, Iraq’s Yazidis a Broken People

Minority community still recovering from devastating assault by IS militants which spurred massive outrage More

‘Malvertisements’ Undermine Internet Trust

Hackers increasingly prey on users' trust of major websites to delivery malicious software 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.
Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Communityi
X
Sharon Behn
August 03, 2015 2:23 PM
A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs

New in Music Alley

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Harry Wayne Casey – “KC” of KC and the Sunshine Band – comes to VOA’s Studio 4 to talk with "Border Crossings" host Larry London and perform songs from his new album, “Feeling You! The 60s.”