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

Photogallery Pistorius Sentenced, Taken to Prison

Pistorius, convicted of culpable homicide in shooting death of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, will likely serve about 10 months of five-year sentence, before completing it under house arrest More

UN to Aid Central Africa in Polio Vaccinations

Synchronized vaccinations will be conducted after Cameroon reports a fifth case of the wild polio virus in its territory More

WHO: Ebola Vaccine Could Be in Use by January

WHO assistant director Dr. Marie Paule Kieny says clinical trials of Ebola vaccines are underway or planned in Europe, US and Africa 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.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
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 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 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 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.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

Border Crossings

Joe Taylor sits down with "Border Crossings" host Larry London to talk about his distinction as New York’s “Subway Idol,” and how he beat out thousands for that title. Joe performs several songs from his new CD, “Anything’s Possible.”