Founded in 1976, the TIFF is now among the top prestigious film festivals in the world. In 1998, Variety magazine acknowledged that "the Festival is second only to Cannes in terms of high-profile pics, stars and market activity." Quoted by the National Post in 1999, Roger Ebert claimed "...although Cannes is still larger, Toronto is just as great...." It is the premiere film festival in North America, from which the Oscars race begins.
The festival is centred around the Yorkville, Toronto neighbourhood, an upscale area in the downtown core. It is a part of town with several luxury hotels, movie theatres, popular restaurants and cafes as well as one of Canada's and North America's priciest retail streets. Although the Festival has begun to give more attention to mainstream Hollywood films, it still maintains its independent roots. It features retrospectives of national cinemas and individual directors, highlights of Canadian cinema, and a variety of African, South American, and Asian films.
The festival is considered a launch pad for many studios to begin "Oscar-buzz" for their films; for example, Taylor Hackford's Ray premiered at the festival and garnered much attention for Jamie Foxx's portrayal of Ray Charles (for which he ultimately won the Academy Award for Best Actor).
The Director and CEO of the Toronto International Film Festival, since 1994, is Piers Handling. In 2004, Noah Cowan became Co-Director of the Festival. In late 2007, Cowan was promoted to Artistic Director of Bell Lightbox, the Toronto International Film Festival Group's (TIFFG) future home, while long-time programmer Cameron Bailey succeeded as Co-Director.
For this year's 2008 festival, please see: 33rd Annual Toronto International Film Festival.
TIFF, known originally as "The Festival of Festivals", was founded in 1976 at the Windsor Arms Hotel. It began as a collection of the best films from festivals around the world. It has since, through consistent investment and promotion by its organizers and sponsors, grown to become a vital component of Hollywood's marketing machine.
Many notable films have had their global or North American premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, including Chariots of Fire, The Big Chill, Husbands and Wives, Thirty Two Short Films About Glenn Gould, Downfall, American Beauty, Sideways, and Crash.
In 2001, Perspective Canada, the programme that had focused on Canadian films since 1984, was replaced by two programmes:
The TIFF Group occasionally polls critics, programmers, and industry professionals, asking them to identify their top 10 Canadian films. The TIFF Group has conducted three such polls, in 1984, 1993, and 2004.
Maclean's magazine named TIFF one of Canada's Top 100 Employers in 2007, making it the only arts group in Canada to receive this honour. TIFF was also named among 2008's Financial Post Top 10 Employers, Canada's Top 100 Employers, and Greater Toronto's Top 50 Employers.
In 2007, the Festival Group will begin construction on a new facility at the corner of King and John Streets in downtown Toronto (on land donated by Ivan Reitman and family) - Bell Lightbox, named for founding sponsor Bell, with additional support from the Governments of Ontario and Canada. The facility will open in 2010 and will provide extensive year-round galleries, cinemas, archives and activities for cinephiles.
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