The Toronto International Film Festival has picked one final star to honor at its newly revamped TIFF Tribute Gala, slated for September 9, in the thick of the annual fall festival. Joana Vicente and Cameron Bailey, Co-Heads of TIFF, have announced “Atlantics” director Mati Diop as the inaugural recipient of the recently announced Mary Pickford Award.
The award, named in honour of Toronto native Mary Pickford, recognizes “an emerging female talent who is making groundbreaking strides in the industry.” Pickford was the pioneering actor, producer, and co-founder of United Artists, and the award is being launched in conjunction with United Artists’ centennial this year.
“We’re thrilled to honour the incredible Mati Diop as our inaugural Mary Pickford Award recipient, as United Artists marks its centennial year,” said Vicente, Executive Director and Co-Head of TIFF in an official statement. “She is a vibrant and important new voice within the industry and one to watch closely.”
Added Bailey, Artistic Director and Co-Head of TIFF, “Mati Diop’s film ‘Atlantics’ is a profound and unsettling work of art. We know this is just the start for such an original and authentic voice, and we’re delighted to celebrate her success at this year’s TIFF Tribute Gala.”
In May, Diop became the first black female director to screen a film in competition at Cannes, and “Atlantics” went on to win the Grand Prix at the festival. The film, written by Diop and Olivier Demangel, stars Mama Sané, Amadou Mbow, Ibrahima Traoré, Nicole Sougou, Amina Kane, Mariama Gassama, Coumba Dieng, Ibrahima Mbaye, and Diankou Sembene. “Atlantics” will have its North American Premiere at TIFF and will be released by Netflix later this year.
Diop also directed the short films “Atlantiques” (which she adapted for “Atlantics”), ”Big in Vietnam,” and the documentary ”A Thousand Suns” — all of which have screened at TIFF — as well as “Snow Canon” and ”Liberian Boy.”
Pickford was the highest-paid actor — male or female — during the late 1910s and was a savvy businesswoman who helped shape the industry as we know it today. In 1919, she revolutionized film distribution by partnering with Charlie Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks, and D.W. Griffith to form United Artists.
TIFF previously announced that three-time Academy Award–winning actor Meryl Streep will receive the TIFF Tribute Actor Award sponsored by RBC; three-time Academy Award–nominated actor Joaquin Phoenix will receive the TIFF Tribute Actor Award; Taika Waititi will receive the TIFF Ebert Director Award; Participant Media will receive the TIFF Impact Award, accepted by Founder and Chairman Jeff Skoll and CEO David Linde; and Academy Award–winning cinematographer Roger Deakins will receive the Variety Artisan Award.
The event takes place Monday, September 9 at the Fairmont Royal York, during the 44th Toronto International Film Festival. The 44th Toronto International Film Festival runs September 5 – 15, 2019.