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TIFF 2020 Adds New Films and Events, Including Conversations with Berry, Jenkins, Ronan, and Washington

This year's festival will include its signature conversation series, plus a special look back at its forward-thinking Planet Africa program.

Atmosphere during the 44th Toronto International Film Festival, tiff, at King Street in Toronto, Canada, on 05 September 2019. | usage worldwide Photo by: Hubert Boesl/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images

Atmosphere during the 44th Toronto International Film Festival

Hubert Boesl/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images

This year’s Toronto International Film Festival has announced the addition of new films and events, including conversations with a range of filmmakers and actors as well as a special anniversary program dedicated to its Planet Africa program.

TIFF is about the films, and we’ve stayed true to that mission,” said Executive Director and Co-Head of TIFF Joana Vicente in an official statement. “We also are committed to an enhanced festival experience for film lovers. TIFF is renowned for conversations that dive deep into the history and context of the films that we curate, and the artistic processes of the talent who create those films. TIFF is an international platform for audiences, media, and the industry to discover great filmmakers, and explore new directions in cinema.”

“It was important for TIFF to move forward and keep the creative spirit alive,” added Artistic Director and Co-Head of TIFF Cameron Bailey in his own statement. “That is why we are so happy to deliver TIFF. We are dedicated to providing a platform for filmmakers of color, emerging talents, and independent creative film artists, and particularly women filmmakers — to spotlight their work, raise their profiles, and amplify their voices, especially those of Canadian and Indigenous artists, and continue to be a thought leader in film culture.”

The festival, set to take place September 10 – 19, will exist as a both limited physical event and an online experience, through a combination of physical screenings and drive-ins, digital screenings, virtual red carpets, press conferences, and industry talks. The festival will not host press and industry screenings or media events on the ground; instead, as previously announced, it will launch a digital platform to host digital screenings, in addition to numerous talks and special events.

Today’s announcement provides a closer look at some of the special events that will be available through that digital platform, including intimate chats with Halle Berry (who will bring her directorial debut “Bruised” to the festival), along with “Ammonite” star Saoirse Ronan, Claire Denis and Barry Jenkins, Barry Levinson and Denzel Washington, and Ava DuVernay.




The festival has also added a handful of new films to its Special Events section, including “The Water Man,” a new family offering from actor and director David Oyelowo, and the Sundance hit “The Truffle Hunters.”

This year’s TIFF will also celebrate the 25 year anniversary of the festival’s Planet Africa program, which was first programmed by Bailey in 1995 and ran for 10 years. Designed to celebrate cinema from Africa and the African diaspora, “Planet Africa 25” will reflect on its legacy with four new films and other events.

“Planet Africa stands as one of the proudest moments in my career,” said Bailey in an official statement. “Twenty-five years ago, I joined with colleagues and friends to launch a Festival platform for films from all over the African diaspora. We brought filmmaking legends together with new talent. We hosted a Planet Africa party that got both Hollywood stars and everyday Black people on the dance floor. We made our dreams for Black creativity real. I hope celebrating that work now can help inspire the next generation.”

As previously announced, Spike Lee’s “David Byrne’s American Utopia” will open the festival, which will close with a special presentation Mira Nair’s latest, the miniseries “A Suitable Boy,” based on Vikram Seth’s novel of the same name.

Check out the full list of today’s announced titles and events below.

In Conversation With…

In Conversation With…, “one of TIFF’s most exciting programs, features candid, intimate, and entertaining sit-downs with some of the industry’s biggest names. This year there will be six inspiring conversations about art, creative processes, activism, and the power of music and film to unite us.”

In Conversation With… Halle Berry

In Conversation With… Claire Denis & Barry Jenkins

In Conversation With… Ava DuVernay

In Conversation With… Saoirse Ronan

In Conversation With… Barry Levinson & Denzel Washington

In Conversation With… D-Nice & Anthony Mandler

“The Truffle Hunters”

Special Events

This year’s S​pecial Events​ lineup “focuses on a wide range of topics from around the globe.” Each of the films are part of TIFF’s Official Selection.

“Underplayed​,” Stacey Lee, Canada

“The Boy from Medellín,” ​Matthew Heineman, USA

“The Truffle Hunters,” ​Michael Dweck, Gregory Kershaw, Italy/USA/Greece

“The Water Man​,” David Oyelowo, USA

“Wolfwalkers,” ​Tomm Moore, Ross Stewart, Ireland/Luxembourg/France

“Akilla’s Escape”

Sugarcane Filmworks

Planet Africa 25

Created in 1995 by Cameron Bailey, Planet Africa was a Festival program “dedicated to cinema from Africa and the African diaspora. Programmed by Bailey, then June Givanni and Gaylene Gould, it ran as a part of the Festival for 10 years. As we celebrate its founding a quarter century ago, TIFF also marks 2020’s Black Lives Matter uprisings with special events under the banner of Planet Africa 25.”

TIFF has selected four new films for its Official Selection that embody the spirit of Planet Africa:

“Akilla’s Escape,” Charles Officer, Canada

“Downstream to Kinshasa,​” ​Dieudo Hamadi, Democratic Republic of the Congo/France/Belgium

“40 Years a Prisoner​,” Tommy Oliver​, USA

“The Way I See It,” Dawn Porter, USA

A panel entitled “Planet Africa 25: Origin Stories,” will take place on Sunday, September 13. Bailey and the team that built Planet Africa will look at what the program’s legacy means today.

Short Cuts

TIFF has also announced 35 short films as part of Short Cuts. The 2020 lineup “includes the directorial efforts of TIFF alumni and discoveries by TIFF programmers that together present a powerful and eclectic mix. In addition to a wide range of genres, the festival’s short-film selection also encompasses a variety of perspectives, voices, and emerging and established talents from Canada and all over the world.” You can see the full list over at the TIFF website.

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