Toronto Film Festival Launches Program for Ambitious International Films

The Toronto International Film Festival will try to foster global filmmaking with the launch of a new program, dubbed Platform, which will highlight up to a dozen films from around the world.

Directors who are tapped for the program are eligible to receive a $25,000 prize. Selections will be made by a three-person jury.

TIFF CEO Piers Handling said that the program will focus on mid-career auteurs who may not have a high profile in the United States. Their work will screen as part of the festival.

“The program is not focused on discovery,” said Handling. “We’re building a platform for filmmakers who have made two or three films, but who need the spotlight that a festival can put on their work to use it as a stepping stone to arrive on the world stage.”

Platform takes its name from Chinese director Jia Zhangke’s 2000 film. Many of Jia’s movies were made outside of the State system and have been hailed for capturing the communist country’s transition into becoming a modern economic powerhouse.

“Platform will showcase films made in the spirit of true directors’ cinema: free, daring and transformative,” TIFF artistic director Cameron Bailey said in a statement. “It will offer audiences, industry members and media a new opportunity to discover high-quality international cinema while giving the next generation of master filmmakers a platform to reach audiences and increase their global profile.”

The jury and film lineup will be announced in the coming months, and the festival runs from September 10 to 20.

Handling noted that the new program is being launched in conjunction with TIFF’s fortieth anniversary.

“We’re trying to recalibrate the festival to go back to our roots and celebrate and put a spotlight on international auteur filmmakers,” he said, adding, “We hope these programs will be the impetus to drive the festival forward into the next decade.”

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