Dorota Lech

Source: George Pimentel

Dorota Lech

Lead programmer, Discovery and international programmer, central, eastern, southern Europe, Turkey and Iran, Toronto International Film Festival

Poland-born polyglot Dorota Lech moved with her parents to Montreal in the 1990s when she was six. After living and working as a kindergarten teacher in Berlin for a spell, she returned to Canada and taught stop-­motion filmmaking to children for Canada’s National Film Board and worked in Hot Docs’ industry department.

Lech joined Toronto Inter­national Film Festival (TIFF) in 2013. She says she is indebted to CEO Cameron Bailey, programming stalwarts Thom Powers, Rasha Salti and Jane Schoettle, and the late Dimitri Eipides, describing them as “exceptional curators who taught me something invaluable about how to view art”.

Lech’s Discovery team works primarily through TIFF’s portal for solicited titles and open submissions. Yet she regularly attends Berlin, Cannes and Venice, went to her maiden Qumra this year, travels to New Horizons in her hometown Wroclaw, and will attend Sarajevo Film Festival this summer. “I love local festivals,” she says.

“The audience at TIFF is very curious and very adventurous,” she adds. “I also programme year-round at our TIFF Cinema­theque, where audiences tend to be young.”

Lech is reluctant to name favourite films from TIFF, but last year’s eclectic selections included Radu Jude’s Do Not Expect Too Much From The End Of The World in Wavelengths and Molly Manning Walker’s How To Have Sex in Discovery.

Programming is not a path to wealth, Lech notes, but she does love her career. “My favourite part is speaking to artists and finding ways to elevate people’s artistic endeavours,” she says, excited about the future. “People are beginning to take chances again and that is very encouraging.

Contact: Dorota Lech