Toronto TIFF generic Connie Tsang

Source: Connie Tsang

Toronto International Film Festival

A documentary about climate activist Greta Thunberg and a shot film about a teenage Indigenous communities activist have joined the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) line-up.

Nathan Grossman’s I Am Greta chronicles the young Swede’s meteoric rise to public attention, while James Burns’s short film The Water Walker focuses on the work of 15-year-old Autumn Peltier, an Anishinaabe water activist.

Peltier will take part in a live conversation with author Naomi Klein that will be made free to international audiences. The date will be announced closer to the start of TIFF, which runs from September 10-19.

Both films join TIFF’s Official Selection and will play on the TIFF’s online film platform, Bell Digital Cinema. The Water Walker will be made free to Canadian audiences.

The Water Walker (USA)
Dir: James Burns
At 15 years old, Autumn Peltier has become a powerful advocate for clean drinking water in Indigenous communities around the world. The Water Walker is a short film that documents Peltier’s powerful journey from Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territory to New York City as she prepares to speak in front of the United Nations with the hope of preserving the future of Indigenous communities for generations to come.

I Am Greta (Swe)
Dir: Nathan Grossman
In August 2018, 15-year-old student Greta Thunberg picketed Swedish parliament calling for action on the climate crisis, eventually inspiring student strikes at schools in communities around the world. In I Am Greta, Nathan Grossman documents Thunberg’s meteoric one-year rise from high-school climate strike organizer to inspiration for a global movement.

The Planet Africa 25: Black Film Now featuring the four filmmakers of the four previously announced films in the returning 25th anniversary edition of the section will take place with TIFF co-head and artistic director on September 16. It will be free to international audiences who pre-register on the festival’s online talks platform, Bell Digital Talks.

Best Of TIFF Reunions

A Best Of TIFF Reunions programme bring together creators and collaborators from films that screened at past editions of the festival and at TIFF Bell Lightbox year-round kicks off with Greta Gerwig’s Lady Bird featuring surprise guests on September 8; Darren Aronofsky’s Requiem For A Dream on September 13 with Aronofsky, Ellen Burstyn, cinematographer Matthew Libatique, composer Clint Mansell, and production designer James Chinlund; Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket on September 18 at RBC Lakeside Drive-In at Ontario Place featuring a pre-recorded panel with Vincent D’Onofrio and Arliss Howard, casting director and dialogue coach Leon Vitali, and Kubrick’s daughter Katharina Kubrick; and Claudia Weill’s Girlfriends (1978) – the first TIFF People’s Choice Award winner – with Weill and star Melanie Mayron on September 11.

The series presented by Bell is free to international audiences on Bell Digital Cinema on the Best of TIFF Reunions shelf, and will be simulcast on TIFF’s Twitter and YouTube channels. Canadians can watch Lady Bird, Full Metal Jacket, and Requiem For A Dream on Bell Media’s Crave.

Industry Conference

TIFF’s five-day 2020 Industry Conference from September 10–14 features speakers, conversations, provocative panel discussions, and presentations.

Master Classes

This year’s guests include Viola Davis and Julius Tennon, Luca Guadagnino, Ted Hope, and dream Hampton.


The series of conversations on the craft of filmmaking features Tracy Oliver, Stella Meghie, Lenny Abrahamson, and Shola Lynch. Variety is this year’s Dialogues media partner.


Participants in the series of panel discussions between filmmakers and industry professionals include Chelsea Winstanley, Misha Green, Nina Jacobson, and Ben Roberts exploring topics such as narrative sovereignty, women creators making waves in the horror realm, how race-based data can be used to drive anti-racist action in the screen industries; a co-productions case study on Falling (Canada/UK); and film financing in the shadow of a pandemic. Screen International is a Media partner of Perspectives 2020.

Special Industry Event with Aaron Sorkin

A one-on-one talk with Aaron Sorkin who offers a deep dive into the creative process behind upcoming Netflix film The Trial Of The Chicago 7.

Film professionals can participate digitally in the Industry Conference and festival by registering for either the Digital Talks Pass providing access to online Conference events on the Bell Digital Talks platform, or the Digital Pro Pass, which includes the online Conference events as well as digital screenings of titles in and out of Official Selection. Both passes include online networking and business tools for producers, buyers, sales agents, and film creators at large. Industry registration closes on September 2.

Talent Development

TIFF has announced the participants for this year’s flagship initiatives

TIFF Filmmaker Lab

Twenty directors have been selected to participate – 10 from Canada and 10 from around the world – in a programme of informal conversations with invited guests, including directors, producers, writers, and other film artists.

The 2020 TIFF Filmmaker Lab participants are: Maha Al-Saati, Yuhi Amuli, Tammes Bernstein, Antoine Bourges, Jorge Cadena, Pier-Philippe Chevigny, Marilyn Cooke, Álvaro Gago Díaz, Shawn Gerrard, Lillah Halla, Meredith Hama-Brown, Sasha Leigh Henry, Fawzia Mirza, Irene Moray, Asantewaa Prempeh, Simon Ryninks, Josephine Stewart-Te Whiu, S.M. Turrell, Jeff Wong, and Asia Youngman.

The Filmmaker Lab governor is Atom Egoyan, and guests speakers are Hirokazu Kore-eda, Rian Johnson, Nadine Labaki, Kasi Lemmons, David Cronenberg, Wim Wenders, Eliza Hittman, Fernando Frias, Paul Federbush, Ramy Youssef, and Hiam Abbass.

Filmmaker Lab is supported by Telefilm Canada, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the RBC Female Creator Initiative, Anne-Marie Canning and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.

TIFF Talent Accelerator

Participants in the year-long development experience for six promising female Canadian creators offers year-round support to two directors, two writers, and two producers who are chosen by TIFF Industry for a customised development experience.

Participants are: directors Sasha Leigh Henry and Asia Youngman (also part of this year’s Filmmaker Lab); producers Lindsay Blair Goeldner and Priscilla Galvez; and writers Luis De Filippis and Adrianna DiLonardo.

The TIFF Talent Accelerator programme is made possible by TIFF’s Share Her Journey initiative and is generously supported by the RBC Female Creator Initiative. Participants of the Talent Accelerator programme receive fellowship funding presented by Netflix.

TIFF Hudson’s Bay Foundation Fellowship

The new Fellowship is made possible due to Hudson’s Bay Foundation’s support of TIFF’s For the Love of Film Fund. The Fellowship champions diversity and inclusion in filmmaking, and supports two emerging creators participating in TIFF Filmmaker Lab.

TIFF Canada Goose Fellowship

The Fellowship supports Share Her Journey and supports three emerging female creators participating in TIFF Filmmaker Lab.

The TIFF Fellows for 2020 are:

Shawn Gerrard – TIFF Hudson’s Bay Foundation Fellow

Jeff Wong – TIFF Hudson’s Bay Foundation Fellow

Meredith Hama-Brown – TIFF Canada Goose Fellow

Josephine Stewart-Te Whiu – TIFF Canada Goose Fellow

Asantewaa Prempeh – TIFF Canada Goose Fellow

Fawzia Mirza – Share Her Journey Fellow

Marilyn Cooke – Share Her Journey Fellow

Irene Moray – Share Her Journey Fellow

Maha Al-Saati – Share Her Journey Fellow

Lillah Halla – Share Her Journey Fellow

Asia Youngman – Netflix Talent Accelerator Fellow

Sasha Leigh Henry – Netflix Talent Accelerator Fellow

Adrianna DiLonardo – Netflix Talent Accelerator Fellow

Lindsay Blair Goeldner – Netflix Talent Accelerator Fellow

Luis De Filippis – Netflix Talent Accelerator Fellow

Priscilla Galvez – Netflix Talent Accelerator Fellow.

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