2009 Toronto International Film Festival

The 34th annual Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) was held in Toronto, Ontario, Canada between September 10 and September 19, 2009. The opening night gala presented the Charles Darwin biography Creation. The Young Victoria, based on the early years of Queen Victoria, closed the festival on September 19.[1][2]

2009 Toronto International Film Festival
2009 Toronto International Film Festival poster
Festival poster
Opening filmCreation
Closing filmThe Young Victoria
LocationToronto, Ontario, Canada
Hosted byToronto International Film Festival Group
No. of films300–400
Festival dateSeptember 10, 2009–September 19, 2009

About the 2009 Festival

TIFF is a non-profit organization whose goal is to change the way people look at the world through film. The festival is Canada's largest film festival, receiving 4,209 submissions in 2008. Of this total, 312 films were screened coming from 64 different countries. TIFF creates an annual economic impact of $135 million CAD. Aided by over 2,000 volunteers, 100 full-time staff members and 500 seasonal or part-time staff are responsible for organizing the festival. Two screenings of each of the invited films are presented to the public and at least one screening is provided for press and industry. The 2009 festival contained 19 different Programmes, or categories of films. After the ten days of film, the Awards reception was held at Intercontinental Hotel on Front Street in Toronto.

Perhaps the most prestigious of the awards was bestowed to Lee Daniels's Precious: based on the novel Push by Sapphire. This award was the 2009 Cadillac People's Choice Award and is based solely on votes by Festival audiences. This award carries a $15,000 cash prize and also comes with a custom made award from Cadillac. It is widely considered to be the most prestigious because it has had the greatest impact on audiences and inspires film distributors to sign the winning film for larger international releases. Last year's winner Slumdog Millionaire directed by Danny Boyle, went on to reap huge international spotlight which culminated at the 2009 Academy Awards where it won Best Picture. Lee Daniel's Precious was also a big Oscar contender as it was nominated for Best Picture and Best Director, however it lost to The Hurt Locker and its helmer Katheryn Bigelow. The First runner-up was Bruce Beresford's Mao's Last Dancer and the second runner-up was Jean-Pierre Jeunet's Micmacs.

The City of Toronto and Astral Media's The Movie Network Award for Best Canadian Feature Film went to Cairo Time directed by Ruba Nadda. Sponsored by Astral Media's the Movie Network and the City of Toronto, this award came with a cash prize of $30,000.

Future endeavors by the TIFF will be aided by the ongoing construction of TIFF Bell Lightbox, a 1,750,000-square-foot (163,000 m2) facility with an estimated annual economic impact of over $200 million. Complete with 5 cinemas, learning studios, galleries and a rooftop lounge, this will become the hub of TIFF in 2010 when construction is scheduled to be completed.

Controversy over Tel Aviv spotlight

More than 1,500 people, including prominent filmmakers, academics, and writers signed a letter of protest directed at the Toronto International Film Festival regarding its decision to spotlight Tel Aviv and the work of 10 Israeli filmmakers.[3][4] The protest leaders emphasized that it is not a call for a boycott.[5][6] The original protest letter in part reads:

"As members of the Canadian and international film, culture and media arts communities, we are deeply disturbed by [TIFF's] decision to host a celebratory spotlight on Tel Aviv. We protest that TIFF, whether intentionally or not, has become complicit in the Israeli propaganda machine. We do not protest the individual Israeli filmmakers included in City to City, nor do we in any way suggest that Israeli films should be unwelcome at TIFF. However, especially in the wake of this year's brutal assault on Gaza, we object to the use of such an important international festival in staging a propaganda campaign on behalf of what South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, former US President Jimmy Carter, and UN General Assembly President Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann have all characterized as an apartheid regime."[4][7][8][9]

The signatories and supporters include Ken Loach, David Byrne, Naomi Klein, Alice Walker, Jane Fonda, Wallace Shawn, Danny Glover,[4] John Greyson,[10] Viggo Mortensen and the American Jewish group Jewish Voice for Peace.[6]

John Greyson's letter of protest highlighted an interview "Israeli Consul General Amir Gissin gave to Canadian Jewish News in which he described the TIFF spotlight as a culmination of his year-long Brand Israel campaign, which included ads on buses, radio and television."[10][11] Greyson claims that "This isn't the right year to celebrate Brand Israel, or to demonstrate an ostrich-like indifference to the realities (cinematic and otherwise) of the region, or to pointedly ignore the international economic boycott campaign against Israel."[10]

The protest letter was met with condemnation by some, such as Simcha Jacobovici, "a Toronto filmmaker who recently moved with his family to Israel, noted in a statement that the Palestinian government in Gaza had recently called a U.N. proposal to teach the Holocaust in Palestinian schools a war crime." Jacobovici asked "Why does [protest supporter John Greyson] want to align himself with Holocaust deniers?"[4] Others accused those who signed the protest letter as engaging in a boycott of Israel films.[4]

Rabbi Marvin Hier, the founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, has stated that "it is clear that the script [the protesters] are reading from might as well have been written by Hamas."[12]

Patrick Goldstein, writing in the Los Angeles Times, wrote against the protest and made an analogy to actions by musician Paul Simon:

"At the height of apartheid in South Africa, Paul Simon made "Graceland", an album of glorious music with South African musicians. He was criticized at the time for breaking a worldwide cultural boycott, but Simon believed that exposing the musicians' gifts to the world far outweighed any tacit endorsement his use of South African musicians would have provided for the country's repressive regime. History long ago proved him right. The same openness should apply to a film festival."[13]

In response to the protest, a number of Hollywood stars circulated a counter-protest letter on September 15, 2009. This letter, which appeared simultaneously in the Los Angeles Times and the Toronto Star, included signatories Jerry Seinfeld, Sacha Baron Cohen, Natalie Portman, Jason Alexander, Lisa Kudrow, Lenny Kravitz, Patricia Heaton, Jacob Richler, Noah Richler, George F. Walker and Moses Znaimer. The letter said:

Anyone who has actually seen recent Israeli cinema, movies that are political and personal, comic and tragic, often critical, knows they are in no way a propaganda arm for any government policy. Blacklisting them only stifles the exchange of cultural knowledge that artists should be the first to defend and protect.[14]

Jane Fonda, in a posting on Huffington Post, says that she now regrets some of the language used in the original protest letter and how it "was perhaps too easily misunderstood. It certainly has been wildly distorted. Contrary to the lies that have been circulated, the protest letter was not demonizing Israeli films and filmmakers." She continued writing "the greatest 're-branding' of Israel would be to celebrate that country's long standing, courageous and robust peace movement by helping to end the blockade of Gaza through negotiations with all parties to the conflict, and by stopping the expansion of West Bank settlements. That's the way to show Israel's commitment to peace, not a PR campaign. There will be no two-state solution unless this happens."[15]


Award[16][17] Film Director
People's Choice Award Precious Lee Daniels
People's Choice Award First Runner Up Mao's Last Dancer Bruce Beresford
People's Choice Award Second Runner Up Micmacs Jean-Pierre Jeunet
People's Choice Award, Documentary Winner The Topp Twins: Untouchable Girls Leanne Pooley
People's Choice Award, Documentary Runner Up Capitalism: A Love Story Michael Moore
People's Choice Award, Midnight Madness Winner The Loved Ones Sean Byrne
People's Choice Award, Midnight Madness Runner Up Daybreakers Michael Spierig and Peter Spierig
Best Canadian Feature Film Cairo Time Ruba Nadda
Best Canadian Feature Film - Special Jury Citation The Legacy (La Donation) Bernard Émond
Best Canadian Short Film Danse Macabre Pedro Pires
Best Canadian Short Film - Special Mention The Armoire Jamie Travis
Best Canadian First Feature Film The Wild Hunt Alexandre Franchi
FIPRESCI Discovery The Man Beyond the Bridge Laxmikant Shetgaonkar
FIPRESCI Special Presentations Hadewijch Bruno Dumont


Special presentations

City to City

Contemporary World Cinema


Future Projections

Gala Presentations


Midnight Madness[18]

Reel to Reel




  1. ^ W. Andrew Powell (July 18, 2009). "'Creation' will open 2009 TIFF". TheGATE.ca. Archived from the original on August 17, 2009. Retrieved July 18, 2009.
  2. ^ "2009 Toronto International Film Festival Annual report" (PDF). Retrieved October 11, 2013.
  3. ^ "No Celebration of Occupation: 1,500 Artists and Writers Sign Letter Protesting Toronto Film Festival Decision to Spotlight Tel Aviv". Democracy Now!. September 14, 2009. Retrieved May 11, 2013.
  4. ^ a b c d e Posner, Michael (September 2, 2009). "TIFF focus on Tel Aviv draws protests". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved May 11, 2013.
  5. ^ Klein, Naomi (September 7, 2009). "We don't feel like celebrating with Israel this year". The Globe and Mail. Archived from the original on September 17, 2009. Retrieved September 15, 2009.
  6. ^ a b "Fighting the Lies- Toronto International Film Festival". Jewish Voice for Peace. Archived from the original on September 17, 2009. Retrieved September 15, 2009.
  7. ^ Lim, Audrea; Joel Beinin. The Case for Sanctions Against Israel. Verso Books. p. 72.
  8. ^ "The Toronto Declaration: No Celebration of Occupation". Blogger. September 9, 2009. Retrieved May 11, 2013.
  9. ^ Weiss, Philip; Horowitz, Adam (October 22, 2009). "An Historical Shift: American Jews Rethink Israel". AlterNet. Retrieved May 11, 2013.
  10. ^ a b c "Canadian director protests TIFF Tel Aviv spotlight". CBC News. August 29, 2009. Retrieved May 11, 2013.
  11. ^ Brand Israel set to launch in GTA Archived 2009-09-12 at the Wayback Machine, Canadian Jewish News, August 21, 2009.
  12. ^ Wazana, Kathy (September 11, 2009). "To criticize Israel is a dangerous thing in today's Canada". Toronto Star. Archived from the original on September 17, 2009. Retrieved September 15, 2009.
  13. ^ Goldstein, Patrick (September 12, 2009). "Protest over Israel roils Toronto Film Festival". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved May 11, 2013.
  14. ^ Mozgovaya, Natasha; Zohar, Itamar (16 September 2009). "Hollywood Jews hit back at protest of Toronto Film Fest". Haaretz. Archived from the original on 3 December 2009. Retrieved 28 November 2009.
  15. ^ Fonda, Jane (September 14, 2009). "Expanding the Narrative". The Huffington Post. Retrieved May 11, 2013.
  16. ^ "2009 Toronto International Film Festival Winners" Archived 2013-11-12 at the Wayback Machine. tiff.net, October 11, 2013.
  17. ^ "Festival Closes 2009 Edition With Awards Announcement" Archived 2013-11-12 at the Wayback Machine. tiff.net, October 10, 2013.
  18. ^ "History of the Toronto International Film Festival's MIDNIGHT MADNESS Programme". Archived from the original on 2013-10-19. Retrieved October 19, 2013.

External links

Ahmad Maher (director)

Ahmad Maher (Arabic: أحمد ماهر‎) is an Egyptian film director. His directorial debut The Traveller (2009) competed for the Golden Lion at the 66th Venice International Film Festival. It was also screened in the Special Presentations section at the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival. Maher also served as the art director on the 1990 Martin Scorsese film Goodfellas.

Cole (film)

Cole is a Canadian drama film, directed by Carl Bessai and released in 2009.The film stars Richard de Klerk as Cole Chambers, a young man from Lytton who longs to escape his smalltown existence with his dysfunctional family. He is accepted into a university creative writing program in Vancouver, where he begins a romance with Serafina (Kandyse McClure), but faces a difficult choice when his friends and family back home struggle to survive without his presence. The cast also includes Rebecca Jenkins as Cole's mentally ill mother, Sonja Bennett as his sister Maybelline, and Chad Willett as Maybelline's abusive husband Bobby.The film premiered at the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival, and screened at a number of other film festivals before going into commercial release in 2010.Bennett received a Genie Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress at the 31st Genie Awards.

Danse Macabre (film)

Danse Macabre is a Canadian short drama film, directed by Pedro Pires and released in 2009. The film portrays the "dance" of a dead body twitching and writhing as it is drained of fluids in preparation for its embalming.The corpse was portrayed by dancer Anne Bruce Falconer.The film won the award for Best Canadian Short Film at the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival, and was named to TIFF's year-end Canada's Top Ten list. It won the Genie Award for Best Live Action Short Drama at the 30th Genie Awards,

Dusty Mancinelli

Dusty Mancinelli is a Canadian filmmaker from Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Receiving an Honours BFA in Film Production from York University, his writing and directing credits include the short film "Death to Charlie!", "P.U.R.E.", which screened at film festivals across North America, including the Cinéfest Sudbury International Film Festival, the Washington DC Independent Film and the Whistler International Film Festival and "SOAP", which premiered at the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival.

He was the Second Unit Director and Canadian Production Coordinator on the 2009 film "Cooking with Stella" and the stills photographer on Academy Award Nominated Director Deepa Mehta's film Heaven on Earth, and her latest film Midnight's Children, which was released in 2012.

Everyday Is a Holiday

Every Day Is a Holiday (French: Chaque jour est une fête; Arabic: كل يوم عيد‎) is a 2009 film by the Lebanese director Dima El-Horr. The film is on the official selection of 2009 Toronto International Film Festival. It is the first feature film by Dima El-Horr.

Hadewijch (film)

Hadewijch is a 2009 French film directed by Bruno Dumont. It won the International Film Critics' award at the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival.

Jean Charles (film)

Jean Charles is a 2009 British-Brazilian feature film depicting the life of Jean Charles de Menezes, the Brazilian immigrant wrongly shot dead by the Metropolitan Police at Stockwell tube station in London on 22 July 2005, after being mistaken for a terrorist.The film was directed by Henrique Goldman and received its international premiere at the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival. Selton Mello stars as Jean Charles with many of the other roles played by the actual friends and family of Jean Charles de Menezes. Award winning director Stephen Frears was an executive producer for the film.

Judith Ehrlich

Judith Ehrlich is an American film director. She is best known for co-directing the 2009 documentary The Most Dangerous Man in America which was nominated for Best Documentary Feature at the 82nd Academy Awards and was screened at the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival.

Leaves of Grass (film)

Leaves of Grass is a 2009 American comedy-drama film written and directed by Tim Blake Nelson. It stars Edward Norton as two twin brothers, alongside Richard Dreyfuss, Blake Nelson, Susan Sarandon, Melanie Lynskey and Keri Russell. The film, released on September 17, 2010, is in limited release by Millennium Films. It was featured in the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival.

Set in Nelson's home state of Oklahoma, the film was actually filmed in northwestern Louisiana, which was selected for its generous film production incentives.

Mother and Child (2009 film)

Mother and Child is a drama directed and written by Rodrigo García. It premiered on September 14, 2009, at the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival and at the Sundance Film Festival on January 23, 2010, and was the closing night selection within Maryland Film Festival 2010. It was given a limited release in the United States beginning May 7, 2010.

Pedro Pires (director)

Pedro Pires (born 1969 in Nantes, France) is a Canadian film director. His short film Danse Macabre won the award for Best Canadian Short Film at the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival and the Genie Award for Best Live Action Short Drama at the 30th Genie Awards, his short film Hope was a Genie Award nominee for Best Live Action Short Drama at the 32nd Genie Awards in 2012, and he was a Canadian Screen Award nominee for Best Director at the 2nd Canadian Screen Awards in 2014 for Triptych, which he co-directed with Robert Lepage.He is also a visual effects technician and art director, whose credits have included several of Lepage's other films and the television series Charlie Jade.

Road, Movie

Road, Movie (Hindi: रोड, मूवी) is a 2009 Indian road movie directed by Dev Benegal, and starring Abhay Deol, Tannishtha Chatterjee, and Satish Kaushik. It premiered at the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival and opened the section Generation 14plus at the 60th Berlin International Film Festival in February 2010. Road, Movie was released in India on 5 March 2010.

Ruba Nadda

Ruba Nadda (born 6 December 1972) is a Canadian film director. She made several award-winning short films, including Lost Woman Story, Interstate Love Story, So Far Gone and Damascus Nights before writing and directing features I Always Come to You, Unsettled and Sabah. Her movie Cairo Time won the Best Canadian Feature Film award at the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival and was Best Reviewed Romance on Rotten Tomatoes for 2010. She is known for shooting feature films in very short time spans.

The Armoire

The Armoire is a Canadian short drama film, directed by Jamie Travis and released in 2009. The third film in his Saddest Children in the World trilogy, the film stars William Cuddy as Aaron, a young boy whose friend Tony (Ricardo Hoyos) has gone missing during a game of hide and seek, who is undergoing hypnosis to determine whether he can remember anything that may assist in locating Tony.

The film received an honourable mention for Best Canadian Short Film at the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival, and was named to TIFF's year-end Canada's Top Ten list for 2009. It subsequently won the awards for Best Short Film at the 2010 Victoria Film Festival, the 2010 Inside Out Film and Video Festival, the 2010 Nashville Film Festival, and the 53rd San Francisco International Film Festival.

The Good Heart

The Good Heart is an Icelandic independent film written and directed by Dagur Kári, starring Brian Cox and Paul Dano. It debuted at the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival.

The Joneses

The Joneses is a 2009 American film written and directed by Derrick Borte. It stars Demi Moore, David Duchovny, Amber Heard, and Ben Hollingsworth. It premiered at the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival on September 13, 2009. Roadside Attractions later purchased the United States theatrical distribution rights. It had a limited release on April 16, 2010 and was released on DVD & Blu-ray On August 10, 2010.

It received a theatrical release in Mexico on August 20, 2010.

The Time That Remains

The Time That Remains is a 2009 semi-biographical drama film written and directed by Palestinian director Elia Suleiman. The film stars Ali Suliman, Elia Suleiman, Saleh Bakri and Samar Qudha Tanus. It gives an account of the creation of the Israeli state from 1948 to the present. Suleiman participated in the 2009 Cannes Film Festival, as his new film competed in the official selection category. The Time That Remains was also screened at the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival. In November 2009, the film won the Jury Grand Prize (with About Elly) at the Asia Pacific Screen Awards. The film won the Critics Prize of the Argentinian Film Critics Association at Mar del Plata International Film Festival.

The Unloved

The Unloved is a British television film starring Molly Windsor, Robert Carlyle, Susan Lynch and Lauren Socha. It is about an eleven-year-old girl called Lucy (played by Molly Windsor) growing up in a children's home in the UK's care system, and shown through her perspective. It is the directorial debut of Golden Globe Award-winning and two-time Academy Award-nominated actress Samantha Morton. The story is semi-autobiographical, Morton wrote and produced the film in collaboration with screenwriter Tony Grisoni.

It was produced for Channel 4 and shown as part of its Britain's Forgotten Children series, and was first broadcast on 17 May 2009. The film drew an audience of two million viewers. It had a premiere at the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival and received a limited release in 2010.

The Waiting City

The Waiting City is a 2010 Australian film directed by Claire McCarthy.The Waiting City stars Joel Edgerton and Radha Mitchell, and was an official selection at the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival.

By year

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