TIFF Prize winners talk about the festival’s comeback and the fate of movie theaters


The 2021 crop of Toronto Film Festival Tribute Award winners gathered on Saturday to discuss their cinematic achievements and engage in responsible human contact.

This year’s recipients – including Jessica Chastain, Benedict Cumberbatch, Denis Villeneuve, Alanis Obomsawin, Ari Wegner, Danis Goulet and Dionne Warwick – attended a press conference hosted by Variety at the first hall of the Roy Thomson Hall festival.

Chastain, who has won the TIFF Tribute Actor Award for a prolific decade on screen so far, saw the conference as a homecoming.

“I came here ten years ago with a movie called ‘Take Shelter’. It was the start of my career. It has become an amazing festival to visit over the years. I’ve also shot six films in Canada, two in Montreal, so I feel like I’m Canadian if you don’t mind me, ”said the actress and producer, who is unveiling her new film“ Les yeux de Tammy Faye ”in the field this weekend.

Chastain’s Tribute Actor Award winner Cumberbatch called TIFF the best festival in terms of audience interaction, saying the festival brings “that feeling, that flash of connection to the roads outside that was missing a little this year. We have the impression that it is coming back. “

Cumberbatch is in town with two firsts, Jane Campion’s Venice winner “The Power of the Dog” and Amazon Studios’ title “The Electrical Life of Louis Wain”.

Just before the conference, Variety met “Louis Wain” director Will Sharpe about star honor.

“Louis Wain as a painter, historical figure and husband was someone who chose not to settle for conventions, instead deciding to follow his heart despite the uncertainties he faced in life. Working with such a talented and kinetic actor like Benedict has been paramount in bringing Louis Wain to life, and I am very proud that he and the film are being honored here in Toronto at this special festival, ”said Sharpe.

Obomsawin, whose 52-year career as a documentary maker has been largely devoted to sharing the stories of Canadian First Nations, has told moving stories of his introduction to small-town cinema in his youth. Browsing through her filmography, Obomsawin shared a trade secret: Before filming any footage on her subject, she first records lengthy audio-only interviews.

“To this day, I still do solid audio interviews without a camera so I can hear them. For me, it’s sacred to listen. The best gift you can give people is to give them time, ”she said.

Although seated at only 30% of their capacity, the Roy Thomson crowd was delighted to hear Twitter sensation and music icon Warwick talk about his new documentary “Dionne Warwick: Don’t Make Me Over”. The Grammy-winning trailblazer revealed that she first watched the film alone at the Apollo Theater in New York City.

“Looking at my growth from the start until what I will now call the present tense, it was very interesting. There are a lot of things that I forgot. I enjoyed, getting to know myself. I’m a pretty good girl, ”she said.

Sitting alongside Cumberbatch, Warwick revealed that one of his biggest Netflix frenzy about the coronavirus pandemic was “Sherlock Holmes,” in which he stars.

“I’m so happy right now,” Cumberbatch said.

Watch the full press conference below and read the full list of awards:

Jessica Chastain, TIFF Tribute Actor Award supported by the Tory family
Benedict Cumberbatch, TIFF Actor Tribute Award
Denis Villeneuve, TIFF Ebert Award for Director
Alanis Obomsawin, Jeff Skoll Award in Impact Media supported by Participant Media
Ari Wegner, TIFF Variety Artisan Award
Danis Goulet, TIFF Emerging Talent Award presented by L’Oréal Paris and supported by MGM
Dionne Warwick, TIFF Special Tribute Award


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