The Toronto International Film Festival is definitely starting off with a bang this year. First,we learned that TIFF was ignoring the tradition of opening the fest with a Canadian film when Jon Amiel's Creation was selected to kick things off. (Even though there are a few free screenings earlier on Thursday's Day One, plus Lone Scherfig's An Education, which is starting a half hour before Creation around the corner from the opening-night Elgin Theatre.) But at least, while not official, the first TIFF film is actually a screening of Lian Lunson's Leonard Cohen: I'm Your Man, so some Can-Con informally starts things off.
But this twist was only step one. Next came the protests.
See, the festival is starting a new program this year called City to City, which showcases a group of films that are focused on a particular locale. The inaugural location: Tel Aviv. Soon, many began to protest the lack of Palestinians in the program, likening the choice as part of "the Israeli propaganda machine," and inspiring a group of famous names from Jane Fonda to Danny Glover to sign a statement against the choice. Toronto documentarian John Greyson withdrew his film Covered. Jon Voight spoke out against the statement and Jane Fonda. A Jewish professor in Halifax praised the protest, while others site it as a step towards more Anti-Semitism. And a press conference for the protest is scheduled to compete with the festival's opening day.
Nevertheless, TIFF soldiers on...