By Judith Davis
Since COVID shut down almost every major event in 2020, many of the large film festivals went virtual and while the viral experience was well done, there is nothing like being in person at a film festival. Seeing all the celebrities, the films, listening to panels, attending awards shows, going to parties, and seeing all of the fans are so much a part of the event being successful.
For 2020 and 2021, all film festivals large, medium, and small had to regroup and figure out a way to keep the festival goers engaged – and TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) was no different.
For 2022, many of the festivals were back in person and from September 8-18, TIFF was back in full swing with 300 films (shorts and features) to be screened. This was exciting for all who attended, but even more for me as a NYWIFT member who was in the midst of all of this talent and creativity.
Upon arriving at TIFF on the morning of Saturday, September 10, the first plan was to check in, grab my badge, and head to the Viola Davis starring The Woman King. Listening to director (and NYWIFT Muse honoree) Gina Prince-Bythewood, Gina shared her experience as to how after reading the first five pages of the script, she knew that she had to do this film and how great it was to have Viola Davis as a producer.
During the panel, both Gina and Viola left such great nuggets of wisdom for actors, directors, and anyone looking to be a part of the industry. In addition, Viola discusses the importance of having a female director and a mostly female cast. Then after seeing the film, I was quite blow away. I had a feeling I would enjoy the film and after seeing it, The Woman King is one of my favorite films for the year.
After The Woman King I had the pleasure of seeing actor Michelle Yeoh (Everything Everywhere All at Once) be honored for her work. She is a powerhouse and was a great choice for the inaugural TIFF Tribute Award.
The “Queen of Talk” Oprah Winfrey graced the TIFF red carpet and talk to the press about her being asked to be a producer on the upcoming Sidney Poitier documentary, Sidney. She mentioned how much of a pleasure it was to be a part of a film featuring someone she admired so much.
The fans went wild seeing the beautiful Jennifer Lawrence looking gorgeous after having her child who is now six months. She glowed on the carpet and spoke briefly about the film Causeway.
And who can forget all of the fine gentlemen who graced the TIFF 2022 red carpet!
Due to the success of the first Knives Out film, Netflix jumped into place to create a much-anticipated sequel.
It was great to see the celebrities on the carpet showcasing their films and watching a few films online. In addition, there were quite a few female directors premiering their films at TIFF which is awesome for women in film. I was fortune enough to cover films by five of the female directors. Keep an eye out for the following films – the five by women are in bold:
- Causeway – directed by Lila Neugebauer and starring Jennifer Lawrence
- The Fabelmans – directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Seth Rogan and Michelle Williams
- Sidney – directed by Reginald Hudlin and produced by Oprah Winfrey
- Alice Darling – directed by Mary Nighy and starring Anna Kendrick
- Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery – starring Daniel Craig, Leslie Odom, Janelle Monae, Kate Hudson, Ed Norton, Kathryn Hahn
- My Policeman – Harry Styles, Rupert Everett
- On the Come Up – directed by Sanaa Lathan
- Nanny – directed by Nikyatu Jusu and starring Anna Diop, Michelle Monaghan, Sinqua Walls, Zephani Idoke
- The Whale – directed by Darren Aronofsky and starring Brendan Fraser
- Raymond and Ray – directed by Rodrigo Garcia and starring Ethan Hawke, Maribel Verdu, Ewan McGregor, Sophie Okonedo, Vondie Curtis Hall
- The Son – directed by Florian Zeller and starring Hugh Jackman, Laura Dern
- The Woman King – directed by Gina Prince- Bythewood and starring Viola Davis, Lashana Lynch, John Boyega, Sheila Atim and Thuso Mbedu
Now that the world has a bit of a handle on COVID-19, I look forward to attending other amazing and groundbreaking film festivals like TIFF this year and in 2023, and even more exciting is that there are more women directors to watch for in the coming years. If you have not yet attended, make the effort to do so next time!
(Photo Credits: Judith Davis)
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