TIFF Builds a New Platform for International Cinema
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TIFF Builds a New Platform for International Cinema

The fest's new international competition tasks an impressive slate of jurors with fattening the wallet of one of 12 lucky filmmakers.

Still from High-Rise.

TIFF CEO Piers Handling took to the stage with a sterling group of international auteurs this morning to promote Platform, the festival’s first ever international competition. Juried by Chinese master Jia Zhangke (after whose 2000 film Platform the slate is titled), leading Polish filmmaker and Oscar nominee Agnieszka Holland, and incomparable French auteur Claire Denis, the competition seeks to bring an edge to a festival that up to now has prided itself on its inclusive, non-competitive spirit.

Without explicitly saying as much, Handling likened Platform to other juried slates like Cannes’s Un Certain Regard sidebar for distinct films from young talents, explaining that the selection comprises filmmakers who are young, emerging, and mid-career. In practice that broad mandate seems to be met by the selections, though we aren’t sure we’d consider a long-time Canadian festival staple like Alan Zweig — competing with his doc HURT, about the rise and fall of coast-to-coast runner and fundraiser Steve Fonyo — mid-career, given he’s already been given a retrospective by Hot Docs.

We’re curious, at any rate, to see how the jury’s deliberations will shake down, given the geographic, formal, and thematic diversity of the offerings. The twelve film slate spans everything from Zweig’s documentary to Gabriel Mascaro’s look at the Brazilian rodeo circuit to festival favourite Ben Wheatley’s much-anticipated High-Rise, an adaptation of the J.G. Ballard novel starring Tom Hiddleston. The winner takes home $25 000 and bragging rights for snagging the fest’s most prestigious honour this side of the Grolsch People’s Choice Award. (They also get the honour of a prize that isn’t named after a beer.)

As for the jury, they won’t be led by a foreperson and they’ll attend the first public screening of each film, taking in Tom Hiddleston’s gorgeous mirrored visage from the crowd. All three jurors expressed excitement at coming back to the festival to serve as stewards for new films. Denis offered that her curiosity for new and exciting contemporary filmmakers has been forged precisely in the course of festivals — and competitions — like this one, which have put her in touch with fellow luminaries like her co-jurors. Holland added that an “eclectic generosity” fuels cinema today, and that programmes like Platform cultivate that eclecticism both in audiences and among filmmakers. Jia, meanwhile, compared being a juror to speed dating, expressing his hope that they’ll find at least one love between them over the next week and change, if not six.