33rd Toronto International Film Festival

USA, September 4 - September 13 2008

The jury

Jonathan Rosenbaum (US), Nick Roddick (), Elie Castiel (Canada), Ranjita Biswas (India), Pablo Scholz (Argentina), Kim Linekin (Canada)

Awarded films

Launched 32 years ago as a festival showcasing the best films from other festivals around the world, the Toronto International Film Festival was originally known as “The Festival of Festivals” to signal its cinephiliac agenda, which it retains in many ways. Held in a Canadian city whose film audience is already quite large, the festival has grown substantially in size and perceived importance at the same time that it has gradually become more mainstream. Its overall focus is still on international and independent filmmaking, although significantly the only programs that are denied press screenings and repeat screenings for the public are experimental films. Very much a populist festival according to the vision of its co-founder, the late Dusty Cohl (1929-2008), and boasting exceptional crowd control, it continues to flourish—currently spread out in many different parts of the city, but eagerly awaiting more centralized headquarters at the downtown Bell Lightbox, a huge building still under construction.

Today movie stars dominate the press conferences along with directors, and despite the absence of competitive prizes (apart from an Audience Award and a couple of juries, devoted respectively to Canadian films and films by promising filmmakers), the festival is widely considered to be the most important high-profile film festival in North America — less prestigiouse than the one in New York (though generally showing over ten times as many films), and less industry-oriented than the one in Sundance, but still the central film event of the year for a good many people. (Jonathan Rosenbaum)