Spike Lee Launches Toronto Film Festival With Pandemic Hit With Online Premiere


A file photograph of Spike Lee at an event. (Image courtesy: AFP)


  • Spike Lee kicked off a unique Toronto Film Festival this year
  • Small crowds gathered in drive-ins, a lakeside outdoor screen
  • Various celebrities will attend TIFF’s online talks and galas

The Angels:

Spike Lee kicked off a one-of-a-kind Toronto Film Festival on Thursday with a tribute to black victims of police violence, as his latest film premiered online and at drive-in screenings due to the coronavirus. With a pandemic and a closed Canadian border forcing Hollywood stars and the media to stay home, North America’s largest film festival has been quick to find socially distanced ways to present this year’s programming. . Even the directors have stayed away, which means that David Byrne’s American Utopia – Spike Lee’s film version of the Talking Heads musician’s Broadway concert – officially opened the festival by streaming on the web.

The unusual format did not affect the reviews

Deadline Hollywood said the film “is not just a concert documentary, but also a protest film that reaffirms life, produces euphoria and energizes the soul and asks us to rise up against our own complacency.” In the film, which combines themes of community and fighting injustice, Spike Lee projects images of Eric Garner, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, all African-Americans killed by the police, over a moving protest song.

The anthem features a call-and-response song of “Say her name” for each black victim, a topic veteran filmmaker Lee has covered extensively throughout his long career. “It seems like this particular year, what he’s been saying for decades is resonating with a lot more people,” festival co-director Cameron Bailey told AFP. “It looks like it’s exactly the movie at the moment … It gives David and Spike a chance to really focus the audience’s attention on issues of anti-black racism, from the Black Lives Matter movement,” he added.


The Toronto International Film Festival typically draws half a million attendees to its celebrity-filled red carpets and world premieres, which include Oscar hopefuls and obscure auteur films in hopes of finding distributors. This year, due to COVID-19, only film lovers who already reside in the city can attend physical screenings at a dramatically reduced festival that has only 50 feature films on display, compared to a typical 300.

On Thursday, small crowds gathered at drive-ins, a lakeside outdoor screen, and a handful of indoor cinemas with limited capacity to see Spike Lee’s film as well as the French debut. Spring Flower by Suzanne Lindon. In a separate talk from the online festival, Oscar-winning actress Viola Davis faced racism and typecasting in Hollywood, telling audiences that movies with black stars “don’t always have to be a ‘Boyz n the Hood'” .

His comments come days after the Academy changed the Oscar for best picture rules to require minimum levels of diversity. Davis noted that while in the 1960s “only one black actor had an agent, Sidney Poitier,” today’s pioneers have benefited from diverse roles on broadcast platforms and a cultural zeitgeist “screaming and absolutely demanding” more representation.

‘Really bad microbes’

In one of several films that were released online to Canadian web users, legendary director Werner Herzog, fresh out of his on-screen role in the Star Wars series. The mandalorian – explore the real cosmos in a meteorite documentary Fireball: Visitors from Darker Worlds. Werner told AFP that his research led him to conclude that extraterrestrial life is likely to exist: “Some (meteorites) carry sugar, a building block of life, so there is very likely something out there,” but that fears of a fatal blow were exaggerated.

“Maybe in two million years we will be hit by something big … let’s face it, so what?” he added, citing threats of nuclear war, a major volcanic eruption or “some really bad microbes.” With the current pandemic shutting down other festivals like Cannes and Telluride, film icons like Martin Scorsese, Anthony Hopkins, Nicole Kidman and Kate Winslet have been brought together virtually to power Toronto with online talks and galas, through September 20. “I wanted to do a festival, “Bailey said. “It’s important to our audience, and I think we all need some inspiration that art can provide.”

(This story has not been edited by GossipMantri staff and is automatically generated from a syndicated feed.)


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