State of the Festival: Paradoxes of Scale — TIFF 2021

State of the Festival: Paradoxes of Scale — TIFF 2021
Above: Steven Soderbergh’s Kafka (1991)In her essay “On Criticism,” Abby Sun notes: “Film festivals are equally sites of inclusion and exclusion, of abundance and scarcity. In fact, they thrive off these paradoxes.” This seems to be the case at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), where an ongoing tension between commercial aspirations and professed values tends to yield more breadth than depth. Once called the Festival of Festivals, TIFF started out in 1976 as a showcase of the best titles from other international film festivals. A bit of borrowing from earlier fests like Berlinale and Cannes continues to this day. At the same time, overlapping dates with fall rivals like Venice and Telluride—and the New York Film Festival following closely behind—charge TIFF with the competitive urgency to premiere A-list titles first. In the last few years, the presentation of the TIFF People’s Choice Award to the most
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