TIFF artistic director hopeful about 'OscarsSoWhite' debate

TORONTO -- The artistic director of the Toronto International Film Festival says he's frustrated by the lack of diversity amongst this year's Oscar nominees but ultimately hopeful.

See Full Article

"I think the debate that's been started by the second year of 20 all-white nominees is actually a really good debate to have," Cameron Bailey tells The Canadian Press.

"A lot of opinions that just didn't get to be expressed are being expressed, for better or worse, and I think that's a good thing. Because I think there is a structural problem, a fundamental problem in the film industry in particular, and at least people are talking."

Two straight years of all-white acting nominees ignited the #OscarsSoWhite social media campaign and has some big industry names publicly expressing their outrage. Some, including director Spike Lee and actors Will Smith and Jada Pinkett-Smith, also say they're not attending the awards show on Feb. 28.

Bailey doesn't have a position on the so-called Oscars boycott, noting "it's really down to each person."

"If you're lucky enough to get an invitation to the Academy Awards and to have the choice to go, you're already in an elite position, let's remember that," he says.

"But if people choose to boycott to make a statement, then that's fine, that's totally OK. I don't think that there's going to be any kind of mass boycott and I don't know that that is useful in the long run.

"But I think calling awareness to a problem is useful, and you can do that by attending and just talking about it, or you can do it by very vocally staying away."

Bailey applauds recent moves by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to make its membership, governing bodies and voting members more diverse.

"I think they're doing what they can, and they're also -- this is maybe even as important -- they're fessing up, they're saying 'There's a problem and we're not happy about it,"' he says.

"I think for the leaders of that organization to say that is kind of a big deal."

But, as Bailey wrote on Twitter: "Studios, you're next."

"I think a bigger question has to do with the development and financing and production and distribution of the movies that actually will go up for awards, drastically increasing the diversity there," says Bailey.

He feels audiences need to have more awareness when it comes to having empathy and connecting with what they see -- and view as important -- onscreen.

"I think all of us get used to identifying and projecting ourselves into the lives of these kind of white, male heroes who save the day in most cases in most movies," he says.

"Their mid-life crises are seen as what's most interesting. Other experiences are often sidelined, and shifting that I think is the biggest challenge. It's hard to do, it's complicated, it'll be hard and it'll make a lot of people angry just even to talk about it, but I think that's the root of this."

In 1995, Bailey started the Planet Africa program at TIFF, which ran for 10 years. He says TIFF programmers also take steps to ensure there's gender diversity at the fest.

Looking ahead to TIFF 2016, Bailey says the "more important challenge is to try to fully integrate a diverse range of voices into everything."

"So for me it's now more about making sure that our gala lineup and our special presentations, our big red-carpet films, reflect that diversity rather than doing something as a kind of sidebar."


Latest Entertainment News

  • No laughing matter: When exactly did clowns become scary?

    Entertainment CTV News
    NEW YORK -- His nose was round and bright red, his face as white as a sheet. His mouth was surrounded by an exaggerated smear of red makeup and his arched eyebrows hung ridiculously high on his forehead. Source
  • How Lights, IsKwé and other women are making change in the Canadian music industry

    Entertainment CBC News
    As the Canadian music industry gathers in Vancouver to celebrate the Juno Awards this weekend, inclusion, gender parity and the #MeToo movement will undoubtedly be topics of conversation. In the wake of sexual misconduct allegations against EDM DJ Datsik and Jacob Hoggard, the frontman of pop rock group Hedley, as well as lingering concerns over the #JunosSoMale debate of recent years, Canada's music industry is — like many other industries — grappling with how to create a balanced, safe and…
  • Hedley plays final show before 'indefinite hiatus'

    Entertainment CTV News
    KELOWNA, B.C. - Fans of embattled Vancouver pop-rockers Hedley were handing out flyers in support of the band ahead of what could be their last concert in Kelowna, B.C. The group announced they'd be going on an "indefinite hiatus" earlier this month under a cloud of sexual misconduct allegations against frontman Jacob Hoggard. Source
  • Taylor Swift gets political with anti-gun message

    Entertainment CTV News
    Taylor Swift, the American pop star long accused of sidestepping politics to broaden her appeal, waded into the gun control debate Friday with a clear message: guns don’t belong in schools. Swift used her Instagram account Friday to throw her support behind March For Our Lives, an anti-gun protest taken up in the wake of the Parkland, Fla. Source
  • Mister Rogers honoured with postage stamp from the US Postal Service

    Entertainment CBC News
    It's a beautiful day to honour Mister Rogers with a postage stamp. The U.S. Postal Service has released a stamp featuring Fred Rogers, the gentle TV host who entertained and educated generations of preschoolers on Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. Source
  • Remai Modern defends artist whose Indigenous heritage has been questioned

    Entertainment CBC News
    The Remai Modern's director is defending the decision to feature a retrospective of Jimmie Durham's work. The world-renowned artist self-identifies as a Cherokee, but his heritage has been questioned. Much of Durham's work depicts Native American themes and uses materials often found in Indigenous work, like wood and bone, metals, and beads. Source
  • 15th defence lawyer in Suge Knight's murder case leaves

    Entertainment CTV News
    Attorney Matthew Fletcher, left, speaks for his client, Marion "Suge" Knight, right, in a court appearance for a bail review hearing in his murder case in Los Angeles in this file photo from March 20, 2015. Authorities say the high-profile Los Angeles attorney, Fletcher, has been arrested. Source
  • T-shirts, flowers showing support banned at Cosby retrial

    Entertainment CTV News
    PHILADELPHIA - People attending Bill Cosby's sexual assault retrial won't be allowed in with T-shirts, flowers and other items that show support for one side or the other. The trial judge issued the ban Thursday. Source
  • Neil Young says 'Paradox' film has a message about a music crisis

    Entertainment CTV News
    TORONTO -- Beneath all the whimsy in Neil Young's trippy new dystopian Western "Paradox" lies a serious message about a "crisis" facing the music industry, says the Canadian rock great. Actress Daryl Hannah wrote and directed the surreal Netflix film, in which prospectors looking for old technology jam on guitars and ruminate on the importance of music and "the seeds of life" in the Rocky Mountains. Source
  • Fire breaks out on Edward Norton movie set in Harlem, 1 firefighter dies

    Entertainment CBC News
    A New York City firefighter died after he became separated from his unit as they battled a fierce, smoky blaze that broke out in the basement of a former Harlem jazz club being used as a film set. Source