TIFF Adds Juried 'Platform' Section for 2015 Festival

Jia Zhangke's Platform
The Toronto International Film Festival just got a little more competitive! TIFF announced today the addition of the new auteur-driven Platform section in its programming for the 2015 edition of the festival. This new program adds some prestige in the 40th year of the festival, as Platform will offer 12 films of “of high artistic merit that demonstrate a strong directorial vision by significant international filmmakers.” Platform offers a cash prize of $25 000 from a three-person jury. The name for the section is inspired by Jia Zhangke’s film Platform (a TIFF 2000 selection), and as Artistic Director Cameron Bailey notes in the release from the Festival, “It will offer audiences, industry members and media a new opportunity to discover high-quality international cinema while giving the next generation of master filmmakers a platform to reach audiences and increase their global profile.”

The news comes after speculation that TIFF was getting competitive, and, in a sense it does, since this showcase of select films offers a showcase of the best of the best alongside the other range of films that drives audiences wild during the eleven days of the festival. Competition isn’t anything new to TIFF, since jury prizes for Canadian films, shorts, and debut features are staples of the fest, and, presumably, the People’s Choice Award still stands as the award of awards/Palme equivalent since it encompasses the whole festival and is essentially the festival's calling card. 

Frankly, I like the news mostly because it emphasizes world cinema and the artistic merit of film, rather than the gong show of the Oscar race. I’m as guilty as anyone of getting awards-crazy during TIFF, but it was getting out of hand recently with films being reviewed on a scale of one to Best Picture. The addition also means more auteur-driven cinema, or at least a more focused placement of auteur-driven cinema, since the popular Masters sidebar remains in the festival.

Platform joins Primetime as TIFF’s new programmes for 2015. The only other notable change is the collapse of Short Cuts Canada and Short Cuts International into one programme. Don’t worry too much about Canuck shorts being underrepresented, though, since the recent programmers announcement indicates that there’s still the same number of eyes looking at for Can Con as there were the year before.

The programme list for TIFF 2015 is:

City to City
Bringing global cities to Toronto audiences. A snapshot of where’s hot right now. This year’s city: London.

Contemporary World Cinema
Compelling stories, global perspectives.

Directors to watch. The future of world cinema.

Gala Presentations
Movie stars. Red-carpet premieres. Major audience interest.

In Conversation With...
Engaging onstage conversations with leaders in the film industry and beyond. (Formerly titled Mavericks.)

The latest from the world’s most influential art-house filmmakers.

Midnight Madness
The wild side: midnight screenings of the best in action, horror, shock and fantasy cinema.

Directors’ cinema now. This juried section spotlights the next generation of cinema visionaries and features a dozen films, one of which will receive a Best Film prize of $25,000.

Serial storytelling: television in its artistic renaissance.

Short Cuts
The best short films from emerging and established Canadian and international filmmakers.

Special Presentations
High-profile premieres and the world’s leading filmmakers.

TIFF Cinematheque
Curated gems from the history of Canadian and international cinema.

Candid and unscripted: the best non-fiction cinema from around the world.

Family films from around the world: entertaining and illuminating.

Provocative, sexy… possibly dangerous. This is what’s next.

Daring, visionary and autonomous voices. Works that expand our notions of the moving image. (Now includes the former Future Projections programme.)

Programming Subsections:

Contemporary World Speakers
Watch, experience, and participate in post-screening discussions with film directors and subject experts.

TIFF Next Wave
For the next generation of movie lovers: selections approved by our youth-driven TIFF Next Wave Committee.

TIFF runs Sept. 10 - 20, 2015.

What films do you hope to see in Platform this year?