Review: ‘C’mon C’mon,’ starring Joaquin Phoenix, Gaby Hoffmann and Woody Norman

November 19, 2021

by Carla Hay

Joaquin Phoenix and Woody Norman (center) in “C’mon C’mon” (Photo by Tobin Yelland/A24)

“C’mon C’mon”

Directed by Mike Mills

Culture Representation: Taking place in various U.S. cities (including Los Angeles, New York City and New Orleans), the dramatic film “C’mon C’mon” features a predominantly white cast of characters (with a few African Americans and Latinos) representing the working-class and middle-class.

Culture Clash: A never-married, middle-aged bachelor, who works as a radio producer, finds out for the first time in his life what it feels like to be a parent when he takes care of his estranged sister’s 9-year-old son for an extended period of time.

Culture Audience: “C’mon C’mon” will appeal primarily to people who are interested in watching emotionally intimate, well-acted movies about family relationships.

Woody Norman and Gaby Hoffmann in “C’mon C’mon” (Photo by Tobin Yelland/A24)

What does “family” mean to you? The answer depends on who’s answering the question. The dramatic film “C’mon C’mon” (written and directed by Mike Mills) is an emotional portrait of three family members coming to terms with their individual identities and what the concept of “family” means to them. The movie also takes an equally impactful, broader look at children’s various perspectives of the world, because the male lead character (who’s a radio producer) travels across the U.S. to interview children about the world for his radio show.

As the three family members who go through various ups and downs in the story, Joaquin Phoenix, Gaby Hoffmann and Woody Norman give noteworthy performances that will make more than a few viewers shed some tears, but not in a manipulative, melodramatic way. The acting in the movie looks natural and somewhat effortless. In some ways, “C’mon C’mon” is a road trip movie, but the real journey is how the three main characters discover new things about each other and themselves.

“C’mon C’mon,” whose cinematography is entirely in black and white, was filmed from November 2019 to January 2020, before the COVID-19 virus infection rate turned into a pandemic. However, the movie seemingly aims not to identify the story by any particular year in the early 21st century. “C’mon C’mon” made the rounds at a few film festivals (such as the Telluride Film Festival, Chicago International Film Festival and New York Film Festival), because of the movie’s pedigree as an awards contender. The entire story of “C’mon C’mon” takes a low-key approach, so don’t expect extreme plot developments or surprising twists to happen.

In the movie, Phoenix is a radio producer named Johnny, who lives in New York City, but he travels a lot because of his job. Johnny is a never-married bachelor in his 40s, he has no children, and he’s currently not dating anyone. Later on in the film, it’s revealed that Johnny hasn’t had a special love in his life for quite some time. He’s essentially “married” to his work. He’s good at his job, but he doesn’t seem emotionally attached to anyone. That’s about to change.

Johnny is currently working on a series that interviews children from all over the United States. In the interviews, Johnny asks them things such as “What do you think about the future?” or “What scares you?” or “What makes you angry?” Sometimes, the children are interviewed with their parents in the room, while other times no adults are in the room except Johnny and a co-worker. Throughout the movie, various children are shown being interviewed by Johnny. Most times, they appear on screen, but other times, Johnny is seen playing back snippets of these audio interviews.

“C’mon C’mon” opens in Detroit, where Johnny is doing some of these interviews. A 13-year-old girl who’s being interviewed says that adults have to pay more attention to what’s around them. Throughout the movie, many of the children’s comments express a hopeful but concerned outlook on life. Many of the kids worry about some of the problems that they have to deal with (a decaying environment, racism, economic insecurities) that they think will become heavier burdens when they are adults.

One day, when he’s in a hotel room, Johnny gets a call from his estranged younger sister Viv (played by Hoffmann), who is is only sibling. Viv, who is a single mother living in Los Angeles, has called to tell Johnny that she needs him to come to Los Angeles to temporarily take care of her 9-year-old son Jesse (played by Norman), who barely knows Johnny. Viv explains that Jesse’s father Paul (played by Scoot McNairy), who moved to Oakland (which is about 370 miles north of Los Angeles), is going through some personal issues, and Viv wants to be there for Paul. Viv and Paul (who were never married) are no longer a couple, and she has sole custody of Jesse.

The conversation is polite but strained. There’s obvious tension between Johnny and Viv, which they don’t want to get into over the phone. However, it’s revealed in this phone call that Johnny and Viv have some lingering resentment toward each other over their mother, who died about a year ago after an extended period of being in ill health. Eventually, viewers find out that Johnny and Viv disagreed over how their mother should be cared for in her final months of life and whether or not taking her off of life support should be an option.

Johnny agrees to put some of his work on hold to go to Los Angeles and look after Jesse. When he arrives at Viv’s home, Jesse is shy with Johnny, an uncle he hasn’t seen for years. However, Jesse is aware that Viv and Johnny have barely spoken to each other and have had an estranged relationship for quite some time. And this family discord isn’t just because of Johnny and Viv’s mother.

The tension between Viv and Johnny is also because Johnny disapproves of Paul. Not everything about Viv and Paul’s history with each other is revealed, but enough comes out in conversations for viewers to find out why Johnny considers Paul to be a disruptive force in their family. It’s implied that Johnny never really thought that Paul was good enough for Viv, especially because of the emotional pain she went through by being in a relationship with Paul.

Paul is bipolar, which is not specifically said out loud in the movie, but it’s implied based on his symptoms and other clues in the movie. For example, Jesse has a children’s book called “The Bipolar Bear Family: When a Parent Has Bipolar Disorder,” written by Angela Ann Holloway. Paul has been in a psychiatric facility before to get treatment for his mental illness.

Paul apparently doesn’t have any close relatives who can look after him, because Viv seems to be the only person in his life who’s taken on the responsibility of getting him the treatment that he needs. And because Paul and Viv were never married and are no longer a couple, it explains the murky situation that comes about when Viv has to make certain decisions about Paul’s medical care. Paul is shown briefly in the movie in present-day scenes and in flashbacks.

Paul is a symphony musician, who moved to the San Francisco Bay Area because he wanted to work for the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra. As Viv explains to Johnny, “the transition fucked him up,” and Paul is having some kind of breakdown. Viv needs to go to the San Francisco Bay Area to see about convincing Paul to check himself into another mental health facility again. She would rather that he get treatment voluntarily, because she doesn’t want to be the one to force him into an involuntary admission to a psychiatric institution.

Meanwhile, Jesse is aware that his father has bioplar disorder, but no one in the family has ever told him any specific details about why Paul’s illness is severe enough that he has to get in-patient treatment for it. (The word “suicidal” is never mentioned to Jesse, but it’s implied that Paul has been a danger to himself.) All Jesse knows is that his father sometimes has to go into a hospital when he has another episode that needs treatment. The stigma of mental illness is realistically portrayed in “C’mon C’mon,” as something that family members feel secret guilt or shame about, because they often try to hide or deny the illness.

During the course of the movie, Viv has to stay in the San Francisco Bay Area longer than she expected. And so, Johnny ends up taking care of Jesse for longer than Johnny expected. The majority of “C’mon C’mon” is about how Johnny and Jesse’s uncle/nephew relationship evolves to the point where Johnny becomes the closet thing that Jesse has to a father figure. At one point, Johnny contemplates whether or not he should move to Los Angeles.

Johnny’s caretaking of Jesse doesn’t happen in one, long continuous stretch. There’s a point in the movie where Viv returns to Los Angeles and then has to go back to the Bay Area again, but Johnny can’t be in Los Angeles because of work commitments. Jesse begs Viv to let him stay with Johnny in New York City and then travel with Johnny on the job. Johnny and Jesse’s travels are not spoiler details, because they’re shown in the movie’s trailers.

Jesse is a precocious and curious child who loves to read. Viv encourages Jesse to be a free thinker and allows him to question things. It’s why Jesse asks Johnny some questions that make Jesse uncomfortable, such as why Johnny isn’t married. Johnny says that he was with someone named Louisa, but she broke up with him. Johnny says he still loves Louisa, who is not seen in the movie.

One question that’s harder for Johnny to answer is why he and Viv stopped talking to each other for a long time. Johnny tactfully explains to Jesse that it’s because he and Viv couldn’t agree on the caregiving for their dying mother. The mother’s cause of death is never mentioned in the movie, but there are flashback scenes of Viv and Johnny visiting their mother on her deathbed.

There were resentments and jealousies between the two siblings before their mother got sick. Viv always felt that she never got the full approval of her mother and that Johnny was the favored child. Johnny felt like Viv’s tension with their mother was the reason why Viv seemed to not be as compassionate with their dying mother as Johnny thinks Viv should have been.

Johnny doesn’t want to badmouth Viv to Jesse, so he doesn’t tell Jesse these things. However, Johnny and Viv do confront their bitter feelings for each other with arguments over the phone. Paul’s current mental breakdown has also triggered bad memories of when Johnny told Viv to break up with Paul in the past, when Viv wasn’t ready to end the relationship. Viv thinks that Johnny meddled too much in her relationship with Paul.

Soon after Johnny begins taking care of Jesse, Jesse tells Johnny that Viv correctly predicted that Johnny would be a little awkward with Jesse, but that Johnny will eventually get used to Jesse. During the time that Johnny spends with Jesse, he finds out that taking care of a child is a lot harder than he thought it would be. Viv has certain bedtime rituals for Jesse that Jesse wants Johnny to do too. Jesse also shows signs of hyperactivity, so Johnny calls Viv for advice on how to get Jesse to go to sleep.

Another thing that Johnny has to learn is how to be a responsible caregiver when it comes to children’s meals. Like a typical bachelor who lives alone and travels frequently, Johnny has a refrigerator that is not stocked with much that’s appropriate for a child. When Johnny takes Jesse with him to go grocery shopping, Johnny gets a scare when Jesse wanders off and Johnny frantically tries to find him.

The movie shows in a lot of tender and quiet moments how this uncle and nephew eventually learn to trust each other, like each other, and eventually become friends with each other. Johnny and Jesse find out that that they have a lot more in common than they originally thought. They both love Viv but they both dislike how she lets Paul’s problems consume her. Johnny and Jesse are also more comfortable talking about things outside of themselves rather than their innermost feelings. When Johnny tries to interview Jesse for his radio show, Jesse is very reluctant and says no.

However, Jesse notices that Johnny likes to make audio diaries, so Jesse starts making his own audio diaries too. Johnny also shows Jesse how to operate Johnny’s professional audio equipment. There’s an adorable scene that takes place on California’s Venice Beach where Johnny and Jesse discover that Jesse not only likes operating this equipment, he could end up having a passion for radio. When Jesse arrives in New York City, Johnny introduces Jesse to two other radio producers who work closely with Johnny: Roxanne (played by Molly Webster) and Fern (played by Jaboukie Young-White), who are both very friendly to Jesse.

One of the most effective aspects of “C’mon C’mon” is how unpretentious it is in showing that learning and protection between adults and children can go both ways. Too often, dramas with a story of an adult taking care of a child for the first time will put an emphasis on what the adult is going to teach the child. However, “C’mon C’mon” shows that Johnny learns a lot from the children he’s in contact with, whether it’s someone he met briefly during an interview, or a nephew who turns out to be a special and unexpected friend. The movie has a pivotal scene in New Orleans that’s an example of how powerful a child’s emotional protection and wisdom can be.

The black-and-white cinematography gives “C’mon C’mon” a timeless vibe to it that looks best in the New York City scenes. In other scenes, such as in the vibrancy of a New Orleans street parade or in the sunny glow of Venice Beach, some viewers might wish that the movie had been in color. The movie’s lack of color doesn’t take away from the exemplary performances and screenplay for “C’mon C’mon,” which have such authenticity, it will resonate with viewers.

In “C’mon C’mon,” Phoenix gives an understated and nuanced performance as a “regular guy” (the type of character that he usually doesn’t play), who finds out from a child that he’s not as emotionally mature as he thought he was. In the role of perceptive Jesse, Norman gives a breakout performance that will stand as one of the best from a child actor in a 2021 movie. Hoffmann brings heartache and grit to her performance as Viv, who feels conflicted and guilty over the messiness in her life, while doing her best to make what she thinks are the right decisions.

“C’mon C’mon” could have been a very sappy movie that goes off in very phony directions. Fortunately, it is not, although some viewers might be a little bored if they’re expecting more exciting action in this movie. As for the movie’s most emotional scenes, there are some genuinely sentimental, tearjerking moments, but this is not a tragic story. There are no over-the-top villains or crazy adventures.

It’s a story grounded in reality about people trying to get through life in the best way that they can. What inspired the title of this movie? It’s from one of Jesse’s audio diary entries, where he says that when unpredictable things happen in life, you just have to “c’mon c’mon.” This human resilience is celebrated eloquently in “C’mon C’mon.”

A24 released “C’mon C’mon” in select U.S. cinemas on November 19, 2021.

2021 Academy Awards: presenters and performers announced

April 23, 2021

The following is a combination of press releases from ABC:

Oscar® nominee Steven Yeun will join the ensemble cast slated to present at the 93rd Oscars®, show producers Jesse Collins, Stacey Sher and Steven Soderbergh announced today. “The Oscars” will air live on Sunday, April 25, 2021, on ABC.

“Surprise! We’re so excited to welcome Steven to the crew, and he completes our Oscars cast. No, really, this is it,” said Collins, Sher and Soderbergh.

The previously announced lineup includes Riz Ahmed, Angela Bassett, Halle Berry, Don Cheadle, Bryan Cranston, Viola Davis, Laura Dern, Harrison Ford, Bong Joon Ho, Regina King, Marlee Matlin, Rita Moreno, Joaquin Phoenix, Brad Pitt, Reese Witherspoon, Renée Zellweger and Zendaya.

Celeste, H.E.R., Leslie Odom Jr., Laura Pausini, Daniel Pemberton, Molly Sandén and Diane Warren will perform the five nominated original songs in their entirety for “Oscars: Into the Spotlight,” the lead-in to the 93rd Oscars. One performance will be recorded in Húsavík, Iceland, and four at the Dolby Family Terrace of the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in Los Angeles. Hosted by actors Ariana DeBose (“Hamilton”) and Lil Rel Howery (“Bad Trip”), the 90-minute “Oscars: Into the Spotlight” will highlight the nominees’ journey to Hollywood’s biggest night, give fans around the world the ultimate insiders’ sneak peek to the party and, for the first time, bring Oscar music to the festivities. The show will feature a special appearance by DJ Tara. “Oscars: Into the Spotlight” will air Oscar Sunday, April 25, at 6:30 p.m. EDT/3:30 p.m. PDT.  

The 93rd Oscars will be held on Sunday, April 25, 2021, at Union Station Los Angeles and the Dolby® Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center® in Hollywood, and international locations via satellite.  “Oscars: Into the Spotlight” will air live on ABC at 6:30 p.m. EDT/3:30 p.m. PDT. “The Oscars” will be televised live on ABC at 8 p.m. EDT/5 p.m. PDT and in more than 200 territories worldwide.  “Oscars: After Dark” will immediately follow the Oscars show.

ABOUT THE ACADEMY
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is a global community of more than 10,000 of the most accomplished artists, filmmakers and executives working in film. In addition to celebrating and recognizing excellence in filmmaking through the Oscars, the Academy supports a wide range of initiatives to promote the art and science of the movies, including public programming, educational outreach and the upcoming Academy Museum of Motion Pictures.

2019 Toronto International Film Festival: TIFF Tribute Gala honorees include Meryl Streep, Joaquin Phoenix, Taika Waititi, Roger Deakins

August 14, 2019

TIFF logo

Meryl Streep (Photo by Rick Rowell/ABC)

The following are press releases from the Toronto International Film Festival:

Joana Vicente and Cameron Bailey, Co-Heads of TIFF, announced that three-time Academy Award winner ​Meryl Streep​ will be honored with the ​TIFF Tribute Actor  Award​, Sponsored by RBC at this year’s new TIFF Tribute Gala awards event. Taking place on Monday, September 9 at Fairmont Royal York, during the 44th Toronto International Film  Festival, the Gala is an annual fundraiser to support TIFF’s year-round programmes and core  mission to transform the way people see the world through film, and to celebrate the film  industry’s outstanding contributors.

With an extensive film, television, and stage career spanning over 40 years, Streep has won  three Academy Awards — for her roles in ​”Kramer vs. Kramer​,” ​”Sophie’s Choice​,” and ​”The Iron Lady”  — and, in 2018, she set an unsurpassed record with her 21st Oscar nomination for her role in “The Post​.” She has been nominated for 31 Golden Globes, winning eight times, and in 2017 she  was the recipient of the Cecil B. deMille Award. Streep currently stars in the Emmy  Award–winning series ​”Big Little Lies​” and will star with Gary Oldman and Antonio Banderas in  Steven Soderbergh’s upcoming film ​”The Laundromat​,” which will have its North American  Premiere at TIFF this September.

“Meryl Streep is undoubtedly one of the most talented and versatile actors of her generation,”  said Vicente. “Her tremendous contribution to cinema, television, and the stage spans five  decades; from her early roles in ‘​The Deer Hunter​,’ ​’Kramer vs. Kramer​,​’ ​and ​’Sophie’s Choice’​ to later  films including ​’The Devil Wears Prada​,​’ ‘The Iron Lady​,​’ ​and ​’The Post​,’ she has portrayed characters  that are as compelling as they are timeless. TIFF could not be more thrilled to honor such a  skilled and exemplary artist.”

Joaquin Phoenix (Photo by Michael Kovac/Getty Images for Grey Goose Vodka)

Joana Vicente and Cameron Bailey, Co-Heads of TIFF, announced that three-time Academy  Award–nominated actor ​Joaquin Phoenix​ will be honored with one of two ​TIFF Tribute Actor Awards​ at this  year’s TIFF Tribute Gala awards event. Taking place on Monday, September 9 at Fairmont Royal York, during  the 44th Toronto International Film Festival, the Gala is an annual fundraiser to support TIFF’s year-round  programmes and core mission to transform the way people see the world through film, and to celebrate the  film industry’s outstanding contributors.

With a wide-ranging career spanning over 35 years, Phoenix has starred in such films as​ “The Master​,” “Inherent  Vice​,​” “Walk the Line​,” ​”Gladiator​,” “To Die For​,” and “​Her.” ​He has been nominated for three Academy Awards for his  roles as Commodus​ ​in ​”Gladiator​,” Freddie Quell in ​”The Master”​ and Johnny Cash in​ “Walk the Line​,” for which he  won a Golden Globe.​​ This fall, Phoenix portrays the title character in Todd Phillips’ ​”Joker​,” ​a standalone origin  story ​that will have its North American Premiere at TIFF.

“Displaying both raw instinct and consummate technical skill, Joaquin Phoenix is the complete actor, and one  of the finest in contemporary cinema,” said Bailey. “Over three decades, he has brought a piercing truth to each  groundbreaking role. TIFF is thrilled to be celebrating an artist of his caliber with this inaugural award. We can’t  wait for Festival audiences to experience his electric turn in ​Joker​.”

“We’re thrilled that the extraordinarily talented Joaquin Phoenix will be honored at the TIFF Tribute Gala this  September,” said Vicente. “His outstanding contribution to cinema acts as a testament to TIFF’s core mission  to transform the way people see the world through film.”

Director Todd Phillips’ “J​oker​” centers on the iconic arch-nemesis and is an original, fictional story not seen  before on the big screen. Phillips’ exploration of Arthur Fleck, who is indelibly portrayed by Phoenix, is of a man  struggling to find his way in Gotham’s fractured society.

Taika Waititi (Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios/Disney)

Joana Vicente and Cameron Bailey, Co-Heads of TIFF, announced that  Academy Award–nominated New Zealand filmmaker ​Taika Waititi​ will be honored with the  TIFF Ebert Director Award​ at this year’s new TIFF Tribute Gala awards event. The award  recognizes and honors a distinguished filmmaker for their outstanding contribution to cinema. Taking place on Monday, September 9 at Fairmont Royal York, during the 44th Toronto  International Film Festival, the Gala is an annual fundraiser to support TIFF’s year-round  programmes and core mission to transform the way people see the world through film, and to  celebrate the film industry’s outstanding contributors.

“Taika Waititi is one of the most innovative, bold, and exciting filmmakers working in the  industry right now,” said Vicente. “TIFF is thrilled to honor his extraordinary talent with the  inaugural TIFF Ebert Director Award.”

“Taika Waititi is the rock star cinema needs right now,” said Bailey. “His films are full of  razor-sharp humor, faultless style, and boundless generosity. Somehow he manages to stuff  both indie hits and massive crowd-pleasers with big, radical ideas. We’re thrilled to be  premiering his latest, “​Jojo Rabbit​,” at the Festival and to hand over the inaugural TIFF Tribute  Award for direction to this 21st-century master.”

Waititi directed the superhero film ​”Thor: Ragnarok,​” which made over $850 million at the box  office worldwide, and will write and direct the upcoming ​”Thor: Love and Thunder.​” His films as  writer-director also include ​”Boy​” and ​”Hunt for the Wilderpeople​,” and he co-wrote, co-directed, and  co-starred in ​”What We Do in the Shadows​” with Jemaine Clement. He was nominated for an  Academy Award for his short ​”Two Cars, One Night​.” Waititi’s upcoming anti-hate satire “Jojo  Rabbit​,” starring Roman Griffin Davis, Thomasin McKenzie, Rebel Wilson, Stephen Merchant, Alfie  Allen, Sam Rockwell, Scarlett Johansson, and Waititi himself, will have its world premiere at TIFF  and will be released by Fox Searchlight on October 18, 2019.

The ​TIFF Ebert Director Award ​is an evolution of the organization’s former Roger Ebert Golden  Thumb Award, which celebrated a remarkable filmmaker who reflected renowned film critic  Roger Ebert’s passion for cinema. Past recipients include Claire Denis, Martin Scorsese, Ava  DuVernay, Agnès Varda, and Wim Wenders.

Roger Deakins (Photo by Rick Rowell/ABC)

Joana Vicente and Cameron Bailey, Co-Heads of TIFF, announced that Academy  Award-winning cinematographer Roger Deakins will be honored with the ​Variety​ Artisan Award​ at this year’s  TIFF Tribute Gala awards event. The award recognizes a distinguished filmmaker who has excelled at their  craft and made an outstanding contribution to cinema. Taking place on Monday, September 9, at the Fairmont  Royal York, during the 44th Toronto International Film Festival, the Gala is an annual fundraiser to support  TIFF’s year-round programmes and core mission to transform the way people see the world through film, and  to celebrate the film industry’s outstanding contributors. ​Variety​ is proud to be the exclusive trade media  partner on the event.

Deakins won an Academy Award for ​Blade Runner 2049​, and was nominated for an additional 13 Oscars for his  work on films including ​”The Shawshank Redemption”; “O Brother, Where Art Thou?”; “No Country for Old Men”; “Skyfall​” and ​”Sicario​.” His illustrious career, spanning more than 40 years, also includes four ASC Award wins for  Outstanding Cinematography, four BAFTA Awards, and collaborations with directors such as the Coen  brothers, Ron Howard, Martin Scorsese, Angelina Jolie, Sam Mendes and Denis Villeneuve, making him one of  the most sought-after cinematographers in the industry. Deakins’ latest work will be featured in the upcoming  film ​”The Goldfinch.” Directed by John Crowley and starring Ansel Elgort, Oakes Fegley, Aneurin Barnard, Finn  Wolfhard, Sarah Paulson, Luke Wilson, Jeffrey Wright and Nicole Kidman, ​”The Goldfinch”​ will have its World  Premiere at TIFF and will be released by Warner Bros. Pictures on September 13, 2019.

“For nearly half a century, the name Roger Deakins has exemplified both breathtaking cinematic beauty and  fearless cinematic risk-taking,” said Steven Gaydos, EVP of Content at ​Variety​. “From his early-career work on  music docs and small British features through his decades of stellar work for the world’s greatest filmmakers,  Deakins has carved out a unique place in the history of cinematography. Capable of exquisite painterly  flourishes as well as groundbreaking technological advances in the cinematographic arts, his Oscar win for ‘Blade Runner 2049​’ capped a run of nominations that included everything from blockbusters like ​’Skyfall​’ to Best  Picture winners like ​’No Country for Old Men​.’This year, with both ​’The​ ​Goldfinch’​ and ​’1917′ on the horizon,  Deakins continues to dazzle and inspire as he pushes the boundaries of his craft and helps make masterpieces  with equally fearless auteurs.”

TIFF previously announced that ​Participant  Media​ will receive the ​TIFF Impact Award​, accepted by Founder and Chairman Jeff Skoll and CEO David Linde.  The recipient of the inaugural ​Mary Pickford Award​ supported by MGM, honoring a female emerging talent in  the industry in celebration of United Artists’ 100th anniversary, will be announced in the coming days.*

Mati Diop (Photo by Huma Rosentalski)

*August 20, 2019 UPDATE:  Joana Vicente and Cameron Bailey, Co-Heads of TIFF, today announced director ​Mati Diop​ as the  inaugural recipient of the ​Mary Pickford Award​ supported by MGM, to be presented at the TIFF Tribute Gala on  Monday, September 9. The award, named in honor of Toronto native Mary Pickford, recognizes an emerging  female talent who is making groundbreaking strides in the industry. Pickford was the pioneering actor,  producer, and Co-Founder of United Artists, and the award is being launched in conjunction with United Artists’  centennial this year. The creation of the award follows TIFF’s continued commitment to championing women  and diverse voices in front of and behind the camera.

“We’re thrilled to honor the incredible Mati Diop as our inaugural Mary Pickford Award recipient, as United  Artists marks its centennial year,” said Vicente, Executive Director and Co-Head of TIFF. “She is a vibrant and  important new voice within the industry and one to watch closely.”
“Mati Diop’s film ‘Atlantics’ is a profound and unsettling work of art,” said Bailey, Artistic Director and Co-Head  of TIFF. “We know this is just the start for such an original and authentic voice, and we’re delighted to celebrate  her success at this year’s TIFF Tribute Gala.”
“Like Mary Pickford, Mati Diop has demonstrated her trial-blazing influence both in front of and behind the  camera, making her the ideal inaugural awardee.  We look forward to partnering with TIFF to honor Pickford’s  legacy and United Artists in celebration of their 100th year,” said Jonathan Glickman, President of MGM  Studios’ Motion Picture Group.
She has directed the short films ​”Atlantiques​,” “Big in Vietnam​,” and the documentary ​”A Thousand Suns”​ — all of  which played the Festival — as well as ​Snow Canon​ and ​Liberian Boy​. ​”A Thousand Suns”​ was presented by Claire  Denis in 2013 as part of TIFF’s year-round Cinematheque programme. In 2019, Diop became the first Black  female director to screen a film in competition at the Cannes Film Festival with her debut feature ​”Atlantics​,” which was based on the short ​”Atlantiques​” and went on to win the prestigious Grand Prix at the festival. The  film, written by Diop and Olivier Demangel, stars Mama Sané, Amadou Mbow, Ibrahima Traoré, Nicole Sougou,  Amina Kane, Mariama Gassama, Coumba Dieng, Ibrahima Mbaye, and Diankou Sembene. ​”Atlantic”s​ will have its  North American Premiere at TIFF and will be released by Netflix later this year. The film is produced by Les  Films du Bal, Cinekap and FraKas.
Of all Festival titles in this year’s lineup, 36% are directed, co-directed, or created by women, and women  comprise half the Festival’s programming team. Following the organization’s signing of the 50/50×2020 pledge  at last year’s Festival, TIFF has steadfastly worked to integrate responsible data management and practices to  understand the diversity and inclusion of its film programming. TIFF gave filmmakers the opportunity to  self-identify to inform gender representation in the Official Selection. As part of TIFF’s Share Her Journey  campaign, the organization will continue to provide over 120 female creators free access to TIFF’s Industry  Conference and year-round programming. The overall number of speakers at this year’s Conference represents  a 50/50 gender split, as do TIFF Talent Development initiatives such as TIFF Studio, Filmmaker Lab, and TIFF  Rising Stars.
Mary Pickford was the highest-paid actor — male or female — during the late 1910s and was a savvy  businesswoman who helped shape the industry as we know it today. In 1919, she revolutionized film  distribution by partnering with Charlie Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks, and D.W. Griffith to form United Artists.  Pickford, who also went on to co-found what is today the Motion Picture & Television Fund and the Academy of  Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, continued to be a part of United Artists through the early 1950s. The award  will be supported by MGM Studios, whose retains the United Artist library as part of its global film and  television library of content.

The 44th Toronto International Film Festival runs September 5–15, 2019.

For information on purchasing a table for the TIFF Tribute Gala, please contact ​development@tiff.net​.

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About TIFF 

TIFF is a not-for-profit cultural organization whose mission is to transform the way people see the world  through film. An international leader in film culture, TIFF projects include the annual Toronto International Film  Festival in September; TIFF Bell Lightbox, which features five cinemas, major exhibitions, and learning and  entertainment facilities; and innovative national distribution program Film Circuit. The organization generates  an annual economic impact of $189 million CAD. TIFF Bell Lightbox is generously supported by contributors  including Founding Sponsor Bell, the Province of Ontario, the Government of Canada, the City of Toronto, the  Reitman family (Ivan Reitman, Agi Mandel and Susan Michaels), The Daniels Corporation and RBC. For more  information, visit tiff.net.    About ​Variety  Variety​ has been the seminal voice of the entertainment industry for 114 years and counting. Featuring  award-winning breaking-news reporting, insightful award-season coverage, must-read feature spotlights, and  intelligent analysis of the industry’s most prominent players, ​Variety​ is the trusted source for the business of  global entertainment. Read by a highly engaged audience of industry insiders, ​Variety’s​ multi-platform content  coverage expands across digital, mobile, social, print and branded content, events, and summits.    Follow Variety on Facebook at facebook.com/variety, Twitter @variety, and Instagram @Variety. The Variety  Group — Variety, Variety.com, Variety Insight, and Indiewire — is owned by Variety Media, LLC, a division of  Penske Media Corporation.

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