TIFF announces Rising Star Programme to promote Canadian talent abroad

TIFF announces Rising Star Programme to promote Canadian talent abroad

Cameron Baily at TIFF 2010 (Image: Karon Liu) 

Late last week, the Toronto International Film Festival announced a new program designed to launch Canadian careers into international markets. Beginning at this September’s TIFF, the Rising Star Programme will showcase four up-and-coming Canadian actors and connect them with established Canadian talent with successful careers abroad (we’re betting the lion’s share are in the U.S.).

Festival co-director Cameron Bailey points out that filmmaking in Canada has long resisted a star system—one that grooms specific stars over others for box office success—unlike that which exists in Hollywood. Since TIFF itself is dedicated to “presenting the best of international and Canadian cinema to film lovers,” Bailey says the new programme is an important leg-up for Canadians in an U.S.-dominated industry. “TIFF’s Rising Stars aims to find Canada’s most promising actors and give them the professional tools and contacts they need to break big.” Karen Bruce, TIFF’s director of Canadian initiatives, mirrors Bailey’s optimistic sentiment: “We are proud of the success some Canadian actors have had in Hollywood, Bollywood, the U.K. and Hong Kong. Now we want to see Canada’s film industry crossing borders in the same way and playing a leading role in the world’s film industry.”

Looking back, we see that TIFF has had some success as a launching pad for Canadian actors—Molly Parker in Lynn Stopkewich’s Kissed, Sarah Polley in Atom Egoyan’s The Sweet Hereafter, Allie McDonald and Noah Reid in Michael McGowan’s Score: A Hockey Musical—but judging by how long it took us to find those examples, this program is long overdue.