Chloé Zhao Will Receive TIFF Ebert Director Award During Tonight’s TIFF Tribute Awards Broadcast

So much cultural film programming has been cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic. I cancelled our Ebertfest Film Festival, and it has now been rescheduled for September 8-11, 2021. SXSW and even the global Cannes Film Festival were postponed until next year. Venice and the NYFF are scheduled to proceed in a hybrid fashion. But sadly, Telluride could not. Telluride co-directors Tom Luddy and Julie Huntsinger said in their notice of cancellation: “If the prospect [of a world where gatherings around a shared love of culture is no longer possible] prompts a sense of despair, please advocate and champion the return of our gatherings that provide vital nourishment and oxygen to humanity’s soul.”   

The TIFF Tribute Awards ceremony is an annual fundraiser to support both TIFF’s year-round programming and the organization’s core mission to transform the way people see the world through film. The Awards honor the film industry’s outstanding contributors and their achievements, recognizing leading industry members, acting talent, directorial expertise, new talent, and a below-the-line artist and creator.

“In what has been a challenging year for our global filmmaking community, we’re delighted to partner with Bell Media to unite cinemagoers across Canada, and around the world, to share in our love of film and celebrate the industry’s leading talent,” said Joana Vicente, Executive Director and Co-Head of TIFF. “Featuring incredible career retrospectives along with appearances by extraordinary talent, we’re thrilled to be working with the TIFF team to create the inaugural broadcast of the 2020 TIFF Tribute Awards for viewers in Canada and around the world,” said Randy Lennox, President, Bell Media.

TIFF Ebert Tribute recipients Martin Scorsese (with Roger Ebert), Agnes Varda, Ava DuVernay (receiving Golden Thumb award from Chaz Ebert), Claire Denis (with Robert Pattinson), Taika Waititi (with Guillermo Del Toro) and Wim Wenders (with Michael Barker).

Last year Taika Waititi received the TIFF Ebert Director Award, which celebrates a remarkable filmmaker who reflects Roger’s passion for cinema. In past years, I was privileged to bestow this award, as symbolized by the coveted Golden Thumb, to directors Martin Scorsese, Ava DuVernay, Agnes Varda, Wim Wenders and Claire Denis in Toronto live at TIFF. It is so important for cultural institutions to support each other, and I am pleased to maintain the connection with TIFF to honor filmmakers who have contributed so much to the world. Chloé Zhao’s work continues in the humanistic tradition of our previous awardees. Vicente said Zhao’s upcoming film “Nomadland” reminds us, particularly right now, that cinema has the power to connect us all no matter how far apart we might feel: “Chloé’s work consistently exemplifies her signature flair for authentic, humane, and emotionally intimate storytelling.” 

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