A sign bearing the Toronto International Film Festival logo sits on a fork lift as preparations are made for the festival’s opening night on September 7, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

TIFF stresses ‘zero tolerance’ policy, plans women’s rally in #MeToo era

As the Toronto International Film Festival prepares to kick off Thursday, it’s doing so in a changed landscape .

As the Toronto International Film Festival prepares to kick off Thursday, it’s doing so in a changed landscape — one organizers have responded to with a few powerful additions to the usual mix of glitz and glam.

With initiatives including the Share Her Journey women’s rally, a newly created hotline and an emphasis on its code of conduct, TIFF is making it clear it’s an inclusive and safe space after the tide of sexual misconduct allegations stemming from the Harvey Weinstein scandal last fall.

“We’re making sure that everyone who’s taking part in the festival understands that there’s a standard of behaviour, that harassment and abuse won’t be tolerated and that there are repercussions for that,” says Cameron Bailey, artistic director of TIFF.

“You’re on our ground and there’s zero tolerance,” adds Piers Handling, director and CEO of TIFF.

“You will not be welcomed back if you violate any of these rules.”

This is the first TIFF since the Weinstein scandal last October led to a steady stream of allegations involving many others in the industry and the establishment of the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements to end abuse.

Weinstein has been a fixture at TIFF in the past, using it for the world premiere of films that went on to Oscar glory, including “The King’s Speech,” “The Imitation Game” and “Lion.”

Two misconduct accusations against him, from actresses Mira Sorvino and Montreal’s Erika Rosenbaum, allegedly took place in Toronto hotel rooms during past TIFFs.

TIFF has always had a zero-tolerance harassment policy and a code of conduct, but this year those elements will be more visible through signage around the festival, says Handling. All delegates must also agree to the code of conduct in their accreditation forms, and the press package includes a reminder of it.

“For the first time we actually have a hotline, so if anybody feels that they’ve been harassed and they don’t feel they can approach us, they can go to a third party,” he adds.

The hotline — 1-833-265-9835 — allows callers to confidentially report wrongdoing or unethical conduct.

Handling notes they’ve taken badges away from delegates in the past but that was “more for bad behaviour.”

Related: Harvey Weinstein accused of forcible sex act by third woman

Related: Reports of sex assault in B.C. spike after #MeToo goes viral: Stats Canada

Related: #Metoo movement causing confusion in many men, fear of missteps with women: experts

Perhaps the biggest symbol of solidarity at this year’s festival will be seen on Saturday with the rally by TIFF’s Share Her Journey, a five-year commitment to support women in the industry.

Speakers at the event will include Dr. Stacy L. Smith, founder and director of the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, Oscar-winning actress Geena Davis, and Canadian star Mia Kirshner, who co-founded the #AfterMeToo movement.

“I think that’s a great way to have a visual of women supporting each other and standing up for what they believe in and standing up against any harassment or any roadblocks in the industry that we have,” says Canadian writer-director Jasmin Mozaffari, who is at the festival this year with “Firecrackers.”

Meanwhile, at a pre-rally breakfast, Bailey will pledge TIFF’s commitment to the 5050×2020 initiative that supports gender parity and inclusion in film festivals.

Such initiatives can have a big impact, say those in the industry.

“I think the most important message that kind of stuff sends is that there are groups now behind this new standard that we all have, which is that kind of Harvey Weinstein-esque behaviour is not OK and if you are going to risk acting like that, then it’s no longer one or two fringe, really brave women who are going to come out and say something — it’s a streetful of women,” adds Nikki Saltz, winner of TIFF’s inaugural 2018 Micki Moore Residency for female screenwriters.

This year TIFF has also increased the diversity of its press corps by about 20 per cent, adding up to 200 new journalists from under-represented groups. Inclusion and diversity will also be among the topics TIFF on panels at the TIFF Industry Conference.

Handling notes TIFF has embraced diversity and supported women’s cinema from the very beginning, through programming, seminars, panels and various programs.

This year’s overall TIFF lineup has 34 per cent films by women, up from 33 per cent last year.

“We’d like it to get to 50 per cent but I think the industry has to actually itself step to the plate,” says Handling.

“We can only go so far. More women have to be behind the camera directing films, and then we’ll show them.”

Victoria Ahearn, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

New conservation officer in Revelstoke – for now

Zeb Martin has primarliy been hired for monitoring caribou closures

Revelstoke Rod and Gun club supports fishing proposal with conditions

The proposal considers reopening Revelstoke Reach of the Columbia Reach to angling

Jocelyn’s Jottings: A postive take on resolutions

In the last column I wrote I looked back on 2018. This… Continue reading

Growls and Hugs for Jan. 16

Someone or something got your hackles up? Or maybe someone made you… Continue reading

Glimpses of Revelstoke’s past for Jan. 16

125 Years Ago: Kootenay Star, Jan. 13, 1894 Three feet of snow… Continue reading

B.C. opioid crisis to get same world-renowned treatment approach as HIV/AIDS

A program that focuses on treatment as prevention will roll out Jan. 17

First recreational cannabis store in Okanagan has quiet opening near Lake Country

Indigenous Bloom has opened on Okanagan Indian Band land

Former welfare clients still owed money, B.C. Ombudsperson says

Investigation found 2,600 people docked illegally for earning income

Prince George could get province’s second BC Cannabis Store

The first brick-and-mortar government retail location opened in Kamloops on Oct. 17

B.C. chowdery caught up in ‘rat-in-soup’ scandal to close

Crab Park Chowdery will be shutting down Jan. 20

Teen vaping is an epidemic: US government

E-cigarettes are now the top high-risk substance used by teenagers, outpacing cigarettes, alcohol, marijuana

Vancouver councillors unanimously approve motion declaring climate emergency

Vancouver joins cities like Los Angeles and London

Caribou herd disappears from Kootenays after last cow relocated

One cow from the South Selkirk herd and two from the Purcells were moved this week

‘I never said there was no collusion,’ Trump lawyer says

President Donald Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani says he has ‘never said there was no collusion’

Most Read