TIFF Tribute Awards
Now in their fourth year, the TIFF Tribute Awards, presented this year by Bulgari, returned for an in-person gala during the 47th edition of the Toronto International Film Festival. It was a glam Sunday supper, where film stars mixed with supporters of the festival in the ballroom of the Fairmont Royal York.
The evening serves as the most important fundraiser for the not-for-profit cultural organization, with money raised during the evening supporting TIFF’s Every Story fund, which promotes diversity, equity and inclusion. The night has also become a springboard of sorts for Oscar front-runners to shine: Several past recipients of the awards, including Joaquin Phoenix, Chloé Zhao, Anthony Hopkins and Jessica Chastain, went on to take home Academy Awards. This year, the TIFF Tribute Award for performance went to Brendan Fraser for his role in The Whale, which has already garnered considerable buzz (and a six-minute standing ovation at the Venice film festival).
Sam Mendes took the award for direction (presented to him by Oscar-winning actor Olivia Coleman) and Michelle Yeoh received the inaugural TIFF Share Her Journey Groundbreaker Award for her commitment to the advancement of women in film. The cast of My Policeman was also recognized and the film’s stars, including singer-now-actor-of-the-moment Harry Styles, Rupert Everett and Emma Corrin, were on hand to accept statues.
Others out included TIFF’s board chair and chief executive officer of Universal Music Canada Jeffrey Remedios; fashion plate and fundraiser regular Sylvia Mantella; Bulgari CEO Jean-Christophe Babin; gala co-chairs Ana P. Lopes, Michael Worb and Jennifer Tory; the cast and makers of the film Brother including actor Aaron Pierre and director Clement Virgo; and, of course, TIFF CEO Cameron Bailey.
The Stratford Festival Legacy Gala
The next evening, the Stratford Festival Legacy Gala was back for its 10th installment, after a two-year hiatus. It was a twofold celebration, marking 70 remarkable seasons of the Stratford Festival and honouring Len Cariou, one of Canada’s great stage and screen actors.
A plethora of Stratford artists and others connected to the festival paid tribute to Cariou. Robert Ball and Sandra Caldwell performed songs from Applause, the 1970 musical that Cariou starred in on Broadway alongside Lauren Bacall (he received his first Tony Award nomination for the role). André Sills did a monologue from Coriolanus, which was one of Cariou’s memorable leading roles during his time at Stratford. And later, Dan Chameroy and Eric McCormack presented a lighthearted version of Pretty Women, one of the big songs from Sweeney Todd – the show which won Cariou his first Tony. McCormack, who was honoured at the 2017 gala, also served as host of this year’s sold-out event.
Gala co-chairs Barry Avrich, Wendy Pitblado and David Simmonds gave remarks, thanking major sponsors including Laura Dinner and Richard Rooney, and Mary Ann and Robert Gorlin. It was Antoni Cimolino, the festival’s artistic director, who presented the big award to Cariou, who recalled during his acceptance speech some career highlights, including the moment he received a telegram in Winnipeg in 1962 at the age of 22 with his first Stratford offer from then artistic director Michael Langham.
Proceeds from the gala will support the Stratford Festival’s artistic priorities. Others out included the Honourable Michael Meighen and his wife, Kelly; BMO’s Nada Ristich; comedian and author Rick Mercer, producer Gerald Lunz, and chairman and CEO of George Weston Limited Galen Weston Jr. and his wife, Alexandra.