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Standard TIFF programmer, a champion of Canadian movie, retiring

Attendees of the Toronto Worldwide Movie Pageant know senior programmer Steve Gravestock by his identify and by his well-worn Montreal Expos baseball cap. However possibly not by his face of him.

It has been a working gag for a few years for Gravestock, the fest’s shy champion of Canadian movies, to cover his mug behind his cap, in photographs the pageant places in its movie information and in addition on-line.

“I simply did not actually wish to be acknowledged that a lot,” Gravestock confessed throughout a Zoom interview.

He cannot cover anymore. Gravestock, 63, is retiring from TIFF on the finish of this month, after greater than 1 / 4 century with the group, primarily deciding on, nurturing and elevating movies from Canada and Nordic international locations.

The highlight shines brightly on him at TIFF Bell Lightbox as TIFF celebrates his achievements with its annual Canada’s Prime Ten mini pageant (Jan. 26 – 29) that Gravestock helped launch twenty years in the past and has shepherded ever since. This 12 months’s roster contains Clement Virgo’s “Brother,” David Cronenberg’s “Crimes of the Future,” Anthony Shim’s “Riceboy Sleeps” and Chandler Levack’s “I Like Films.”

TIFF can also be screening a particular retrospective collection, Seen the North (on now by means of Jan. 24), that includes a few of Gravestock’s favourite movies and programming selections.

Such twenty first century Canuck classics as Man Maddin’s whimsical memoir “My Winnipeg,” Jennifer Baichwal’s industrial reckoning doc “Manufactured Landscapes” and the late Jeff Barnaby’s Indigenous revenge drama “Rhymes for Younger Ghouls” occurred on Gravestock’s watch at TIFF.

Various his pageant picks have obtained Oscars consideration, amongst them Denis Villeneuve’s “Incendies” and Philippe Falardeau’s “Monsieur Lazhar,” each nominated for the class now referred to as Finest Worldwide Function.

“It was a dream job, and I’m without end grateful to the filmmakers who trusted us with their movies (from Canada and internationally), the audiences who supported them, and the superior individuals I set to work with… Principally, it simply felt like the correct time,” Gravestock stated of his retirement.

He plans to spend extra time at dwelling writing about movie in addition to extra time in bars enjoying guitar and trumpet along with his rock band, the Di Palmas, jokingly titled as a misspelled nod to filmmaker Brian De Palma.

Gravestock, whose favourite adjective is “cool,” seemed extra like a rocker than a filmmaker throughout our Zoom chat. He sported a lumberjack shirt and his acquainted unruly beard and hair, topped with the black fedora that’s his different headgear of alternative.

He’ll be missed on the movie pageant scene, each by his TIFF colleagues and by the various Canadian filmmakers whom he helped carry to better prominence, not solely on this nation however the world.

“Steve is the easiest of old-school TIFF,” stated TIFF CEO Cameron Bailey. “We each started in scrappier days and what impresses me most is how he is stored that wild-man spirit whilst he stored evolving. Positive, he talks like a crusty previous sailor however his insights from him into cinema might be as refined as any elite professor’s.

“He’ll go to the wall for filmmakers he believes in and he is at all times stood up for the distinctive character of Canadian cinema. That he may debate the nuances of Bengali administrators or Filipino artwork home movie simply makes him cooler. As does his wailing of him on the guitar.”

Winnipeg auteur Maddin stated he received to know Gravestock so nicely through the many occasions the filmmaker introduced considered one of his avant-garde gems to TIFF that “he is grow to be an expensive pal, and because of this, I am a pal of the pageant, too .

“I really feel nurtured, a useful assurance for a Canadian filmmaker looking for an viewers on this merciless world. Steve has given us administrators the viewers we want, and given these viewers his hyper-informed context for the work he is programmed. In brief, he is given each filmmaker and viewers all his love and smarts from him! Win-win!”

Gravestock, as normal, downplays his achievements, preferring to explain himself as a part of a Canadian movie programming workforce that additionally contains Ravi Srinivasan, Kelly Boutsalis, Norm Wilner and Anita Lee, TIFF’s new chief programming officer.

Gravestock has had many titles at TIFF through the years — he really began with the fest as a publicist in 1995 — and plenty of duties have been placed on his shoulders. However he is at all times seen himself as extra of a employee than a boss.

“It is rather more enjoyable to simply cope with the movies and the filmmakers than to handle departments. That is cool, too (being the boss), however I’d simply fairly watch motion pictures.”

Over the 19 TIFF September festivals that Gravestock has programmed Canadian content material, selecting from a whole bunch of submissions yearly, he is seen how the nationwide emphasis has shifted from making an attempt to compete with Hollywood to embracing unbiased views and voices, particularly numerous ones in recent times.

“After I began, there was a perception in a extra conventionally industrial {industry} and bigger-budget titles, which nonetheless occurs, however I do not assume it is fairly the identical emphasis because it was… there’s much less angst about it. (Canadian movie) can also be rather more inclusive and with extra numerous sorts of productions than there was once I began, for certain.”

An ironic factor about Gravestock is that though he is an indefatigable supporter of Canuck cinema, he is no fan of the nation’s most profitable dwelling filmmaker, Ontario-born James Cameron.

He stated he hasn’t seen Cameron’s “Titanic” or “Avatar,” two of the high-grossing movies of all time, and he has no intention of seeing “Avatar: The Means of Water,” Cameron’s new “Avatar” sequel that can also be setting box-office data.

They’re simply too massive for Gravestock, who prefers movies instructed on a extra intimate scale. He is additionally not a fan of the Oscars: “I discover that folks speak about Oscars an excessive amount of and there is method higher motion pictures that are not Oscar-nominated.”

All this being stated, Gravestock has seen and likes “each Marvel film,” which has so much to do with the comedian books he learn as a child rising up in Ontario and BC

“ what they are saying: ‘A silly consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds,’” Gravestock joked. “Additionally, I grew up on Marvel Comics.”

One factor has by no means different: Gravestock’s assist for Canadian movies, particularly the low-budget, curious and enveloping type just like the movies of Man Maddin.

“He is stored my identify alive in far-flung locations throughout these too-frequent occasions of industry-enforced inactivity,” stated the appreciative Maddin.

“I shudder to assume the place I would be with out Steve. And I can actually speak baseball with him, too.”

Steve Gravestock’s three favourite Canadian movies scheduled throughout his TIFF tenure

My Winnipeg (Man Maddin, 2007): “I used to be actually pleased with exhibiting this. I simply appreciated the best way he performed with the shape and that you simply could not actually inform what was true and what wasn’t. I feel it is the apex of Man’s profession.”

Manufactured Landscapes (Jennifer Baichwal, 2006): “I feel it is a very Canadian film and one of many nice, nice environmental movies. The directorial voice would not insist that you simply have a look at issues a sure particular method. You are not being instructed find out how to reply.”

Rhymes for Younger Ghouls (Jeff Barnaby, 2013): “Jeff was a extremely distinctive voice. The movie is absolutely putting visually and the story may be very highly effective. The way in which he combined genres to inform a really critical and true story was necessary.”


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