TIFF to hold a rally for gender equality during 2018 festival

On September 8, King West will turn into marching grounds for women to protest inequality in the film industry

In 2017, women made up only 18 per cent of all directors, writers, producers, editors and cinematographers working on the top 250 domestic grossing films in the U.S. – an increase of only one percentage point – according to a report called the Celluloid Ceiling.

While the film industry convenes in Toronto for the 43rd annual Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) in September, organizers plan to draw attention to slow progress on gender equity at the Share Her Journey Rally.

On September 8, the strip of King West closed down to cars and rebranded Festival Street will become the marching grounds for women to gather and share personal stories about their fight for equality in the film industry. The event aims to build on the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, which took the world by storm and exposed the film industry for being a dangerous and unfair place for women.

“To put it bluntly, there is a dark side to the film industry – a culture where sexual assault, gender disparity and sexism run rampant. It’s a culture we cannot and will not accept,” the festival said in a press release. “This is our opportunity to stand side-by-side and speak out against the systemic inequality that has plagued our industry for far too long.”

A rep for the festival said the rally’s lineup of speakers and participants will be announced at a later date.

While this is a first for TIFF, similar events have been taking place at major film festivals. The Sundance Film Festival hosted a Respect Rally in solidarity with the Women’s March in Washington, DC in January and in May, 82 women in the industry, including Cate Blanchett and Jane Fonda, participated in a silent protest on the red carpet at the Cannes Film Festival. The protest was a response to the lack of female directors at the festival.

TIFF’s event is named after Share Her Journey, a five-year campaign for gender equality and justice for women in the film industry that involves mentorship, skills development, media literacy and activities for young people.

The festival announced its first wave of 2018 titles last week. This year’s Canadian films will be announced on July 31.

edintern@nowtoronto.com | @jordgoldman

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