TIFF’s sponsorship tiff

Usually, when we talk about Tiff’s troubles, it’s about Tiff Macklem’s ongoing battle with Canadian inflation. Today, however, we’re looking at a different TIFF: The Toronto International Film Festival. 

What happened: Over 200 actors, directors, and other entertainment industry professionals signed an open letter to TIFF CEO Cameron Bailey asking for the festival to drop RBC as a sponsor due to what they claim is the bank’s “colossal” funding of the oil and gas industry. 

  • Signatories include big names like Mark Ruffalo, Edward Norton, Joaquin Phoenix, and Rachel McAdams—all stars TIFF presumably would like to walk down future red carpets. 

The pushback comes at a tumultuous time for TIFF. Earlier this month, it announced Bell, its leading sponsor for more than two decades, would sever ties at the end of this year’s fest, leaving a $5 million funding gap in its wake.

  • TIFF also paused its relationship with Therme Group, the development company spearheading the controversial redevelopment of Ontario Place.

Why it matters: TIFF is Canada’s biggest film festival and a major driver of the nation’s film economy. As film reporter Barry Hertz wrote in The Globe and Mail, “The health of TIFF is the health of the Canadian film sector.

  • And the Canadian film sector is important to our overall economy. Per the Canadian Media Producers Association, film and TV production contributed $13.73 billion to the GDP between April 2021 and March 2022 and supported 240,760 jobs. 

What’s next: TIFF is reportedly talking to RBC about the letter’s concerns. Though it seems unlikely it will actually drop RBC, Bailey did tell The Globe that after Bell cut and run, the fest was “looking for partners that will actually engage with what moviegoing is like now.”—QH