Steve Gravestock is retiring after 25 years with the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). The festival announced today that the 2022 event would be the last for the outgoing Senior Canadian programmer. Gravestock will retire at the year’s end.
Gravestock leaves a significant legacy for his work with TIFF’s effort to champion Canadian films. He’s championed films like Denis Villeneuve’s Incendies and Philippe Falardeau’s Monsieur Lazhar, which went on to score Oscar nominations after screening at the festival, as well as Canadian voices from coast to coast like last year’s festival breakouts Bretten Hannam (Wildhood) and Thyrone Tommy (Learn to Swim) and Canadian documentaries like Heather Hatch’s Wochiigii Io: End of the Peace, Yung Chang’s This Is Not a Movie, and Alan Zweig’s Coppers. In addition to programming many of the top Canadian feature films at the September festival, Gravestock plays a key role in TIFF’s annual Canada’s Top Ten selections and the See the North series, which runs year-round and brings Canuck classics to the big screen, including many overlooked and hard-to-find gems. He’s also been responsible for much of the Festival’s Nordic programming, including recent hits like Joachim Trier’s The Worst Person in the World.
“Over the last 25 or so years, I have worked with some incredible people,” said Steve Gravestock in a statement. “I was lucky to have great bosses like Cameron Bailey and talented and dedicated colleagues, especially in the Canadian programming department. It was always a thrill to see Canadian filmmakers — from every corner of the country — bring our stories to the screen. I was fortunate enough to work closely with great people around the globe, especially in the Nordic regions, where the film institutes and funds made programming there a great pleasure and privilege, and was always honoured by the faith filmmakers put in us, showing us their films first and trusting TIFF to launch them in to the world — a remarkably easy assignment since Toronto audiences have always been diverse, curious, informed (often better than me), exacting, and always enthusiastic, even on the final Friday of the Festival. A special shout-out to the colleagues I worked with the longest: Agata Smoluch Del Sorbo, Lisa Haller, and Magali Simard, who always made the job fun.”
“Steve Gravestock is one of a kind and that’s why we love him,” added TIFF CEO Cameron Bailey in a statement from the festival. “His knowledge of both Canadian and Nordic cinema is unsurpassed, as is his commitment to filmmakers. Over the past 25 years, Steve’s selections for the Festival have amplified the early work of Ruben Östlund, Susanne Bier, Joachim Trier, Alanis Obomsawin, Denis Villeneuve, and dozens of other filmmakers long before they were more widely lauded. In addition, Steve’s critical writing, his Cinematheque screenings, and his stewardship of TIFF’s annual Canada’s Top Ten have illuminated cinema’s northern hemisphere like no one else has. As we celebrate Steve’s nearly three decades with TIFF, we salute both his unerring eye and his entirely unfiltered opinions on films. He will always be an inspiration.”
In addition to his programming, Gravestock has contributed a significant body of work on both Canadian cinema and Nordic film in books, magazines, interviews, and essays. TIFF announced a special selection of Gravestock’s favourite films will screen at TIFF Bell Lightbox in 2023.
TIFF previously announced that its commitment to Canadian programming will continue through the recent appointments of Anita Lee as the festival’s Chief Programming Officer, and Kelly Boutsalis as Associate International Programmer, Canadian Features. Ravi Srinivasan will continue to serve as Senior Manager, Festival Programming.