A sign bearing the Toronto International Film Festival logo sits on a fork lift as preparations are made for the festival’s opening night on September 7, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

TIFF stresses ‘zero tolerance’ policy, plans women’s rally in #MeToo era

As the Toronto International Film Festival prepares to kick off Thursday, it’s doing so in a changed landscape .

As the Toronto International Film Festival prepares to kick off Thursday, it’s doing so in a changed landscape — one organizers have responded to with a few powerful additions to the usual mix of glitz and glam.

With initiatives including the Share Her Journey women’s rally, a newly created hotline and an emphasis on its code of conduct, TIFF is making it clear it’s an inclusive and safe space after the tide of sexual misconduct allegations stemming from the Harvey Weinstein scandal last fall.

“We’re making sure that everyone who’s taking part in the festival understands that there’s a standard of behaviour, that harassment and abuse won’t be tolerated and that there are repercussions for that,” says Cameron Bailey, artistic director of TIFF.

“You’re on our ground and there’s zero tolerance,” adds Piers Handling, director and CEO of TIFF.

“You will not be welcomed back if you violate any of these rules.”

This is the first TIFF since the Weinstein scandal last October led to a steady stream of allegations involving many others in the industry and the establishment of the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements to end abuse.

Weinstein has been a fixture at TIFF in the past, using it for the world premiere of films that went on to Oscar glory, including “The King’s Speech,” “The Imitation Game” and “Lion.”

Two misconduct accusations against him, from actresses Mira Sorvino and Montreal’s Erika Rosenbaum, allegedly took place in Toronto hotel rooms during past TIFFs.

TIFF has always had a zero-tolerance harassment policy and a code of conduct, but this year those elements will be more visible through signage around the festival, says Handling. All delegates must also agree to the code of conduct in their accreditation forms, and the press package includes a reminder of it.

“For the first time we actually have a hotline, so if anybody feels that they’ve been harassed and they don’t feel they can approach us, they can go to a third party,” he adds.

The hotline — 1-833-265-9835 — allows callers to confidentially report wrongdoing or unethical conduct.

Handling notes they’ve taken badges away from delegates in the past but that was “more for bad behaviour.”

Related: Harvey Weinstein accused of forcible sex act by third woman

Related: Reports of sex assault in B.C. spike after #MeToo goes viral: Stats Canada

Related: #Metoo movement causing confusion in many men, fear of missteps with women: experts

Perhaps the biggest symbol of solidarity at this year’s festival will be seen on Saturday with the rally by TIFF’s Share Her Journey, a five-year commitment to support women in the industry.

Speakers at the event will include Dr. Stacy L. Smith, founder and director of the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, Oscar-winning actress Geena Davis, and Canadian star Mia Kirshner, who co-founded the #AfterMeToo movement.

“I think that’s a great way to have a visual of women supporting each other and standing up for what they believe in and standing up against any harassment or any roadblocks in the industry that we have,” says Canadian writer-director Jasmin Mozaffari, who is at the festival this year with “Firecrackers.”

Meanwhile, at a pre-rally breakfast, Bailey will pledge TIFF’s commitment to the 5050×2020 initiative that supports gender parity and inclusion in film festivals.

Such initiatives can have a big impact, say those in the industry.

“I think the most important message that kind of stuff sends is that there are groups now behind this new standard that we all have, which is that kind of Harvey Weinstein-esque behaviour is not OK and if you are going to risk acting like that, then it’s no longer one or two fringe, really brave women who are going to come out and say something — it’s a streetful of women,” adds Nikki Saltz, winner of TIFF’s inaugural 2018 Micki Moore Residency for female screenwriters.

This year TIFF has also increased the diversity of its press corps by about 20 per cent, adding up to 200 new journalists from under-represented groups. Inclusion and diversity will also be among the topics TIFF on panels at the TIFF Industry Conference.

Handling notes TIFF has embraced diversity and supported women’s cinema from the very beginning, through programming, seminars, panels and various programs.

This year’s overall TIFF lineup has 34 per cent films by women, up from 33 per cent last year.

“We’d like it to get to 50 per cent but I think the industry has to actually itself step to the plate,” says Handling.

“We can only go so far. More women have to be behind the camera directing films, and then we’ll show them.”

Victoria Ahearn, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

UPDATED: Police looking at other collisions linked to impaired driver who allegedly struck Langley 12-year-old

One of two Friday hit-and-runs the driver is believed to be part of, Langley police say

VIDEO: World Lacrosse Men’s Indoor Championship begins in Langley

Opening ceremony marks start of fifth edition of the championship, which is held every four years.

Late hockey player to be remembered forever with jersey retirement

Jersey wall at the Aldergrove Credit Union Community Centre rink will honour Coleton Nelson

Mystery Langley lands needed for pipeline project left off records for years

The tiny slivers of land were lost due to some kind of error

Sip ‘n’ Dip returns again for adults only at Aldergrove water park

It is the third event of its kind in partnership with Trading Post Brewery

‘I shouldn’t have done it,’ Trudeau says of brownface photo

Trudeau says he also wore makeup while performing a version of a Harry Belafonte song

35 of 87 dogs in 2018 Williams Lake seizure were euthanized due to behavioural issues, BCSPCA confirm

The dogs did not respond to the behaviour modification and remained terrified of humans

‘We still did not get answers’: Vancouver parents demand expulsion after students’ racist video

‘We were unable to get confirmation from the VSB, but he hasn’t returned as of yet,’ says Marie Tate

B.C. drug dealers arrested after traffic stop near Banff turns into helicopter pursuit

Antonio Nolasco-Padia, 23, and Dina Anthony, 55, both well-known to Chilliwack law enforcement

B.C. ‘tent city’ disputes spark call for local government autonomy

UBCM backs Maple Ridge after province overrules city

‘What goes up will come down’: Gas prices spike in Metro Vancouver

Petroleum analyst Dan McTeague says prices will fall Thursday

B.C. MLA calls on province to restrict vaping as first related illness appears in Canada

Todd Stone, Liberal MLA for Kamloops-South Thompson, introduced an anti-vaping bill in April

Most Read