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U of T shares global views at Toronto International Film Festival

Experts speak as part of TIFF's Contemporary World Cinema program

TIFF Contemporary World Cinema features premieres from around the globe

While some viewers and lots of paparazzi flock to the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) for celebrity sightings, for many others it’s a unique chance to dive into discussion with directors, producers and researchers offering context for the stories on screen. 

Bringing the ‘international’ spirit of the festival to life, TIFF’s Contemporary World Cinema program features premieres from countries including Brazil, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Tunisia, Qatar, South Africa, Dominican Republic, Peru, Finland, Kenya, Japan, South Korea, India, Iran, Switzerland, Ireland, Norway, the United Arab Emirates and more.

And U of T experts from the Munk School of Global Affairs have been called on to bring a scholarly perspective to the issues and tensions behind these global stories for a second year in a row. Professors interact with audiences following the second public screening of five separate films: speakers include Ron Deibert, Janice Gross Stein, Robert Austin, Ron Levi and Randall Hansen.

(For more on screenings, visit TIFF's listings or consult the Contemporary World Cinema press release.)

Professor Robert Austin is a Munk School expert on East Central and Southeastern European Affairs and political science lecturer. He shared some thoughts on his TIFF experience with U of T News.

What did you discuss at your Contemporary World Speaker series event?
I discussed the Bosnian film “An Episode in the Life of an Iron Picker,” directed by Danis Tanovic.

How did you prepare for your role in the series? Did you get to speak with the director? Watch the movie ahead of time?
This was a great opportunity as Tanovic’s films have played a huge role in my courses. His works on the Balkans have been extremely educational, so I re-acquainted myself with his films and life and then screened the film twice. We also chatted informally prior to the screening.

What did you find most interesting about leading a discussion as part of TIFF?
The film we discussed needed some context for the audience. It was great to explore some of the issues in Bosnia that were brought out by the film. The director made an extremely important social commentary that goes above and beyond the situation portrayed in Bosnia. It was interesting to discuss this and explore the way ahead for the fragile state of Bosnia.