After 25 years, Toronto International Film Festival lead programmer Steve Gravestock has decided to retire at the end of 2022.
Gravestock oversaw the organization’s Canadian programming initiatives, including Canada’s Top Ten film selection and the See the North program, a free year-round showcase of local classics. As Festival programmer, he has been selecting Canadian feature films since 2004 and was responsible for selections from the Nordic region.
Many films he has programmed have been nominated for the Oscars, including that of Petter Næss Ellingby Mikael Hafstrom Badby Denis Villeneuve Firesby Philippe Falardeau Mr. Lazharby Susanne Bier In a better world — which won the Oscar for best foreign language film in 2011 — and Joachim Trier The worst person in the world.
Gravestock also edited TIFF’s monograph series on Canadian films in partnership with University of Toronto Press. In 2005 he programmed the Canadian retrospective on Toronto filmmaker Don Owen, as well as Dialogues, a series of interviews that ran at the festival for almost a decade and included John Sayles, Friðrik Þór Friðriksson, Sally Potter, Tim Roth, John Waters, Sylvia Chang, and Guy Maddin.
“Steve Gravestock is one of a kind and that’s why we love him,” said TIFF CEO Cameron Bailey. “His knowledge of Canadian and Nordic cinema is unparalleled, as is his commitment to filmmakers.”
Of his time at TIFF, Gravestock said, “One of the first times I ventured into Toronto alone from the suburbs was to see Jean-Luc Godard present Breathless at the Festival of Festivals in 1978. I remember someone in the audience asking Godard what the meaning of life was and the programmer joked that he was Godard, not God. I was at the back of the Bloor cinema balcony, so I couldn’t really tell who the programmer was. I had no idea what a programmer was or what they did, but to me it seemed like the coolest and most fun job imaginable. And so it was – more than I could have imagined. I got to travel across Canada and around the world, see a ton of great movies, meet amazing artists, publish books, walk through volcanic ash, see geysers and eat free cheese with the elite of Canadian cinema .
As previously announced, Anita Lee, TIFF’s new Director of Programming, along with Kelly Boutsalis, Associate International Programmer, Canadian Features and Ravi Srinivasan, Senior Director, Festival Programming, will continue TIFF’s commitment to celebrate and elevate programming. Canadian. Following Gravestock’s departure, TIFF will reveal details about a series of White Cards – a selection of films that are personally important to him – that he is set to screen for TIFF Bell Lightbox in 2023.