Monday, September 14, 2009


Here we are - right in the (red) eye of the storm.  TIFF 2009: where controversy cornered some celebrities faster than the paparazzi. The kerfuffle surrounding the signatories of the by-now infamous "Toronto Declaration" and its equally notable detractors has deftly taken the spotlight off Tel Aviv and focussed it instead on a timeless and, in my mind, irresolvable juxtaposition - that of big A Art and capital P Politics. 

In response to the "Toronto Declaration", the great filmmaker, Norman Jewison declared yesterday at the Canadian Film Centre that, "We must not politicize art." That the content and quality of a film cannot and must not be linked to the city or state from which it emerged. 

While in theory, I support the contention that a nation's cultural output should not be judged based on its foreign policy, I would just like to weigh in on his one other sweeping point...

Having spent the bulk of my time here at one of the world's largest, most important FILM festivals, NOT SEEING FILMS - but rather meeting, greeting and repeating in the spirit of a candidate on the hustings, I have to respectfully say to Mr. Jewison that our art is, and probably always will be, politicized.

The very fact that exactly one year ago at the same event, this same great man of cinema made a pointedly political speech decrying the Conservative Government for pulling the plug on arts funding - the lifeblood of this country's cinema - further proves that what he's calling for this year is quite impossible, if not contradictory. Art and politics are, in almost every arena and especially here in Toronto, incompatible yet quite unavoidable bedfellows.  

Unlike Drew Barrymore and Ellen Page - who look quite compatible indeed.