The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) is one of the most prestigious film festivals in the world. The festival’s major prize, the People’s Choice Award, is awarded to the film with the highest ratings as voted by the TIFF-going audience, which more often than not tend to be the hardest of hardcore film buffs and film journalists. For years, nominees and winners of the People’s Choice Award at this festival will also almost always get nominated for an Academy Award — this includes last year’s TIFF winner, Green Book which also went on to clinch the coveted Oscar.
2019 will bear witness to the unprecedented — a comic book movie will be screened for the first time at the ‘Gala Presentations’ in the festival’s 43 year history. The honour goes to the Martin Scorsese produced, Joker helmed by Todd Philips and starring Joaquin Phoenix. To put things into perspective, not even the likes of The Dark Knight and Logan were part of TIFF’s Gala presentations.
In an interview with the Toronto Sun Cameron Bailey, co-head and artistic director of TIFF explained why Joker was selected.
First of all it’s [Joker] terrific. So it should play on our largest stage. But it’s a really original take on comic book movies and on the Joker character in particular. It’s not based on an existing story, it has one of the greatest actors in modern cinema, Joaquin Phoenix, in the lead, and Robert De Niro is in it as well, one of the best actors that has ever lived.
But it has an interesting tone and approach to it. It’s set in the late ’70s, early ’80s and it feels like it was made then. It’s gritty in its look. It has references to Martin Scorsese’s filmmaking and it feels like a cinematic achievement on a high level. Although it’s working with very populist material, it has great ambition. That’s why it’s a Gala.
Bailey also went on to say that the film is “very cinematic.”
This is great news for comic book movie fans. The past few years have seen an increasing push for comic book movies to receive the recognition they deserve during awards season. The push, of course, started back in 2009 when The Dark Knight failed to receive a Best Picture Oscar nomination. Two years ago, Deadpool became the first comic book movie to receive a Golden Globe nomination in their second-biggest category ‘Best Comedy/Musical.’ In 2018, Logan became the first comic book movie to receive a ‘Best Adapted Screenplay’ nomination at the Oscars and finally, in 2019, Black Panther became the first-ever comic book movie in history to receive a Best Picture Academy Award nomination.
Joker is set to hit Malaysian cinemas on 3 October 2019.