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(Credit: Warner Bros / TIFF)

TIFF 2019: Meryl Streep, Joaquin Phoenix honoured at the Toronto Film Festival

Acclaimed actress Meryl Streep was honoured at the 44th annual Toronto International Film Festival, with the TIFF Tribute Actors Award. This year’s Tiff Tribute Gala event, held on 9 September, is a fund raiser to support TIFF’s year-round activities, as well as an award event celebrating the film industry’s outstanding contributors. 

With an extensive film, television, and stage career spanning over 40 years, Streep has won three Academy Awards — for her roles in Kramer vs. KramerSophie’s Choice , and The Iron Lady — and, in 2018, she set an unsurpassed Hollywood record with her 21st Oscar nomination for her role in The Post. She has been nominated for 31 Golden Globes, winning eight times, and in 2017 she was the recipient of the Cecil B. deMille Award. Streep currently stars in the Emmy Award–winning series Big Little Lies and will appear with Gary Oldman and Antonio Banderas in Steven Soderbergh’s upcoming film The Laundromat, which has its North American premiere at TIFF this year. (Not to mention, of course, that she’s been designated most overrated actress in Hollywood by no less than the US president, but that’s a separate matter.)  Co-head of TIFF Joana Vicente commented, “Meryl Streep is undoubtedly one of the most talented and versatile actors of her generation,” who has “portrayed characters that are as compelling as they are timeless. TIFF could not be more thrilled to honour such a skilled and exemplary artist.”

Joaquin Phoenix was the second recipient of this year’s Tribute Actors Award. Over a 35-year career, Phoenix’s distinctive acting style has brought diverse characters to life, including Johnny Cash in Walk the Line, Freddie Quell in The Master, and Commodus in Gladiator. This year, Phoenix plays the title character in Todd Philips’ Joker, a standalone super-villain origin story, which has its North American premiere at this year’s TIFF.  Cameron Bailey, co-head of TIFF, remarked on the tribute: “Displaying both raw instinct and consummate technical skill, Joaquin Phoenix is the complete actor, and one of the finest in contemporary cinema. Over three decades, he has brought a piercing truth to each groundbreaking role. TIFF is thrilled to be celebrating an artist of his calibre with this inaugural award. We can’t wait for the Festival audiences to experience his electric turn in Joker.” In fact, Joker played to a completely filled theatre at the TIFF press screening, and ‘electric’ doesn’t begin to describe his performance.

The Gala will also present the newly established Mary Pickford Award, honouring a female emerging talent in film. Named for Toronto native Mary Pickford, an actor, producer, and  co-founder of United Artists Studio, the award is intended to highlight women who are breaking new ground in filmmaking. This year’s award was presented to French actor and director Mati Diop, best known for her 2013 documentary A Thousand Suns, described by festival executives as “a vibrant and important new voice within the industry and one to watch closely.”

Her latest work, dramatic feature Atlantique, premiers at this year’s TIFF. The 44th Toronto International Film Festival runs September 5–15, 2019.