Interview with TIFF Artistic Director & Co-Head Cameron Bailey

By Leila Monteiro Lins | March 2019

I had the opportunity to chat with TIFF’s artistic director, Cameron Bailey, about diversity in film and television and the project “TIFF Picture Palace”.

There’s been a lot of talk in the past little while for the need for diversity, and I’m not talking gender diversity, I’m talking cultural diversity, race, ethnic diversity. And so I’m asking, why is this so important in this industry?

Cameron Bailey – You know diversity is important in the film industry, in the television industry, because these are incredibly powerful media; they’re influential. We form the way we see the world and the way we see other people often through the media we consume. We all grew up watching sometimes hundreds of hours of television shows every year and dozens of hours of movies. And these are powerful media that sometimes work on us in ways we don’t even realize. We form our image of what’s normal, what a normal family looks like, what a hero looks like, what a villain looks like, what a community looks like from these media; from what we consume. So if they’re not diverse then our sense of what’s normal will reflect that. And if they’re more diverse, and if they are more complex than our sense of what’s normal, then our reality we carry through the world will reflect that too. And because we’re living in complex diverse societies, if there’s a mismatch between what we see when we walk out the door and we walk around our streets and what we have in our heads, that causes some kind of dissonance and that’s hard for people to make sense of and then people begin to do sometimes silly things.

I’ve been trying to follow what’s been happening at TIFF for the last little bit there and I’ve been seeing a lot of the Indigenous stories and it’s really good. One of my favourite, it’s not indigenous, but one of my favorite shows as of late is Kim’s Convenience. It’s funny how you can relate to other communities that aren’t like yours but yet so familiar.

CB: Yeah, exactly. I mean a lot of the stories, a lot of the humour, it’s very common to anybody who- in the case of Kim’s Convenience- if you come from an immigrant family yourself a lot of those things would pop up too. So yeah, I think it’s not just in the film industry, it’s in TV as well as in different forms of content. More and more people are paying attention to this and it’s a great thing.

Video: It is about the “TIFF Picture Palace” – By Leila Monteiro Lins