Raoul Peck will give the keynote talk at the Toronto International Film Festival’s Doc Conference.
The filmmaker, who will be in Toronto supporting the world premiere of his James Baldwin film I Am Not Your Negro (pictured), will discuss current racial narratives in America as well as the six-year process behind his doc, which is based on an unfinished work by the late novelist, playwright and activist.
Diversity and racism have become flashpoints for discussion in the industry in the wake of Black Lives Matter activism and the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag. The question of representation in Hollywood will be directly addressed in an on-stage conversation between Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences president Cheryl Boone Isaacs and TIFF artistic director Cameron Bailey as part of TIFF’s seven days of industry programming.
The conversation will likely continue throughout the festival as a handful of prominent films featuring black talent are bowing at TIFF this year, including festival opener The Magnificent Seven, Disney’s Queen of Katwe, and Nate Parker’s Sundance hit The Birth of a Nation, plus a special teaser of 20th Century Fox’s Hidden Figures that will be followed by a Pharrell Williams concert.
Meanwhile, Peck’s film is among three docs screening in Toronto to focus on prominent black historical figures. The other two are John Scheinfeld‘s Chasing Trane: The John Coltrane Documentary (featuring voice-over by Denzel Washington) and Kasper Collin‘s I Called Him Morgan, about be-bop trumpeter Lee Morgan.
As previously announced, the TIFF Industry Conference will also tackle gender equity with a screening of Jigsaw Productions‘ Epix docuseries The 4%: Film’s Gender Problem that will be followed by a Q&A with director Caroline Suh and executive producers Laura Michalchyshyn and Stacey Offman among others.
Another marquee name joining the one-day Doc Conference schedule is filmmaker Jonathan Demme, who will be in Toronto with his Justin Timberlake concert film JT + The Tennessee Kids. The director, who has also helmed concert films for Talking Heads and Neil Young, will discuss approaches to capturing performance and his process of finding the right cinematic style to reflect different performers.
Werner Herzog’s long-time editor Joe Bini, Hoop Dreams helmer Steve James – at TIFF with the doc ABACUS: Small Enough To Jail – and In Exile director Tin Win Naing and producers Yasmin C. Rams and Rodney Charles will also participate in conversations about their work.
Other Doc Conference sessions will cover the state of documentary and virtual reality, the popularity of true crime content, and cinematic storytelling in the mobile and social age.
The latter panel will focus on the CNN-backed independent video network Great Big Story, which collaborates with filmmakers on short-form non-fiction content. GBS exec producer Courtney Coupe, creative director Ben Whitla and director of content/development Matt Drake will be on hand to announce a new commitment to unscripted shorts in partnership with TIFF.
The TIFF Industry Conference runs from September 9 to 15.