City Nation Place Americas is a gathering of enlightened CMOs, city planners, civic leaders and place makers in New York on June 14 and 15. As a presenting sponsor of the event, we’re previewing some of our most esteemed speakers, starting with the man synonymous with the Toronto International Film Festival.
SPEAKER Cameron Bailey, Artistic Director, Toronto International Film Festival
SESSION The Secret Power of Events, Festivals and Experiences
By Chris Fair
Cameron Bailey shares his experiences in fusing the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) with the city’s place brand. On Thursday, June 15, hear him speak about the power of scaling an annual event into a year-round phenomenon, and learn how creating events that attract national and international audiences can showcase your destination’s assets. He should know: TIFF attracts half a million people to Toronto every September and contributes more than $200 million to the city’s economy.
How does TIFF show off Toronto as a good place to work, live and visit?
The Toronto International Film Festival is a direct flight away from Los Angeles, London, Beijing, Tokyo and all the rest of the world’s major film cities. We’ve got a wide range of hotels right in the heart of Festival Village, plus a restaurant scene to rival much larger global capitals. Every September we show off the best of Toronto, and it doesn’t hurt that the weather is at its best at that time of year.
It’s often said that TIFF is more than those 11 days. It’s a local institution synonymous with the city as much as the Royal Ontario Museum or the NBA Raptors. At what point did the festival stop being a festival and became a city attraction?
Our founders launched TIFF as a public festival, and it was embraced by the Toronto public almost from the very beginning. Early successes like the world premiere of The Big Chill in 1983 and The Princess Bride in 1987 helped the city and the whole country take pride in Toronto’s growing reputation on the world stage.
What is TIFF doing to further infuse itself into Toronto and transcend its “film festival” box?
Our Cinematheque, Film Reference Library and TIFF Kids Festival helped show that we had much more to offer than just the Festival in September. But it was the opening of TIFF Bell Lightbox in 2010 that really took us to a new level. Now, every day of the year we have films on our five screens, talks going on, and people of all ages in the building learning about the art and the magic of the movies.
What is your recommendation for other festivals looking to embed themselves into local, civic tapestry?
For us, it all comes back to audience. We do everything we can to understand what our audience seeks from us, and to deliver memorable experiences for them at all times.
What is your favorite city-based public festival—other than TIFF, of course?
In Toronto, I’m a big admirer of Luminato, Manifesto and Nuit Blanche for their ability to make groundbreaking art accessible to the whole city. Beyond that, I’ve been attending the Berlinale in Berlin for over 20 years and love how it reinvents itself and feels consistently fresh.
Ready to join us? Then head over to the event website to reserve your spot. If you need a bit more convincing, we’ll be featuring session overviews and speaker profiles in the coming weeks here. But don’t wait too long—a gathering this anticipated will sell out quickly.