Top Toronto Film Fest Programmer Steve Gravestock Steps Down

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Steve Gravestock, longtime Toronto Film Festival programmer of Canadian and Nordic films, is set to step down.

The TIFF senior programmer will leave the festival at the end of 2022. “It was always a thrill to see Canadian filmmakers — from every corner of the country — bring our stories to the screen,” Gravestock said in a statement on Monday.

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His retirement from TIFF comes amid a continuing programming shake-up in Toronto, with Diana Sanchez, senior director of film, stepping down at the end of 2021, and Anita Lee recently being named as the new chief programming officer.

Lee, along with Kelly Boutsalis, associate international programmer of Canadian features, and Ravi Srinivasan, senior manager of festival programming, will take the lead on TIFF’s Canadian film programming.

In addition, TIFF CEO Cameron Bailey was promoted to the top post at Toronto after fellow co-head Joana Vicente stepped down following the 2021 edition to return to the U.S. and replace Keri Putnam as CEO of the Sundance Institute, the media and arts nonprofit that hosts the Sundance Film Festival.

Bailey and his evolving programming team face the traditional launchpad for Hollywood’s official awards season continuing to redefine its festival model as the indie film industry pivots to the streaming space. Programming Canadian movies has long been a focus in Toronto, in part to shift the focus from Hollywood celebrities that walk the red carpet at TIFF each September and major studio tentpoles that dominate screen time at local multiplexes countrywide.

Gravestock will program an upcoming series of films to screen at Bell Lightbox, the festival’s headquarters in Toronto, in 2023.

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