The Review/ Short Read/

25 Years of Mongrel Media

A quarter-century salute to the Toronto distributor that brought the films of many top international auteurs to Canadian audiences, while also providing unsurpassed support to Canadian filmmakers

by Cameron Bailey
Sep 25, 2019

The TIFF Cinematheque retrospective 25 Years of Mongrel Media begins Wednesday, October 30.

Despite the constant quest for higher profits and lower costs, the film business survives on the ingenuity of people who think beyond the bottom line. Hussain Amarshi, the founder and president of Mongrel Media, has been a visionary force in Canadian and international film for 25 years. With his company’s name inspired by Salman Rushdie and Michael Ondaatje, and his own hybrid personal history in Uganda, Zaire, Pakistan, and Canada, Amarshi helped make our nation’s film culture far more global in its outlook. His very first acquisition as a distributor was The Silences of the Palace, the 1994 feminist drama from Tunisian director Moufida Tlatli. Films by Arab women weren’t exactly common on North American screens in the 1990s, and as Mongrel grew to distribute international films across Canada (sometimes via TIFF’s own Film Circuit), it kept open a window to cinematic worlds scarcely seen on our screens.

In partnership with US distributor Sony Pictures Classics, Mongrel brought the films of Pedro Almodóvar, Michael Haneke, and many other contemporary auteurs to Canadian audiences, and their unsurpassed support for Canadian artists has seen the release of award-winning films by Deepa Mehta, Sarah Polley, and Jennifer Baichwal and Nicholas De Pencier. This wider, deeper view of the world through cinema is what we celebrate as we toast 25 Mongrel years.