TIFF’s response to anti-Asian violence

TIFF’s response to anti-Asian violence

The murders of six Asian women in attacks that killed eight people in Georgia struck a deep nerve. Daoyou Feng, Hyun Jung Grant, Suncha Kim, Soon Chung Park, Xiaojie Tan and Yong Ae Yue fell victim to a violent, racist misogyny that has long targeted Asian women.

Because these murders came in the midst of a sharp, year-long rise in anti-Asian violence across North America, the impact has been even more shattering, and, in some cases, silencing. But we can't afford to be numbed by hate. We can't afford to be silent.

We want to express our support for and solidarity with Asian Canadian co-workers at TIFF. We recognize your pain, your terror and your rage. And we understand that Asian audience members, volunteers, supporters and industry colleagues may be feeling the same emotions. In the face of widespread, unprovoked attacks, people are rightly afraid for themselves and their loved ones.

As an organization devoted to the transformative power of film, we must acknowledge the role films have played in feeding anti-Asian racism. Yellowface performances and caricatured portrayals of Asians have persisted on screen for over a century, demeaning and dehumanizing generations of viewers.

Asian stories and characters are frequently whitewashed by Hollywood, fueling the logic of white supremacy. Asian Americans have been erased from American cinema for so long that generations have been raised with a distorted picture of the nation, where Asians are absent, marginalized or perpetual new arrivals. And Canada, to take one example, produced virulent, anti-Japanese film propaganda, bolstering support for the internment of Japanese Canadians during the second world war.

But if film can seed hate, so too can it nurture resistance to racism. And so TIFF commits to doing more.

In our programming, we will challenge anti-Asian racism within the canon of cinema.

We will share and deepen knowledge of Asian excellence in film.

We will support screen storytellers of Asian descent through our talent development programs and listen to the voices of the Asian film community.

We will strengthen our engagement with Asian filmgoers.

We will build a team at TIFF that better reflects Toronto's vibrant Asian communities.

We will provide our staff with the resources, guidance and space for discussion that is necessary to undertake our work.

We will support the bridges being built in the struggles against Asian hate with struggles against other forms of oppression.

We will always remember our responsibility to use the transformative power of film to work against racist imagery and towards greater community.

Jennifer Tory, Chair, Board of Directors
Joana Vicente, Executive Director & Co-Head
Cameron Bailey, Artistic Director & Co-Head

Related: TIFF’s statement on anti-Black racism