TIFF pays trib­ute to Streep, Phoenix

Baltimore Sun - - ENTERTAINM­ENT -

TORONTO — In a gala din­ner held Mon­day amid the Toronto In­ter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val’s un­spool­ing pre­mieres, the fes­ti­val paid trib­ute to Joaquin Phoenix, Meryl Streep, film­maker Taika Waititi and cin­e­matog­ra­pher Roger Deakins.

With the city teem­ing with stars in town for the fes­ti­val, TIFF this year added a star-stud­ded fundrais­ing din­ner that co­in­cided with some of its most an­tic­i­pated pre­mieres. Streep stopped by just as her fi­nan­cial in­dus­try satire “The Laun­dro­mat” was screen­ing. Phoenix’s “Joker” was si­mul­ta­ne­ously mak­ing its North Amer­i­can de­but just blocks away.

“When I was 15 or 16, my brother River (Phoenix) came home from work and he had a VHS copy of a movie called ‘Rag­ing Bull,’ and he sat me down and made me watch it,” said Phoenix of his brother who died in 1993. “And the next day he woke me up, and he made me watch it again. And he said, ‘You’re go­ing to start act­ing again, this is what you’re go­ing to do.’ ”

“He didn’t ask me, he told me. And I am in­debted to him for that be­cause act­ing has given me such an in­cred­i­ble life,” he said.

“Joker” ar­rived in Toronto fresh off its Golden Lion win Saturday at the Venice Film Fes­ti­val. Ear­lier in the day, Phoenix vis­ited painted wall mu­rals ad­vo­cat­ing for ve­gan­ism at a Toronto sub­way sta­tion.

At the trib­ute gala, Streep en­cour­aged fellow performers to choose roles with a so­cial mind­ful­ness.

“Ev­ery artist here has made a choice about the ma­te­rial they’ve done and they’ve de­cided to con­trib­ute — ei­ther by de­fault or in­ten­tion,” said Streep. “Even though we didn’t cre­ate the mo­ment we find our­selves in, we can’t cure it in­di­vid­u­ally, we can’t con­trol it, but we sure can con­trib­ute to its tox­i­c­ity.”

Waititi, whose “Jojo Rab­bit” pre­miered Sun­day in Toronto, re­ceived the fes­ti­val’s Ebert Di­rec­tor Award, named af­ter the late film critic Roger Ebert. Deakins, who pho­tographed “The Goldfinch,” was hon­ored for his life’s work.

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