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U of T scholars partner with TIFF for talks on global issues

Professor Joseph Wong will take the stage alongside filmmaker Emilio Estevez and some members of the cast of The Public (photo courtesy of TIFF)

The University of Toronto's Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy and the Toronto International Film Festival are partnering for a seventh year to present the TIFF Speaker Series. This series offers audiences the opportunity to interact with filmmakers and scholars in extended discussions about global issues following each film’s second public screening.

After a screening of The Public on Sept. 10, Professor Joseph Wong, U of T's associate vice-president and vice-provost, international student experience, will take the stage alongside filmmaker Emilio Estevez and some members of the film’s cast. The Public focuses on the leader of a group of homeless Cincinnati residents who occupy a public library during a frigid Midwestern cold front, and his attempts to negotiate with the municipal crisis negotiator and district attorney. As the nonviolent sit-in spirals out of control, Estevez uses the confrontation to explore the dehumanization of homeless populations and the militarization of America’s police.

Also on Sept. 10, the Munk School’s founding director, Professor Janice Stein, will join Israeli director Avi Nesher to discuss his most recent film, The Other Story. The film centres around an unexpected interaction between two rebellious young women – one a former socialite who has renounced pork and promiscuity and discovered God, and the other a formerly ultra-orthodox Jew desperate to transcend her religious upbringing – whose individual identity struggles mirror those Nesher sees taking place within Israeli society as a whole.

Assistant Professor Teresa Kramarz will join filmmakers Cristina Gallego and Ciro Guerra on Sept. 11 following the screening of their crime saga, Birds of Passage. Gallego and Guerra’s epic film weaves together five separate chapters to tell the story of a Wayuu man’s downward spiral – and its effects on his community – as he becomes increasingly involved in northern Colombia’s drug trade.

After the success of his 2013 film Bastardo, director Nejib Belkadhi joins Professor Randall Hansen, interim director of the Munk School, to discuss his latest film, Look at Me, on Sept. 12. The story follows Lotfi, a young Tunisian torn between his home country and his new life in France. The owner of an appliance store who settled in Marseille, now expecting a child with the love of his life, Lotfi struggles to find his place and is brought back to Tunisia after receiving a call from his brother.

Also on Sept. 12, Associate Professor Robert Austin will speak with director Sergey Loznitsa about his latest film, Donbass. Awarded the Un Certain Regard Prize for Best Director at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival, Donbass is an absurdist and surreal journey through eastern Ukraine, a region which has experienced significant unrest and violence since the 2014 annexation of Crimea.

The 43rd Toronto International Film Festival runs from Sept. 6 to 16. Follow @munkschool on Twitter for live updates from the Sept. 10 screening of The Public and the Sept. 12 screening of Look at Me.