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Learn more about Festival:
Steve Gravestock

Steve Gravestock

Canada, The Netherlands, The Philippines, Nordic region


Born in Hamilton, grew up in Burlington and Mississauga.

Programming for the Festival since: 
1997… I think.

Desert-island films:
High Tide
The Passion of Joan of Arc

Your favourite Festival programmer who is not you:
Well, all of my colleagues at TIFF. Being in a room with them is like four years of film school in 90 minutes. But if I had to highlight any for particular reasons, I would say: Piers Handling, for those amazing directors’ spotlights in the late 1980s and early 1990s, especially the Kaurismäki and Almodovar; James Quandt, for being a programmers’ programmer (I don’t know anyone who doesn’t envy him for the rigorous way he does his work—plus, he introduced me to contemporary Nordic cinema); Kay Armatage (for the way she used to calm audiences); Michèle Maheux, for reminding me this was supposed to be fun; David Overbey, who introduced me to Asian cinema, and somehow made the job of programmer seem like the coolest thing you could ever do (Noah Cowan did that too, especially when he was doing Midnight Madness in the 1990s—one of my greatest film-going experiences ever was watching Frank Henelotter’s Brain Damage while totally baked).

The strangest place you’ve ever watched a film:
In India, I went to the opening of the Kerala Film Festival. It was an open-air event, on top of a mountain that we were bussed to. I turned to the person next to me and said this was pretty cool and they said, “I’d feel a lot more comfortable if they weren’t all those vultures circling above.” I looked across to another mountain and saw hundreds of them circling what I guessed was a funeral pyre. 


Canada, The Netherlands, The Philippines, Nordic region


Steve Gravestock, Senior Programmer, is responsible for the organization's Canadian programming initiatives, which includes Canada's Top Ten, the Canadian programming in TIFF Cinematheque, and most notably the year-round Canadian Open Vault programme — a selection of Canadian classics. As a Festival programmer, he has been part of the Canadian feature film selection since 2004 and also selects films from Scandinavia, the Philippines and the Netherlands; previously he programmed films from India and Australia. In 2001, Gravestock organized and programmed a national spotlight on Nordic films at the Festival. Many of the films he has programmed have been nominated for Oscars including Petter Naess's Elling, Mikael Hafstrom's Evil, Denis Villeneuve's Incendies, Philippe Falardeau's Monsier Lazhar, and Susan Bier's In a Better World which took home the Best Foreign Language Oscar in 2011.

In addition, Gravestock oversees the organization's ongoing series of monographs on Canadian films and filmmakers, which has recently partnered with University of Toronto Press. Gravestock contributed an essay and managed the 2009 publication of the anthology Toronto on Film. In spring 2008, Gravestock helped mount a multi-faceted retrospective on filmmaker Peter Lynch, which included an extensive talk and elaborate audio-visual presentation and in 2005, Gravestock programmed the Canadian Retrospective on Canadian filmmaker Don Owen. Gravestock programmed Dialogues for almost a decade, which has included the participation of industry professionals such as John Sayles, Sally Potter, James Toback, Tim Roth and Guy Maddin.

Having interviewed over 100 directors, ranging from Abel Ferrara to Krzysztof Kieślowski, Gravestock has written extensively on cinema for many publications including the Toronto Star,POV MagazineNOW Magazine and Cinema Scope. He has also written the programme notes for numerous TIFF Cinematheque series, including the films of Daniel MacIvor, the Toronto on Film series, and a retrospective of films celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Directors' Fortnight at Cannes. Gravestock's interview with John Sayles was published in Interviews: John Sayles from the University of Mississippi Press in 1999, and in 2005 Don Owen: Notes on a Filmmaker and His Culture was published by TIFF and distributed by Wilfred University Press and Indiana University Press.