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Thom Powers

Thom Powers


Detroit, Michigan (birthplace); Montclair, New Jersey (current)

Programming for the Festival since:

Desert-island films:
Gimme Shelter
Hôtel Terminus: The Life and Times of Klaus Barbie

Your favourite Festival programmer who is not you: 
Rasha Salti. We were first introduced by Christopher Hitchens in 1999 and years later I recruited her for the Festival. Her humour and insight make her a first-rate dinner companion.

The strangest place you’ve ever watched a film: 
Phil Donahue invited me to his Fifth Avenue penthouse to watch Body of War. I was wary because I’d sat with him the previous year watching a cut of the film that wasn’t ready and I had to turn it down. Now he was having trouble getting the DVD player to work and had to call Marlo Thomas into the room for help. Once the film got going, I was mightily impressed and it ultimately made for a memorable screening in 2007. In fact, it ranked in second place for the Festival’s audience award and led to the Festival creating a unique People’s Choice Documentary Award.

What do you do for the rest of the year when you aren’t programming for the Festival? 
I’m a glutton for festival programming. I also do it for DOC NYC in November, Miami in March, and Montclair in May. In addition, I co-run the weekly Stranger Than Fiction series in Manhattan, and the monthly Doc Club on



Thom Powers has been an International Documentary Programmer for the Toronto International Film Festival® since 2006. He is also responsible for Mavericks, the Festival’s discussion series with cinema innovators.

Powers is the Artistic Director for the weekly documentary series, “Stranger than Fiction” at Manhattan’s IFC Center and for the DOC NYC festival in November. He also consults on programming for the Miami International Film Festival. He has directed documentaries for HBO and PBS; and is a founding member of the documentary production company Sugar Pictures. He teaches documentary courses at New York University’s School of Continuing Professional Studies and the School of Visual Arts.

He is a co-founder of the Cinema Eye Honors, an annual award for documentary excellence; and the Garrrett Scott Development Grant.

He has served as a juror for Sundance, SXSW, CPH: DOX and DocAviv festivals; as well as the Emmy, IDA and Independent Spirit Awards. He has written extensively on documentary filmmaking for The Boston GlobeReal Screen, and Filmmaker Magazine.