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Learn more about Festival:
Thom Powers

Thom Powers


Born in Detroit; based in Montclair, N.J., with extended stays in Toronto and Miami.

Programming for the Festival since:

Secret film love:
I love and live in nostalgia for old movie palaces. Each summer I pay a visit to Traverse City, Michigan and its State Theater, which Michael Moore led the community to restore. Every town deserves a theatre like that.

Should have seen it by now but haven’t:
In the 1980s, Kevin Brownlow’s restored version of Abel Gance’s Napoléon played at the Detroit Institute of Arts and I missed it. Then in 2012, the San Francisco Silent Film Festival showcased it and my temptation to fly across country was squelched by other commitments. I’ve read that a new restoration is forthcoming and I hope not to squander the next opportunity.

Favourite television series:
When did the verb “binge” become a source of pride? I can’t get into most of the hot TV dramas and I’m dismayed by how many of their plots are driven by torture and violence. However I think the world is a better place for Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert; and I’m devoted to Veep for lessons in profanity.

Your secret Toronto begins...
My favourite escape is inside bookstores. I’m sorry for their dwindling numbers and I take every chance I can to patronize the cluster that remain near the Bloor Theatre.


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.