The new Viola Desmond Cinema to be unveiled with inaugural screening of Ava DuVernay's <em>Origin</em> at TIFF Bell Lightbox on November 8

media release

October 25, 2023

The new Viola Desmond Cinema to be unveiled with inaugural screening of Ava DuVernay's Origin at TIFF Bell Lightbox on November 8

Grand unveiling of the TIFF Viola Desmond Cinema plaque & opening of public exhibition titled Here to Stay

A still from Phoenix

Cameron Bailey announces the Viola Desmond Cinema (Photo: George Pimentel, 2022)

TORONTO — Following its 2021 debut, TIFF’s Viola Desmond Day on November 8, 2023 remains dedicated to honouring the enduring impact of the civil rights advocate and entrepreneur. TIFF is proud to announce that the newly christened Viola Desmond Cinema at TIFF Bell Lightbox will host its inaugural screening with a special presentation of Ava DuVernay’s acclaimed film, Origin. In Origin, while investigating the global phenomenon of caste and its dark influence on society, a journalist faces unfathomable loss and uncovers the beauty of love and human resilience. Inspired by the New York Times best-seller “Caste” and starring Academy Award nominee Aunjanue Ellis-Taylor (“King Richard”), Origin explores the mystery of history, the wonders of romance and a fight for our future. Notably, Origin made its North American Premiere during TIFF 2023.

Inspired by Viola Desmond’s historic stand for her rights on the first floor of a Nova Scotia movie theatre in 1946, TIFF’s 2023 focus centres on the important concept of “Taking Up Space” with a special emphasis on empowering Black women. TIFF has joined forces with the Nia Centre for the Arts to present a compelling public exhibition titled Here To Stay at the TIFF Bell Lightbox, set to open on November 8. This art exhibition, along with various art activations, will enhance the Viola Desmond Day in-cinema event, breathing life into the atrium. Here To Stay will be on display from November 8 to December 10 at TIFF Bell Lightbox.

Viola Desmond Day 2023 will also feature the official unveiling of the Viola Desmond Cinema plaque, and members of Viola and Wanda’s family will be present for this event. In 2022, the cinema introduced two dedicated seats, with each seat bearing the name of one of the sisters. During the inaugural event in 2022, TIFF CEO Cameron Bailey announced the commitment to name TIFF Bell Lightbox’s largest cinema the Viola Desmond Cinema, alongside a $2 million fundraising campaign to champion Black women creators and via TIFF’s Every Story fund.

This year, TIFF is proud to announce a lead gift from NBCUniversal as the presenting partner of the Viola Desmond Cinema campaign, building on their commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging in film as a founding fund partner of Every Story.

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Senior Manager, Communications

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About TIFF
TIFF is a not-for-profit cultural organization with a mission to transform the way people see the world through film. An international leader in film culture, TIFF projects include the annual Toronto International Film Festival®in September; TIFF Lightbox, which features five cinemas, learning and entertainment facilities; and the innovative national distribution program Film Circuit. The organization generates an annual economic impact of $200 million CAD. TIFF Lightbox is generously supported by contributors including the Province of Ontario, the Government of Canada, the City of Toronto, the Reitman family (Ivan Reitman, Agi Mandel, and Susan Michaels), The Daniels Corporation, and RBC. For more information, visit

TIFF is generously supported by Major Sponsors RBC and Visa, and Major Supporters: the Government of Canada, Government of Ontario, and City of Toronto.

TIFF Cinematheque is supported by Ontario Creates and Canada Council for the Arts.

Silver Screenings is supported by the Ontario Trillium Foundation and the Government of Canada.

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