As we saw at this weekend’s Emmy Awards, we’re finally seeing what happens when diversity in film goes from being a challenge to an asset. Diversity expands the possibilities of storytelling and filmmaking, and NPR saw that in effect at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival.
Normally, the author Bilal Qureshi points out, film festival narratives tend to be dominated by one black film that has to stand in for the entire black experience, as Nate Parker’s Birth of a Nation seemed poised to this year. But this year, TIFF had what Qureshi calls “its blackest edition ever” that “[pushed] back against the idea that Hollywood can only absorb one black story at a time.” In fact, the filmmakers and organizers have shied away from labeling films “diverse” because, with the lineup they’ve assembled, there’s no reason to pigeonhole non-white filmmakers.
We hope this becomes the new normal for film festivals. Hopefully we can expand the conversation about diversity in film past just its absence to what it looks like in practice.