Mira Nair, two episodes of whose six-part television series "A Suitable Boy" will close the 45th Toronto International Film Festival on Saturday, received the Jeff Skoll Award for Impact Media on Monday evening at a remotely conducted TIFF Tribute Awards ceremony. The presentation of the award to Nair was initiated by Tabu, star of "A Suitable Boy" as well as the director’s critically acclaimed 2006 drama "The Namesake".
The actor said: “When Mira Nair was a kid, she asked herself, can art change the world? She has proven it can.” And in doing so, the filmmaker has, Tabu added, set “the very highest standards of cinema”.
Nair was one of six recipients of the TIFF Tribute Awards alongside octogenarian actor Sir Anthony Hopkins, Oscar-winning actress Kate Winslet, Chinese-American filmmaker Chloe Zhao (whose Venice Golden Lion-winning Nomadland is one of the highlights of TIFF 2020), indigenous Canadian director Tracey Deer and musician Terence Blanchard.
In her acceptance speech, Mira Nair said: “When I work, it feels like fun, so I really want to thank the Toronto International Film Festival for giving me an award to have my fun and to be part of the extraordinary privilege of being able to make cinema.”
Nair, who divides her time between homes in New York City, Kampala and New Delhi, added: “I have often said if we don’t tell our own stories no one else will. But it doesn’t stop there. In telling these stories, I have also discovered the power of listening, of the possibility of making bridges, the possibility of translation, of being porous.”
“The award tells me,” Nair said, “that my art and my films have actually made change. That is such a beautiful feeling."
The filmmaker signed off by saying, “I accept the award in honour of all the stories that held the idiosyncratic, the unseen, the unspoken, the unsaid, and the baffling. Here’s to them and they happen everywhere in the world.”
The TIFF Tribute Awards is an annual fundraiser held as part of the festival that is regarded as “one of the most important launching pads for cinema” and a bellwether for the Oscars. The awards honour the film industry’s outstanding contributors and their achievements.
Sir Anthony Hopkins’s TIFF Tribute Actor Award was presented by Olivia Colman, his on-screen daughter in the film "The Father", which is part of the festival programme.
Accepting his award, the 82-year-old actor said: “I am astonished that I am still in work at my age.