Filmmakers Call on Toronto Film Festival to Drop “Polluting” RBC as Sponsor for Financing Oil Projects

An open letter signed by 214 filmmakers has called on the Toronto Film Festival to drop longtime sponsor Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) for financing oil projects on Indigenous lands and in BIPOC communities.

“Multiple leading Indigenous and BIPOC organizations and nations have denounced the bank’s indiscriminate enabling of projects on their lands, which they argue fail to respect their fundamental rights,” the letter signed by directors like Vincenzo Natali, Zach Lipovsky and Andrew Currie and addressed to TIFF CEO Cameron Bailey, stated.

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The letter is also signed by a host of Canadian and international film creatives, including film directors, editors, festival programmers and cinematographers. Their letter was timed for the opening of TIFF, where RBC has been a key sponsor for 16 years and this year is sponsoring the Los Angeles Times studio for celebrity interview, RBC House, a venue for TIFF partners, and a festival party for The Black Academy on Sept. 10, at RBC House.

In addition, the TIFF Every Story Accelerator program is part of the RBC Screen Creators’ initiative supported by the RBC Foundation that looks to promote diversity, inclusion and belonging in film, according to the Canadian bank.

In 2022, Hollywood actors Mark Ruffalo, Scarlett Johanssen and Leonardo DiCaprio were among celebrities to back a No More Dirty Banks campaign that singled out RBC for financing the northern British Columbia pipeline that cut through the Wet’suwet’en territory in northwestern British Columbia without the consent of local hereditary chiefs.

That petition, organized by Indigenous Climate Action, was also signed by Taika Waititi, Jane Fonda and Robert Downey Jr., alongside many other actors, artists, athletes and musicians opposing the multibillion-dollar natural gas pipeline project.

Representatives of the Toronto Film Festival were not available for comment on Thursday.

A copy of the Sept. 6 letter to the festival follows:

Letter to Mr. (Cameron) Bailey, CEO of TIFF.

Dear Mr. Bailey,

We, the undersigned, are filmmakers from Canada and abroad, united by concerns for human rights and the rapidly escalating climate crisis.

Through reading news media in the last year, a troubling set of facts about TIFF’s main sponsor, the Royal Bank of Canada, have come to our attention, as they probably have come to yours:

The Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) is one of the most polluting companies in our country because of its colossal “financed emissions.” It is a world-leading enabler of fossil fuel extraction, quite literally the biggest in 2022. This same bank has been making extensive statements purporting to champion the cause of fighting climate change, resulting in a federal investigation for deceiving its customers.
Multiple leading Indigenous and BIPOC organizations and nations have denounced the bank’s indiscriminate enabling of projects on their lands, which they argue fail to respect their fundamental rights. The bank’s reaction to this has been dismissive, with senior leaders of indigenous nations being denied access to its AGM despite having the proper paperwork. Demands for an apology have garnered thousands of signatures with little response.

We believe that these troubling revelations make RBC an unfortunate sponsor for the Canadian film industry’s premier event. If we are to play a meaningful role in countering the climate crisis and stand in solidarity with Indigenous Peoples, we cannot be blind to our industry’s role in shaping culture. We cannot implicitly endorse RBC by allowing it to be the leading partner of Canadian film. Our values, as filmmakers and industry workers require us to make courageous choices. As RBC continues to disparage and ignore BIPOC groups and civil society, where will we stand? So long as RBC remains a funder of fossil fuels and a steady trickle of disenfranchised communities fight to hold RBC accountable for its financing of projects on their Land and communities, our choice is solidarity. We have come to the irrefutable conclusion: RBC is not a suitable TIFF sponsor.

We therefore ask TIFF to discontinue its relationship with RBC for the 2024 edition of the festival. With 100+ corporate sponsors and $45m in revenue, TIFF is well positioned to replace RBC’s estimate 1m per year and find less harmful sponsors, even with Bell relinquishing its leading sponsorship. In fact, with such changes in sponsorship structure already on the books, there is an opportunity to move beyond fossil fuel money. We further understand and note that RBC money is an important source of support for filmmakers finding their footing. We must find worthy sources of financing, and TIFF, with its symbolic power and might, is an excellent place to begin the process of weaning our industry off RBC’s money.

If RBC were to draft and implement robust policies that ensure its funding goes towards projects that uphold, affirm and respect Indigenous rights and decisive climate action proven to decrease emissions and support communities, we would reconsider our request. But since every indication has been that the bank is determined to do precisely the opposite, we believe it is time to get RBC off Screen.

Signed, as of Sept 6

Thomas Burstyn, Director/Cinematographer

Helene Klodawsky, Writer/Director
Louise Lalonde, Writer/Producer
Anne Bolduc, Assistante realisatrice
Daniel Davis, Productioñ designer
Thomas Harjo, Grip
Kaveh Nabatian, Director
Mina Sewell Mancuso, Director
Genevieve Long, Graphic Designer
Zaid Dagamseh, Filmmaker
Shirin Rashid, Set Designer
Lindsay Gilmer, Art Dept Coordinator
eric poirier, Concepteur de costume
Robert Holbrook, Sound boom
Luis Freitas, Assistant Picture Editor
Cathy Gulkin, Picture editor
Erica Pomerance, Writer/Director
Clara George, Producer
Nika Belianina, Director
Sasha Odesse, Art Dept
Jane Walker, Script Supervisor, Filmmaker
Eric McKenzie, Writer/Director
Ève Lamont, Realisatrice
Josue Bertolino, Realisateur, DOP
Michel Giroux, monteur
John Greyson, Filmmaker
Francine Pelletier, director and screenwriter
Francine Gravel,
German Gutierrez, Film Director
Adrian Knight, Location Manager
Isabelle Hayeur, Cineaste
Anita Lubosch, Sound Designer/ Sound Editor/ Mixer/ Composer
Mary Robbie, Retired accounting
Vincenzo Natali, Writer/Directoe
Christopher Binney, First Assistant Director
Marie-Dominique Michaud, Productrice, realisatrice
Chad Tremblay, Picture Editor
Matthew Neufeld, Post Production – 1st Asst Editor
Fiona Cully, Director and screenwriter
Jeremy Kessler, Sound Editor
Alicia Remigio, DGC Member-Graphics person, art dept
Eric Houstoun, assistant director
Jeremy LaLonde, Filmmaker
Libby Hodgson, 1st Assistant Director
Dara Moats, Festival programmer
Tony Poffandi, AD
Kaye Adelaide, Writer/Director
Rebecca Pearson, Production Accountant
Lucette Lupien , Consultante
Sophie Bissonnette, Realisatrice
Wendy Loten, Producer/director
Amir Kiani , Director, Production Designer
Reid Dunlop, First Assistant Director
VINCENT Gravel Trudel, Compositeur
Ty LeBlanc, Writer and Assistant Director
Bryan Power, Clearance Coordinator
Alba Gil, Director
Mac Bradden, Retired director/Wildlife biologist
Warren Carr, Producer
Amelia Moses, Director
Susan Rynard, filmmaker
Nicole Giguère, Realisatrice, membre du CA et coordonatrice de Realisatrices Équitables
Elza Kephart, Director
Maë Varela, Scripte
Madeleine Madeleine, Accounting
Christoper Danton, Line Producer
Kim Barr, Director / Writer
François Jacob, Documentariste
Viki Posidis, Filmmaker
Austin Graff,
Anoma Modi, Set Designer
Emily Bosschaart, 2nd assistant art director
Douglas Williams, Director writer producer
Landon Ramirez, Assistant Director
Carlos Ferrand,
Zach Lipovsky, Chair of National Directors Devision of the DGC
Andrew Currie, writer/director
Robert Vaughn, Director
Tim Southam, Director
Olivier D. Asselin, Director
solmaz eshraghi , 1st Assistant Art Director
Carmen Garcia, producer
Dan Yarhi, Production Designer
Peter Bohdal, Designer
Anoush Baravyan-Gauthier, AD
Hannah Fortin, 2nd AD / director
Etienne Roussy, Cinematographer
Jean-Christophe Yacono, Realisateur multimedia
Gavin Fernandes, Re-recording mixer
Lee Paula Springer, Writer/Director
Lauren Ishak, Art Department Coordinator
Keegan Chambers, Accountant
Stephanie Dilnot,
Katherine Clarke, Trainee assistant art directorLiz Bragale, PA / Director / Writer
Karla Meza, Filmmaker Director
Becca Blackwood , Costume designer
Trevor Stewart, Art Director
Terrance Odette, Writer/Director
Tara Federko, Writer/ Actor/ Assistant Director
Saaraa Rayani, Producer’s Assistant
Mary Galloway, Writer/Director/Actor
Angela Jekums, Film Editor
Fred Kamping, Location Scout and Manager
Ann Foo, Editor
ANGELA RYAN, film production assistant accountant
Aïcha Raihani, Loaction Manager
Frederick Pelletier, Cineaste
Anaïs Barbeau=Lavalette, Scenariste et Realisatrice
Matthew Maggi, Assistant Director
Ravinder Darshi, Cultural
Luke V Carpenter, Accountant
Daryna Rymareva, Independent Director
David Lewington, set designer
Marty Dejczak, Location Manager
Chrussy Byrd, Locations / Office
Jose Luis Gutierrez, Production Manager
Sydney Cowper, Editor
Craig MacLellan, Sound Editor
Aidan Bell, Trainee Assistant Art Director
Camila Novais, Documentary director
Nadia Louis-Desmarchais, Screenwriter and Director
Naomie Decarie-Daigneault, Cineaste
Janine Heath, Production Manager
Kiley Hodgson , Assistant Accountant
ASTRA BURKA, Independent Director and Production Designer
Gioia Fajardo, Assistant Director
Graeme Hayward, Assistant Director
Mark Pettit, Actor
Corey De Lima Nutter, AD/PA
Erin McQueenie, Assistant Director
Sarah Brooks, Locations
Michelle A, Producer
Tracy Noga, Production Coordinator
Brandon Ng, Assistant Director
Robin Hays, Filmmaker
Priscilla Yeo, Production Manager
Lendl Quiapo, Non-Union Bestboy LX and DGCBC PA
Renata Wasylkewycz, Production Coordinator
Liane Prevost, Set Designer
Bruce Wrighte, Art Department (Graphic Design)
Adam Medley, Assistant Art Director
Dylan Rev, Motion Graphics Designer
Giselle Selim, Art coordinator
Sam Haque, Art Director
Hayley James, Graphics
Isobel Rose Binnie, Set designer
Jill Compton, First Assistant Director
ryan hyland, Ad
Sartaj Aulakh , Assistant Director
Martin Buzora, Director / Cinematographer
Nick Hector, Producer and Editor
Mike Munn, Film Editor
Alexander DeSouza, Film Director, Editor
Bahareh ZabihiAali, Picture Editor
Jean Babin, Directeur artistique
Frank Ruszczynski, 1st AD
Flavien Demeure, Director
Marie-Helène Cousineau, director/producer
Sebastien Regimbald, Production Coordinator
Hazel Thayer, Writer
Amy Mann,
Naomi Jaye, director
Mariel Sharp, Producer
Steve Patry, Realisateur
Hans Dayal, Production Manager
Agam Darshi, Actor writer director
Stephen Philipson, Editor
Nutan Khanna, Clearances + Research
Gina Lazarowich, Producer/Documentary film director
Shelagh Rowan-Legg, writer/director
Nicolas Comeau, Producteur
Yanick Letourneau, President CEO – Senior Producer
Simon Lavoie, scenariste realisateur
Helène Muller,
Samer Najari, realisateur
Delphine Measroch,
Jenny Cartwright, documentariste
Elizabeth Guildford , Line Producer
Cris Palacios, Locations Production Assistant  
Colin Graham, Motion Graphics
Gabriel Teller, Assistant Directtor
Mima H, Set designer
Nadya Hanlon, Sound Editor
Samuel Gagnon, Producteur
Francis Desjardins, Director
Alexandre Burton, new media artist
Matthew Whelan, Vfx supervisor
Marie-Claude Paradis-Vigneault, Cineaste documentaire
Patricio Henriquez, Scenariste, Realisateur, Producteur
Erdem Calis, Assistant Director
Cecilia Divito, Graphic Designer
Loretta VanHart, Production Accountant/Consultant
Philippe Lavalette, dop
Akilah Thorington, Assistant Accountant
Anna Lupien, realisatrice
Berenicci Hershorn, 1st Assistant Picture Editor
David Cherniak, director of photography
Claude Langlois, Editor and Sound Designer
Patricia Bergeron, Producer
Denys Desjardins, Filmmaker-producer
Anne Tran, Assistant Art Director
Christine Falco, Productrice
Gina Hara, film director
Kays Mejri, Writer/director
Philippe Goldmann, Chef monteur
Charles Biname, Realisateur-scenariste
Cordell Barker, Animation Director
Leanne Allison, Documentary Filmmaker
Laura Webster, Assistant Accountant
Izabel Grondin, realisatrice-scenariste
Adam McKay, Writer/Director
Alexandra Knowles, Filmmaker
Genevieve Albert, Realisatrice

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