Taika Waititi wins first TIFF Ebert Director Award at 2019 festival

Thor: Ragnarok helmer Taika Waititi is taking his signature red-carpet sass north of the border.

The Toronto International Film Festival has announced that the filmmaker and actor will receive the first-ever TIFF Ebert Director Award, which will be handed out Monday, Sept. 9, at the inaugural TIFF Tribute Gala.

The new accolade, named after legendary film critic Roger Ebert, marks an evolution of the festival’s Roger Ebert Golden Thumb Award, which in the past has gone to celebrated visionaries like Martin Scorsese, Claire Denis, Ava DuVernay, Wim Wenders, and the late Agnès Varda.

In a press statement, TIFF co-head Joana Vicente called Waititi “one of the most innovative, bold, and exciting” directors working today, while her counterpart, Cameron Bailey, added that the 43-year-old New Zealander is the “rock star cinema needs right now” thanks to his “razor-sharp humor, faultless style, and boundless generosity.”

Prior to directing Thor: Ragnarok to its $854 million worldwide gross in 2017, Waititi oversaw smaller, critically acclaimed films like Hunt for the Wilderpeople and What We Do in the Shadows. He was nominated for an Oscar for his 2004 short film Two Cars, One Night.

His latest film — the World War II satire Jojo Rabbit, in which Waititi portrays an imaginary Adolf Hitler — will premiere at TIFF ahead of an Oct. 18 theatrical release by Fox Searchlight. Waititi is also set to return to the Marvel Cinematic Universe with the upcoming Thor: Love and Thunder, featuring Natalie Portman as a female Thor.

As previously announced, TIFF’s Tribute Gala will also see iconic actress Meryl Streep receiving the first TIFF Tribute Acting Award for her continued contributions to cinema. Participant Media is set to receive the TIFF Impact Award, while another Tribute Actor Award recipient — as well as a winner of the Mary Pickford Award for emerging female talent — will be revealed in the near future. TIFF hopes the new awards ceremony will function as a substantial fundraiser to support its year-round initiatives, while also honoring prominent industry figures.

The 2019 Toronto International Film Festival runs Sept. 5-15, with ticketing information available here. Check out the first round of titles joining the annual festival’s lineup here, and check back on EW.com in the weeks ahead for future additions to the event’s program.

Related content:

  • Meryl Streep to receive Toronto International Film Festival’s first Actor Award
  • See Meryl Streep, Eddie Murphy, more in first-look photos from Toronto International Film Festival lineup
  • Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, Joker, more join 2019 Toronto Film Festival lineup

Jojo Rabbit

  • Movie
  • Comedy,
  • Drama
release date
  • 10/18/19
  • Taika Waititi
  • Roman Griffin Davis,
  • Scarlett Johansson,
  • Taika Waititi
Complete Coverage
  • Jojo Rabbit

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