A coalition of Canadian filmmakers, together with prominent Hollywood figures, has urged the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) to sever its sponsorship ties with the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC). The call, according to a petition and letter at ActionNetwork.org, stems from RBC’s financial support of the oil and gas industry, a stance perceived as incompatible with the progressive values that TIFF champions.
The campaign, dubbed RBC Off Screen, has been initiated by filmmakers Elza Kephart and Jose Luis Gutierrez and boasts the support of over 200 individuals in the entertainment industry. Notable signatories to the open letter addressed to TIFF include actors Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams, and Joaquin Phoenix, along with directors and producers like Avi Lewis and Jose Luis Gutierrez.
“The Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) is one of the most polluting companies in our country because of its colossal ‘financed emissions’,” the letter reads. “It is a world-leading enabler of fossil fuel extraction, quite literally the biggest in 2022.”
TIFF’s response, according to an article at CP24, by vice-president of public relations Judy Lung, indicated that the festival acknowledges the sustainability concerns raised and is engaging in discussions with RBC.
Mark Ruffalo, one of the best-known actors on the list of those supporting the initiative wrote, “(TIFF) needs to choose between the film community and one dirty sponsor. Make the right choice please, let’s have a good festival unsullied by oil.”
“You cannot build a festival for socially conscious films with oil money,” said Louis Ramirez, campaign spokesperson.
RBC, Bulgari, and Visa are among TIFF’s major sponsors, and the festival recently announced the end of its long-standing partnership with Bell, a leading sponsor.
“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,” the RBC Off Screen letter reads.
TIFF finishes up its film festival in Toronto this weekend.