2014 Excellence in Arts and Entertainment Award – Cameron Bailey


Cameron Bailey

Cameron Baily is firstly an artist. “I love the exchange of ideas and emotion that can happen in film – or through any art form,” he says. “The art that I like generally, is art that can communicate both emotionally and intellectually, and maybe, especially politically. So in film, that combination of poetry and politics, through the artform, is fascinating to me.”

These are the telling words of a man determined to promote excellence in the Toronto film industry.

As Artistic Director of the Toronto International Film Festival® (TIFF), Bailey is responsible for the overall vision and execution of Festival programming, as well as maintaining relationships with Canadian and international film industries.

Named twice by Toronto Life magazine as one of Toronto’s 50 Most Influential People, Bailey remains focused on the business of using that influence to deliver quality content to a discerning audience.

Born in London to Barbadian parents, he spent his formative years in England and Barbados before migrating to Canada.

Prior to taking up his current position at TIFF, he was a Festival programmer for eleven years, heading its Perspective Canada program and founding its Planet Africa section, which ran from 1995 – 2004.

For many years, Bailey was a writer and broadcaster on film. He reviewed for Toronto’s NOW Magazine, CBC Radio One and CTV’s Canada AM. He presented international cinema nightly on Showcase Television’s national program, The Showcase Revue, and produced and hosted the interview program, Filmmaker, on the Independent Film Channel Canada.

Bailey has curated film series for Cinematheque Ontario, the National Gallery of Canada, the National Film Board of Canada, and Australia’s Sydney International Film Festival.

He has also served on awards juries in Canada and internationally, including in China, the United States of America, Turkey, Greece, South Korea, Burkina Faso and Tanzania.

Mr. Bailey has also been a guest speaker at several Canadian universities, the Smithsonian Institution, Harvard University and the Banff Centre for the Arts.

In 1997, Bailey completed his first screenplay, The Planet of Junior Brown, co-written with director, Clement Virgo. The film was named Best Picture at the 1998 Urbanworld Film Festival in New York, and nominated for a Best Screenplay Gemini Award. Bailey also completed a video essay, Hotel Saudade, filmed in Brazil, and which made its U.S. premiere in 2005 at New York’s Museum of Modern Art.

Bailey sits on the Advisory Council for Western University’s School for Arts and Humanities and for Haiti’s Cine Institute film school. He also teaches a course in programming and curation at the University of Toronto. The driven lover of Reggae is a board member of Tourism Toronto, and past co-chair of the Arts & Culture Working Group of Toronto’s CivicAction.

He is a former board member of the Ontario Film Development Corporation, and served on the Advisory Board of the Royal Ontario Museum’s Institute for Contemporary Culture.

In 2007, Bailey was part of the delegation accompanying Canada’s then Governor-General Michaëlle Jean on her state visit to Brazil.

Writing for Who’s Who in Black Canada, Felicia Daisy says of Bailey, this unassuming man, who is Canada’s first Black film critic, “has contributed to the organization’s growth, as one of the premier film festivals in the world, and now to it’s becoming one of Toronto’s best year-round cultural institutions.”