The Inspirational Power of Film Festival Celebrities

It is an amazing time of the year – the 39th Toronto International Festival (TIFF) is right around the corner and there is a fabulous line-up of films!  On this occasion, the Centre for Media and Celebrity Studies (CMCS) proudly brings the fourth part of its public seminar series discussing world cinema, social change, and celebrity activism.  The event offers a special opportunity to connect through an exclusive talk about celebrity activists and their films to be screened at TIFF this year. The talk will be taking place at the industRealarts room (688 Richmond Street West) from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Wednesday, September 3. It is a privilege to be a part of this evening honouring public attendees and seminar participants, Dr. Samita Nandy and Emmanuel Lopez, Motivatorman.

News sources cite Piers Handling, CEO and Director of TIFF, “Cinema’s collective and transformative experience lives at the heart of our Festival.” Indeed, the film festival has screened Academy Award-winning films as well as independent films that are inclusive of marginalized voices and social justice. To the knowledge of few, many celebrities acting in these films are also activists bringing social change. TIFF is not just a cultural site that articulates expressions of stardom in Hollywood North. The festival also brings celebrity activists that play a critical role in film spectatorship and social change.

Emmanuel Lopez, who was cited in the New York Times and Washington Post, highlights how actress Sandra Bullock and her film Gravity had its North American premiere at TIFF 2013. “Her character demonstrated outstanding resilience in the face of adversity while in real life Bullock has overcome life challenges and helps change the world through her numerous charities and disaster relief funds,” says Lopez.  He will be speaking on the inspirational power of TIFF films at the CMCS event on September 3.

Emmanuel Lopez Motivatorman (2)

Christine Bode ( has worked with many popular artists including Grammy and Juno award winners. Her views on celebrity activism are valuable. For Bode, “Celebrities don’t have any greater moral obligation to support charities than the average middle-class individual. However, they are in a position, through their wealth and status, to bring considerably more attention to the charities they support and the fact that so many of them do so willingly and tirelessly is a testament to their individual character and spiritual consciousness and/or their desire to be of service to those less fortunate than themselves. Everyone, whether a celebrity or not, should be encouraged and commended for being willing to give their time and money to a charitable cause. Changing the world to make it a better place, is the responsibility of each and every individual who lives in it, and if you don’t have millions of dollars to donate, you can still help if you are able-minded and able-bodied, to volunteer your time towards helping just one individual to have a better life. Charity and compassion has to begin at a grass roots level. When a celebrity that we admire shines their light on their favourite charitable organization, they inspire us to take action too and it is for that inspiration that I give thanks.” Academy-winning actor Robin Williams, who just passed away, is an example of a celebrity activist inspiring others to take action and leave a legacy of generosity.

On September, the CMCS sponsored event will offer a special opportunity to discover the intrinsic relationship between film spectatorship and star gazing, and how TIFF movies can bring personal empowerment to the public. The talk will enable attendees to learn more about celebrity activists that have attended TIFF such as Kate Winslet, Reese Witherspoon, Geoffrey Rush and Priyanka Chopra. TIFF attendees will discover how their films such as Titanic, Pleasantville and The King’s Speech can inspire and increase resilience. After the presentation attendees will be motivated to unleash their inner star and recognize the lasting power of the 2014 TIFF experience. For more information, please visit Centre for Media and Celebrity Studies (CMCS) at