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Widening the Lens: Integrating the Toronto International Film Festival

Barry Jenkins' adaption of James Baldwin's novel "If Beale Street Could Talk" premiered at this year's edition of the Toronto International Film Festival. Source: Courtesy of TIFF

"Rapturous," "Soaring," "Masterful!" It's that time of year again when critics use their hyperbolic best to preview the fall's most anticipated films. Starting at the end of August, studios show their Oscar hopefuls to accredited press across a trinity of prestigious film festivals – Venice, Telluride, and Toronto – the last of which concluded on Sunday night.

At this year's Toronto edition, the headlines were awash in Lady Gaga's soaring big-screen debut in "A Star Is Born" and Alfonso Cuarón's masterful memoir of his Mexican childhood, "Roma". Accredited critics were debating whether the Gaga-issance could triumph over the rapturous return of Best-Picture winners Steve McQueen and Barry Jenkins.

But for the past few years, the insular – and homogeneous - world of critical consensus has been disrupted by a new generation of writers, most of whom are neither accredited, nor paid to attend film festivals. Last year, "Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouriearned rave reviews at Toronto, even winning the – or blacklash - began. Similarly, Louis C.K.'s "I Love you Daddy" was one of the year's hottest festival tickets, igniting early Oscar buzz and studio bidding wars - despite the discomfort about the expressed by several women critics. Subsequent revelations of sexual misconduct against the star derailed the film's momentum. It was never released.

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