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Cameron Bailey

September 8, 2016 by Speakers' Spotlight

TIFF Artistic Director Cameron Bailey On Toronto and Film

Few people understand the importance of the arts and cultural sector better than Cameron Bailey. The artistic director of one of the world’s biggest and most important film festivals, Bailey brings a comprehensive wealth of experience to his position, and under his lead the festival continues to grow in size and significance every year. Today, TIFF 2016 hits Toronto for ten days of stars, films, and fun. The CBC spoke to Cameron earlier this year about what the festival means to him, and to the city:

He’s one of the driving forces behind the success of the Toronto International Film Festival.

And a quarter of a century after starting as a programmer with TIFF in 1990, Cameron Bailey is now one of the most recognizable faces in the city as the world-renowned festival’s artistic director.

Bailey spoke to Our Toronto host Marivel Taruc at the TIFF Bell Lightbox, the festival”s headquarters at John Street and King Street West.

“This is kind of the temple that we built to the art of cinema. We love coming here to work everyday,” said Bailey in the lobby of the TIFF Bell Lightbox.

The building has become a fixture in the city’s entertainment district since it opened in 2010.

Mostly recently, Toronto made the number seven slot on the New York Times’ list of “52 Places to Go in 2016,” and the Toronto International Film Festival was included in the article as a reason to visit.

“I think the festival does a lot for us and for the city, for movie lovers,” said Bailey.

Movies may be what Bailey is best known for, but he has another passion — food and rum.

As a resident of the city’s west-end, Bailey frequently dines at Rhum Corner located on Dundas Street just east of Ossington.

The restaurant specializes in Haitian food and is stocked with rum from across the Caribbean and South America.

“It reminds me of where I come from. I come from the West Indies, I’m from Barbados. This is a restaurant that is based in the cuisine and the culture of Haiti so not the same island, but same kind of feel,” said Bailey while sitting at the Rhum Corner bar with Marivel Taruc.

Surprisingly, Bailey’s favourite rum is not from Barbados.

“My favourite rum is from Guyana. It’s called El Dorado because it has a real kind of molasses flavour to it. It’s a little bit on the sweet side,” said Bailey.

Bailey was born in London, England, and spent his early years living with his grandparents in Barbados.

“I lived in a farmhouse in Barbados that did not have indoor plumbing when I was there. We had a cow and some pigs and chickens, and we would get fresh eggs from the chickens everyday,” said Bailey.

Bailey’s family began a new life in Toronto when he was a boy, first living in North York and then moving to Thornhill.

“We lived in one of the least well-off parts of Thornhill, and then I got a better understanding of how class works and the kind of privilege that some kids have,” said Bailey.

Bailey is now married and a father to a six-year-old son. He hopes TIFF will become a major part of his family legacy.

“After I’m gone, long after we’re all gone, this building will still be here. We hope it’ll still be showing movies and people will be able to come,” Bailey said.

“And my son who’s six years old will be able to come when he’s a parent or even a grandparent and take his kids or his grandkids here and say, ‘You know what? Your granddad used to work here years ago.”

CBC/2016