A group of Canadian filmmakers has joined forces with Hollywood A-listers in asking the Toronto International Film Festival to end sponsorship ties with the Royal Bank of Canada because of the bank’s funding of the oil and gas industry.
Organizers of the campaign called RBC Off Screen say the financial institution’s track record of investing in fossil fuels runs contrary to the socially progressive values the film festival purports to stand for.
Signatories to the group’s open letter to TIFF outlining its concerns include screen stars Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams and Joaquin Phoenix, alongside filmmakers and producers including Avi Lewis, Elza Kephart and Jose Luis Gutierrez.
Kephart and Gutierrez, who started the campaign, say they have the support of more than 200 industry workers. The group’s statement says RBC is one of the largest financiers of oil and gas projects in the world and supports projects that have negatively impacted Indigenous lands and racialized people.
TIFF’s vice-president of public relations, Judy Lung, said in a statement the festival appreciates the sustainability concerns being brought forward, and that they are talking to RBC about them.
RBC spokesperson Stephanie Bannan said in a statement that more action is needed on climate change, and the company welcomes the chance to discuss the issues with Indigenous groups and the film community.