Taika Waititi to Receive TIFF Ebert Director Award

Taika Waititi is preparing to head back into the Marvel Cinematic Universe with Thor: Love & Thunder. But before that, the filmmaker is heading to the Toronto International Film Festival to premiere his latest film, the darkly comedic satire Jojo Rabbit. He’ll be up in Canada with the film’s all-star cast, and while he’s in town, TIFF wanted to give him a special award: the first-ever TIFF Ebert Director Award.

Though this is technically the first time the TIFF Ebert Director Award is being handed out, it’s actually a rebranding of the festival’s Roger Ebert Golden Thumb Award, which has previously been given to groundbreaking filmmakers like Martin Scorsese, Ava DuVernay, Claire Denis, and more.

Waititi has made waves as a master of comedy with just the right amount of drama. He launched his career with an Oscar-nominated short film called Two Cars, One Night, which would lead to his penchant for creating sharp comedies with young stars in the lead like Boy and Hunt for the Wilderpeople. But he also brings a quirky sensibility to the comedy scene with the likes of Eagle vs Shark and the raucously hilarious What We Do in the Shadows.

But it wasn’t until Taika Waititi got behind the camera for Thor: Ragnarok that he became a household name. The filmmaker brought a refreshing visual eye to the Marvel Studios franchise and injected it with a heavy dose of humor. It turned Thor into an exceedingly more interesting character and set him up to become one of the most fascinating elements of Avengers: Endgame. And that’s why Marvel is sticking with him for Thor: Love & Thunder.

TIFF co-head Cameron Bailey sung the director’s praises in the festival’s official statement (via THR), saying:

“Taika Waititi is the rock star cinema needs right now. His films are full of razor-sharp humour, faultless style, and boundless generosity. Somehow he manages to stuff both indie hits and massive crowd-pleasers with big, radical ideas. We’re thrilled to be premiering his latest, Jojo Rabbit, at the festival and to hand over the inaugural TIFF Tribute Award for direction to this 21st-century master.”

If you haven’t seen the teaser for Jojo Rabbit, you can watch it over here. We’ll be on hand at the Toronto International Film Festival in September to see it for ourselves, and we’ll have reviews of plenty of other premieres in our Neighbor to the North. Get the full TIFF line-up so far right here, and stay tuned for more soon.

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