Toronto: Tracey Deer, Kate Winslet Give Emotional Speeches at Virtual Tribute Awards

Tracey Deer and Kate Winslet
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Tracey Deer and Kate Winslet

'The Irishman' director Martin Scorsese criticized at-home film viewing during Coronavirus lockdown for making cinema "a form of comfort food."

On Tuesday night, when it was time for Beans director Tracey Deer to accept the TIFF Emerging Talent Award at the Toronto Film Festival's virtual awards gala, and she began to thank her mother, the Canadian Indigenous filmmaker's eyes suddenly welled with tears as she drew in a deep breath.

"Mom... I'm here because of you, because of the belief in me that you had," Deer said, addressing Angela Deer, before turning her thoughts back to the nationwide CTV audience who, like her, were in their own homes amid the Coronavirus pandemic viewing the TIFF Tribute Awards show.

"My mother is always right. And so if my mother believed I could do it, then I believed I could do it. And that was such an important message to receive. This is something all of our Indigenous kids need to hear. Their dreams are important, their voice is important. And together we need to make a society that's safe for them. So I want to dedicate this award to them, and to their future," Deer said.

Chinese director Chloe Zhao also thanked those who have stood behind and besides her during her filmmaking career, which includes earning a Golden Lion Grand Prize at Venice last week for her latest movie, Nomadland.

"When I first entered this industry, I thought this place was very competitive, and it is. And I thought if I failed, everyone would abandon me. But as I've worked with different filmmakers, I feel incredibly lucky that the people I work with are there when I'm succeeding, and even more when I fail. So I'd like to share this with them," Zhao said, as she raised her trophy.

Receiving her TIFF spotlight from her home in southern England, Ammonite star Kate Winslet said she wished any applause meant for her went to frontline workers battling the COVID-19 spread worldwide, and families impacted by the COVID-19 virus.

"I'd like to express my deepest sympathies to families and individuals whose lives have been forever altered by these past six months. My heart truly goes out to all of you who have battled and struggled and continue to struggle through these harsh and painful times," Winslet told the Canadian TV audience.

No star-studded in-person bash, the pandemic-challenged TIFF awards show had A-list honorees and presenters appearing virtually from their homes and other remote locations. "I'm astonished that I'm still working," Anthony Hopkins said when accepting his TIFF Tribute Awards trophy from his home in Los Angeles.

Other winners of TIFF award season trophies and appearing virtually from their homes or other remote locations included Mira Nair, who after a short retrospective said: "When I work, I feel fun. So I really thank the Toronto Film Festival for giving me an award for having fun."

The Irishman director Martin Scorsese, as he appeared virtually at the opening of the televised TIFF Tribute Awards,criticized movies being marginalized and devalued during the current pandemic lockdown conditions as "a form of comfort food" by cocooning viewers.

"To celebrate its very existence is all the more important and necessary. Because we can never remind me people enough that this remarkable art form has always been and will always be more than diversion. Cinema at its best is a source of wonder and inspiration," Scorsese argued.

Presenters who also came in from remote locales included included Tabu, Colin Farrell, Regina King, Delroy Lindo, Ava DuVernay, Olivia Colman and Jodi Foster, who introduced Winslet.

The Toronto Film Festival continues through Sept. 19.