On Dec.2, TIFF kicked off a month of special screenings to celebrate the timeless and ever-fabulous relationship between fashion and film. This project is called Make It Fashion.
As part of the opening weekend, on Saturday, Dec.3, a special In Conversation With… Ruth E. Carter took place at TIFF Bell Lightbox in Toronto. Ruth E. Carter is the Academy Award-winning American film costume designer, who made history as the first Black person to win in this category. She won the award for Black Panther and subsequently earned Marvel Studios their first Oscar recognition.
Unfortunately, the acclaimed designer was not able to be present on stage. As Cameron Bailey, the CEO of TIFF, noted, Carter had arrived in Toronto but was not feeling well. Yet, she eagerly joined the moderator of the event Suzanne Boyd via Zoom from her hotel room — with a moodboard for a film Amistad (1998) as a background.
Amistad is a Steven Spielberg-directed historical drama, for which Carter received her second Academy Award nomination. Her first one was for Malcolm X (1993), biographical film, directed by her long-time collaborator Spike Lee. “I loved your work for Malcolm X” — told her both Spielberg in the 1990s and then, some 20 years later Ryan Coogler, Black Panther’s director.
Carter shared with the audience how she started as a theatre costumer designer, how she met Spike Lee and worked on many of his films. She also spoke about her journey and working process up until her latest film, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, which is out in cinemas now. Carter takes an intellectual approach to costumes, referring to art history and researching archives, diving deep into characters to bring them to life on screen. It was an insightful evening for all the fashion and film lovers, as well as professionals in the industry.
The retrospective Make It Fashion is curated by guest programmer Alicia Fletcher, who provides interesting introductions and commentary on each film, starting with Marie Antoinette (2006) on Friday, December 2. There are 14 films chosen for the series. If you come to any of the screenings, we recommend you arrive earlier to wander around the building, as there are some artifacts exhibited everywhere. This ranges from sketches and magazines to a collar worn by Mary Pickford on screen and shoes from David Cronenberg’s film M. Butterfly.
The retrospective runs from Dec. 2 to Dec.30 at TIFF Bell Lightbox and the list of all films can be found on TIFF’s Make It Fashion page.
All photos by Darina Granik.