Film About Deaf Drummer Praised by Pilot Jury at TIFF

Catholic and Protestant jurors award "Sound of Metal" in Toronto 2019
Sound of Metal (Darius Marder)

Riz Ahmed as Ruben in the film "Sound of Metal"

A film about a noise rock drummer who suddenly loses his hearing has been awarded an unofficial prize at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). "Sound of Metal" by American director Darius Marder was named by the pilot Ecumenical Jury as the best of the films presented in the festival’s Platform program featuring the work of auteur directors.

In its announcement of the decision, the jury writes: "Darius Marder's Sound of Metal takes us on a rock drummer’s journey of selfdiscovery following a catastrophic loss of hearing. The complex impact of deafness on identity, relationships and career are beautifully braided with Marder's close focus on Ruben (Riz Ahmed), as he unpeels the layers of who he has been to find who he is now becoming. An innovative sound design and a breathtaking lead performance help to reveal the spirituality of silence, and a way to make peace with the noise in our heads."

The pilot jury also recognized the outstanding collective filmmaking vision of Sarah Gavron's "Rocks", as well as the richly unique expressions of women's experience in Alice Winocour's "Proxima" and Anthony Chen's "Wet Season".

Three jury members saw the ten films in the Platform program as part of a pilot project to test how such a jury would work at TIFF and what it could contribute to engagement with festival film goers who are people of faith. Festivals in Cannes, Venice, Berlin and Locarno have a long tradition of including Ecumenical Juries among the official juries.

Ecumenical juries – composed of Protestants and Catholics who are film specialists – award prizes to films that are works of artistic quality which witness to the power of film to reveal the mysterious depths of human beings through what concerns them, their hurts and failings as well as their hopes. Jurors are selected by the Catholic film organization, SIGNIS and by the Protestant film network, Interfilm.

Members of the pilot jury in Toronto were Sherry Coman, writer and educator; Pam Aleman, communications specialist; and Kristine Greenaway, writer and journalist. Aleman is a member of SIGNIS, Greenaway and Coman are members of INTERFILM.