TIFF: Is That Martin Sheen In The Picket Line?


In the throes of overindulgence and glamour, it’s clear that the Toronto International Film Festival has a conscience. Of the 300+ entries, many are socially or politically charged. And on occasion, some influence spills off the screen and into the streets.

I witnessed Exhibit A yesterday (Sept. 10) when none other than Martin Sheen greeted the public ... with a picket sign. Sheen, who has held a union card all of his adult life, joined striking hotel workers outside Toronto’s Royal York Hotel. The one-day walkout was the result of a breakdown in labor negotiations between the hotel and its restaurant and cleaning crews.


“I can no more separate peace and justice than I can separate myself from my children,” said Sheen.

Good thing. Sheen is in Toronto to promote his star turn in one of Emilio Estevev's directorial efforts.
Estevez directed his father in The Way, which will debut this weekend in Toronto.

Friday night, I squeezed into a packed premiere of Dhobi Ghat, a beautiful, emotionally charged film set in Mumbai. With a backdrop of social unrest, it’s a relationship drama that brings together a wealthy banker, a painter and a laundry boy. I sat with a Canadian radiologist, Dr. Atul Tolia, and his wife. They grew up in Baroda, India, and were moved to tears through the film. Sometimes, movies matter.

Saturday I have a few appointments with Colin Firth, Robert Redford and HillaryHilary Swank. Well, at least their movies.