turning red toronto

Turning Red director honoured at city council as Toronto falls in love with movie

The hype reached a fever pitch in the days leading up to the March 11 release of Canadian filmmaker Domee Shi's love letter to Toronto, Turning Red, on streaming service Disney+.

Thanks to the animated film's exposure, people all over the world are now soaking in countless Toronto landmarks and references, and the city showed some love back to the movie's director during a recent city council meeting.

Filmmaker Domee Shi made an unexpected appearance at the March 9 meeting of city council, part of a promotional tour that also saw the director catch a ride on a vintage streetcar and attend a star-studded premiere in the days before Turning Red's release.

After briefing council on the devolving war in Ukraine, Mayor John Tory said, "it's on quite a different note and it's a much happier thing indeed, it's always wonderful for us to be able to recognize outstanding creative contributions and achievements of Torontonians."

"It's particularly nice when it comes to all of the recognition that we receive for being a film centre that we can actually celebrate a film where Toronto is able to be itself," added Tory.

Acknowledging the "great skill" and "extraordinary achievement" in representing Toronto — a city that most often serves as a lower-cost stand-in for American locations — Tory introduced Domee Shi to be recognized for her accomplishments.

"It's a source of particular pride and something that we thought was appropriate to be recognized here at council this morning," said Tory, adding that "the extraordinary achievement we are recognizing here is that of Toronto filmmaker of Sheridan College on a global basis in terms of the animation world."

"While her job requires her to go all over the world, Toronto has proven to be a place that she holds dear to her heart and [the film] is a perfect homage to our great city that we love so much, the diversity, the strength of our Asian communities that all of which contribute to the success of our city and the landmarks and achievements that we've put on the books together."

"It marks another first as well and that is that on the day after International Women's Day, it's so appropriate that we could recognize the fact that Domee Shi is now the first woman ever to direct a Pixar feature," said Tory.

The mayor then introduced Shi, who addressed council remotely, saying "thank you so much, thank you, everyone, for the honour."

"My family and I immigrated to Toronto from China 30 years ago and I'm so grateful that this city has always welcomed me and other immigrant families with open arms and will continue to do so," said Shi.

"From its parks to public schools to this diverse neighbourhood as it has raised me into the filmmaker that I am today, and so, of course, I had to set the movie Turning Red here."

"This is a universal story about growing up for all Canadians, but I'm especially proud to be part of an all-woman filmmaking team and hope to inspire other women filmmakers and immigrants to embrace their inner beasts."

"Thank you again, and I hope you all enjoy this love letter to Toronto," said Shi, adding another round of thanks yous while showing off her new framed certificate and a gift of art from the city.

"This is awesome, I'm putting this in my office," said Shi through a grin.

Lead photo by

City of Toronto

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