• Press Releases

Five Participant Media Films at the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival

LOS ANGELES (September 9, 2015) – Participant Media is a part five films at the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), including three narrative films and two documentaries. This is the eleventh year at TIFF for Participant, a company dedicated to entertainment that inspires and compels social impact.

Our Brand is Crisis, a political comedy-drama starring Sandra Bullock, will world premiere in the Special Presentations section of the festival.

Directed by David Gordon Green (Prince Avalanche, Pineapple Express) and written by Peter Straughan (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy), the film is based on the 2005 documentary of the same name that focuses on American political campaign marketing tactics and their consequences.

Bullock plays “Calamity” Jane Bodine, a retired political consultant brought in to help an unpopular Bolivian president get re-elected. Billy Bob Thornton co-stars as her nemesis that leads the opposition’s campaign.

Clooney and Grant Heslov, with Bullock produced the film. Participant Media’s Jeff Skoll and Jonathan King, and Stuart Besser are executive producers.

Our Brand Is Crisis will be released in theaters on October 30.

Watch the trailer


Beasts Of No Nation, the gripping story of Agu, a child soldier torn from his family to fight in the civil war of an African country, stars Golden Globe® winner Idris Elba (“Luther,” Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom). The film makes its Canadian premiere at TIFF.

Written and directed by Emmy® Award winner Cary Fukunaga (Sin Nombe, “True Detective”), the film is based on the highly acclaimed novel of the same name by Nigerian author Uzodinma Iweala.

Newcomer Abraham Attah plays Agu, and Elba is compelling as Commandant, a warlord who takes in Agu and instructs him in the ways of war.

The film is produced by Amy Kaufman and Fukunaga, Daniela Taplin Lundberg, Riva Marker and Dan Crown for Red Crown Productions, along with Elba. Jeff Skoll and Jonathan King are executive producers for Participant Media and Donna Gigliotti is executive producer for Levantine Films.

Beasts Of No Nation debuts on Netflix and in select U.S. markets on October 16.

Watch the trailer


Spotlight, the true story about The Boston Globe’s coverage of the 2003 Catholic Church sex abuse scandal, will have its international premiere at TIFF.

Directed by Academy Award® nominee Thomas McCarthy (The Station Agent, The Visitor) and written by McCarthy and Josh Singer (The Fifth Estate), the film tells the story of the Boston Globe team that would sacrifice everything to expose the child molestation cover-up within the local Catholic archdiocese. For its commitment to truth, the Globe’s Spotlight team received the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service.

The drama stars Mark Ruffalo (The Normal Heart, The Kids are All Right), Michael Keaton (Birdman), Rachel McAdams (Midnight in Paris), Liev Schreiber (“Ray Donovan”) and Stanley Tucci (The Hunger Games). The cast also includes John Slattery (“Mad Men”), Brian d’Arcy James (“Smash”), Billy Crudup (Blood Ties) and Jamey Sheridan (“Homeland”). 

Producers include Steve Golin and Michael Sugar of Anonymous Content, and Nicole Rocklin and Blye Faust of Rocklin/Faust. Participant Media’s Jeff Skoll and Jonathan King are executive producers, with Michael Bederman, Open Road Films’ Tom Ortenberg and Peter Lawson, and Entertainment One’s Patrice Theroux and Harold van Lier. Kate Churchill is co-producer and David Mizner is associate producer.  

Spotlight will be released in November.

Watch the trailer


Academy® Award winner Davis Guggenheim’s documentary He Named Me Malala will make its international premiere at TIFF.

He Named Me Malala is an intimate portrait of Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Malala Yousafzai, who was targeted by the Taliban and severely wounded by a gunshot when returning home on her school bus in Pakistan’s Swat Valley. The then 15-year-old was singled out, along with her father, for advocating for girls’ education, and the attack on her sparked an outcry from supporters around the world. She miraculously survived and is now a leading campaigner for girls’ education globally as co-founder of the Malala Fund.

Guggenheim (An Inconvenient Truth, Waiting for “Superman”) shows us how Malala, her father Zia and her family are committed to fighting for education for all girls worldwide. The film gives an inside glimpse into this extraordinary young girl’s life – from her close relationship with her father who inspired her love for education, to her impassioned speeches at the United Nations, to her everyday life with her parents and brothers.

He Named Me Malala opens on October 2.

Visit the campaign page

Watch the trailer


The Music of Strangers: Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble, Academy Award®-winning filmmaker Morgan Neville’s documentary about the acclaimed cellist and his music collective of diverse instrumentalists, will world premiere at TIFF Docs.

Neville and Caitrin Rogers of Tremolo Productions produced the film, in association with Participant Media and with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Ford Foundation JustFilms.

Blending performance footage, personal interviews, and archival film, the film focuses on the journeys of a small group of Silk Road Ensemble members from across the globe to create an intensely personal chronicle of passion, talent, and sacrifice. Through these moving individual stories, the filmmakers paint a vivid portrait of a bold musical experiment and a global search for the ties that bind.

Neville and Rogers also teamed up for the critically acclaimed documentaries Best of Enemies and the Oscar®-winning 20 Feet from Stardom.

Executive producers include Participant Media’s Jeff Skoll and Diane Weyermann and The Silk Road Project’s Laura Freid. The Silk Road Project’s Cristin Canterbury Bagnall served as a co-executive producer.

The Music of Strangers: Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble will be released in 2016.

Watch the clip


View TIFF’s complete schedule.