An interview with new CSI course instructor, Diana Sanchez

December 16, 2020 by Denise Ing

Diana Sanchez, Senior Director of Film for the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) is joining the Cinema Studies Institute in January 2021 to teach CIN380H1S - Global Screen Worlds. We asked her to tell us a bit about herself. 

What is your background in cinema? What are your areas of specialization, and what drew you to those areas?

I am a long-time international film programmer for TIFF, now the Senior Director of Film overseeing the Festival and the Cinematheque programming for the Toronto International Film Festival. My area of expertise is in Spanish language cinema, and I was drawn especially to the new film movements that emerged in the late 1990's beginning with Argentina, then Mexico, Chile - which led to films from the wider region (Colombia, Central America, the Caribbean etc.) getting international attention. I was lucky enough to begin my career at the same time as these films were receiving international acclaim and witnessed first hand the new film aesthetics and the interaction with film festivals and other national cinemas that films from the region influenced and were influenced by.

What are your favourite films of all time? Why?

My answers to this change depending on my mood but here goes:

La Ciénaga (Martel, 2001) - I saw it on a crummy VHS tape on a small TV set that I had in my room the first year I worked in programming at TIFF. I had no idea who the director was, but I knew that I was in the presence of a master and that was exciting.

I love La Règle du Jeu (Renoir, 1939). I remember when I first saw it I was taking a French class in Barcelona at the Alliance Française and I was borrowing a lot of DVDs (oh, to have time to watch movies all day again!!) and I saw it three times in a row. It's so perfect and so terrible.

This COVID year, El ángel exterminador (Buñuel, 1962) feels especially resonant. I do like all of Buñuel's films.

I've always been fascinated and a bit pervesely uplifted by Belle de Jour (Buñuel, 1967). After seeing the depravity of Catherine Deneuve's character I feel so wonderfully uncomplicated in this complex world.

What films are you looking forward to seeing in the future?

I'm looking forward to seeing what Cannes 2021 will be - whatever the films may be. I'm also curious about the films that COVID-19 will have inspired but not sure "looking forward to" is how I'd describe it.

Tell us about your upcoming course.

I am so excited about Global Screen Worlds as it focuses on national cinemas beyond Hollywood and Western Europe, which is the focus of my programming work at film festivals. I think it's especially relevant to have these discussions around cinema now after this huge disruption has happened in the industry and continues to happen. I'm looking forward to engaging in lots of debate around national cinemas and I think the class and I will make some interesting discoveries.