John Greyson’s boycott at TIFF strategic: communication experts

by Sarah Moore

Sept 24, 2009
While many filmmakers would be thrilled to have their work presented during the glitz and glam of the Toronto International Film Festival, a Toronto filmmaker John Greyson pulled his short film “Covered” from the festival and publicly advertised that it would instead be shown for free on throughout the duration of the festival.
Greyson made the move after he criticized the festival’s focus on Tel Aviv films for TIFF’s City-to-City program.
But experts say Greyson’s decision to post the film online may have been a strategic one.

Since it was posted on August 27, “Covered” has been viewed a total of 5,686 times and Greyson used this video-sharing technology to reach not only the 2,000,000 members of the website, but also any individual searching for his film on the Internet.

While most of the controversy over the City-to-City program died down as TIFF came to an end on September 19, Greyson’s film is currently still available for viewing on Vimeo, free of charge.

In fact, the number of people who have the capacity to view his film in this manner greatly outnumbers the number of viewers he would have had at TIFF.
According to Gina Chen, author of web blog SavetheMedia, Greyson’s actions highlight how the Internet, with video-sharing websites such as Vimeo, is allowing individuals to post material in a way that challenges the traditional forms of media sharing.

“The regular person has an outlet to express ideas that he or she may not be able to express in any other way,” Chen said.

Vimeo, and other sites like it, allow amateur and professional filmmakers and artists the ability to independently share their vision with a global audience.
Founded in 2004, the website boasts an impressive number of members and uploads, as well as having been operational before the media giant Youtube, yet it seems to less well known. indicates that more than 15,000 videos are uploaded every day.

The website has been quietly increasing in popularity and the ability to show video in high definition quality is a selling point for many who use it.
Hamilton-based videographer Mitch Fillion, praised the site for its fast upload speeds and impressive video quality, something he argues is not available by using YouTube.

“I remember having to wait days after uploading a video to YouTube and then the audio would end up being way out of sync with the video and the picture quality would also be terrible,” he said.

“I like being able to get my customers high quality videos almost the same day that I shoot them and Vimeo is one of the only sites I know of that is reliable enough to meet these demands.”
Sheldon Reisler, professor and coordinator of the broadcasting and film program at Centennial College, can’t say enough about the importance of maintaining image quality when uploading video to the Internet.
“When you’re waiting for those magic hours to get the lighting and scene just right, and you get magnificent footage, you want to make sure that not a single percent of quality is lost,” he said.
The website gives not only the everyday citizen, freelancer, or the up and coming filmmaker a
professional quality outlet for broadcasting their work, but it also has celebrity members who post regularly. Kayne West, Britney Spears, and even Barack Obama are members of the site. According to, 2,578 people subscribe to the site’s official White House channel and many view it daily to check what the President is posting, and to comment on it.
This socially interactive, community-based, aspect of the site allows users to share feedback with people all over the world, many of whom would not be able to communicate in any other way. This aspect of the site gained Vimeo a nomination for .net Magazine’s Best Community Site of 2009, the winner of which will be announced on December 8.