The Lavin Agency Speakers Bureau

A speakers bureau that represents the best original thinkers,
writers, and doers for speaking engagements.

History, Celebrity, Civil Rights: Top Documentaries at TIFF feature Our Speakers

This year, the Toronto International Film Festival has placed an emphasis on documentaries—and three of them feature some of our most-requested celebrity speakers! Free Angela & All Political Prisoners is a biographical account of the life of Angela Davis. The Central Park Five is the new doc directed by PBS mainstay Ken Burns. And, as we previously wrote, Spike Lee will debut his Michael Jackson documentary, Bad 25, at TIFF.

Free Angela & All Political Prisoners, directed by Shola Lynch, features some of the first public interviews with civil rights speaker Angela Davis. The film details her very-public incarceration in 1970, and touches on contentious issues surrounding gun control, freedom of speech, and racial prejudice. Davis has covered these issues extensively in her newest books Abolition Democracy, Are Prisons Obsolete? and the upcoming Prisons and American History. Her provocative story and powerful lectures critiquing the American democratic system have earned her support from Will & Jada Pinkett Smith’s Overbrook Entertainment and Jay-Z’s Roc Nation, which are executive producers on the film.

Another documentary featuring a very public prosecution is Ken Burns' The Central Park Five. The hard-hitting documentary from the Emmy-winning director of such films as Baseball, Jazz and The Civil War, will detail the infamous case of the “Central Park Jogger.” Burns' film tells the story of five black and Latino teens being tried for the murder of a white female jogger in New York's Central Park. In both his films and his riveting public speeches, the Oscar-nominated director chronicles the events that have shaped America's history—from the grandest narratives to the most personal stories.

Don’t Be Overly Respectful: Salman Rushdie Adapts Midnight’s Children for Film

 “Initially, I didn’t want to do the screenplay [for Midnight's Children],” Salman Rushdie said recently, about his decision to adapt his Booker-winning novel into a film. “But if I had said no,” he told The Globe and Mail, “we wouldn’t have been able to raise the money.”

Set to premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, the highly anticipated film, directed by Academy Award-nominated Deepa Mehta, tells the story of two children born at midnight and switched at birth on the day of India's independence. Rushdie admits that paring down his canonical novel into a screenplay required him to show reckless abandon to his original work. “I knew you had to adapt it by not being overly respectful of the text,” he said, “and the person who can be most disrespectful of the book is me.”

Rushdie seems to be enjoying his temporary departure from novel-writing. He has also signed on to write the pilot for Showtime's proposed new show Next People. And with the launch of his new memoir, Joseph Anton, September will be a busy month for him. But fiction fans, don’t fret! As he tells the Globe, he “has a novel in his head” and is looking forward to getting to it sometime in the near future.

Bad 25, Spike Lee’s New Michael Jackson Movie, Opens at TIFF.

Bad 25, directed by celebrity speaker Spike Lee, is a gripping documentary that pays homage to Michael Jackson—the King of Pop—and commemorates the 25th anniversary of his album Bad. Set to make its debut at the Toronto International Film Festival this September, the movie takes fans behind the scenes of the recording of the 1987 blockbuster.  It features footage shot by Jackson himself as well as new interviews from music big wigs Kayne West, Sheryl Crow, and Mariah Carey.  

Lee, the director of Do the Right Thing and Malcolm X, delivers an unapologetic honesty to each of his films; giving the viewer a glimpse into the world of some of history's most inspiring—and most controversial—people. Bad 25 offers an intimate view of Michael Jackson that strips away all of the media scandals and focuses on the artist behind the music—exploring the performer's relentless dedication to his craft and the mark he left on the world.

Salman Rushdie and Deepa Mehta Bring Midnight’s Children, the Movie, to TIFF

Midnight's Children, an adaptation of the Booker Prize-winning novel by Salman Rushdie, is one of the most highly anticipated films to debut at the Toronto International Film Festival this September.

It’ll be a busy month for Rushdie, as he’ll also be launching his new memoir, Joseph Anton.  For the new movie, Rushdie converted his best-selling novel into an arresting and whimsical screenplay in a collaboration with Deepa Mehta, the Academy Award-nominated Canadian director. The fantastical film, like the novel, centers on two children, both born at exactly midnight and switched at birth on the night of India's independence on August 15, 1947. Imbued with magical, telepathic powers, the lives of the two children mysteriously seem to constantly intertwine, and the two find themselves deeply linked to the course of India's future.

It’s magical realism, done right, by a powerhouse pair: Mehta, the acclaimed director of the provocative “Elements” trilogy of films, and Rushdie, a masterful novelist and a mesmerizing public speaker who knows about the resonant role that stories play in our lives.

Pakistan to Wall Street: The Reluctant Fundamentalist, a New Film by Mira Nair

Director Mira Nair’s hotly anticipated new film, The Reluctant Fundamentalist, revolves around the complicated, and sometimes scandalous, world of international politics—and, in classic Nair fashion, it's wildly entertaining while still having heft. It stars Riz Ahmen, Kate Hudson, and Kiefer Sutherland, and is based on the bestselling novel of the same name. In September, it will make its North American debut at the Toronto International Film Festival, the festival that has become the unofficial start of the Oscar race every year.  

Telling the story of a Pakistani immigrant chasing the American Dream, Nair’s timely new film follows the protagonist's mission to climb the corporate ladder on Wall Street while getting swept up in a hostage situation and questioning his loyalties to his home country. Similar to Nair's other films—The Namesake, and the Oscar-nominated Salaam Bombay!— it tackles identity crisis, race, gender and international relations in a way that grabs viewers' attention and resonates with them long after the film has ended. Unlike some directors, Nair is also a passionate public speaker, adept at sharing her insightful views on the world around us from not just behind the scenes, but in the spotlight as well.