By Sean Boelman
The Toronto International Film Festival was one of the first to embrace the hybrid format due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and it is now one of the first to bring back filmmakers, journalists, and fans from around the world to celebrate some of the highest profile films the fall has to offer.
We at disappointment media are covering TIFF for the third year in a row — and this year, for the first time ever, on the ground in Toronto. We’ll be providing plenty of coverage throughout the festival, but for those of you who will be joining us in Canada, we wanted to make sure you knew which films we think you shouldn’t miss!
The Pakistani film Joyland, directed by Saim Sadiq, largely went under the radar at Cannes until it won one of the top prizes in the Un Certain Regard section. Telling the story of a man from a traditional Muslim family who falls in love with the transgender leader of an underground dance troupe he joins, this is a fantastic dissection of gender dynamics in a patriarchal country. Ali Junejo’s extraordinary and vulnerable lead performance is reason enough alone to see this film.
Having debuted at the virtual edition of Sundance 2022 to great acclaim and quickly getting snatched up by Sony Pictures Classics, Oliver Hermanus’s Living is making a quick stop at TIFF before its prime awards season release date in December in the US. This remake of master filmmaker Akira Kurosawa’s Ikiru isn’t particularly flashy, but therein lies its charm. It’s a simple, powerful film, in large part thanks to a commandingly subtle turn from Bill Nighy.
Alice Winocour’s Paris Memories may not have been one of the buzziest titles to come out of this year’s Cannes — not even picking up a US distributor as of yet — but that doesn’t change the fact that it is one of the finest. The film explores the ways in which we deal with trauma to absolutely harrowing effect. Virginie Efira got much acclaim for her performance in last year’s Benedetta, but her turn in this film shows that she is a force to be reckoned with. It’s a haunting film in unexpected ways, so don’t miss this one.
I Like Movies
While everyone is going to be buzzing about the other two “filmmakers make their own Belfast” movies at TIFF this year — The Fabelmans and Empire of Light — it’s important not to forget their indie cousin, I Like Movies. Written and directed by critic-turned-filmmaker Chandler Levack, this film is an ode to all the cinephiles who grew up during the Blockbuster generation. Yes, it’s another coming-of-age story, but an endlessly charming one at that.
What is a good TIFF schedule without at least one Midnight Madness selection? This year, genre cinephiles should check out Jamari Helander’s brutal and fun WWII action flick Sisu. Like Rambo by way of Inglorious Basterds, this film follows a seemingly-immortal commando who takes a stand against a group of Nazis with the type of gory results Midnight Madness fans have come to expect. It’s definitely worth the late night to see this one with the crowd at the Royal Alexandra.
These are just a few of the films playing at this year’s TIFF that you absolutely will not want to miss. From high-profile world premieres to some of the hottest films that have played other festivals, there is certainly something for everyone to check out at this year’s festival.
The Snake Hole
Retrospectives, opinion pieces, awards commentary, personal essays, and any other type of article that isn't a traditional review or interview.