First films announced for Toronto International Film Festival – September 9–18, 2021
On September 9, 2021, the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) will kick off 10 days of exceptional international and Canadian cinema with over 100 films in its Official Selection, unparalleled events featuring acclaimed industry guests, and TIFF’s Industry Conference. Recognized as the world’s largest public film festival, TIFF is poised to bring the theatrical experience back to life and continue its reputation as both a leader in amplifying under-represented cinematic voices and a bellwether for programming award-winning films from around the globe.
In-person screenings at TIFF Bell Lightbox, Roy Thomson Hall, the Visa Screening Room at the Princess of Wales Theatre, and Festival Village at the iconic Ontario Place punctuate this year’s Festival. Festival Village at Ontario Place comprises the Cinesphere IMAX Theatre, Visa Skyline Drive-in, RBC Lakeside Drive-In and the West Island Open Air Cinema. TIFF 2021 highlights also include screenings across Canada, and the return of the digital TIFF Bell Lightbox and TIFF Bell Digital Talks platforms.
The Festival’s public digital experience is presented by Bell, with film screenings on digital TIFF Bell Lightbox available across Canada. In Conversation With…talks and interactive Q&A sessions with actors and creators will be hosted on TIFF Bell Digital Talks, available worldwide. To increase the accessibility of the Festival, all films screened digitally will be closed-captioned.
TIFF is excited to announce the following twelve films as a sampling of what is to come in the Festival’s Official Selection for 2021: Le Bal des Folles directed by Mélanie Laurent (France) from Amazon Studios, Benediction, directed by Terence Davies (United Kingdom) from Bankside Films, Belfast, from director Kenneth Branagh (United Kingdom) from Focus Features, Charlotte, directed by Eric Warin and Tahir Rana (Canada/Belgium/France) from Elevation Pictures and MK2 Mile End, Dionne Warwick: Don’t Make Me Over, directed by Dave Wooley, David Heilbroner (USA), The Guilty by director Antoine Fuqua (USA) from Netflix, HBO’s Jagged, documentary on iconic Canadian singer-songwriter Alanis Morissette, directed by Alison Klayman (USA), Lakewood, directed by Philip Noyce (Canada), Last Night in Soho, directed by Edgar Wright (United Kingdom) from Focus Features, Night Raiders, directed by Danis Goulet (Canada/New Zealand) from Elevation Pictures and Samuel Goldwyn Films, Petite Maman, directed by Céline Sciamma (France) from Elevation Pictures and NEON and The Starling by director Theodore Melfi (USA) from Netflix. The Festival’s Gala and Special Presentations presented by Visa, will be announced on July 20. Films selected for TIFF’s programmes — Contemporary World Cinema presented by Sun Life, Discovery, TIFF Docs presented by A&E Indie Films, Midnight Madness, Primetime, and Wavelengths — will be announced July 28. TIFF Short Cuts and the Platform Programme will be announced August 11.
TIFF is also delighted to announce that award-winning Canadian filmmaker Denis Villeneuve’s Dune will screen as a World Exclusive IMAX Special Event at the Cinesphere Theatre at Ontario Place. The film, based on Frank Herbert’s seminal novel and featuring an impressive all-star ensemble cast, will be showcased in Toronto and Montreal, in partnership with Warner Bros. Canada and venue partner Cineplex. Dune, from Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures, is in theatres nationwide this fall.
|Photo Credit: Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures
“We are so proud of the calibre of the films and the diversity of the stories we will be presenting this year,” said Joana Vicente, TIFF Executive Director and Co-Head. “It is so powerful to be able to share these films with Festival-goers in theatres. And while the world is definitely moving towards a degree of normalcy, many of our industry and press colleagues may not be able to travel across international borders. In response, we have brought back the TIFF Digital Cinema Pro platform that will host Press & Industry screenings, the Industry Conference, press conferences, as well as the TIFF Industry Selects market. We believe that digital access is an important part of providing accessibility to audiences and will be vital to the future of film festivals. This inclusivity across all our offerings helps to ensure that, no matter where you are located, you can participate in the Festival.”
“It’s been a tough year and we’re so glad to be back,” said Cameron Bailey, TIFF Artistic Director and Co-Head. “We’re thrilled to be presenting the latest by Alison Klayman, Edgar Wright, Philip Noyce, Kenneth Branagh and many more to audiences in our Toronto cinemas, and to Canadians all across the country at home. We can’t wait for September. We’re also honoured to introduce the world to outstanding Canadian debuts such as Eric Warin and Tahir Rana’s Charlotte and Danis Goulet’s Night Raiders. We’ve been inspired by the quality, range, and diversity of the films we’re inviting, and we couldn’t wait to give everyone an early glimpse.”
“We are confident in our planning for a return to in-person screenings as part of TIFF as both the province and country accelerate vaccination rollout,” offered Dr. Peter Nord, Chief Medical Officer, Medcan, and TIFF’s consultative partner on health and safety for the pandemic. “Canada’s first-dose immunization rate has surpassed the US, and recently reached the best rates in the world. As of today in Toronto, more than 75% of adults have received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 25% have received their second dose. We fully anticipate that by the time the Festival arrives, all Ontarians will have the opportunity to be fully vaccinated. Public health indicators, such as hospitalizations, ICU occupancy, and case rates indicate that we’re on the right — and safe — path to fully reopening. In addition, audiences will confidently be able to enjoy in-cinema screenings by maintaining a safe physical distance and wearing a mask.”
New this year, audiences across Canada can enjoy the excitement of TIFF in their own communities with TIFF’s “Coast-to-Coast Screenings.” Film Circuit, TIFF’s film-outreach programme since 1995, will host in-cinema screenings in select locations across the country for one evening in each location, to help ignite theatrical exhibition across Canada and celebrate audiences’ return to theatres. Locations and films to be announced at a later date.
“TIFF remains a must-attend festival,” said Vicente. “Last year’s industry offerings led to a record-breaking year in film sales, new highs in Conference attendance, the introduction of TIFF’s pass-gifting initiative for under-represented voices, gender parity across all Industry programming streams, and TIFF’s curated Industry Selects film programme devoted to international sales titles. Our commitment to diverse voices, to removing all barriers for their work to be seen, to creating an accessible space for business, and to sharing creators’ stories is in our DNA. In 2021, TIFF is ensuring every initiative and event will have diversity, equity, and inclusion woven into its implementation.”
Industry registration for this year’s Festival (September 9–18) and Industry Conference (September 10–14) will open on June 25 and a full outline of this year’s pass benefits can be found at tiff.net/industry-accreditation. More details on the digital Conference programming, Talent Development initiatives, and Industry programmes will follow throughout the summer. TIFF will announce talent appearances and update accredited professionals on in-person offerings for Press & Industry delegates, such as Press & Industry screenings, in late July as government plans for reopening the city and the country are finalized.
Since its inception, one of TIFF’s guiding principles has been to celebrate and amplify the voices of exceptional filmmakers working in Canada. Award-winning filmmaker Alanis Obomsawin’s prolific body of work will be highlighted at TIFF 2021 with a retrospective entitled Celebrating Alanis. “Alanis is one of the most important figures in Canadian film, documentary film, and Indigenous film,” said Bailey. “Curated by Jason Ryle, one of the world’s leading Indigenous curators, this retrospective captures a national moment when Canadians are looking for ways to better understand and access how central Indigenous history and culture are to this nation.” Celebrating Alanis is co-presented with the National Film Board of Canada.
TIFF will build on its unwavering commitment to greater representation of voices by challenging the status quo, celebrating diverse storytellers and audiences, and making space for Black, Indigenous, people-of-colour, women, and LGBTQ+ creators and other under-represented talent. “TIFF’s programming team works to ensure that the films they curate are reflective of the audiences they serve,” continued Bailey. “Films and film festivals help shape our culture, which is why access and representation are so important. Our team strives to bring under-represented voices to the table, and we build on this year after year.”
To ensure that under-represented voices and perspectives are sought out and welcomed into its press corps, TIFF’s media team works with outlets and editors around the globe, encouraging a diverse contingent. In addition, TIFF will host the fourth year of its Media Inclusion Initiative (MII), a mentorship programme committed to growing the diversity of the press corps covering the Festival. This year, TIFF welcomes 45 new critics and writers who will offer greater representation in the areas of race, gender, sexual orientation, and disability. The MII participants will have access to films, talks, specialized workshops, and one-on-one mentoring opportunities for eligible participants.TIFF is delighted to welcome Rotten Tomatoes as a supporter of this year’s Media Inclusion Initiative.
The 2021 TIFF Tribute Awards, will be co-produced by Bell Media Studios and for the second straight year will be broadcast nationally by CTV and streamed internationally by Variety. More information on the TIFF 2021 Tribute Awards event and this year’s honourees to follow in the coming weeks. Past recipients of the Tribute awards have gone on to win awards on the international stage such as Chloé Zhao, Mati Diop, Joaquin Phoenix, Tracey Deer, Taika Waititi and Sir Anthony Hopkins.
TIFF will once again celebrate outstanding filmmaking with its jury awards: the Federation of International Film Critics (FIPRESCI) and Network for the Promotion of Asian Pacific Cinema (NETPAC) Awards, the Platform Prize, the IMDbPro Short Cuts Awards, the Amplify Voices Awards presented by Canada Goose, and the Shawn Mendes Foundation Changemaker Award. Known for its discerning audiences that predict box-office and critical success, the TIFF People’s Choice Awards series returns, comprising the People’s Choice Award, the People’s Choice Documentary Award, and the People’s Choice Midnight Madness Award. All films in TIFF’s Official Selection are eligible for the People’s Choice Award and are voted on by Festival audiences.
TIFF is more accessible than ever in 2021, and public audiences across Canada can be among the first to make exciting cinematic discoveries. There are several ticket options available to audiences, from single film tickets for in-person screenings to packages for digital film screenings that allow access for up to 20 digital films. Digital ticket package sales start June 30 for TIFF’s Contributors Circle Members and all ticket dates are available at tiff.net/tickets. Ticket sales are serviced online and by phone only.
TIFF continues to work closely with the Province of Ontario, the City of Toronto, and public health officials on the safe execution of the Festival, with its number-one priority being the health and well-being of both Festival filmgoers and residents of the community. Based on the provincial government’s recently announced reopening plan, TIFF is planning to operate at a higher capacity for indoor theatres by September, likely with mandatory mask usage for Festival-goers. To help ensure the safest possible experience, TIFF has once again partnered with Medcan, a global health care leader providing medical expertise, consultation, and health inspiration to achieve its mission to help people “Live Well, For Life.” Based on the pillars of evidence-based care, exceptional client service, and the latest in technology, Medcan’s team of over 90 physicians supports employee health care across the continuum of health, including its “Safe at Work System,” which helps organizations navigate the pandemic.
About the Author
Bryen Dunn is a freelance journalist with a focus on travel, lifestyle, entertainment and hospitality. He has an extensive portfolio of celebrity interviews with musicians, actors and other public personalities. He enjoys discovering delicious eats, tasting spirited treats, and being mesmerized by musical beats.