Toronto Outdoor Picture Show (TOPS) have announce their full schedule for its five-week in-person festival at Fort York National Historic Site. In a programme reminiscent of the “before times,” TOPS will present 17 curated film screenings between July 31 and Sept 5, all free for the general public to enjoy in the open air. Screenings kick off on Saturday July 31 with the super fabulous “Bird Cage.”

Unfortunately with reduced capacity this year, all screenings sold out within minutes of being released. Good news is that new tickets can be released at anytime should someone not be able to attend, and there’s a block that is held back until noon on the day of each screening. So, be sure to check the website regularly if you’re really wanting to go.

Under the banner of this year’s theme, TOPS & Friends, the organization brings together cultural curators from across the city for a dynamic community celebration of cinema – and music! – under the stars. The programme will open (July 31-August 2) and close (Sept 1-5) with long weekends of TOPS-curated film selections on the theme of community celebration, both large and small. Lavish weddings (Monsoon Wedding) and prom night ragers (Booksmart & Dazed and Confused), dinner parties both triumphant and disastrous (The Birdcage & Big Night), legendary drag balls (Paris is Burning), big stage débuts (The Forty- Year-Old Version), and spectacular fireworks (Brimstone & Glory) – after the year we’ve all had, this programme reminds us of the importance of collective joy.

As always, TOPS-curated screenings will pair feature films with short films by Canadian creators, including the World Premieres of several brand-new original shorts funded last year as part of TOPS’ tenth anniversary. Audiences can look forward to new films by recent Canadian Screen Award-winning director Winnifred Jong
(Tokens), Charlie Tyrell (whose short film My Dead Dad’s Porno Tapes was a New York Times Op-Docs selection, and won the Best Documentary Short CSA), and up-and-coming indie darlings Roney and Maya Annik Bedward who are both in production on their first features.

Throughout the month of August, the programme will feature a series of guest screenings curated by some of Toronto’s leading festivals and programmers, who have been separated from in-person audiences for as long as two years. Audiences will enjoy a diverse selection of films from around the world, from nostalgic pop classics to international art cinema and cutting edge experimental and short film works.

Finally, TOPS & Friends will wrap up the summer with a bang over Labour Day weekend: a jubilant five-night closing weekend of movies, plus live music performances each night from local indie artists, curated by Wavelength Music Series.

“Wavelength is thrilled by the opportunity to partner with our friends at TOPS on their closing long weekend at
Fort York,” says Wavelength Artistic / Executive Director Jonathan Bunce. “After 18 months without live concerts, we can’t wait to return to what we do best: bringing people together in person to celebrate music and community. We’ve put together a diverse series of live performances spanning genres from R&B and electronic to indie folk and rock, that will pair nicely with TOPS’ curated film programme. Musicians have made the most of their time in lockdown, and we’re looking forward to hearing them share their stories of resilience and reinvention on stage – and most importantly, in front of an audience, in the open air, under the stars.”

In accordance with provincial health and safety guidelines (Step Three) of Ontario’s Roadmap to Reopen, the
TOPS & Friends festival will take place on the gated grounds of Fort York, ensuring that attendees can feel
comfortable and safe. Attendance may fluctuate over the festival period, but will begin at a significantly
reduced 400-person capacity, with ample space for physical distancing.

Location: Fort York National Historic Site, Toronto (100 Garrison Road)
Dates: Various dates from July 31 through September 5, 2021
Times: Gates open 7pm from July 31 – August 27, 6pm from Sept 1-5; screenings at sundown
Cost/Tickets: Free advanced tickets, donations gratefully encouraged
There will be no admission without an advanced ticket
Accessibility: Films are screened with captioning unless otherwise noted. Accessible venue.
BYOBlanket & Chairs
Food, non/alcoholic drinks and merchandise will be available for purchase. (Personal picnics allowed; outside
alcohol prohibited)


Saturday, July 31
The Birdcage (Mike Nichols, 1996, USA)
Short films: Plus One (Peter Knegt, 2017, Canada) & Nouvel An (Marie-Ève Juste, 2015, Canada)

Sunday, August 1
Monsoon Wedding (Mira Nair, 2001, India)
Short film: The Foreigner (Maya Annik Bedward, 2014, Canada)

Monday, August 2
Booksmart (Olivia Wilde, 2019, USA)
Short film: The Tragic Fall of Valerie Mallory Finkerstein (Martina Monro, 2019, Canada)

Thursday, August 5
Interstella 5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem (Daisuke Nishio, Hirotoshi Rissen & Leiji Matsumoto,
2003, Japan/France)
Guest curated by Toronto Reel Asian Film Festival

Friday, August 6
Dancehall Queen (Don Letts and Rick Elgood, 1997, Jamaica)
Short films: Who Am I? (Alanna Stuart & May Truong, 2017, Canada) and Everblessed (Jeremy Relph & Nile
Saunter, 2016, Canada/Jamaica)
Guested curated by Alanna Stuart (Bonjay) and Sou Sou

Sunday, August 8
of ties and tethers (Christina Battle, Benjamin Chang, Aslı Dinç, Francisca Duran, Kanika Gordon, Kite, Vishal
Kumaraswamy, and Maari Sugawara, 2021, Canada)
Short film programme guest curated by Inter/Access as part of Vector Festival

Wednesday, August 11
Lara (Jan Ole Gerster, 2019, Germany)
Guest curated by Goethe-Institut Toronto

Friday, August 13
Between Heaven and Earth (Najwa Najjar, 2019, Palestine)
Guest curated by Toronto Palestine Film Festival

Sunday, August 15
BFF Shorts Programme
Shorts: Activate NDN Consciousness (Natalie King, 2019, Canada), Rematriate: Passing the Seeds (Shelby
Lisk, 2019, Canada), Inuit Languages in the 21st Century (Ulivia Uviluk, 2020, Canada), Odehimin (Veillette-
Cheezo, 2020, Canada), êmîcêtôsêt: Many Bloodlines (Theola Ross, 2020, Canada)
Guest curated by Breakthroughs Film Festival

Friday, August 20
Chutney Popcorn (Nisha Ganatra, 1999, USA)
Short film: Noor & Layla (Fawzia Mirza, 2021, Canada)
Guest curated by Inside Out 2SLGBTQ+ Film Festival

Thursday, August 26
Minari (Lee Isaac Chung, 2020, USA)
Guest curated by Regent Park Film Festival

Friday, August 27
Info TBA in August


Wednesday, September 1
Big Night (Campbell Scott & Stanley Tucci, 1996, USA)
World Premiere of short films Distant Cousins (Winnifred Jong, 2021, Canada) & I Like it Here (Charlie Tyrell,
2021, Canada)
With live music by Beams, music curated by Wavelength Music Series

Thursday, September 2
Dazed and Confused (Richard Linklater, 1993, USA)
World Premiere of short film Projections (Maya Annik Bedward, 2021, Canada)
With live music by Moscow Apartment, music curated by Wavelength Music Series

Friday, September 3
Brimstone & Glory (Viktor Jakovleski, 2017, Mexico/USA)
World Premiere of short film Bee Problem (Roney, 2021, Canada)
With live music by Helena Deland/Hildegard/Ouri, music curated by Wavelength Music Series

Saturday, September 4
Paris is Burning (Jennie Livingston, 1990, USA)
Short film: Stage Name: Victoria (Taran Morriseau, 2017, Canada)
With live music by Desiire & Decoration Day, music curated by Wavelength Music Series

Sunday, September 5
The Forty-Year-Old Version (Radha Blank, 2020, USA)
Live music by LolaBunz, music curated by Wavelength Music Series

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Twitter: @TOpictureshow
Instagram: @TOpictureshow #TOPSandfriends #TOPS2021

If you don’t manage to get tickets on the first try, here are some tips:
1️⃣  If tickets are gone before you get a chance to select any, keep checking back! People who cannot use their tickets are encouraged to return them through their Universe accounts so that someone else can enjoy them. Tickets may appear at any point.
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3️⃣  On every screening date, a small number of additional tickets will be made available at 12 PM on that evening’s ticket page.
If you’re really looking forward to outdoor cinema, you might be interested in our Toronto Backyard Picture Show rental kits for you to enjoy at home with your friends and neighbours.

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.