What’s all theBUZZ about? Here’s what we caught at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), and recommending that you catch at at theatre or via a streaming service, in no particular order.

Memory Box: Echoes of 9/11

This documentary collects accounts of 9/11, recorded in the months after the attacks, and present-day testimonials from the same eyewitnesses. Twenty years after 9/11, the memories of that day gather more and more importance. Memory Box: Echoes of 9/11 brings a unique series of recollections fresh from 20 years ago to screen for the first time. In the months following the terrorist attacks that struck New York, Washington, DC, and Pennsylvania on September 11, 2001, artist Ruth Sergel set up a plywood video booth, inviting passersby to stop and recount what they had witnessed and felt. Filmmakers David Belton and Bjørn Johnson have interspersed Sergel’s testimonies with news footage from the time to create a powerful narrative of how those massive, cataclysmic events affected specific individuals, and how those memories have come to reshape lives. The result is a remarkable portrait of both trauma and resilience.

The  Hill Where Lionesses Roar

In a remote Kosovar village, three young women who feel their dreams have been stifled go on a quest for independence. At the centre of the Balkans, following Kosovo’s long-waged battle for independence, three spirited young women struggle to envision futures beyond their homeland’s traditional pipeline. Their hearts are pulsing with dreams, but every artery feels like it leads to a dead end. Suffocated by the discrimination and abuse that is a constant in their remote village, Qe (Flaka Latifi ), Li (Era Balaj), and Jeta (Uratë Shabani) decide to form a gang. Stronger together, they roam and reign and plot revenge on those who have wronged them while creating pathways to explore their submerged desires. But their new-found freedom is not without consequence, and a hunt for the wild trio is soon underway.


Futura probes a cross-section of contemporary Italian youth with questions about their lives and the future, moving from coastal towns and rural villages to cities and their suburbs. It’s a moving portrait of Italian youth and a deep look at global uncertainty. Many feel they have to leave Italy for a better future, leave social media for the real world, feel real relationships are breaking down, are more open to diversity, think family life is important, but relationships not so much. As for the future, with this representation of Italian youth, we most definitely have something to look forward to.


Link and his brother flee their abusive father and embark on a journey where Link discovers his sexuality and rediscovers his Mi’kmaw heritage. Two-spirit Mi’kmaw teenager Link (Phillip Lewitski) is just discovering — and asserting — his sexuality when his already volatile home life goes off the rails. His abusive father Arvin explodes after the cops bust Link and his half-brother Travis (Avery Winters-Anthony) for stealing scrap metal. When he finds out that his supposedly dead mother Sarah may be alive, Link sets fire to Arvin’s truck and flees with Travis. Sparks fly in a chance encounter with teen drifter Pasmay (Joshua Odjick), who shares Link’s Indigenous roots and offers to help find Sarah — but will Link’s (well-founded) mistrust of people ruin his potential new relationship and the group’s mission?

Sort of

A refreshing comedy about a young gender-fluid caregiver, whose life plans are disrupted when tragedy strikes the family they help to maintain. There are periods in one’s life that feel more stable than others, or at least they seem that way in reflection. For many, the last two years have been full of instability and transition. In the new series Sort Of, creators Fab Filippo and Bilal Baig embrace different forms of transition, exploring the themes of gender, love, sexuality, family, career, and landscape.


Three kids in a low-income neighbourhood find friendship and community in an unlikely place, in this adaptation of Catherine Hernandez’s award-winning book. Adapted from the critically acclaimed novel by Catherine Hernandez, Scarborough is an unflinching portrait of three low-income families struggling to endure within a system that’s set them up for failure. It shows the love and perseverance communities can foster, lifting up families to overcome the obstacles placed in their way. Taking place over the span of a school year, Shasha Nakhai and Rich Williamson’s debut narrative feature follows three interwoven families fighting an uphill struggle against debt, addiction, and job insecurity. The directors’ exacting attention to detail frames the vibrant, rapidly changing neighbourhood with a universality and compassion that makes the film strikingly humanistic.

Dionne Warwick: Don’t Make Me Over

This inspiring documentary portrait chronicles the iconic singer’s fascinating six-decade career in both music and Black and LGBTQ activism. Dionne Warwick is a living legend. With that singular voice, both delicate and impassioned, her interpretations of many Burt Bacharach–Hal David compositions — “Walk On By,” “Anyone Who Had a Heart,” “Do You Know the Way to San Jose” — are regarded as definitive. Her activist work for the Black and LGBTQ communities has had a profound impact, yielding her 1985 version of “That’s What Friends Are For,” sung with Gladys Knight, Stevie Wonder, and Elton John, which raised over $3 million for AIDS research. Warwick’s life and work, encompassing the Black American experience over the past six decades, is the subject of Dave Wooley and David Heilbroner’s inspiring documentary portrait.


Alanis Morissette reflects on her 1990s rise to rock stardom, in this new documentary from Alison Klayman (Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry). Alanis Morissette takes a candid look back at being a young woman in the maelstrom of superstardom in the new documentary Jagged. The Canadian singer, previously a teen pop singer in her home country, was only 21 when her record Jagged Little Pill topped international charts in 1995, powered by hits like “You Oughta Know,” “Hand in My Pocket,” “Ironic,” and more. Today they are alt-rock feminist anthems and the basis of a Broadway musical. With the power of hindsight, Morissette can now revisit the good, the bad, and the ugly of that period in her life and career.

Costa Brava, Lebanon

Saleh Bakri and Nadine Labaki star in Mounia Akl’s impassioned debut, an eerie family drama set amid a raging climate crisis in near-future Lebanon. In near-future Lebanon’s last remaining green space, the Badri family has built their idyllic mountain home to escape the overflowing garbage and toxic pollution of Beirut. Surrounded by lush rolling hills, the family of five live in relative peace until the youngest spots strangers in the valley. The president’s political aides have arrived to announce the construction of a new, “green” landfill just beyond the family’s fence. Familiar with the president’s brand of political corruption, both Soraya (Nadine Labaki) and Walid (Saleh Bakri) know it is only a matter of time until they begin burning garbage here, too, making the Badris’ serene home unlivable. Exacerbated by the impending threat to their home, lingering stresses reveal long-ignored rifts in relationships and adolescent yearnings that have only been increased by the family’s social isolation.

Triumph: Rock & Roll Machine

Canadian power-rock hitmakers Triumph revisit their ’80s heyday and prepare to meet devotees in this doc from Sam Dunn and Marc Ricciardelli. “Overkill has always been one of my philosophies.” So says Gil Moore, a founding member of Triumph, the Canadian rock band that announced its guitar-god ambition right there in its name. During a run from the late 1970s through the ’80s, drummer-singer Moore, singer-guitarist Rik Emmett, and bassist-keyboardist Mike Levine dropped hits like “Lay It On the Line,” “Hold On,” and “Magic Power,” which defined an era of muscle cars, tight jeans, and the anthemic yearnings of Canadian youth. Triumph: Rock & Roll Machine chronicles the band’s past rock excess as the trio prepares to meet today’s ultra-fans — and their expectations — at an event staged at Moore’s Metalworks Studios.


Terence Davies’ latest is an equally sombre and sumptuous portrait of 20th-century English poet and soldier Siegfried Sassoon. Benediction’s form is a lyrical stream of consciousness, following associations of memory rather than chronology. Davies crafts Sassoon’s experience of the First World War in layers of heroism (he was decorated for bravery on the Western Front), loss, and unfathomable trauma. His attempt at conscientious objection to the war leads to his being committed to a Scottish hospital, where he meets and mentors fellow poet and soldier Wilfred Owen. Davies tracks much of Sassoon’s life after the war as a chain of fraught romances — most notably with actor and homme fatale Ivor Novello — and ongoing questions of sexual identity, social mores, and integrity both artistic and personal, leading to Sassoon’s late conversion to Catholicism and struggle to connect with his son.

Drunken Birds

A drug-cartel worker runs afoul of his boss and migrates to Canada, in Ivan Grbovic’s timely tale of star-crossed love and starting over. Willy (Jorge Antonio Guerrero), a Mexican drug-cartel worker, has made a fatal mistake: he has fallen in love with his boss’s wife, Marlena (Yoshira Escárrega). Both go into hiding separately. A desperate Willy believes Marlena has fled to Montreal. He eventually finds work as a seasonal migrant worker in rural Quebec, where he becomes entangled in his host family’s domestic turmoil, which is reflective of his own experience in the cartel.

The Hole in the Fence

THE HOLE IS THE FENCE is a gripping coming-of-age story that explores the social polarization rife in today’s Mexico. At a secluded exclusive summer camp in the Mexican countryside, under the watchful eyes of their adult guardians, boys from a prestigious private school receive physical, moral and religious training to turn them into tomorrow’s elite. The discovery of a hole in the perimeter fence triggers a chain of increasingly disturbing events. Hysteria quickly spreads.

Silent Night

A cozy house in the English countryside. The tree has been lovingly decorated. A grand feast is being prepared. Over the sound system, Michael Bublé croons about holiday sweaters. Nell (Oscar nominee Keira Knightley), Simon (Matthew Goode), and their boy Art (Roman Griffin Davis, star of the TIFF ’19 Grolsch People’s Choice Award winner Jojo Rabbit) are ready to welcome friends and family for what promises to be a perfect Christmas gathering. Perfect except for one thing: everyone is going to die. A pitch-black comedy rooted in brilliantly conceived characters and wry observations about class and social order, writer-director Camille Griffin’s feature debut merges that most wonderful night of the year with the end of the world as we know it. A poisonous cloud is descending upon the United Kingdom. An extinction event is imminent. YouTube videos display images of people bleeding from the eyes and ears. And yet, even in this hour of ultimate dread, happy announcements are made, disagreements erupt, people dance, and ordinary foibles ensue.



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.