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Thursday, August 24, 2017

21 must see films at TIFF according to its programmers

Everybody likes to make their own choices going through TIFF's exhaustive options, but sometimes a little help from the experts can go a long way. So, I asked TIFF's programmers to share what films they selected you just cant't miss. 

Here are must-see films at TIFF 2017, according to its programmers.

Thom Powers (International Documentary)

Filmmaker Brett Morgen got access to over 140 hours of 16mm footage of Jane Goodall in her 20s as she was conducting her earliest research into chimpanzees in Tanzania. With a new score by Philip Glass, the film is an emotional journey that will leave a lasting impression.

One of Us

Oscar nominated directors Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady craft this film almost like a thriller involving New York’s Hasidim community. They follow three members who are looking to break away from their family’s strict codes into a more secular life.

Sammy Davis Jr: I Gotta Be Me

Director Sam Pollard has a deep history covering African-American topics from his work as a director on Eyes on the Prize II to editing and producing for Spike Lee. Now he explores the complicated life of entertainer Sammy Davis Jr..

Jane Schoettle (International Programmer)
Who We Are Now

The latest film from Australian/American filmmaker Matthew Newton. Fuelled by very strong performances from Julianne Nicholson and Jimmy Smits, this lean, taut drama focuses on a singular woman who struggles to ensure that her troubled past does not shape her uncertain future.


Australian actor Simon Baker (TV's The Mentalist) makes his film directorial debut in this adaptation of Tim Winton's acclaimed novel. A gorgeously shot film - equally on land as in the ocean - about a teenage boy who trains to be a surfer under the wing of a former pro (played by Baker).


Israeli writer-director Samuel Maoz follows up his critically lauded first feature Lebanon with this moving and critical reflection on military culture, as a family begins to face the fact that something may have happened to their son while in the line of duty.

Peter Kuplowsky (Midnight Madness Programmer)

A mic-drop of a movie from music video auteur Joseph Kahn that will cement him as one of pop culture's most potent and controversial satirists. Written in collaboration with Toronto battle-rapper Alex Larsen (Kid Twist), the film irreverently, yet critically discusses race relations within the context of a California battle rap community. 

Great Choice

Midnighters cannot afford to miss Robin Comisar's Great Choice, which absurdly and nightmarishly concerns Carrie Coon getting trapped in a Red Lobster commercial. This will blow the roof off the Ryerson Theatre before a screening of Brian Taylor's equally bonkers Mom and Dad.


Raw was one the most talked about Midnight films last year and I expect similar excitement to be stirred up following the white-knuckle and viscously violent climax of Coralie Fargeat's debut feature. The film compellingly scrutinizes and exposes male entitlement, while transforming Matilda Lutz (Rings) into a hardened vehicle of vengeance.

Magali Simard (Senior Manager, Theatrical Programming)
A Worthy Companion

This psychological thriller is one of complex characters looking for love in all the wrong places. It’s a story of mutual attraction that turns into obsession between the two women, and the careful morphing of the power play between all implicated characters is impressive. 


Canadian-Iranian director Sadaf Foroughi's film is bound to become one of the most acclaimed features coming out of our country. Set in Theran, it follows Ava, a young woman whose ultra-disciplined life and controlling parents and environment bring her on the brink of breakdown. 


Ten minutes in and we knew we wanted this film. Cardinals is the wisely built psychological suspense about a convicted woman’s return to her community following years of incarceration after killing a man while drinking and driving. The deceased man’s son immediately takes her to task: was his dad’s death truly an accident?  

Kerri Craddock (Director of Programming)
The Seen and Unseen

A heartwarming and heartbreaking story of a twin boy and girl growing up in the Indonesian countryside, separated by an illness but brought together by the world of dreams.


David Gordon Green and Jake Gyllenhaal bring real-life hero and Boston Marathon bombing survivor, Jeff Bauman's, story to the screen with vivid, intelligent direction and a powerfully emotive lead performance in Stronger.

Unicorn Store

Oscar winning actress turned director Brie Larson, is sure to delight audiences with her charming and intelligent debut feature . Not only does she give a voice to unicorns and glitter, but most importantly, to young women struggling to find a space for themselves in today's world.

Giovanna Fulvi (International Programmer)
Angels Wear White

The second feature from Vivian Qu whisks us away to a sleepy seaside town where tranquility is torn asunder by a terrible crime. Bold, powerful and dangerous, Angels Wear White is a modern noir focused on complex female characters. Qu's filmmaking is not to be missed. 

Dragonfly Eyes

Made from surveillance camera recordings, this film elides the distinction between fiction and documentary. No actors, no cameramen or production designers have contributed to the making of this movie, but millions of people obliviously walking in front of security cameras have lent mundane, triumphant or tragic moments of their lives to its creation.


Director Feng Xiaogang’s follow-up to I Am Madame Bovary is a sweeping marvel. Brutal and tender, teeming with characters and history while also deeply intimate and personal, Youth takes us back to the 1970s to find a country and its young people at a point of great tumult and transition.

Danis Goulet (Short Cuts Programmer)

Renowned Canadian actor Molly Parker (House of Cards, Deadwood) makes a remarkably assured and stellar directorial debut that stars the equally amazing Amanda Plummer as a woman whose beloved pet makes the kind of the escape that she herself longs for.

An Imagined Conversation: Kanye West and Stephen Hawking

In this wickedly dark alt-memoir from animator Sol Friedman, West and Hawking have a picnic and chat about quantum mechanics, the coded language of the universe and personal insecurities (hint: Kanye’s might have something to do with Drake).

The Drop In

What starts as a quietly mysterious drama by Naledi Jackson deftly morphs into a fiercely bad-ass sci-fi immigration thriller starring two dynamic women. A Toronto hair salon story like this has never been seen before and was one of this year’s most exciting discoveries.

by Alexander Huls via blogTO

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