The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) is one of Toronto’s biggest attractions and one of the world’s most prestigious film festivals. Every year, hundreds of thousands of people converge to attend hundreds of screenings at venues scattered across the city, often in Toronto’s Entertainment District.
Part of the reason TIFF has become such a noteworthy festival is because its fall timing runs close enough to awards season for the films to generate buzz. TIFF’s Grolsch People’s Choice Award has become an early predictor of awards season success, with past recipients including The Imitation Game, Room, and La La Land. In the nearly 43 years since TIFF’s founding, numerous Grolsch award winners have gone on to win the Oscar for Best Picture, the most recent one being 12 Years a Slave.
The scale of the festival is enormous: last year’s event featured 397 films from 83 different countries. TIFF’s programmers received 6,933 total submissions for consideration, 1,240 of which were Canadian.
Individual tickets go on sale to the public on September 4 at 10:00 am. Prices range depending on whether your chosen film is on a weekend or weekday, or in the evening as opposed to a matinee. The lowest-priced tickets are $10 for those under 25 attending a weekday daytime screening, but prices may increase from the base fare due to demand for a certain film. Should you plan to severely neglect your studies, there may be package deals available.
Attending a screening
The importance of arriving early cannot be overstated. As stated on the TIFF website: “15 minutes early is on time. 5 minutes early is late.” The festival organizers recommend arriving an hour early. Except for Roy Thompson Hall and the Princess of Wales Theatre, the venues will not have assigned seating, so the lineups are the only way to pick your preferred seat. Above all, be prepared. Bring sunscreen, an umbrella — whatever you need to wait in line comfortably. Keep checking tiff.net or the TIFF app to keep on top of the screening schedule. And of course, don’t forget your ticket!
The main events
Here are some of the biggest films set for screenings at TIFF, many of which are making their international or North American premieres. If stargazing is your thing, these are sure to be some of the splashiest red carpet events.
Untouchable, directed by Neil Burger (US)
This Bryan Cranston and Kevin Hart flick is a remake of the French film The Intouchables, about a wealthy quadriplegic man and the unemployed former criminal who’s hired to assist him. It features Nicole Kidman, Julianna Margulies, and Aja Naomi King.
Breathe, directed by Andy Serkis (UK)
You might know Andy Serkis best as Gollum, King Kong, or Caesar, but here he makes his directorial debut with the world premiere of Breathe. The film, a biographical drama, will feature Andrew Garfield as a man who develops polio and becomes an advocate for the disabled against all odds along with his loving wife, played by Claire Foy.
The Catcher Was a Spy, directed by Ben Lewin (USA)
Paul Rudd plays Moe Berg, a professional baseball player who becomes a professional spy working for the Office of Strategic Services — the CIA before it was the CIA — during World War II. The film is based on Nicholas Dawidoff’s bestselling biography of the same name.
Lady Bird, directed by Greta Gerwig (US)
Greta Gerwig, the star of films like Frances Ha and 20th Century Women, makes her solo directorial debut. The film stars Saoirse Ronan, Laurie Metcalf, and Tracy Letts, with Ronan playing a Sacramento teenager longing to escape to college in New York City.
Call Me By Your Name, directed by Luca Guadagnino (Italy/France)
Adapted from André Aciman’s acclaimed novel of the same name, Guadagino’s coming-of-age film has already received rave reviews after premiering at Sundance earlier this year. The film, set in Italy in 1983, follows a young boy, played by Timothée Chalamet, who falls in love, or perhaps just lust, with his father’s older summer grad student, played by Armie Hammer.
Battle of the Sexes, directed by Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton (US)
Steve Carrell and Emma Stone reunite in this sports comedy-drama based on the iconic 1973 tennis match between Bobby Riggs and Billie Jean King. We’ll leave it to you to decide whether or not to spoil this one.
First They Killed My Father, directed by Angelina Jolie (Cambodia)
Jolie cowrote this film with Loung Ung. It is based on Ung’s memoir of her childhood, which was spent under Pol Pot’s regime during the Khmer Rouge years. The film will be released on Netflix in late 2016 in both English and Khmer.
mother!, directed by Darren Aronosfky (US)
Aronofsky’s latest psychological thriller features a star-studded cast that includes Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem, and Michelle Pfeiffer. The film centres on a couple that is threatened by uninvited guests entering their home, and it will make its North American debut at TIFF after premiering at the Venice Film Festival.