The Toronto International Film Festival runs from September 5 to 15, 2019.

TIFF 2019 Features

If TIFF is at all consistent in any way, it's the fact that I almost always start my festival experience with a Canadian film interview, and this year it was for the bloody, intelligent, and culturally significant Midnight Madness opening film, Blood Quantum.

Let's talk about TIFF, shall we? This is my 19th year covering the Toronto International Film Festival, and while it feels slightly different every single time, it's a great feeling to come back again. Like a friend said to me recently, there's really nothing like having a press pass to one of the world's best film festivals.

TIFF Festival Street

It's the best time of year in Toronto if you love film. The 2019 Toronto International Film Festival is just days away, and the full list of expected stars, talent, creators, and filmmakers has been announced.

Joker, director and co-writer Todd Phillips’ dark and violent attempt to tell the origin story of one of the nastiest comic book villains of all time, is, like the character at the centre of it all, hard to define, but leaves an indelible impression.

Not much more than another standard tale of a young person learning to get over a tragic loss and believe in themselves through the help of a magical creature, Abominable doesn’t break any new ground in animated storytelling whatsoever, but at least it’s cute, enjoyable, and has a lot of heart.

Swerving around many of the cliched potholes modern day biopics about famous performers all too frequently and gleefully drive over at full speed, Judy smartly profiles its larger-than-life subject and talent at a couple of fixed, well chosen points in time rather than mounting a standard riches to rags tale.

Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and The Band - which recently became the first ever Canadian documentary to open the Toronto International Film Festival - is a one-sided, boilerplate, but somewhat personable look at one of rock and roll’s most divisive figures.

Austere and restrained almost to a fault, the Danish thriller and family drama Resin is a fairly forgettable tale told with plenty of brooding style, great performances, and not much else worth recommending.

Adapting something as sprawling, highly detailed, strange, and twisty as Donna Tartt’s Pulitzer Prize winning 2014 novel The Goldfinch for the big screen might’ve been an impossible task for anyone to attempt, but director John Crowley and screenwriter Peter Straughan certainly give their all with this uneven, sometimes bizarre, but never boring literary epic.

The Audition has a story that’s bound to draw comparisons to Damien Chazelle’s breakthrough film Whiplash, but director Ina Weisse’s approach is decidedly less showy and melodramatic.

Walk, drive, bus, or bicycle down any road in North America long enough, and you’re likely to stumble upon a church. In some cases, there will be more than one. But few roads compare to No. 5 Road in Richmond, British Columbia, the subject of filmmaker Sandra Ignagni’s short documentary, Highway to Heaven: A Mosaic in One Mile

A unique work of DIY brilliance, trippy visuals, and thoughtful, culturally minded subtext, Nigerian filmmaker Abba Makama’s The Lost Okoroshi gets off to a blazing start before settling into a slower, duller groove.

Clifton Hill, the third directorial feature from Canadian filmmaker Albert Shin, is a chilly, twisty mystery that makes his hometown of Niagara Falls look like a lesser version of Las Vegas or Atlantic City.

If you’re ever in the mood to seek out an independent film written or directed by some of the best filmmakers of this new generation, be sure to look for Canadian actress Deragh Campbell’s name in the credits.

Canadian writer, actor, and producer Aaron Poole has finally found the time to think big, and it will be surprising to many that have followed his career that the short film Oracle is the first thing he's ever directed.

Writer and director Nicole Delaney’s latest short film, Thirsty, is a classical sort of romance with a modern twist and told from a perspective you’ve never seen and will likely never see again.

Stunning, rigorous, and heart rending, Heimat is a Space in Time, the latest from veteran German filmmaker Thomas Heise, examines the director’s family across four generations, and uses that shared past as context for various themes and images that can best describe his homeland’s fraught and violent history.

For her latest short film, I Am in the World as Free and Slender as a Deer on a Plain (which makes its premiere at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival as part of Short Cuts Programme 3), writer and director Sofia Banzhaf wanted to look at dating, love, desire, and the pitfalls of being a young woman in the modern era from a perspective she hadn’t seen on screen before, and with it, she has yet another visually stunning and emotionally moving credit to add to her increasingly fascinating and well rounded young resume.

Although Israeli-born filmmaker Nadav Lapid hasn’t made a ton of movies across his sixteen year career, his latest, Synonyms, should've been placed into the Masters section at TIFF this year.

American Woman, the first feature from writer-director Semi Chellas, has a lot of things going for it and one huge problem working against it.

For her fifty-third film overall and the seventh entry in a series about the rights and struggles of indigenous children and young adults, veteran documentarian Alanis Obomsawin turns her critical eye to the Canadian health care system with Jordan River Anderson, The Messenger, a film that’s both incendiary and somewhat hopeful for the future.

An autobiographical epitaph and one of the best cinema studies lessons viewers are ever likely to receive, Varda by Agnès finds one of the best filmmakers who ever lived leaving behind an in-depth reflection on their legacy.

An eerie, gross, and frequently hilarious tale of madness and misery, Robert Eggers’ The Lighthouse - the follow-up to his break-out indie horror success The Witch - is too weird for words but highly entertaining for anyone willing to get on side with its nasty, misanthropic wavelength.

Bridget Savage Cole and Danielle Krudy’s coastal and crusty noir Blow the Man Down isn’t just a strong feature debut for the filmmaking tandem, but also a wildly entertaining cult classic in the making.

Easy Land, the first feature from Serbian-Canadian filmmaker Sanja Zivkovic, is a balanced, reserved, but emotionally resonant look at the modern immigrant experience, mental illness, and mother-daughter bonds.

Parasite is a brilliant, biting, chilling, and darkly hilarious bit of social commentary from Korean master filmmaker Bong Joon-ho that’s as entertaining as it is unsettling.

Veteran Italian filmmaker Marco Bellocchio’s epic gangster drama The Traitor takes a conventional mobster narrative, but tells it with a great deal of technical and procedural complexity.

If esteemed French filmmaker Éric Rohmer were still alive today, and he decided to make a movie about modern dude-bros, the result might look something like The Climb, which is the most European feeling American comedy in quite some time.

The Invisible Life of Eurídice Gusmão, which won Un Certain Regard at Cannes earlier this year, is a vibrant, socially relevant, and richly told story of sisterhood ripped apart by men who see women as nothing more than baby making objects.

Black Conflux is the type of film that you’ll keep thinking about long after you’ve left the theatre.

TIFF red carpet

Let the countdown begin! The Toronto International Film Festival is less than 12 weeks away, and there are some key dates coming up that you need to know for purchasing packages and tickets.

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