Still from Dear Evan Hansen

Dear Evan Hansen to Open TIFF 2021

TIFF announces more Galas and Special Presentations

The musical adaptation Dear Evan Hansen will open this year’s Toronto International Film Festival. The highly anticipated film version of the Tony Award winning musical will kick off TIFF 2021’s Gala screenings when the festival begins September 9. Directed by Stephen Chbosky (Perks of Being a Wallflower), Dear Evan Hansen stars Ben Platt, Julianne Moore, and Amy Adams in a moving story of a high schooler who unwittingly enters the spotlight when a letter he penned for himself is mistaken for a classmate’s suicide note.

“There was no question that Dear Evan Hansen was the ideal film to launch the Festival this year,” said Cameron Bailey, TIFF Artistic Director and Co-Head, in a statement from the festival. “This film is ultimately about healing, forgiveness, and reaffirms how connected and essential we all are to one another. We couldn’t think of a more important idea to celebrate this year as we come together once again to share the power and joy of cinema in theatres together.”

“Dear Evan Hansen is a film about allowing ourselves to be found, and giving ourselves permission to be our true, authentic selves,” added Stephen Chbosky. “After a year and a half of isolation, so many of us are finding our way back to each other. So, now more than ever, I am honoured that the Toronto International Film Festival has chosen Dear Evan Hansen to open this year’s Festival. We could not have asked for a more ideal festival, or audience, or moment to premiere our film.”

TIFF’s announcement today added approximately 20 titles to the previously announced dozen films. One Second from acclaimed Chinese auteur Zhang Yimou will serve as the festival’s closing night Gala. Along with Dear Evan Hansen, today’s announcement had some major titles including The Eyes of Tammy Faye, the Tammy Faye Bakker biopic starring Jessica Chastain and directed by Michael Showalter. The film is an award season hopeful from Searchlight pictures and is slated for release shortly after its TIFF debut.

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Other new titles in the TIFF line-up include Official Competition (Competencia Oficial) starring Penélope Cruz and Antonio Banderas in what sounds like a fun and sexy film-on-film adventure. Today’s announcement also features two new films from TIFF Platform alumni, the Riz Ahmed vehicle Encounter from Beast director Michael Pearce and Ali & Ava from Dark River director Clio Barnard. The festival line-up drew admittedly raised some eyebrows with the addition of Clifford the Big Red Dog among its Gala line-ups. The addition presumably hopes to rally families for an overdue big-screen adventure…and indicates that everyone just needs to print some money after the losses of COVID.

Joining Clifford are a number of Cannes titles fresh from the Croisette. Among them are The Worst Person in the World, which won Best Actress for Renate Reinsve. TIFF will have North American premieres for Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s critical favourite Drive My Car, Nanni Moretti’s Three Floors, and Ildikó Enyedi’s The Story of My Wife, which will hope for a rebound after taking a beating from the critics at Cannes.

On the Canadian front, Michael McGowan’s adaptation of Miriam Toews’ novel All My Puny Sorrows marked a new addition for Canadian content, while Danis Goulet’s previously announced Night Raiders was tapped for a Gala slot. Other previously announced Canadian titles like the animated Charlotte and the Naomi Watts vehicle Lakewood will screen in the Special Presentations program. On July 28, TIFF will announce the titles for the TIFF Docs, Contemporary World Cinema, Midnight Madness, Wavelengths, and Primetime programmes.

Additionally, today’s announcement noted the addition of the Cineplex Scotiabank Theatre for public screenings for the first five days of the festival. Movie theatres recently reopened in Toronto after a ninth-month closure. Audiences returned in droves with theatres following all required safety protocols, while the recent announcements for Canada’s vaccination rate and the easing of cross-border travel means that the festival could look and feel somewhat like it did in the pre-COVID years.

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The TIFF 2021 Gala and Special Presentations selections are as follows:

 

GALAS

*Belfast
Dir. Kenneth Branagh | United Kingdom
World Premiere

Clifford the Big Red Dog
Dir. Walt Becker | USA/United Kingdom/Canada
World Premiere

Dear Evan Hansen
Dir. Stephen Chbosky | USA
World Premiere – Opening Night Film.

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The Electrical Life of Louis Wain
Dir. Will Sharpe | United Kingdom
Canadian Premiere

The Eyes of Tammy Faye
Dir. Michael Showalter | USA
World Premiere

*Jagged
Dir. Alison Klayman | USA
World Premiere

*Last Night in Soho
Dir. Edgar Wright | United Kingdom
North American Premiere

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*The Mad Women’s Ball (Le Bal des folles).
Dir. Mélanie Laurent | France
World Premiere

*Night Raiders
Dir. Danis Goulet | Canada/New Zealand
North American Premiere

One Second
Dir. Zhang Yimou | China
North American Premiere – Closing Night Film.

The Survivor
Dir. Barry Levinson | USA/Canada/Hungary
World Premiere

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SPECIAL PRESENTATIONS

Ali & Ava
Dir. Clio Barnard | United Kingdom
North American Premiere

All My Puny Sorrows
Dir. Michael McGowan | Canada
World Premiere

*Benediction
Dir. Terence Davies | United Kingdom
World Premiere

Bergman Island
Dir. Mia Hansen-Løve | France
International Premiere

*Charlotte
Dir. Eric Warin, Tahir Rana | Canada/France/Belgium
World Premiere

*Dionne Warwick: Don’t Make Me Over
Dir. Dave Wooley, David Heilbroner | USA
World Premiere

Drive My Car
Dir. Ryusuke Hamaguchi | Japan
North American Premiere

Encounter
Dir. Michael Pearce | United Kingdom/USA
International Premiere

The Eyes of Tammy Faye
Dir. Michael Showalter | USA
World Premiere

*The Guilty
Dir. Antoine Fuqua | USA
World Premiere

I’m Your Man
Dir. Maria Schrader | Germany
North American Premiere

Inexorable
Dir. Fabrice du Welz | Belgium/France
International Premiere

*Lakewood
Dir. Phillip Noyce | Canada
World Premiere

The Middle Man
Dir. Bent Hamer | Norway/Canada/Germany/Denmark
World Premiere

Official Competition (Competencia Oficial)
Dir. Mariano Cohn, Gastón Duprat | Spain/Argentina
North American Premiere

Paris, 13th District (Les Olympiades)
Dir. Jacques Audiard | France
North American Premiere

*Petite Maman
Dir. Céline Sciamma | France
Canadian Premiere

*The Starling
Dir. Theodore Melfi | USA
World Premiere

The Story of My Wife
Dir. Ildikó Enyedi | Hungary/Germany/Italy/France
North American Premiere

Three Floors (Tre Piani)
Dir. Nanni Moretti | Italy/France
North American Premiere

Violet
Dir. Justine Bateman | USA
International Premiere

The Worst Person In The World (Verdens Verste Menneske)
Dir. Joachim Trier | Norway/France/Sweden/Denmark
North American Premiere

*previously announced

TIFF runs Sept. 9-18, 2021.

 

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