The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) is rolling out the red carpets again this year! TIFF unveiled its plans for the 2021 edition of the festival, which expands upon last year’s hybrid edition by opening more of the favourite premium venues that add glitz and glamour to the event. TIFF’s comeback marks a return to normal of sorts for the city of Toronto, which hasn’t had its movie theatres open since fall 2020. TIFF 2021 will feature a mix of in-person and virtual events with an anticipated slate of 100 films—roughly half the number of selections from previous years, but an expansion from 2020’s slate.
The big news for TIFF 2021 is an IMAX world premiere of Denis Villeneuve’s hotly anticipated adventure Dune. The film will enjoy a world exclusive IMAX special event at the Cinesphere Theatre at Ontario Place to mark a thunderous return to big screen moviegoing. Dune opens later this fall from Warner Bros. Canada and stars Timothée Chalamet, Zendaya, Charlotte Rampling, and Oscar Isaac.
Also notable among the TIFF selections is Danis Goulet’s Night Raiders, from Elevation Pictures and Samuel Goldwyn Films, which had an acclaimed premiere at Berlin earlier this year and credits Taika Waititi among executive producers. CanCon is also represented in Charlotte, directed by Eric Warin and Tahir Rana (Canada/Belgium/France) from Elevation Pictures and MK2 Mile End. There’s also Lakewood, directed by Philip Noyce, billed as a Canadian production.
International selections are: Le Bal des Folles directed by Mélanie Laurent (France) from Amazon Studios, Benediction, directed by Terence Davies (United Kingdom) from Bankside Films, Belfast, from director Kenneth Branagh (United Kingdom) from Focus Features, The Guilty by director Antoine Fuqua (USA) from Netflix, Last Night in Soho, directed by Edgar Wright (United Kingdom) from Focus Features, Petite Maman, directed by Céline Sciamma (France) from Elevation Pictures and NEON, and The Starling by director Theodore Melfi (USA) from Netflix. Two music docs are tapped for TIFF with HBO’s Jagged, about Alanis Morissette from director Alison Klayman, and Dionne Warwick: Don’t Make Me Over, directed by Dave Wooley and David Heilbroner.
“It’s been a tough year and we’re so glad to be back,” said Cameron Bailey, TIFF Artistic Director and Co-Head, in a statement from the festival. “We’re thrilled to be presenting the latest by Alison Klayman, Edgar Wright, Philip Noyce, Kenneth Branagh and many more to audiences in our Toronto cinemas, and to Canadians all across the country at home. We can’t wait for September. We’re also honoured to introduce the world to outstanding Canadian debuts such as Eric Warin and Tahir Rana’s Charlotte and Danis Goulet’s Night Raiders. We’ve been inspired by the quality, range, and diversity of the films we’re inviting, and we couldn’t wait to give everyone an early glimpse.”
Celebrating Alanis Obomsawin
This year’s festival also marks a special retrospective of the works of Alanis Obomsawin. Arguably Canada’s most significant and prolific documentary filmmaker working today, Obomsawin’s works include Kanehsatake: 270 Years of Resistance, We Can’t Make the Same Mistake Twice, and Our People Will Be Healed. Her films have been invaluable for fearlessly representing Indigenous stories and perspectives onscreen.
TIFF will roll out additional programming announcements over the summer. Galas and Special Presentations will kick off the announcements on July 20 with TIFF Docs, Contemporary World Cinema, and Discovery titles will be announced July 28. Short Cuts will be announced August 11 along with the return of TIFF’s competitive Platform programme.
Although the festival doesn’t specify whether proof of vaccination will be required for attendance, today’s announcement does note that audiences should expect to wear masks for in-person screenings, which will have higher attendance numbers this year in accordance with health and safety measures. TIFF-goers can make their masks red carpet chic by outfitting them with bling for screenings at Roy Thomson Hall and the Visa Screening Room at the Princess of Wales Theatre, which join TIFF Bell Lightbox and Cinesphere as indoor venues. Outdoor screenings will occur at Ontario Place Festival Village, Visa Skyline Drive-In, RBC Lakeside Drive-In and the West Island Open Air Cinema. Virtual screenings will also take place while details about in-person access/events for the press and industry components of the festival will be announced in accordance with Ontario’s reopening plans.