Posted on Wednesday, June 23rd, 2021 by
TIFF, the Toronto International Film Festival, is back this September. Last year, the festival offered a hybrid platform of both limited in-person screenings and digital offerings. A hybrid approach will still be in place this year, but from the looks of things, this year’s TIFF is trying to go back to a format similar to the pre-pandemic era. Of course, this raises a big question: who gets to go to TIFF in person this year? At this very moment, the Canadian border remains closed to the U.S., and that closure remains for all but essential travelers through at least July 21.
While a full line-up of films is forthcoming, TIFF announced 12 movies that will play at the fest, and they include heavy-hitters like Denis Villeneuve‘s Dune and Edgar Wright‘s Last Night in Soho.
It’s official: TIFF 2021 is set for September 9–18, 2021. The Festival’s Gala and Special Presentations will be announced on July 20. For now, though, TIFF has revealed 12 films that will be part of this year’s festival. Those films include
- 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.
- Charlotte, directed by Eric Warin and Tahir Rana (Canada/Belgium/France) from Elevation Pictures and MK2 Mile End.
- Dionne Warwick: Don’t Make Me Over, directed by Dave Wooley, David Heilbroner (USA).
- The Guilty by director Antoine Fuqua (USA) from Netflix.
- HBO’s Jagged, documentary on iconic Canadian singer-songwriter Alanis Morissette, directed by Alison Klayman (USA).
- Lakewood, directed by Philip Noyce (Canada).
- Last Night in Soho, directed by Edgar Wright (United Kingdom) from Focus Features.
- Night Raiders, directed by Danis Goulet (Canada/New Zealand) from Elevation Pictures and Samuel Goldwyn Films.
- Petite Maman, directed by Céline Sciamma (France) from Elevation Pictures and NEON.
- The Starling by director Theodore Melfi (USA) from Netflix.
But wait, there’s more! TIFF will also feature a World Exclusive IMAX Special Event screening of Denis Villeneuve’s star-studded take on Dune.
All the TIFF 2021 Details You Can Handle
The fest will feature in-person screenings at TIFF Bell Lightbox, Roy Thomson Hall, the Visa Screening Room at the Princess of Wales Theatre, and Festival Village at the Ontario Place. Festival Village at Ontario Place includes the Cinesphere IMAX Theatre, Visa Skyline Drive-in, RBC Lakeside Drive-In, and the West Island Open Air Cinema. TIFF 2021 highlights also include screenings across Canada as well as the return of the digital TIFF Bell Lightbox and TIFF Bell Digital Talks platforms.
The Festival’s public digital experience is presented by Bell, with film screenings on digital TIFF Bell Lightbox available across Canada. In Conversation With…talks and interactive Q&A sessions with actors and creators will be hosted on TIFF Bell Digital Talks, available worldwide. To increase the accessibility of the Festival, all films screened digitally will be closed-captioned.
“It’s been a tough year and we’re so glad to be back,” said Cameron Bailey, TIFF Artistic Director and Co-Head. “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 honored 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.”
Also: New this year, audiences across Canada can enjoy the excitement of TIFF in their own communities with TIFF’s “Coast-to-Coast Screenings.” Film Circuit, TIFF’s film outreach program since 1995, will host in-cinema screenings in select locations across the country for one evening in each location, to help ignite theatrical exhibition across Canada and celebrate audiences’ return to theaters. Locations and films to be announced at a later date.
“We are so proud of the calibre of the films and the diversity of the stories we will be presenting this year,” said Joana Vicente, TIFF Executive Director and Co-Head. “It is so powerful to be able to share these films with Festival-goers in theatres. And while the world is definitely moving towards a degree of normalcy, many of our industry and press colleagues may not be able to travel across international borders. In response, we have brought back the TIFF Digital Cinema Pro platform that will host Press & Industry screenings, the Industry Conference, press conferences, as well as the TIFF Industry Selects market. We believe that digital access is an important part of providing accessibility to audiences and will be vital to the future of film festivals. This inclusivity across all our offerings helps to ensure that, no matter where you are located, you can participate in the Festival.”
But…Is It Safe?
While there’s a digital component again this year, it’s unclear which films will be included. And I personally have a hard time believing something as big as Dune is going to be part of the digital offerings. Which asks a big question: is it safe to return to TIFF in person? Can we return if we’re not actually Canadian? The U.S. border into Canada is currently closed, and while September is still a little while away, things still seem a little up in the air.
“We are confident in our planning for a return to in-person screenings as part of TIFF as both the province and country accelerate vaccination rollout,” said Dr. Peter Nord, Chief Medical Officer, Medcan, and TIFF’s consultative partner on health and safety for the pandemic. “Canada’s first-dose immunization rate has surpassed the US, and recently reached the best rates in the world. As of today in Toronto, more than 75% of adults have received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 25% have received their second dose. We fully anticipate that by the time the Festival arrives, all Ontarians will have the opportunity to be fully vaccinated. Public health indicators, such as hospitalizations, ICU occupancy, and case rates indicate that we’re on the right — and safe — path to fully reopening. In addition, audiences will confidently be able to enjoy in-cinema screenings by maintaining a safe physical distance and wearing a mask.”
TIFF adds that it “continues to work closely with the Province of Ontario, the City of Toronto, and public health officials on the safe execution of the Festival, with its number-one priority being the health and well-being of both Festival filmgoers and residents of the community. Based on the provincial government’s recently announced reopening plan, TIFF is planning to operate at a higher capacity for indoor theatres by September, likely with mandatory mask usage for Festival-goers.”
To help ensure safety, TIFF has partnered with Medcan, “a global health care leader providing medical expertise, consultation, and health inspiration to achieve its mission to help people ‘Live Well, For Life.’ Based on the pillars of evidence-based care, exceptional client service, and the latest in technology, Medcan’s team of over 90 physicians supports employee health care across the continuum of health, including its ‘Safe at Work System,’ which helps organizations navigate the pandemic.”
I love TIFF with all my heart and soul. It’s my favorite film festival, and being on the ground in Toronto makes me genuinely happy. Will I get to go this year? I honestly don’t know, but I can hope.
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