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TIFF 2023 – A comprehensive guide to Canada’s premier film festival

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TORONTO, August 11, 2023 – Every September, Toronto transforms into an enchanting cinematic wonderland, with its downtown core serving as the epicentre of the most celebrated film event on the planet – The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). A remarkable spectacle that transcends borders, TIFF captivates not only Torontonians but also draws in cinephiles from around the globe, eager to partake in this world-class affair.

For a glorious fortnight, Toronto becomes the unrivalled mecca of film, a haven where cinematic gems take flight and box office sensations are born. From aspiring Oscar contenders to potential box office triumphs, TIFF provides a platform for the discerning Toronto crowd to predict the future stars of cinema, their choices often proving astute and on the mark.

As night descends upon the city, a captivating tapestry of films premiering is woven, followed by star-studded parties that grace the afterglow of the silver screen. A-list actors and directors alike make their presence felt, elevating the festival to new heights of glitz and glamour. Embracing this cinematic fervour, festival magazines blanket the city, and hotels pulsate with non-stop revelry, courtesy of the vibrant festivities.

Venturing down Queen Street and Yorkville, one is transported to the essence of Hollywood North, as these bustling locales draw the crème de la crème of Tinseltown. Amidst the excitement, vendors peddle everything from scrumptious hot-dogs to the tantalizing scripts of yet-to-be-realized sequels.

As the curtain rises on TIFF, Toronto becomes an exquisite tapestry of film, uniting film aficionados, industry insiders, and luminaries in a dazzling celebration of cinematic artistry. With its world-class allure and impeccable cinematic curation, TIFF stands tall as a beacon of celluloid brilliance, beckoning all to join in this awe-inspiring ode to the magic of motion pictures.

The Festival of Festivals

In 1976, its inaugural year, formerly called the Festival of Festivals (until 1994), the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) faced its share of challenges, with American distributors pledging attendance only to deceive the organizers. Unfazed by the setback, festival co-founder William Marshall took a bold approach, placing directors’ chairs with the names of studio heads and unabashedly calling them out for their lack of commitment.

Despite the initial hurdles, the festival kicked off with a bang, drawing an impressive crowd of 35,000 people and showcasing an impressive lineup of 140 films from 30 countries.

By the 1980s, TIFF had earned its place in the international film community. The 1981 edition saw “Chariots of Fire” clinching the coveted People’s Choice Award, catapulting the film’s journey to eventual Best Picture Oscar glory. As the festival’s reputation grew, Hollywood took notice and began reconsidering its stance on attending. Soon, A-list stars like Robert DeNiro and Robert Duvall graced the festival, marking the advent of celebrity sightings that have now become synonymous with TIFF.

In 1994, a significant milestone arrived as the festival rebranded as the TIFF we now know and love. Today, TIFF’s presence extends beyond its annual event, with the iconic Bell Lightbox, a state-of-the-art venue serving as a theatre, research centre, and film culture museum.

Located at the vibrant corner of King and John streets, the Bell Lightbox boasts two gallery spaces and hosts an array of screenings, lectures, and workshops for both aspiring filmmakers and avid cinephiles. The venue also houses a treasure trove of film history in its archives and Film Reference Library, encompassing a comprehensive collection of film prints, scripts, periodicals, and press kits.

Now a cherished part of Toronto’s cultural fabric, TIFF has solidified its status as an esteemed cinematic celebration, revered by film enthusiasts worldwide. After four decades of evolution and growth, the festival shows no signs of slowing down, and with its dedicated headquarters, it promises to remain a beacon for the world of cinema for years to come.”

Will the SAG-AFTRA Strike Affect TIFF?

Amidst a rare occurrence of Hollywood actors and writers simultaneously striking for the first time in over 60 years, a lingering question emerges: Will this deter big stars and directors from promoting their latest cinematic ventures? While the festival has already announced film premieres and a roster of stars set to attend, it remains uncertain whether the strike will cast a shadow on their promotional efforts.

For the stars gracing the event, the organizers may be hopeful that they will still make appearances to support their films. However, the reality of the situation is that the collective bargaining agreement during the strike prohibits such promotional endeavours. A telling instance of this unwavering allegiance to the union was evident during the premiere of “Oppenheimer,” when all the actors unitedly walked out the moment the strike was initiated.

As the film world navigates this unprecedented labor action, the industry’s stalwarts grapple with the delicate balance between promoting their creations and respecting the principles of solidarity with their fellow professionals on strike. Only time will unveil the impact of this historic Hollywood strike on the festival’s glittering showcase of cinematic talent and creations.

Exciting Canadian Projects Take Centre Stage at TIFF

Amidst the anticipation for this year’s Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), a wave of newly announced Canadian projects promises to captivate audiences and showcase the nation’s cinematic prowess.

One of the standout films, “Solo,” directed by Val-d’Or, Que., native Sophie Dupuis, delves into a compelling queer romance. The story revolves around a Montreal drag performer navigating the complexities of family dynamics and relationships, promising an emotionally resonant journey on the big screen.

Another eagerly awaited premiere is “Days of Happiness,” directed by Montreal-based filmmaker Chloé Robichaud. Starring Sophie Desmarais as a young orchestra conductor, the film explores the challenges she faces in her relationship with her father, who also serves as her agent. This introspective tale of familial bonds is sure to strike a chord with viewers.

Joining the lineup of world premieres is “Swan Song,” directed by Chelsea McMullan from Langley, B.C. This intriguing film promises to immerse audiences in a mesmerizing narrative that will undoubtedly leave a lasting impression.

The star-studded cast of “Close to You,” a Canada-United Kingdom co-production directed by Dominic Savage, includes the exceptionally talented Elliot Page. Additionally, fans of “Schitt’s Creek” will be thrilled to see Annie Murphy in “Fingernails,” an offering by Greek filmmaker Christos Nikou that is sure to leave audiences spellbound.

Beyond these Canadian gems, familiar faces grace the festival’s marquee. “Dumb Money,” directed by Craig Gillespie, boasts the comedic prowess of Seth Rogen, while Taika Waititi’s uproarious soccer comedy “Next Goals Wins” is set to feature the incomparable Will Arnett.

Fans of Atom Egoyan will delight in “Seven Veils,” the filmmaker’s latest work, featuring a predominantly Canadian supporting cast.

The documentary “Hate To Love: Nickelback,” helmed by director Leigh Brooks, will explore the iconic Canadian rockers’ wild, multi-decade success while delving into their polarizing love/hate reputation.

With a diverse and engaging lineup of Canadian projects, TIFF promises to be an exceptional celebration of homegrown talent, offering cinematic delights that will leave audiences enthralled and inspired.

Unveiling the Most Anticipated TIFF Docs 2023 Lineup

As the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) approaches, cinephiles and documentary enthusiasts are eagerly anticipating an enthralling selection of thought-provoking films that promise to challenge, inspire, and captivate audiences worldwide.

Among the impressive lineup of world premieres, Rachel Ramsay and James Erskine’s “Copa 71” stands out, seeking to revive the lost legacy of an international women’s soccer tournament from 1971, which once drew record-setting crowds in Mexico City but has since been obscured from sports history.

Renowned doc makers are set to deliver powerful narratives that promise to make an impact. Raoul Peck’s “Silver Dollar Road” chronicles a Black family’s decades-long fight to preserve their North Carolina property from relentless land developers. “The World is Family” by Anand Patwardhan traces his parents’ history and their connections to India’s independence movement, while Karim Amer’s “Defiant” delves into Ukraine’s war on disinformation with unprecedented access to the country’s foreign minister.

The roster also features captivating documentaries from mid-career auteurs and rising stars, including the jaw-dropping tale of Japanese reality TV show participant Nasubi in Clair Titley’s “The Contestant,” and Robert McCallum’s heartfelt tribute to the beloved Canadian entertainer, “Mr. Dressup: The Magic of Make-Believe.”

TIFF Docs 2023 is set to feature a diverse array of themes and subjects, exploring the consequences of speaking out against sexual harassment in Caroline Suh and Cara Mones’ “Sorry/Not Sorry,” the quest to reclaim stolen ancestral heritage in Suvi West and Anssi Kömi’s “Homecoming,” and an intimate journey along the Belarusian-Polish border in Kasia Smutniak’s personal odyssey, “Walls.”

Furthermore, iconic filmmakers present their latest works with Frederick Wiseman’s inside look at a renowned French restaurant in “Menus-Plaisirs Les Troisgros” and Errol Morris’ masterful portrait of spy novelist David Cornwell in “The Pigeon Tunnel.”

TIFF Docs 2023 promises a rich tapestry of storytelling, celebrating the artistry and impact of documentary filmmaking. These captivating titles join an already exceptional lineup, ensuring an unforgettable cinematic experience for all festival-goers.

Films to See at TIFF

This year’s lineup promises to be an exciting and diverse showcase of talent from around the world. Here are some of the must-see films that have been programmed for the festival:

“Next Goal Wins”

Directed by Taika Waititi

This inspiring film follows the true story of an underdog soccer team’s journey to redemption and glory. With Taika Waititi’s unique storytelling style, this film is sure to be a crowd-pleaser.

“Les Indésirables”, Photo credit: Luis Mora

“Les Indésirables”

Directed by Ladj LyFrom the director of the acclaimed “Les Misérables,” this gripping drama sheds light on pressing social issues and explores the lives of marginalized communities in modern-day France.

“Lee”

Directed by Ellen Kuras

Starring Kate Winslet and Andy Samberg,

“Lee” is a powerful biopic that delves into the life of war photographer Lee Miller and Life Magazine photographer David E. Scherman, two remarkable individuals who captured the essence of historical moments through their lenses.

“The Dead Don’t Hurt”

Directed by Viggo Mortensen

Viggo Mortensen’s directorial debut takes us on a thrilling Western adventure with himself and Vicky Krieps in the lead roles. Expect stunning visuals and a gripping storyline.

“Dumb Money”

Directed by Craig Gillespie

This biopic delves into the GameStop short squeeze phenomenon that shook Wall Street. Starring Paul Dano and Pete Davidson, the film promises to be a captivating exploration of finance and power.

“Solo”

Directed by Sophie DupuisIn this touching and empowering film, Theodore Pellerin portrays an emerging drag queen, celebrating the journey of self-discovery and acceptance.

“Ezra”

Directed by Tony Goldwyn

Featuring powerhouse performances from Robert De Niro and Rose Byrne, “Ezra” delves into the complex dynamics of a family in crisis, offering a gripping exploration of human emotions.

“The We End Start From”

Directed by Mahalia Belo

With an all-star cast including Jodie Comer, Katherine Waterston, and Benedict Cumberbatch, this thought-provoking film delves into the aftermath of a catastrophic event, exploring resilience and hope in the face of adversity.

“Knox Goes Away”

Directed by Michael KeatonStarring Al Pacino and James Marsden, this gripping drama unravels the intricacies of an intense relationship, challenging its characters to confront their past and find closure.

“North Star”

Directed by Kristin Scott Thomas

This family saga, starring Scarlett Johansson, Sienna Miller, and Kristin Scott Thomas herself, delves into the complexities of family dynamics and the journey of self-discovery.

“Pain Hustlers”

Directed by David YatesWith Emily Blunt and Chris Evans in the lead roles, this Netflix drama explores the world of high-stakes pharmaceuticals, unveiling the harsh reality behind a lucrative industry.

“The Burial”

Directed by Maggie BettsFeaturing an ensemble cast led by Jamie Foxx, Tommy Lee Jones, and Jurnee Smollett, this legal drama delves into the complexities of justice and morality.

“Together 99”

Directed by Lukas Moodysson

In this heartwarming sequel to “Together,” Swede filmmaker Lukas Moodysson takes us on another journey of laughter, love, and human connections.

“Woman of the Hour”

Directed by Anna KendrickIn her feature directing debut, Anna Kendrick explores the life of a remarkable woman, highlighting her achievements and struggles.

Where the Stars are Shining at TIFF – Star-spotting Venues in Toronto

For movie enthusiasts yearning for a taste of the glitz and glamor and a chance to catch a glimpse of their favourite box office idols, TIFF offers a plethora of hotspots where stars often converge during the festival. Here are some fantastic spots to spot celebrities:

THE WRITERS ROOM

Situated on the 17th floor of the renowned Park Hyatt Toronto, Writers Room is a celebrity hotspot during TIFF. With unparalleled views of the Toronto skyline, this iconic cocktail lounge has welcomed stars like Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, Jennifer Aniston, Olivia Wilde, Charlize Theron, Pierce Brosnan, and Tilda Swinton, among many others.

BISHA HOTEL

Located in Toronto’s Entertainment District, the Bisha Hotel is a celebrity magnet during the festival season. Hosting events, premiere parties, and Getty Images’ Portrait Studio, this hotspot has attracted A-list celebs like Dev Patel, Sarah Paulson, Susan Sarandon, Antonio Banderas, Eddie Redmayne, Kristen Stewart, Sam Rockwell, Jamie Lee Curtis, Jon Hamm, Ben Stiller, Matthew McConaughey, Steve Carrell, and Colin Farrell.

SOFIA

This upscale Italian-inspired restaurant and bar in Yorkville offer an excellent spot for people-watching, especially during TIFF. With a large private patio and proximity to the Hazelton Hotel and Four Seasons, Sofia draws in celebrities and TIFF events. It even hosted the Hustlers premiere party in 2019, with Jennifer Lopez, Keke Palmer, Constance Wu, Lili Reinhart, and Julia Stiles gracing the occasion.

BYBLOS

Renowned for its authentic Eastern Mediterranean flavors, Byblos is just minutes away from the TIFF Bell Lightbox, making it a prime spot for TIFF after parties. Past stars spotted here include Matt Damon, Michelle Williams, Gerard Butler, Dakota Johnson, and Jason Segel.

JAGUAR SUPPER SUITE

Playing host to the Jaguar Supper Suite, Marbl offers a VIP pop-up with exclusive events and experiences. Rumored star sightings at the Jaguar Supper Suite include Kit Harrington, Sir Ben Kingsley, Daniel Radcliffe, Nicolas Cage, and Kate Beckinsale.

PATRIA

Nestled off King Street West, the Barcelona-inspired Patria offers the ultimate private dining and party experience, often hosting premiere parties during TIFF. The venue has welcomed Daniel Craig, Ryan Gosling, Jamie Lee Curtis, and Joaquin Phoenix over the years.

FIGO

This Italian hotspot on Adelaide is a local favorite and frequented spot for TIFF after-parties. The venue has been graced by the presence of stars like Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams, Liev Schreiber, and Kiernan Shipka in previous years.

With these top-notch spots, TIFF enthusiasts can immerse themselves in the electrifying atmosphere and be part of the dazzling world of cinema and celebrity during the festival.

TIFF 2023 Runs from September 3-17

From September 3 to 17, TIFF is the place to be for any fan of stars or movies. The world-famous Toronto International Film Festival is a two-week extravaganza that attracts cinephiles and movie lovers from all over the globe. If you find yourself downtown during this time, you’ll be immersed in an electrifying atmosphere that will send tingles down your spine.

TIFF brings together some of the biggest names in the film industry, including acclaimed actors, directors, and producers. It’s not uncommon to spot your favourite matinee idols walking the red carpet or attending screenings and events. The thrill of seeing these stars up close and personal is unparalleled and adds to the overall excitement of the festival.

The festival atmosphere during TIFF is truly special, as the city of Toronto comes alive with the celebration of cinema. The streets are abuzz with film enthusiasts, industry professionals, and celebrities, creating a unique and vibrant ambiance. Whether you’re a die-hard cinephile or just someone who loves to watch movies, being at TIFF during this global event is an unforgettable experience.

With an impressive lineup of films from around the world, you’ll have the opportunity to watch premieres of highly anticipated movies, engaging in Q&A sessions with filmmakers, and being part of the discussions that shape the film industry’s future.

So, if you find yourself in Toronto between September 3 and 17, make sure to soak in the magical atmosphere of TIFF. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience that every Toronto film enthusiast should savour and cherish forever.

by Myles Shane

ther articles from totimes.ca – otttimes.ca – mtltimes.ca

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