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Toronto International Film Festival 2016: What To Expect

Toronto International Film Festival 2016: What To Expect

Picture of Alix Hall
Updated: 21 December 2016
TIFF alums, attendees, and cinephiles – and anyone in the vicinity of the TIFF Bell Lightbox in September – know the basics of what to expect at the annual Toronto International Film Festival: where to spot the celebrities, which Festival packages are the most worthwhile, how to navigate the rush ticket lines, and more. TIFF 2016 has some unexpected surprises – from the best Canadian filmmakers to much-buzzed about Virtual Reality films to hot topics in both society and the film world, here’s what you can expect from this year’s Toronto International Film Festival.

Canada’s Best

TIFF’s compilation of ‘Canada’s All-Time Top Ten List’ happens just once a decade – 1984, 1993, 2004, and 2015 – so we won’t be seeing any major round-ups of Canada’s best films in 2016. (If you’re interested in these lists, check out the history and which films made the list announced in 2015.) However, that doesn’t mean TIFF will be short on Canadian content. TIFF has announced its lineup of Canadian films for 2016, and audiences can expect ‘powerful storytelling and bold politics’. Check out the world premieres of Deepa Mehta, Alanis Obomsawin, Bruce McDonald, and Brigitte Berman; new films from Kevan Funk, Anne Émond, Chloé Robichaud, Jamie Kastner, and Vincent Biron; plus the latest from Xavier Dolan, Nathan Morlando, Kim Nguyen, Ann Marie Fleming, and Johnny Ma.

For moving Canadian dramas, TIFF suggests catching Two Lovers and a Bear, Kim Nguyen’s latest, and Below Her Mouth, from April Mullen, which tells the story of two women with a powerful connection – but one that ‘inevitably derails both of their lives’. And exploring that age old question, ‘Can you ever go home again?’ is It’s Only the End of the World, from Xavier Dolan, which tells the story of a writer returning to his hometown after more than a decade away.

Canadian cinema lovers can also check out animated features, including Anne Marie Fleming’s Window Horses (The Poetic Persian Epiphany of Rosie Ming). Doc fans will love TIFF’s Canadian documentary selections: Giants of Africa and Black Code, about how the internet is being controlled and manipulated by governments to control their citizens. And Mostly Sunny is another must-see.

Two Lovers and a Bear | © Max Films

Two Lovers and a Bear | © Max Films

Hot Topic Issues At TIFF’s Industry Conference

TIFF’s annual Industry Conference, which brings together local, national, and international film professionals, will explore hot-button topics, which are prevalent in both mainstream media and the film world. The 2016 Conference will take a close look at what Brexit will mean for film production in Europe. From how films get made to tax credits, industry players can learn, share, and collaborate.

In addition to Brexit, the question of equity for women in the film business will be at the forefront. Attendees can catch a screening of Jigsaw Productions’ documentary, The 4%: Film’s Gender Problem, followed by a Q&A with the filmmakers and a roundtable session with leading women executives.

Virtual Reality Hits TIFF

Talk about Virtual Reality has been abuzz in 2016, so TIFF is giving festival attendees a glimpse into why people are so revved up about this new technology. TIFF will launch POP VR at this year’s fest, a presentation of selected virtual reality projects. The programme will include the best VR film work; TIFF has always offered ‘transformative experiences through the moving image,’ and VR is making that fact all the more literal.

Festival-goers can catch high-quality virtual reality projects at TIFF Bell Lightbox from September 16th-18th, between 9AM and 9PM. Locals will have even more chances to engage with VR at TIFF: their yearly digiPlaySpace exhibition often features VR; this summer’s three-part POP pop-up installations; and in 2017, TIFF will show 2167, which features six commissioned VR projects from Indigenous filmmakers and artists, inspired by how they envision Canada in 2167, in celebration of Canada’s sesquicentennial anniversary. Virtual Reality isn’t going anywhere anytime soon; as it gains in popularity as new technologies develop, TIFF explores the VR possibilities in film.

Lagos, Nigeria In City To City Spotlight

TIFF’s 2016 City to City programme will put a spotlight on Lagos, Nigeria. Curated by TIFF’s Artistic Director, Cameron Bailey, Bailey describes Lagos as ‘vital, complex, and inspiring, Lagos is entirely unique’ – as is their film scene. Cameron cites that the music of the city of Fela Kuti has also given ‘birth to one of the world’s most vibrant film industries. The 1,000 low-budget features ‘Nollywood’ produces each year generate about $1 billion in box office.’ TIFF will share the city’s filmmakers with their audiences this September. Past cities in the ‘City to City’ programme include London, Tel Aviv, Istanbul, Buenos Aires, Mumbai, Athens, and Seoul. The City to City: Lagos lineup will be announced August 2016.

Awards Season Foreshadowing

As a leading international film festival, TIFF now plays a major role in Hollywood’s marketing machine. TIFF’s People’s Choice Award has become a predictor of which film will take home many of the big wins at major film awards, including the Academy Awards and the Golden Globes. From Room to The King’s Speech, Slumdog Millionaire, Precious, and Silver Linings Playbook, TIFF’s audiences have become award-season tellersso cinephiles will want to keep a keen eye on TIFF 2016’s winners.

Room | © A24Room | © A24


TIFF 2016 hits Toronto between September 8th – 18th, 2016. Check full details here.