Backstage with five films to look out for from the Toronto International Film Festival | Ents & Arts News

Roads are closed, huge lines regularly form at Downtown cinemas and people line up to take selfies in front of a huge orange TIFF sign – the Toronto International Film Festival is back.

After a few years of somewhat reduced service thanks to the coronavirus outbreak, this year’s event promises to be a celebration of film and cinema as the industry tries to put the pandemic behind it and focus on bringing stories to the public, with TIFF CEO Cameron Bailey describes the watered-down festivals as “two years without the energy we love about TIFF.”

So it’s back to business as usual, and with many films getting their first screenings here, a lot is driven by audience reactions.

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For many, this is where their awards campaigns really begin – as studio bosses, stars and filmmakers measure the impact of their work for the first time.

Indeed, the last five winners of the festival’s People’s Choice Award went on to win Oscars – Belfast, Nomadland, Jojo Rabbit, Green Book and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri.

It seems audiences here know how to pick a winner, and with a veritable mix of critics, industry figures and audience members, Toronto is regarded as one of the most accessible festivals when it comes to giving non-business movie fans a steal look at the most exciting films of the coming months.

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With 260 feature films screening, we can’t highlight all the ones that will go on to become award winners, critical darlings or box office hits, but here are five films screening at the festival this year that you’ll almost certainly be hearing about in the future months.


The first gay romantic comedy to come from a major studio, Bros is written, executive produced and stars Billy Eichner, co-written and directed by Nick Stoller, known for feel-good films like Forgetting Sarah Marshall. .

It features an almost entirely LGBTQ+ cast – a historic moment for the community and cinema, making its world premiere at TIFF.

Billy Eichner in Bros.  Pic: TIFF
Billy Eichner in Bros. Pic: TIFF

The Female King

This historical drama is set in the 19th century about a unit of female warriors protecting the West African kingdom of Dahomey and stars Viola Davis as a general who trains warriors to fight against an enemy bent on destroying their way of life.

The cast also includes Sucho Mbedu, Lashana Lynch, Sheila Atim and John Boyega and will also make its world premiere at the festival.

Viola Davis leads the cast of The Woman King.  Photo: TIFF
Viola Davis leads the cast of The Woman King. Photo: TIFF

The Fabelmans

Steven Spielberg is the latest director to make a semi-autobiographical film – this time a coming-of-age story about a young, aspiring filmmaker. The Fabelmans stars Michelle Williams, Paul Dano and Gabriel LaBelle.

Spielberg not only directs, but also wrote it with his West Side Story collaborator Tony Kushner. This isn’t appearing at any of the other major fall festivals and is arguably the liveliest film in Toronto this year.

FILE - Director Steven Spielberg poses for photographers upon arrival at the film's premiere
Photo: AP

The whale

Darren Aronofsky’s film about an extremely obese man has already opened in Venice, where it saw a six-minute standing ovation for star Brendan Fraser.

While reviews of the film itself have been mixed, Fraser’s awards campaign appears to be on track and will be given a boost when he picks up the Tribute Award for Performance in Toronto.

Brendan Fraser in Whale.  Photo: TIFF
Brendan Fraser in Whale. Photo: TIFF

Weird: The Weird Al Yankovic Story

Granted, we might not be talking about awards season, but there’s something irresistible about the idea of ​​Daniel Radcliffe playing spoof star Al Yankovic.

Radcliffe has a reputation for taking on projects that are fun or interesting, and this is a satirical look at Weird Al’s life that promises to raise a smile.

Daniel Radcliffe, left, and
Daniel Radcliffe and ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic at the premiere of Weird. Photo: AP

Find out more from the Toronto International Film Festival in the latest episode of Backstage – the film and TV podcast from Sky News.

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