2019 TIFF Line-up

The complete line-up has been announced for the 44th annual Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), which will be held next month. One of the world’s biggest film festivals, TIFF’s mission is “to transform the way people see the world through film.”

Admirably, TIFF’s slate reveals itself to be far more inclusive than many older-fashioned film festivals—shining a spotlight on indigenous filmmakers or the immigrant experience, for example, and demonstrating a commitment to more equal representation of movies directed by women. 40% of all films to be screened are directed or co-directed by women, and 53% of the films categorized as Gala Presentations. Perhaps some of this diversity of programming can be attributed to the festival’s newly-minted co-heads who joined the ranks in 2018. Executive director Joana Vicente, a producer and former head of the Independent Filmmaker Project, originally hails from Portugal. Artistic director Cameron Bailey is a Barbadian-Canadian critic who spent his childhood in London.

This year, a new award is debuting: the TIFF Tribute Actor Award, which will honor Meryl Streep. Premiering at the festival will be Steven Soderbergh’s THE LAUNDROMAT, based on the Panama Papers, and starring Streep alongside Gary Oldman and Antonio Banderas.

We at Women In Film are very excited to see a 2018 recipient of our Film Finishing Fund, THE BODY REMEMBERS WHEN THE WORLD BROKE OPEN (co-directed by Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers and Kathleen Hepburn) selected for the festival’s Contemporary World Cinema category.

Notably, the TIFF website has, on many of its pages, the below pop-up prompt directing visitors to a page reading, “Share Her Journey: Last year, only 8% of the top 250 films were directed by women. Only 20% employed women directors, writers, producers, editors, and cinematographers. It’s time for a wake-up call. TIFF stands with women in front of and behind the camera. Add your voice to support women in film….

The festival describes its “Share Her Journey” campaign thus: “TIFF has made a five-year commitment to increasing participation, skills, and opportunities for women behind and in front of the camera. We will prioritize gender parity with a focus on mentorship, skills development, media literacy, and activity for young people.”

The women-directed films playing at TIFF 2019 are:

Gala Presentations
“Movie stars. Red-carpet premieres. Major audience interest.”

  • A BEAUTIFUL DAY IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD, Marielle Heller – World Premiere
    “A jaded journalist (Matthew Rhys) reluctantly accepts an Esquire assignment to profile the children’s television host Fred Rogers (Tom Hanks), and encounters a profoundly empathetic worldview that changes his life forever.”
    Heller is one of the winners of the inaugural Women In Film Members’ Choice Award, selected for her film CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME? in 2019.
  • ABOMINABLE, Jull Culton – World Premiere
    “Featuring the voices of Eddie Izzard, Sarah Paulson, and Chloe Bennet, this spectacular animated adventure follows a clever teen girl and a Yeti as they rove the Himalayas in the hopes of reuniting the charismatic creature with his family.”
    Culton participated as a panelist at the May 2019 Women In Film Speaker Series highlighting women working in the animation industry.
  • 🍁 AMERICAN WOMAN, Semi Chellas
    “A political activist (Hong Chau) helps take care of a group of America’s most wanted fugitives—including a well-known, recently radicalized heiress—in this fictionalized reimagining of the Patty Hearst affair.”
  • CLEMENCY, Chinonye Chukwu
    “A death row prison warden (Alfre Woodard) grapples with the psychological fallout of her job following years of executions, in Chinonye Chukwu’s Sundance Grand Jury Prize-winning drama.”
  • HARRIET, Kasi Lemmons – World Premiere
    “Tony-winning Broadway actor Cynthia Erivo stars in Kasi Lemmons’ inspiring biopic about renowned abolitionist Harriet Tubman, who escaped slavery and risked her life to lead others to freedom through the network of safehouses known as the Underground Railroad.”
  • HONEY BOY, Alma Har’el
    “Shia LaBeouf mines his own troubled childhood in this raw confessional, which traces a decade in the toxic relationship between a famous child actor and his abusive alcoholic father.”
  • HUSTLERS, Lorene Scafaria – World Premiere
    “Inspired by a 2015 New York magazine article that went viral, HUSTLERS follows a savvy crew of former strippers who band together to turn the tables on their Wall Street clients. Starring Constance Wu, Jennifer Lopez, and Julia Stiles.”
  • ORDINARY LOVE, Lisa Barros D’Sa, Glenn Leyburn – World Premiere
    “Liam Neeson and Lesley Manville star as a long-standing couple facing a potentially life-changing cancer diagnosis, in this drama scripted by Northern Irish playwright Owen McCafferty.”
  • RADIOACTIVE, Marjane Satrapi – World Premiere, Closing Night Film
    “Based on Lauren Redniss’ award-winning graphic novel, Marjane Satrapi’s (PERSEPOLIS) biopic stars Rosamund Pike as two-time Nobel Prize-winning scientist Marie Curie, highlighting the groundbreaking discoveries she made with her husband, Pierre (Sam Riley).”
  • THE SKY IS PINK, Shonali Bose
    “Twenty-five years in the relationship of a mother (Priyanka Chopra) and father (Farhan Akhtar) is told from the perspective of their recently deceased teenage daughter, in this poignant, affecting, and unexpectedly humorous love story from director Shonali Bose.”

Special Presentations
“High-profile premieres and the world’s leading filmmakers.”

  • HOW TO BUILD A GIRL, Coky Giedroyc – World Premiere
    “A working-class teenager (Beanie Feldstein) tries to reinvent herself as a hip London music critic, in this unconventional coming-of-age story based on British author Caitlin Moran’s semi-autobiographical novel. Also starring Chris O’Dowd, Emma Thompson, and Paddy Considine.”
  • I AM WOMAN, Unjoo Moon – World Premiere, Opening Night Film
    “This uplifting biopic tells the story of Helen Reddy, the fiercely ambitious Australian singer behind the 1971 megahit anthem that became the rallying cry of the women’s liberation movement.”
  • PELICAN BLOOD, Katrin Gebbe
    “A mother’s idyllic country life is threatened when her newly adopted second daughter turns from shy and charming to menacing and dangerous, in Katrin Gebbe’s dramatic thriller.”
  • PORTRAIT OF A LADY ON FIRE, Céline Sciamma
    “Hired to paint a portrait ahead of a prospective marriage, an artist in 18th-century Brittany finds herself falling for the reclusive would-be bride, in the Cannes Queer Palm-winning fourth feature from writer-director Céline Sciamma (GIRLHOOD).”
  • THE FRIEND, Gabriela Cowperthwaite – World Premiere
    “Based on the award-winning Esquire article of the same name, a man (Jason Segel) puts his own life on hold to move into the family home of his best friends (Dakota Johnson and Casey Affleck) and support them through a terminal cancer diagnosis.”
  • THE OTHER LAMB, Malgorzata Szumowska – World Premiere
    “A girl (Raffey Cassidy) born into an all-female cult led by a man in their compound (Michiel Huisman) begins to question his teachings and her own reality, in this haunting, English-language debut from acclaimed Polish director Malgorzata Szumowska (THE BODY, MUG).”

Contemporary World Cinema
“Compelling stories, global perspectives.”

  • 🍁 AND THE BIRDS RAINED DOWN (a.k.a. IL PLEUVAIT DES OISEAUX), Louise Archambault – World Premiere
    “Acclaimed director Louise Archambault’s elegaic and charming new film depicts three aging hermits in the Quebec countryside whose defiant need to live independently is increasingly endangered by nature, old age, and infirmity.”
  • 🍁 ANTIGONE, Sophie Deraspe – World Premiere
    “Critically acclaimed Québécois filmmaker Sophie Deraspe’s provocative and timely adaptation of the classic Greek tragedy of the same name reimagines the story of a woman’s quest for justice as a commentary on the immigrant experience in contemporary Montreal.”
  • 🍁 TAMMY’S ALWAYS DYING, Amy Jo Johnson – World Premiere
    “Actor-turned-director Amy Jo Johnson’s heart-wrenching second feature, starring Felicity Huffman and Anastasia Phillips, depicts a daughter’s attempt to care for her ornery, ailing mother.”
  • 🍁 THE BODY REMEMBERS WHEN THE WORLD BROKE OPEN, Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers, Kathleen Hepburn
    “One woman’s decision to comfort a stranger she finds crying in the street leads to a revealing and powerful conversation between two indigenous women from very different circumstances, in this poignant collaboration from Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers and Kathleen Hepburn.”
    A recipient of the 2018 Women In Film Finishing Fund.

“The latest from the world’s most influential art-house filmmakers.”

  • 🍁 JORDAN RIVER ANDERSON, THE MESSENGER, Alanis Obomsawin – World Premiere
    “Alanis Obomsawin’s remarkable 53rd film documents the story of a young boy forced to spend all five years of his short life in hospital while the federal and provincial governments argued over which was responsible for his care, as well as the long struggle of Indigenous activists to force the Canadian government to enforce ‘Jordan’s Principle’—the promise that no First Nations children would experience inequitable access to government-funded services again.”

“Candid and unscripted: the best non-fiction cinema from around the world.”

  • 🍁 THERE’S SOMETHING IN THE WATER, Ellen Page, Ian Daniel – World Premiere
    “Ellen page brings attention to the injustices and injuries caused by environmental racism in her home province, in this urgent documentary on Indigenous and African Nova Scotian women fighting to protect their communities, their land, and their futures.”

“Directors to watch. The future of world cinema.”

  • 🍁 BLACK CONFLUX, Nicole Dorsey – World Premiere
    “The seemingly separate lives of an anxious, disillusioned teen girl and a troubled, alienated man converge fatefully in this haunting exploration of womanhood, isolation, and toxic masculinity, set in 1980s Newfoundland.”
  • 🍁 EASY LAND, Sanja Zivkovic – World Premiere
    “Director Sanja Zivkovic’s poignant debut feature follows a mother and daughter, Serbian refugees, as they struggle to navigate the many obstacles facing newcomers to Canada.”
  • 🍁 KUESSIPAN, Myriam Verreault – World Premiere
    “Based on Naomi Fontaine’s acclaimed novel, two childhood friends from the same Quebec Innu community begin to realize that they face very different futures, in Myriam Verreault’s bittersweet portrait of the ties that bind people, places, and possibilities.”
  • 🍁 MURMUR, Heather Young – World Premiere
    “An aging, isolated woman ordered to perform community service for a DUI discovers that adopting ailing pets to fill the void in her life can be its own obsession, in Heather Young’s bold debut feature.”
  • 🍁 THE REST OF US, Aisling Chin-Yee – World Premiere
    “A single mother welcomes her ex-partner’s wife and daughter into her life, leading to a new, sometimes tense, family dynamic and an unlikely female friendship, in Aisling Chin-Yee’s humorous and heartbreaking debut.”

Short Cuts
“The world. In short form.”

  • 🍁 DELPHINE, Chloé Robichaud
    “In the latest by celebrated filmmaker Chloé Robichaud, two precisely rendered episodes in the adolescence of a Lebanese-Canadian girl highlight complicated matters of gender, identity, and power dynamics.”
  • 🍁 HIGHWAY TO HEAVEN, Sandra Ignagni – World Premiere
    “A beautifully composed and evocative documentary on the 25 houses of worship that line a single road in Richmond, BC, Sandra Ignagni’s timely study captures the tensions around multiculturalism and cultural diversity in Canada.”
  • 🍁 HOT FLASH, Thea Hollatz – World Premiere
    “A newscaster is due to go live on local television in the middle of a hot flash, in Thea Hollatz’s animated comedy about a woman trying to keep her cool when one type of flash leads to another.”
  • 🍁 I AM IN THE WORLD AS FREE AND SLENDER AS A DEER ON A PLAIN, Sofia Banzhaf – World Premiere
    “A young woman explores her sexual autonomy through a series of discomfiting encounters, in Sofia Banzhaf’s uncommonly deft and perceptive look at millennial romance.”
  • 🍁 IT’S NOTHING, Anna Maguire – World Premiere
    “A recent graduate is urged by an impossibly perfect woman to start digging a hole in a nearby park, setting in motion a chain of events that threaten her emotional balance and carefully maintained routines.”
  • 🍁 JARVIK, Emilie Mannering – World Premiere
    “A teenager who longs to just be a teenager must instead spend the last days of summer helping her family cope with a recent loss as well as her younger brother’s health crisis, in Emilie Mannering’s moving drama.”
  • 🍁 LIFE SUPPORT, Renuka Jeyapalan – World Premiere
    “The great Jayne Eastwood gets straight to the heart of the matter in Renuka Jeyapalan’s funny and poignant true-life tale of a very different kind of dog park encounter.”
  • 🍁 MEASURE, Karen Chapman – World Premiere
    “A nine-year-old boy gets suspended from school and embarks on a journey through the streets of Toronto—before returning home to face his mother—in Karen Chapman’s exploration of childhood, loss, and responsibility.”
  • 🍁 NO CRYING AT THE DINNER TABLE, Carol Nguyen – World Premiere
    “Filmmaker Carol Nguyen interviews her own family to craft an emotionally complex and meticulously composed portrait of intergenerational trauma, grief, and secrets in this cathartic documentary about things left unsaid.”
  • 🍁 THE DEPTHS, Ariane Louis-Seize – World Premiere
    “Looking for solace while staying in her late mother’s cottage, a young woman instead finds her old scuba gear—a fateful discovery that leads to more watery revelations, in this spellbinding and visually ravishing drama.”
  • 🍁 THIS INK RUNS DEEP, Asia Youngman – World Premiere
    “In this vivid and moving documentary by Asia Youngman, Indigenous artists throughout Canada strive to reclaim their cultures and identities through a reawakening of tattoo practices, both traditional and contemporary.”
  • 🍁 VOLCANO, Karen Moore – World Premiere
    “Karen Moore’s razor-sharp two-hander stars Hannah Cheesman and former TIFF Rising Star Jess Salgueiro as friends whose respective efforts to reveal what’s going on in their lives over cocktails may have some telling omissions.”

“Daring, visionary, and autonomous voices. Film art in the cinema and beyond.”

  • 🍁 BOOK OF HOURS, Annie MacDonell – World Premiere
    “Incorporating rephotographed etchings and clips from Yvonne Rainer’s Lives of Performers, Annie MacDonell weaves together an elegant play of gestures and patterns, in which quiet moments in a family home become a site of formal and intellectual experimentation.”
  • 🍁 SECOND GENERATION, Miryam Charles
    “Told through letters and enigmatic glimpses of images, Miryam Charles’ film depicts a woman’s travels to Haiti to meet the lover of her partner.”