The whole industry is talking about inclusion in a way it hasn’t in a long time. We never want to say ‘[diversity] is the goal’ because I don’t think that’s the right way to do it. But we do want to make sure we’re paying attention and maybe looking more deeply for stories that will help continue that conversation.
—Cameron Bailey, TIFF artistic programmer
Since its inception 1976, Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) has been known as a locus for the best films made each year. TIFF is a pivotal event for the film industry’s economy, so we were thrilled to compile this list of SEVENTY-TWO films directed by women that will screen at Toronto this year. The festival runs from September 8-18. If you plan to attend, please support some of these fantastic films with your presence. If you can’t make it this fall, you can still show your support by watching their trailers, following their stories, and posting about them on social media. #52FilmsByWomen
Select World Premieres
Directed by Kelly Fremon Craig
Produced by Cathy Schulman (President, Women In Film)
Oscar nominees Hailee Steinfeld and Woody Harrelson star in this hilarious, edgy and poignant coming-of-age tale about an endearingly witty but self-absorbed teen whose life goes into a tailspin after her older brother starts dating her best friend.
Directed by Mira Nair
David Oyelowo (Selma) and Academy Award winner Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave) star in the true story of a young girl from rural Uganda (played by newcomer Madina Nalwanga) who discovers a passion for chess, and sets out to pursue her dream of becoming an international champion.
Directed by Deepa Mehta
Celebrated filmmaker Deepa Mehta investigates one of India’s most notorious crimes — the 2012 gang rape and murder of a 23-year-old woman on a Delhi bus — in her angry, impassioned and essential new film.
Directed by Amma Asante
Amma Asante (Belle) helms this biopic of Seretse Khama (David Oyelowo), the former African royal who courted controversy with his interracial marriage to Englishwoman Ruth Williams (Rosamund Pike) and later led his nation to independence from the British Empire as the first president of Botswana.
Directed by Khushboo Ranka, Vinay Shukla
Filmmakers Khushboo Ranka and Vinay Shukla follow Arvind Kejriwal, “the Bernie Sanders of India,” as he shakes up the complacent and corrupt status quo of Indian politics as the head of the Common Man’s Party.
Directed by Lone Scherfig
Danish filmmaker Lone Scherfig (An Education, The Riot Club) directs a sterling British cast — including Gemma Arterton, Bill Nighy, Jack Huston and Richard E. Grant — in this period comedy-drama about a group of filmmakers struggling to make an inspirational film to boost morale during the Blitz of London in World War II.
Directed by Erin Heidenreich
An intimate portrait of Maria Toorpakai, who defies threats to herself and her family from Islamic fundamentalists in order to represent Pakistan as an internationally competitive squash player.
More Films by Women
Directed by Julia Ducournau
A shy, vegetarian student at a veterinary college develops an insatiable lust for flesh as the result of a gruesome hazing ritual, in this grisly and gory tale of a cannibalistic coming of age.
Directed by Ana Lily Amirpour
A young girl wanders a savage desert wasteland in a dystopian future United States, in Ana Lily Amirpour’s highly anticipated follow-up to A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night.
Directed by Petra Epperlein, Michael Tucker
A powerfully personal journey through the former East Germany, as Epperlein investigates her father’s 1999 suicide and the possibility that he may have worked as a spy for the dreaded Stasi security service.
Directed by Rebecca Zlotowski
In 1930s France, two sisters (Natalie Portman and Lily-Rose Depp) who perform as supernatural mediums cross paths with a visionary film producer.
Directed by Sheetal Magan
A troubled young mother drifts through the bustling city of Durban in search of the disappeared father of her child.Paraya is a stark portrayal of a woman’s attempt to shape her future.
Directed by Ann Marie Fleming
Sandra Oh, Ellen Page and Don McKellar lend their voices to this warm and witty animated feature by Ann Marie Fleming (The Magical Life of Long Tack Sam), about a young Canadian poet who undergoes a life-changing experience when she attends a poetry festival in Iran.
Directed by Katell Quillevere
Ivory Coast-born filmmaker Katell Quillévére adapts Maylis de Kerangal’s Booker Prize–longlisted novel for this elegant and affecting film which draws three seemingly unrelated stories together into a tale about the moment when tragedy meets hope.
Directed by Eleanor Coppola
Eleanor Coppola (Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse) directs this sexy and charming road movie, about a fiftysomething empty-nester (Diane Lane) with a workaholic husband (Alec Baldwin) who embarks on an impromptu, two-day journey through the French countryside with a rakish bon vivant (Arnaud Viard).
Directed by Terra Long
In Terra Long’s 350 MYA, a sheet whips before the camera, shaped by the same wind that forms the rigid, undulating lines of sand below it as the film conjures the continued presence of the now vanished Rheic Ocean in the Tafilalt region of the arid Sahara Desert.
Directed by Stella Meghie
A whip-smart tale about the twentysomething scion of an all-female Brooklyn clan wrestling with her literary aspirations, romantic mishaps, and the chaotic preparations for her estranged father’s funeral.
Directed by Kristina Kumric
Two sisters in 1991 Croatia prepare a special homecoming for their father on the day he’s set to return after three months as a prisoner of war. Kristina Kumric crafts a powerful portrait of a family that’s just beginning to see the damage it’s suffered.
Directed by Alice Lowe
Alice Lowe (Sightseers) is a triple threat as the writer, director and star of this pitch-black comedy about a pregnant woman whose unborn child psychically spurs her on to murder.
Directed by Agnes Varda
Agnès Varda’s 1977 masterwork is simultaneously a musical, a protest film, a portrait of a generation and, most importantly, a tender and insightful exploration of female friendship.
Directed by Aisling Walsh
Academy Award nominees Sally Hawkins (Happy-Go-Lucky,Blue Jasmine) and Ethan Hawke star in the true story of Maud Lewis, who overcame the physical challenge of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis to become one of Canada’s premier folk artists.
Directed by Anne Emond
A creatively imagined biopic of controversial Quebec writer Nelly Arcan, who scandalized the French literary world with her semi-autobiographical novel based on her experiences as a sex worker.
Directed by Raja Amari
Seeking refuge from her Islamist radical brother whom she informed on, a young woman arrives in France illegally following Tunisia’s Jasmine Revolution and discovers a new world of both hope and danger, in the fourth feature from writer-director Raja Amari (Satin Rouge, Buried Secrets).
Directed by Shirley Abraham, Amit Madheshiya
This lyrical documentary chronicles the vanishing tradition of the mobile “tent cinemas” that bring films to far-flung towns and villages across India.
Directed by Susan Johnson
Awkward, isolated and disapproving of most of the people around her, a precocious 19-year-old genius is challenged to put her convictions to the test by venturing out on to the NYC dating scene, in this adaptation of Caren Lissner’s best-selling 2003 novel.
Directed by Brigitte Berman
Director Brigitte Berman profiles Canadian icon Gordon Pinsent, who left Newfoundland in the late 1940s to launch a storied, seven-decade career as one of the leading actors and most beloved figures in Canadian film and television.
Directed by Alanis Obomsawin
The new film from celebrated documentarian Alanis Obomsawin (Kanehsatake: 270 Years of Resistance) chronicles the events following the filing of a human-rights complaint by a group of activists, which charged that the federal government’s woefully inadequate funding of services for Indigenous children constituted a discriminatory practice.
Directed by Bronwen Hughes
A recreation of the inspiring life story of the late photojournalist, artist and activist Dan Eldon, who abandoned a comfortable life in London to document the struggle, heartbreak and hope of a war-torn and famine-ridden region of Africa.
Directed by Maya Zinshtein
Filmmaker Maya Zinshtein embeds herself inside the locker room of Jerusalem’s Beitar football club, which became a flashpoint for controversy in 2012 when the signing of two Muslim players brought down the racist wrath of the team’s long-time fans.
Directed by Chloe Robichaud
Contemporary World Cinema
A tiny island nation off Canada’s east coast enters the global arena when its natural resources become the focal point for international wheeling, dealing and politicking, in this energetic political satire from Quebec director Chloé Robichaud (Sarah Prefers to Run).
Directed by Katherine Dieckmann
Academy Award winner Holly Hunter stars in this poignant drama about a grieving mother who travels the backroads of the Deep South to settle a score.
Directed by Obaidah Zytoon, Andreas Dalsgaard
A Syrian radio DJ documents the experiences of herself and her friends as their dreams of hope and liberation in the wake of the 2011 Arab Spring give way to the grim realities of repression, forced emigration and extremism.
Directed by Sarah Adina Smith
A troubled man (Mr. Robot’s Rami Malek) on the run recalls the mysterious events that brought him to his present fugitive state, in the enigmatic, elliptical and moving second feature from director Sarah Adina Smith (Midnight Swim).
Directed by Maren Ade
An alternately hilarious and mortifying comedy about the fraught relationship between a repressed corporate consultant and her incessantly prank-playing dad.
Directed by Molly McGlynn
Mel talks her boyfriend into a threesome on the eve of a milestone birthday — and they get involved with a Tinder-fatigued millennial who wants in on the comforts of their relationship. 3-Way (Not Calling) cleverly and comically exposes the flip-flop of eros and domesticity.
Directed by Konkona Sensharma
Award-winning actor Konkona Sensharma makes her feature debut as a writer-director with this coming-of-age story about a shy young Indian student who quietly and fatefully unravels during a family road trip.
Directed by Emily Kai Bock
Seven months pregnant and stuck in a sleepy corner of Tennessee, a young woman begins to see through the promises made by her charismatic husband. Every moment of Emily Kai Bock’s quietly wrenching film is infused with emotions both light and dark.
Directed by Andrea Arnold
Acclaimed filmmaker Andrea Arnold (Fish Tank, Wuthering Heights) won the Jury Prize at Cannes for her first film set in America, about a crew of hard-partying teenagers criss-crossing the Midwest while working as travelling magazine salesmen.
Directed by Francisca Alegria
In this poetic magic-realist tale, 85-year-old Emetria has an encounter with the ghost of her former employer. Contrary to her expectations, he hasn’t come to escort her to the beyond; he has other plans. Then again, so does she.
Directed by Or Sinai
On a hot, sticky day in the desert, Anna goes looking for a man. This Cannes Cinéfondation First Prize winner spins a deeply sensual tale of lust and love, and of a woman who discovers the difference between the two.
Directed by Eimi Imanishi
A restless and rebellious teen girl feels confined by the restrictive duties of daily life in a Saharawi refugee camp — and runs away to join the army, seeking to liberate both her people and herself.
Directed by Maria Jose Cuevas
A captivating group portrait of iconic showgirls who enthralled thousands during the disco-era heyday of Mexico’s burlesque culture.
Directed by April Mullen
One of the boldest and sexiest dramas of the year, the new film by Canadian actor-director April Mullen (Dead Before Dawn) tells the story of an unexpected romance between two women whose passionate connection changes their lives forever.
Directed by Elizabeth Nichols
A bright student in a Maasai village learns that her arranged marriage to a much older man is imminent. Written by students in rural Tanzania, Black Head Cowintelligently outlines the pressures of traditional expectations.
Directed by Joyce A. Nashawati
During a scorching Greek summer, a stranded foreigner finds himself in a bureaucratic purgatory as he tries to retrieve his residence permit, while the crushing heat threatens to send him over the edge into paranoia and madness.
Directed by Sanja Zivkovic
When Cleo goes to buy a cellphone she saw advertised on Craigslist, she keeps her guard up, unsure of her new surroundings — and of the anonymous seller’s motives — in this surprisingly tender urban drama.
Directed by Pooja Gurung, Bibhusan Basnet
In their remote village, haunted by memories, Atimaley and Devi find themselves faced with a dilemma when a dear friend leaves without saying goodbye.
Directed by Julie Dash
A landmark in the history of American independent cinema, Julie Dash’s masterpiece was the first American feature directed by an African American woman to receive a general theatrical release.
Directed by Amanda Strong
This intricate stop-motion animation interlaces Canada’s colonial past with writer-director Amanda Strong’s personal family history — and illuminates Cree, Métis, and Anishinaabe reclamation of culture, language, and Nationhood.
Directed by Fien Troch
Challenging our notions of cinema for young adults, the new film from Belgian director Fien Troch (Kid, Unspoken) is a daring and nuanced exploration of three troubled teenagers’ relationships both with each other and the adult world around them.
Directed by Ena Sendijarevic
A family of Bosnian refugees must try to make sense of life in their small Dutch village. The sly observation of this comedic short reveals the Kafkaesque illogic of the immigration process.
Directed by Mijke de Jong
Radicalized by her adopted country’s anti-Muslim measures, a Moroccan teenager marries a devout jihadist and leaves Amsterdam to join an Islamist cell in the Middle East — only to discover that her new community has its own restrictions and prejudices.
Directed by Elena Brodach
After rising from the bed where her nude lover still sleeps, a woman rearranges her apartment into a mysterious tableau vivant. Artistry and elegance distinguish this nocturnal vignette by Moscow’s Elena Brodach.
Directed by Eden Mallina Awashish
Director Eden Mallina Awashish struggles to understand why her grandmother refuses to allow her to shoot a film about moccasins. Her failed attempt turns into a playful deconstruction of cultural loss, a record of the resolve to protect Atikamekw tradition.
Directed by Alisi Telengut
During World War II, the Kalmyk people of the Soviet Union were forcibly relocated to Siberia, and nearly half of them died before the return home some 14 years later. This magnificently hand-painted visual poem is a heart-wrenching lament expressing loss and longing.
Directed by Marie-Helene Turcotte
A pheasant hunt becomes a spellbinding elemental odyssey in animator Marie-Hélène Turcotte’s visionary rendering of femininity and intuition.
Directed by Suheyla Schwenk
Peri, a Turkish housewife and mother living behind the veil in Germany, is stunned when her husband brings home news that will uproot the family yet again. Restricted as she is by her daily routine, Peri has nonetheless found a sliver of pleasure in this new, Western life, and she is loath to let go of it.
Directed by Haya Waseem
Shahzad is a young Pakistani boy recently arrived in Canada. The friendships he strikes up with his new, easygoing buddies seem in sharp contrast to his rigid relationship with his father… until Shahzad discovers what lies beneath the formality.
Directed by Eva Michon
A car ride gets bumpier for an American teenager trying to bond with her dad while visiting him in Poland. This tightly controlled, consistently surprising two-hander by Toronto’s Eva Michon makes the most of a breakout turn by Lucia Santina Ribisi and a hard-rocking musical interlude.
Directed by Terril Calder
In this richly layered stop-motion animation, Annie and Gordon travel through a portal in time to help two children escape the horrors of residential school. Written and narrated by award-winning author Joseph Boyden, Snip is a potent indictment of Canada’s residential school policy and its profound impact on young Indigenous people.
Directed by Charlotte Regan
Gary and Jenny share the same cramped “office space” as all beat cops: the front seat of a patrol car. Their evolving relationship is an emotional rollercoaster ride that stands in often-comedic contrast to the procession of thugs and criminals filling the back seat.
Directed by Mounia Akl
Lebanon, 2017: a garbage crisis has led to terrible health threats, and acid rain triggers a town’s evacuation. But while Hala refuses to leave, she doesn’t want to be left alone either.
Directed by Julia Pott
For anyone who’s ever dreamed of owning talking pyjamas, no other selection at TIFF 2016 will elicit more giddy joy than the first episode of Julia Pott’s forthcoming Cartoon Network series. Glitter glue, singing marshmallows, and dance contests figure prominently in Pott’s gloriously askew take on adolescence at its most awkward.
Directed by Tess Girard, Ryan Noth
A mining company has promised to create opportunities for the remote Webequie First Nation. Through the eyes of three youths facing an uncertain future, this observational yet expansive documentary shows the struggles — and hopes — of a community confronting challenges that many Canadians will never experience.
Directed by Rebecca Addelman
In this hilariously acerbic slice of middle-age malaise, a woman returns to her hometown for a Bat Mitzvah and becomes stuck in the abyss of mortification that only family can deliver so well.
Directed by Mia Hansen-Love
A delicate and affecting tale about a middle-aged professor whose carefully structured life is thrown into disarray when her husband leaves her for another woman, and who finds an unlikely new companion in a former student and radical young communist.
Directed by Milica Tomovic
Jana prepares to leave her family for a new life across the Atlantic. But her carefully crafted plans can’t cover up the secrets she has so expertly kept hidden from her family, and the façade is in danger of crumbling.
Directed by Mirrah Foulkes
A woman walking her dog alone in the forest finds company she didn’t expect and an enigma she can’t comprehend. Trespass is a thriller about the nature of sympathy… and the merits of keeping your pet on a leash.
Directed by Caroline Monnet
A trip on an Indigenous-owned train line in northern Québec, shot in exquisite black and white, becomes an eloquent symbol of the pride and dignity that come with autonomy.
Directed by Madi Piller
Evincing formal echoes of Bruce Baillie, Madi Piller’sUntitled, 1925 is a personal, experimental travelogue that traces the voyage of Piller’s grandfather through the highlands of Peru.
Directed by Ashley McKenzie
The hardscrabble existence of two homeless, twentysomething drug addicts is portrayed with sensitivity and brutal honesty in the debut feature by Ashley McKenzie.
Directed by Ariane Louis-Seize
In this adaptation of a story by Quebec writer Fannie Loiselle, a solitary woman’s encounter with a baby python triggers a remarkable process of transformation and liberation. Fuelled by Marilyn Castonguay’s mesmerizing performance, Ariane Louis-Seize’s film is both sensual and surreal.
Directed by Anna Maguire
Julia Sarah Stone (a TIFF 2014 Rising Star) and the one and only Don McKellar are in top form, playing a skeptical daughter and her impressively loquacious father, in Anna Maguire’s funny and poignant adaptation of a Dave Eggers story.