Festivals, Lists

TIFF 2022: A Return to the Pre-Pandemic Festival + Films to Watch Out For

In Schitt’s Creek, Alexis asks Moira, “What is your favorite season?” She takes a deep breath before answering, “Awards.” 

It is the most wonderful time of the year for cinephiles and culture vultures, and the fall film festival circuit kicks it off. After two years of taking safety measures due to the pandemic, the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) aims for a big comeback this year. 

The pandemic did bring some positives to the festival experience like the move to online screenings, especially for writers from different parts of the world who could only dream of attending such film festivals when it was all in person. The online festival made TIFF and other film festivals accessible to nearly everyone during the height of the pandemic. But alas, TIFF opts out of online access for press and media this year as it makes a full in-person comeback. There are still digital screenings happening but if you’re accredited as part of the media, you have to be in Toronto. It is a tremendous loss to a lot of marginalized writers who, for the past two years, had a chance with online screenings. Now they lose access to one of the buzziest festivals of the fall lineup. I am privileged to live near the city of Toronto and still get access to the festival covering for Sine Liwanag for three consecutive years.

I miss the pre-pandemic happenings around King Street West, home of the TIFF Bell Lightbox that houses their year-round programming. In addition to the festivities that’s been missing for the past two years, TIFF is going all out with its selections. Here are some films I cannot wait to see at the festival:

Women Talking dir. Sarah Polley

It has been a decade since Canadian actress-director Sarah Polley released her critically acclaimed documentary Stories We Tell at Venice. Polley is back with Women Talking, an adaptation of the novel by Canadian author Miriam Toews about the women of a small Mennonite community dealing with an earth-shattering recent event. Along Polley’s comeback, the film offers a stacked cast with Rooney Mara, Claire Foy, and recent breakout star Jessie Buckley playing the women at the center of the event. This film is a must-watch during the fest.

Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery dir. Rian Johnson

Three years after Knives Out premiered at TIFF, Rian Johnson is back at the festival for the second installment of the popular mystery film for its world premiere. A new set of characters except for Daniel Craig’s iconic Benoit LeBlanc, Glass Onion is sure to be the festival’s more fun selection. This title sure will be fought over by festival goers as people try to get to see it before its December-wide release.

The Whale dir. Darren Aronofsky 

Brendan Fraser is back. This A24 title directed by Darren Aronofsky has a lot of buzz due to Fraser’s return in a raw portrayal of a 600-pound man, a role he prepared for extensively. The Whale also has Stranger Things star Sadie Sink playing his estranged daughter. This film will give Fraser his well-deserved welcome back into the industry and might well be his ticket to awards glory.

My Policeman dir. Michael Grandage

Harry Styles is booked and busy with two films: Olivia Wilde’s Don’t Worry Darling, which is already under a lot of fire ahead of its Venice premiere, and this British period film My Policeman, where the popstar plays a police officer exploring his sexuality. I’m on the fence with British period pieces because they can be a hit or miss on how engaging the story is; Mothering Sunday, for instance, was one of the big misses of last year’s TIFF. But with Styles at the forefront of the film, it is worth seeing if he got the acting chops, never mind that clip from Don’t Worry Darling as he stumbles with an American accent. Plus Emma Corrin is fresh off their The Crown Princess Diana portrayal as they show the world their prowess. My Policeman is something to watch out for.

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