Evan hansen
Scene from Dear Evan Hansen (Courtesy: TIFF)

Following the announcement of the Canadian federal government to keep the US border open to the fully vaccinated US citizens and permanent residents as of August 9, 2021,  and to the rest of the world as of September 7, 2021,  Toronto International Film Festival {TIFF) is much hopeful of conducting its main business, as planned earlier. Last year. TIFF had been forced to conduct its festival on a low profile, restricting the number of films to 50 and going digitally with zero intakes of international press and industry representatives and talents. This year, as things stand, TIFF remains much optimistic about conducting the festival in the way it was prior to 2020. It has added the Scotiabank’s 16 screens in addition to a few theatres participated in the past years. Also, they have plans to make the Press and Industry screenings available online on TIFF Digital Cinema Pro for those who are unable to travel to Canada. The industry conferences will continue to be digital events as part of making it compact and viable to go in line with the local pandemic restrictions.

More information on in-person screenings and other related matters is yet to come out in the next few weeks.

TIFF reiterates its commitment to work closely with the Province of Ontario, the City of Toronto, and the public health authority on the safe execution of the festival. TIFF declares its priority to the health and well-being of the filmgoers and the community residents of Toronto.

TIFF has announced its 2021 Gala and Special Screening Programs including the titles of the opening and closing night films. TIFF Co-Heads Cameron Bailey and Joana Vicente have jointly announced the titles.

Dear Evan Hansen, directed by Stephen Chbosky, deals with the social anxiety disorder of a high school student, will be the opening film on September 9, 2021. the film is loosely based on the incident that happened earlier in a high school in Wynnewood, USA, and has much relevance currently. It’s the visual adaptation of a Broadway musical production with the same name. Starring the Tony Award winner Ben Platt as Evan along with Amy Adams, Julianne Moore, Kaitlyn Dever, Amandla Stenberg and Nick Dodani, the film carries songs from the original Broadway musical sensation. The film is about healing, forgiveness and reaffirms how connected and essential we all are to one another. We couldn’t think of a more important idea to celebrate this year as we come together once again to share the power and joy of cinema in theatres together”, said, Cameron Bailey, the Artistic Director and Co-Head of TIFF.

Joana Vicente, the Executive Director and Co-Head of TIFF stated: ” As TIFF resumed this year in the wake of a pandemic that marked and changed all of our lives, we felt it was important to open this year’s festival with a film that connects to our shared humanity and that reminds us how deeply we need one another, need to be seen by one another, especially in times of loneliness and despair.”

According to Stephen Chbosky, ‘Dear Evan Hansen‘ is a film about allowing ourselves to be found and giving ourselves permission to be our true authentic selves. After a year and a half of isolation, he feels like he’s honoured that TIFF has chosen his film to open this year’s Festival.

One Second‘ by the renowned Chinese director Zhang Yimou who already has a host of films like ‘Raise the Red Lantern‘ and ‘Hero’ to his credit, will be the closing night Gala of TIFF 2021. ‘One Second’ is a movie that tells the connection story of a travelling film projectionist and an escaped prisoner, through cinema. Cameron Bailey says, ”it’s a love letter to movies and a reminder that how people can be connected irrespective of the differences they carry.”

The following are the titles of the first list of films selected for the Gala and Special Presentation Programs in TIFF 2021. Belfast (Kenneth Branagh), Clifford, the Big Red Dog (Walt Becker), The Electrical Life of Louis Wain (Will Sharpe), The Eyes of Tammy Faye (Michael Showalter), Jagged (Alison Klayman), Last night in Soho (Edgar Wright), The Mad Women’s Ball (Melanie Laurent), Night Raiders (Danis Goulet), The Survivor (Barry Levinson), Ali and Ava (Clio Barnard), All My Puny Sorrows (Michael McGowan), Benediction (Terence Davies), Bergman Island (Mia Hansen-Love), Charlotte ( Eric Warin and Tahir Rana), Dionne Warwick: Don’t Make Me Over (Dave Wooley, David Heilbroner), Drive My Car (Ryusuke Hamaguchi), Encounter ( Michael Pearce), The guilty (Antoine Fuqua), I’m Your Man (Maria Schrader), Inexorable (Fabrice du Welz), Lakewood (Phillip Noyce), The Middle Man (Bent Hamer), Official Competition (Mariana Cohn), Paris, 13th District (Jacques Audiard), Petite Maman (Celine Sciamma), The Starling (Theodore Melfi), The Story of My Wife (Ildiko Enyedi) Three Floors (Nanni Moretti), Violet (Justine Bateman) and The Worst Person In The World (Joachim Trier)

The 46th Toronto International Film Festival runs from September 9 to 18, 2021.

Suresh Nellikode is a film critic


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