A still from Shekhar Kapurs What Love Got To Do With It
A still from Shekhar Kapur’s “What Love Got To Do With It?”

It’s time for Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) fans to get spoiled for their choice of movies after two years of pandemic-inflicted restrictions. While the 47th edition of the film festival is just a  month away, the organisers have planned a wonderful line-up of events, making good of the lost festivities.

TIFF 2022 will run from September 8 to 18 without any of the previous restrictions that were in place to counter the adverse effects of Covid19. As it stands, It’ll spring back to its previous normal with increased surprises. With fewer in-person shows and more hybrid online ones, there were only 50 films in 2020 and 150 in 2021. The press and industry guests from other countries were very less for the last two years because of the travel restrictions in force. In a place where thousands of guests fly in from different parts of the world usually to celebrate ‘The Festival of Festivals’, the city had been in a blue funk for two years.

“We’re not going to do online screenings like we did in the last two years,” said TIFF’s Chief Executive Cameron Bailey during a press conference in April this year. Besides the five screens on its premises, TIFF will have around 25 other theatre partners this time when it celebrates its 47th season. This time, the authorities have decided to use online platforms only to relay press meets and other non-screening programs. TIFF’s ticket pricing tiers were announced a month ago, even before the titles of the films were publicised.

As part of the incredible lineup of festival films this year, about 63 titles are out as yet. One of the main attractions is Steven Spielberg’s first-ever entry to the TIFF with his latest movie, The Fabelmans. TIFF is proud to have its world premiere this season. The Fabelmans is a semi-autobiographical, coming-of-age story from the US history of post-World War II. Gabriel LaBelle does the lead role of Sammy Fabelman, a young aspiring filmmaker.

Michael Grandage, the renowned British theatre director comes up with his movie, My Policeman with its world premiere in the Special Presentations category. It’s the story of Tom, a policeman and his wife Marion and the former’s relationship with Patrick, a museum curator. Harry Styles, Emma Corrin and Rupert Everett are doing the lead roles in the movie.

Catherine Called Birdy, a film by Lena Dunham will have its world premiere at TIFF-22. Based on Karen Cushman’s best-selling novel, Dunham made this touching and playful adaptation. The backdrop of this movie is set in the medieval English village of Stonebridge. Catherine, a young English girl known as Birdy gets married off to a wealthy man by her greedy father. But she was spirited and clever enough to put off any suitor that came increasingly shrewd ways. Her last film, Sharp Stick, debuted at Sundance Film Festival in January this year. Lena Dunham, herself an actor too, had received several Emmy Award nominations and two Golden Globe awards.

The Palme d’Or winner for Shoplifters at Cannes Film Festival, Hirokazu Kore-eda, will be coming up to Toronto with his gorgeously crafted South Korean movie, Broker, this time. It’s all about the happenings in an unconventional family formed under strange circumstances.

Another attraction is Holy Spider, an Iranian movie by Ali Abbasi, that tells the story of a journalist seeking justice in a brutal serial killing in Mashhad, Iran’s spiritual capital. Ali Abbasi is no stranger to the TIFF with his fantasy movie, Border, in 2018.

Out of the 63 titles that came out there are two Indian movies: Shekhar Kapur’s What Love Got To Do With It? and Shubham Yogi’s debut Kacche Limbu. While the former is a romantic comedy that follows a filmmaker who documents his friend’s journey to an arranged marriage, with leading stars such as Lily James, Shazad Latif and Emma Thompson, the latter deals with a story set in Mumbai about a pair of siblings on two competing cricket teams struggling to cope with familial loyalty.

Jafar Panahi comes once again to the TIFF with his latest production, No Bears, telling about two parallel love stories and the aftermath bubbling up. The Lost King by Stephen Frears retells the true story of an amateur historian embroiled in skepticism and bureaucracy in a search to locate the burial place of Richard III. This is also a comedy like his earlier creation in the TIFF 2017, Victoria and Abdul. As a director, Mia Hansen- Love is a familiar face in Toronto with her festival movies. Her latest film, One Fine Morning deals with the turbulence of everyday life of a lady in her varied roles as a mother, daughter, worker and lover. Writer-director Biyi Bandele returns to the Festival with his latest movie – The King’s Horseman which is based on an anti-colonial stage play, Death and The King’s Horseman by the Nigerian Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka.

Chevalier (Stephen Williams), Butcher’s Crossing (Gabe Polsky), All Quiet on the Western Front (Edward Berger), A Man of Reason (Jung Woo-sung), Saint Omer (Alice Diop), The Swimmers (Sally El Hosaini) are a few more titles came out as of now.

There will be more than 300 film titles that are yet to be declared in the next two weeks’ time.

Suresh Nellikode is a film critic


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