Toronto International Film Festival 2021 - TIFF - September marks the end of summer and the beginning of...you've guessed it...The Toronto International Film Festival! For ten days from September 9-18, Toronto, Ontario, Canada hosted some of the biggest celebrities in the film industry and some of the best 2021 films from around the world.
TIFF, as it is more commonly known, is an internationally renowned film festival and is one of Toronto's yearly iconic events. Directors, actors and actresses from around the globe grace us with their presence on the red carpet, fans fill up the sidewalks on King Street West and local businesses see a boost in revenue.
Due to COVID-19, the festival looked different this year with a combination of online and in-person screenings. Furthermore, TIFF made sure to put health and safety at the forefront. Proof of double vaccination was required for entrance to the venue, and social distancing protocols were in effect. Additionally, attendees were required to keep their masks on at all times while inside the venue.
Toronto Ontario was able to host a variety of guests for this year's Toronto International Film Festival in-person screenings, adding to the excitement that Toronto is finally beginning to open-up again.
"Dear Evan Hansen" was the first film I had the pleasure of watching. Because border restrictions have eased, the director and several actors and actresses of the first film I attended, were in attendance. The stars appeared for both an introduction prior to the start of the screening, as well as a Q&A after the film. It was definitely an occasion to get dressed up to the nines!
The film's subject dealt with adolescent mental health. The plot did not shy away from difficult subjects, and dealt with them with compassion and grace. The film highlighted the importance of talking openly about mental health, and connecting with others.
During the Q&A it was easy to become starstruck with the presence of director Stephen Chbosky (you may recall one of his previous films, "The Perks of Being A Wallflower"), Amy Adams, Julianne Moore and Ben Platt, the star of the movie (and of the show - Platt played the main character on Broadway as well).
Another notable film I was fortunate enough to see at TIFF was Belfast, directed by Sir Kenneth Branagh. Judi Dench, Ciarán Hinds, Caitríona Balfe, and Jamie Dornan starred in this historical drama.
The conflict and violence between Protestants and Catholics was the subject of this film, and it was viewed through the eyes of a young boy named "Buddy". The cinematography of the film was second to none, and was filmed in black and white. This gave the audience the feeling that they were back in the late 1960s and early 1970s, during which time the film was set.
Like the previous film, the director Sir Kenneth Branagh was present in person to discuss the film. While the film was not autobiographical, Sir Branagh did grow up in Northern Ireland during "the troubles" as the turmoil of the day was often referred to. Knowing that there was a personal connection to the subject matter made the film that much more touching.
If you missed this year's TIFF festival but are planning a trip to Toronto in the future, you're in luck! Toronto is home to TIFF Bell Lightbox, a massive cultural centre that highlights the best in film year-round. While it is presently closed due to COVID-19, film lovers are excited for the return of this iconic venue. There are events year-round, often with showings of films shown at TIFF itself. What could be better?
It was a pleasure and an honour to return to TIFF in person this year. My experience solidified my belief that Toronto is the best city in the world to highlight world-class films, and I am already looking forward to next year's festival!
You know what's crazy... all of my children are actors, plus I've shot at TIFF, yet somehow I've managed to never see a single screening!