TORONTO — The Toronto International Film Festival (Tiff) opens later, marking a return to normal after two disrupted years due to the pandemic. Expectations are high for this year’s festival after it was suspended or held virtually in 2020 and 2021. Fall festivals mark the start of awards season and often indicate which films could compete for the Oscars. The Swimmers, written by British playwright Jack Thorne, officially opened on Thursday. It follows the story of two Syrian sisters who fled the country by boat and had to push and pull their canoe through the water for hours after the engine failed. Other festival highlights include Glass Onion, the sequel to Knives Out, and a film about the discovery of the skeleton of Richard III in a Leicester car park – The Lost King. Elsewhere, Steven Spielberg will debut his autobiographical film The Fabelmans – marking the first time the legendary director has created a film in Toronto – and Brendan Fraser will try to build on his momentum with The Whale. Olivia Colman will appear in a Sir Sam Mendes-directed ode to cinema, Empire of Light, while In Bruges stars Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson will try to recreate their previous chemistry in The Banshees of Inisherin. Two of the biggest stars at Tiff this year are primarily musicians – Taylor Swift and Harry Styles. Swift will sit down for an interview to promote her short All Too Well (10-minute version), which recently won top prize at the MTV VMAs and could now see her nominated for an Oscar in the Best Live Action Short category.
Meanwhile, Styles will be promoting his romantic drama My Policeman, starring Emma Corrin and directed by Michael Grandage. It’s one of two films the former One Direction singer will be releasing this fall. His other, Don’t Worry Darling, premiered at the Venice Film Festival earlier this week.
About 240 films will be screened during this 11-day event in Canada’s largest city. Many films shown at Tiff, which held its first festival in 1976, traditionally garner Oscar success. Unlike many film festivals, Toronto does not appoint a jury to rate films or award prizes. Instead, it asks members of the public to vote in a public ballot, before finally awarding a “People’s Choice” award.
Previous winners include Green Book, Nomadland, Slumdog Millionaire, Belfast, La La Land and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.