It’s Time to Get Excited For TIFF 2023

The Toronto International Film Festival kicks off this week, and the excitement is ready to hit a crescendo. Considering the star power won’t be the same (writers strike and actors strike), the appreciation for film is still very much present as many of the titles are already sold out.

TIFF is known as the People’s Festival because the top prize, The People’s Choice Award, is determined by the audience and because it’s a fan-friendly festival that listens to and reacts to its fans.

The following is a selection of titles that I am excited about.

A Difficult Year

One of my favourite films is Les Intouchables. The same writers/directors of that film (Eric Toledano and Olivier Nakache) return to TIFF with a new comedy about finding a reason for being when the world seems to be falling apart. Truth be told, as soon as I saw those two names, that’s all I needed to sign up.

Anatomy of a Fall

The Palm d’Or Award from the Cannes Film Festival comes to TIFF. Sandra Huller (Toni Erdmann) stars in this film about a woman accused of murdering her husband, and their blind son is the primary witness.


Ottawa Life has long covered the Ottawa REDBLACKS and their Cheer and Dance Team. Our appreciation for cheerleading has poured into my selection process at TIFF. Backspot is a film about a driven cheerleader and how she deals with the fact that she and her girlfriend are both selected for an elite cheer squad.

The film approaches cheerleading from a different point of view and focuses on what drives these athletes.

Dicks: The Musical

From the director of Borat and many episodes of Curb Your Enthusiasm (Larry Charles) comes an exciting spin on The Parent Trap. A pair of identical twins conspire to reunite their divorced parents. And it’s a musical —I’m in!

Dream Scenario

Nicolas Cage returns to TIFF in a new film by Kristoffer Borgli. It’s perhaps Ari Aster’s (Hereditary, Beau is Afraid) involvement that makes this such a hot ticket at TIFF. The movie is about a man who inexplicably appears in people’s dreams.

As a former Academy Award winner, Cage’s work in this film is drawing praise, and I am looking forward to seeing it.

Hate to Love: Nickelback

The Canadian musical group Nickelback is the butt of many jokes and ridicule. It seems many people don’t like them, but not so fast; they sell out concerts and seem very popular. So, which is it? This film explores the band’s rollercoaster career.


Colman Domingo is poised to have a great TIFF. He will be receiving the TIFF Tribute Awards (every year, a Tribute Award winner goes on to win an Academy Award) and is being recognized for his work in Rustin, where he plays Bayard Rustin, the activist who organized the March on Washington but due to his sexuality, was forced into the background.

Domingo had a fierce performance in Zola, and I am very excited to see this film.

The Royal Hotel

Julia Garner reteams with her director from The Assistant (Kitty Green) in a film about two US backpackers who take a job in a pub and are harassed by the aggressive men who frequent it. Green’s last film focused on the power dynamics between men and women, and this film seems to carry on that theme.

Visionaries: Nadine Labaki

Visionaries is not a movie but an informal conversation series at TIFF that I’m excited about. Nadine Labaki is a Lebanese and Canadian actress, director and activist. Her must-see film Capernaum received countless accolades, including an Academy Award nominee for Best International Film. She will be discussing her career during her Visionaries appearance.

Women of the Hour

The actress Anna Kendrick is famous for projects like Pitch Perfect and Up in the Air. Her directorial debut examines the real-life story of Rodney Alcala, who appeared on the television show The Dating Game during his 1970s murder spree. Sorry, what?

Look for Reviews of The Following Films Once They Screen at TIFF

Bria Mack Gets a Life
This new show heading to Crave features Bria Mack, a smart young Black woman about to enter the workforce, albeit reluctantly. This is a fun show; if the first episodes are any indication, this should be a fun series.

I Don’t Know Who You Are
Mark Clennon is one of nine artists named to the prestigious TIFF Rising Star list. His impressive talent is evident in his latest film, in which he stars and co-wrote — it doesn’t come as a surprise that TIFF is recognizing him.

Copa 71
Women’s soccer in 2023 is still fighting for equality and respect. This film examines what it was like in 1971. It focuses on a tournament that took place but was essentially erased from the history books.

Bad Boy
The American teen drama television series Euphoria is based on an Israeli series. Its creator is back with a show focused on a teen sent to a violent juvenile detention facility. Two episodes will air at TIFF.

While you await Keith Whittier’s reviews, click here to check out his column on 21 hidden gems from TIFF that you likely haven’t seen but should.