TIFF films

18 must-see films at TIFF according to its programmers

No matter how much we study the TIFF program book, there will always be people who know the festival lineup better than we ever will: the programmers. That's why we asked several of them to share some of the hidden gems and can't-miss films they helped select for this year's festival.

Here are 18 must-see films at television shows at TIFF 2016, according to its programmers.


Lady Macbeth
It's set early in the 19th century, but this domestic drama written by Alice Birch and directed by Will Oldroyd feels like the most contemporary, feminist film in the festival. Ferocious, disciplined, and a complete pleasure to watch.

Find your place on the bandwagon. Everybody's going to be talking about Barry Jenkins's gorgeous portrait of a queer African-American man's coming-of-age. Watching it felt like seeing Todd Haynes, Andrea Arnold and Steve McQueen for the first time.

Artful Japanese horror made Kiyoshi Kurosawa's reputation but he made Daguerrotype entirely in France, injecting that nation's early experiments in photography with a hint of the ghostly. Masterful filmmaking.


The great Isabelle Huppert plays a worker in a meat packing plant who is hiding a secret in this tender and touching film. It's not until an extroverted new employee joins the team that we realize what kind of a past she has had.

The Duelist
Shot in IMAX, this Russian period drama is a muscular piece of filmmaking that centres on the story of a man who is hired as a surrogate to fight duels for nobles who challenge others to fights. But, behind this story is another, much deeper one, that propels the dashing duelist to do what he does.

Toni Erdmann
A German comedy may sound like an oxymoron but this one is pulling it off with consummate ease. The story focuses around a father and daughter. The daughter is a young professional, the father a bearish prankster. When he sees his daughter floundering, dad intervenes in the most unexpected, offbeat, and disruptive way.


A Funeral for Lightning (Short Cuts Programme 3)
Prism-award-winning Emily Kai Bock has directed music videos for Arcade Fire, Lorde and Grimes -- and brings her rich visual style to rural Tennessee to craft an achingly gorgeous and atmospheric portrait of a young woman's disillusionment with her husband's empty promises of an idyllic life off-the-grid. Breathtaking.

Mutants (TIFF Short Cuts Programme 5)
A teenager is just trying to make it through the summer of 1996. Mullets, baseball, hormones, scandal -- and a mad dash on a riding lawnmower. What more do you need?

Bargain (TIFF Short Cuts Programme 6)
In this Korean one shot wonder, a young woman in a school uniform barters with a man (in graphic detail) about the terms of their impending illicit rendezvous in a motel room. But nothing is what it seems in this cunning and audacious thriller -- and the twists just keep on twisting.


The Death of Louis XIV (La Mort de Louis XIV)
Albert Serra's The Death of Louis XIV stars French cinema legend Jean-Pierre Léaud from 400 Blows fame. Though it's a gorgeously photographed and sumptuously designed period piece based on meticulous historical research, the film harbours many of Serra's iconoclastic hallmarks and is alternatively captivating and strange from hushed beginning to end.

The Human Surge (El Auge del Humano)
Hailed as the most ambitious feature debut, Eduardo Williams' The Human Surge lives up to its expectations. A category-defying film about today -economic precarity, globalization, movement and technology-the film is a wandering ethno-fiction that plunges us into worlds of distraction and pleasure seeking from Argentina via Mozambique and the Philippines.

What's New
The latest amazing short video work by acclaimed German artist Nina Könnemann. Playful, clever and really funny, What's New is the result of Könnemann's longterm voyeurism in which she observed men relieving themselves behind a Berlin billboard, whose marketing might seems to be triggered from behind the scenes.


nirvanna the band the show
In a logic defying feat of self-reflexivity, the newest project from the team behind The Dirties and Operation Avalanche places it's narratives in the real world, getting spontaneous reactions from the general public while crafting a hilarious narrative. The show has the energy of the greatest slacker comedies and the wit of the most subversive satires.

Tuko Macho
For the unique experience of interacting with the plot of an episodic show alone, it's worth coming to this event. Smart, thought-provoking material is mixed with reality TV sensibilities to create a chilling experience that says more about the viewer than any other television work out there.

Transparent Season 3
If you haven't already jumped on this train, it's really about time. And what better way to do it with the newest and best season yet premiering at TIFF?


Katie Says Goodbye (Discovery)
In an unforgettable performance, Olivia Cooke (Me and Earl and the Dying Girl) portrays seventeen year old Katie, a small town diner waitress and part-time prostitute who has aspirations for bigger things. She places her trust in the wrong set of people, but even a sad, violent confrontation with them is not the end of her story.

In Between (Bar Bahar) (Contemporary World Cinema )
In a remarkable debut, filmmaker Maysaloun Hamoud explores the unique challenges faced by a trio of Palestinian women living and working in Tel Aviv, caught between contemporary urban life and the more traditional structures of their families. Pulsing with energy and emotion, the film provides a portrait of female friendship that is unforgettable.

Tramps (Contemporary World Cinema)
From writer/director Adam Leon (Gimme The Loot) Tramps is part crime thriller, part Rom-Com, and part road movie, in which Danny (Callum Turner) and Ellie (Grace Van Patten) make unlikely adversaries who find they actually have a lot in common.

Which of the programmers' picks are you most looking forward to seeing at TIFF 2016? Let us know in the comments.

Film still from Moonlight

Latest Videos

Latest Videos

Join the conversation Load comments

Latest in Film

New animated Netflix series is packed with scenes of Toronto

That time when Mr. Bean came to the Eaton Centre in Toronto

Someone documented many of the movie scenes you had no idea were shot in Toronto

Canadians can no longer share their Disney+ passwords

Even TV shoots are struggling with Toronto's never-ending construction

Entertainment Tonight Canada announces its end due to challenging ad environment

The best movies at TIFF 2023

TIFF announces awards and People's Choice winner for 2023