tiff 2017

The top 10 documentaries to see at TIFF 2017

Non-fiction storytelling is taking podcasts and Netflix series by storm, but for cinephiles there will always be our long-running love for feature-length documentaries. This year’s TIFF crop once again offers stories that will entice documentary and non-fiction lovers alike.

Here are my picks for the documentaries to check out at TIFF 2017.

The Carter Effect

Who in Toronto doesn’t remember the Vince Carter years when the city was alive with Raptors fever for the first time? With The Carter Effect, director Sean Menard offers the irresistible chance to be reminded of how Vinsanity impacted not just Toronto, but all of Canada.

Cocaine Prison

We don’t always get the chance to see the human faces of the international drug trade in the places where the drugs come from. Cocaine Prison offers just that, with director Violeta Ayala shining a light on a cocaine field worker, a drug mule, and his sister in Bolovia.

Ex Libris – The New York Public Library

Frederick Wiseman has explored an eclectic mix of places: a college (At Berkley), a New York neighborhood (In Jackson Heights), and a museum (National Gallery). His latest will be cinematic catnip for book lovers: a behind-the-scenes peek at the New York Public Library.

Eric Clapton: Life in 12 Bars

Every year TIFF’s doc selections are a treasure trove for music lovers. This year, audiences will get a look at one of the greatest guitar players in the history of rock n’ roll: Eric Clapton. If you're a rock fan, you can't miss this one.

The Final Year

If you want to remiss about the Obama Presidency, or better understand how international relations work, be sure to check out The Final Year, which looks at the last year of Obama’s diplomacy team thanks to the full access director Greg Baker received.

Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami

Sophie Fiennes inventively captured the larger-than-life eccentric philosopher Slavoj Zizek with The Pervert’s Guide to Ideology, so it will be thrilling to see how she docuented the even-larger-than-life model, singer, and actress Grace Jones over the course of a decade.

The Judge

The story of Judge Kholoud Al-Faqih, the first ever member of the Sharia judiciary in the Middle East, is what documentaries were made for: the chance to get to know a trail blazing individual and learning about their impact on their community - in this case, Islamic law.

Of Sheep and Men

Set in Algeria, this doc is the story of two men. One is a 16-year-old training his sheep to become a fighting champion; the other is a middle-aged man looking to survive by selling sheep. Documentaries about those looking to rise above always make for powerful stuff.

Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood

It’s not TIFF without at least one movie about the movies, so we get: Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood. This documentary promises its share of dirty secrets through Scotty Bowers, who arranged sexual encounters for some of the biggest stars of Golden Age Hollywood.

Super Size Me 2: Holy Chicken!

Sequels may not be common in documentaries, but considering the success of Super Size Me, it’s surprising one didn’t come along sooner. This time Morgan Spurlock is taking on the chicken industry and its ties to the fast food business, with a twist: he tries to open one himself.

Lead photo by

Super Size Me 2

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