toronto film festival 2021

The best movies at the Toronto International Film Festival you might have missed

The 2021 edition of the Toronto International Film Festival has wrapped, the awards have been given out, and this major celebration of cinema in this city has taken a pause until the same time next year.

It was a strange festival, for sure, with its mix of in-person and streaming titles that never quite felt like everything was fully up to speed, and the downtown core feeling more empty than it ever has, for obvious reasons.

There were a slew of major titles that screened, from People's Choice winner Belfast, to Dune, Last Night in Soho and Power of the Dog that all went in as buzz worthy films.

Yet there were dozens of other fine movies that maybe got a bit less attention, but are certainly worthy of seeking out post-fest.

Here are some of the best films of TIFF 2021 that you may have missed.

Saloum

Of all the discoveries at this year's festival Jean Lue Herbulot's wild revenge thriller may have been the most exciting. A super stylish genre piece with fabulous performances and an emotionally rich story, it's visually terrific, narratively engaging and exactly the kind of  mayhem with smarts you dream of from the Midnight slate.

Becoming Cousteau

Liz Garbus garnered an Oscar nomination for her nuanced look at the mercurial singer Nina Simone, and she brings all her intelligent and sophisticated storytelling to this wild and engaging tale about the iconic Cousteau and his voyages under the sea.

Hold Your Fire

A wonderful non-fiction pairing with Stanley Nelson's Attica, Stefan Forbes' intense film touches upon big issues like criminal justice, prejudice and violence, while providing deeply moving and intimate testimonials by those that were there. Brilliant stuff.

Petite Maman

I was skeptical about Céline Sciamma's follow up to her stupendous Portrait of a Lady on Fire that played TIFF 2019, but my worries about this story involving two young girls that are connected through time were entirely unwarranted, and with this brisk, beautiful film Sciamma yet again shows her directorial and narrative mastery.

I'm Your Man

Maria Schrader's sci-fi romance is just delightful, anchored by fabulous performances by a melancholic Maren Eggert and the ever intoxicating Dan Stevens who plays the relationship robot of your dreams.

One Second

Ostensibly the closing film of TIFF 2021, master director Zhang Yimou returned to Toronto with this charming love letter to cinema and the power of the moving image, as well as providing a slightly political poke at the vagaries of the cultural revolution and those who suffered.

Scarborough

First runner-up in the People's Choice plaudits, a rarity for a Canadian film, Catherine Hernandez's adaptation of her novel, along with Shasha Nakhai and Rich Williamson's assured direction and a committed ensemble, brings the travails of the Kingston/Galloway community to the global stage with its authenticity intact.

Lead photo by

Saloum


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