• Compartment No. 6

    Compartment No. 6

    Juho Kuosmanen‘s Compartment No. 6 (co-winner of the Cannes Grand Prix prize) is an understated yet compelling tale of compassion and mutual understanding. Essentially a road movie, it becomes a wryly observed and intimate character study that breaks down differences of class, nationality, and language.

    Compartment No. 6 takes place in a single confined space, a shared compartment on a long train ride north through Russia to the remote city of Murmansk in the Arctic circle. The filmmaker ingeniously builds…

  • Wolf

    Wolf

    Crossbreed Jodie Foster’s star vehicle Nell with S1m0ne’s character study I Am Pig and the result is Wolf. George MacKay goes full Jodie Foster playing a young man who identifies as a wolf. It’s a wild performance. However, where Foster won accolades for her turnas a feral hermit, MacKay might find himself eating from the trough like the simulated S1m0ne. This peculiar film from Nathalie Biancheri has all the ingredients to be a full-fledged star vehicle. However, Wolf’s study of…

  • Becoming Cousteau

    Becoming Cousteau

    Award-winning filmmaker Liz Garbus (What Happened, Miss Simone?; The Farm: Angola, USA) set about making her latest documentary, Becoming Cousteau, upon realizing her young children had no idea who Cousteau was. Their understanding of underwater exploration and the importance of the ocean did not come via the recognizable Frenchman in the red beanie on the deck of the Calypso. It seemed unfathomable that such a giant figure in her life could be completely absent from theirs.

    The resulting film, clocking…

  • The Humans

    The Humans

    It’s almost unfortunate how familiar The Humans will feel to many. A professional dealing with health issues causing lost opportunities at work. A young couple convincing themselves that a dank, overly priced apartment is a good idea. A long-time married couple constrained by time and obligation.

    Stephen Karam, in his directorial debut, adapts his own stage play bringing each of these stories coloured with anxiety, heartbreak, and existential dread into one of the most honest depictions of day to day…

  • Silent Night

    Silent Night

    Every film going forward will be viewed through a COVID lens and all that that entails. In many cases, it’s an unfortunate coincidence. Such is the case for Camille Griffin’s debut feature, Silent Night.

    The film imagines a holiday season’s merriment threatened by a poisonous storm cloud moving its way around the world. The UK government has issued “Exit Pills” to its citizens (save for the homeless and illegal immigrant populations) to avoid suffering when facing the inevitable. A group…

  • Murina

    Murina

    Winner of this year’s Camera d’or at Cannes and executive produced by Martin Scorsese, Murina is not your average coming of age film. Imagine an Antonioni film with a Pinter-esque tinge and you get a sense of this electrified dive into this rebellious teen’s psyche. Croatian director Antoneta Alamat Kusijanović displays a maturity of style that is remarkable for a feature film debut.

    Sixteen-year-old Julija (Gracija Filipovic) has every reason to be angry. Her father Ante (Leon Lucev) is a…

  • Saloum

    Saloum

    Three mercenaries, a drug trafficker, and a plane full of gold race off into the cold blue sky as gunshots ring out from the ground below. The plane’s ruptured gas tank starts bleeding fuel, forcing the desperate crew to touch down in the cursed land of Saloum, Senegal, a place of bullets, bloodshed, and restless spirits. Director Jean Luc Herbulot’s Saloum starts at a ten and only ratchets up the intensity from there.

    Stranded in Saloum, the three mercs, Chaka…

  • Vengeance Is Mine, All Others Pay Cash

    Vengeance Is Mine, All Others Pay Cash

    Sometimes a film comes along that defies explanation. Writer-director Edwin’s Indonesian thriller Vengeance Is Mine, All Others Pay Cash is like the everything bagel of genre flicks. VIMAOPC, pulls from several genres—Kung fu films, crime flicks, horror movies, melodramas—to deliver one of TIFF 2021’s most audacious movies.

    VIMAOPC is about a young man named Ajo Kawir (Marthino Lio). I’ve got to be blunt here. Ajo can’t achieve an erection, which is the ultimate shame in his macho society. Ajo’s impotence…

  • Întregalde

    Întregalde

    Is it human nature to assume the worst in our fellow man? Întregalde ponders the nature of human decency as three aid workers travel to the titular Romanian town. They encounter bumps along the way in a scenario that evokes mundane slice-of-life observations à la Seinfeld. Like Jerry, Elaine, Kramer, and George, Maria (Maria Popistașu), Dan (Alex Bogdan), and Ilinca (Ilona Brezoianu) embody aspects of ourselves that we’d rather not acknowledge. Yet Întregalde cackles with the finest black humour one…

  • Encounter

    Encounter

    Michael Pearce’s sci-fi-tinged thriller Encounter is one of TIFF 2021’s most emotionally wrenching films.

    Encounter stars Riz Ahmed as Malik Khan, a former marine and stressed-out dad who stumbles into some earth-shattering news. Alien parasites have invaded the earth, and they’re secretly taking control of the human population. Under cover of night, Malik rescues his two sons from his ex-wife and heads to safety in a secret military installation in Nevada.

    Despite what the promotional material says, Encounter is not…

  • Beba

    Beba

    A real standout in this year’s TIFF Docs section, Rebeca Huntt’s Beba is a film that defies categorization. It is deeply personal, a memoir of sorts—but it is certainly not another navel gazing experience. Beba goes beyond the usual tropes associated with that style to express more about history and society than any conventional documentary could hope to do.

    In Beba, the filmmaker investigates the generational trauma at the root of her family’s fractured relationships. To do so, she probes…

  • The Mad Women's Ball

    The Mad Women's Ball

    Atmospheric and haunting, The Mad Women’s Ball (le bal des folles) is a relevant and riveting psychodrama that follows one woman’s battle to take charge of her own destiny amid a society determined to subjugate her. Coming at a time when women’s bodily autonomy seems once again up for debate and discussion, Mélanie Laurent’s latest directorial effort untangles the patriarchal and institutional abuses of the late 19th century and proves—frustratingly—that when it comes to progress, society has changed far less…