Toronto International Film Festival 2021 – It’s Good To Be Back

Jason Whyte | Get Reel Movies

Hello TIFF 2021. It’s good to be back at an actual film festival in person this time around. 

Of course a lot has happened in the last two years and I feel like I don’t need to remind you of the world around us. Many things have changed. You and I have changed. But you look good! And Toronto, you look AMAZING.

I have attended TIFF as a fan in 2013 and 2014, and as industry from 2017 to 2019. When the festival announced it was going all digital in 2020, I decided to take a pass even though I could have comfortably screened titles in high-definition in the comfort on my home 65” 4k screen with surround sound on a comfortable pair of Avantree headphones (no this is not a sponsored post, I promise). There is a part of that I admire, yet both the theatrical AND the festival experience is something that can not be replicated.

There is also the entire conversation about movie theatres coming back along with viewing movies at home. For this fan, I admire the moviegoing experience. I watch movies both in theatres and home, even today, and both can totally co-exist. Having recently seen the box office hit SHANG-CHI & THE LEGEND OF THE TEN RINGS I felt the air of the excitement of a new movie even though the nearest person sitting by me was five rows away and there were only 30 people in an auditorium of 165. I still felt it. 

And before you ask, I am practicing safe moviegoing. This Managing Editor you are talking to is fully vaccinated and attending TIFF entirely alone with a mask on at all times with many granola bars and quick meals planned outside in-between shows. All of the screenings are socially distanced with reserved seats, so assuming everyone sits in their reserved seats there will be some distance to stretch the tall legs out and enjoy the show. 

This year in-person festival goers will be able to check out screenings at the mighty Cineplex Scotiabank Theatre Toronto (with its 14 screens!), the Bell Lightbox (5 screens), Princess of Wales and Roy Thomson Hall (where I will FINALLY be checking out a screening after my sixth year at the festival). I also hope to get out to the Ontario Cinesphere and some outdoor venues.

The festival opens with a movie that appears to be guaranteed to put a smile on every festival goers face. A few years ago I greatly admired WONDER starring little Jacob Tremblay, and that movie’s director Steven Chobosky has returned with the much anticipated DEAR EVEN HANSEN with an all star cast, based on a popular musical. It also stars Julianne Moore, Nicole Kidman and TIFF regular Kaitlyn Dever. I will be right in the Princess of Wales auditorium for the opening night screening with the cast and crew in attendance. To give you an idea on just how cool this room is, I was in this room in 2019 to see the world premiere of KNIVES OUT with James Bond himself, Daniel Craig, sitting a few rows away from me. That was pretty cool. I wish every city had a 2200 seat theatre like this one! 

Another part of the festival that I greatly admire is the Midnight Madness section, which good sir Colin Geddes was running in 2019 and in the last few years have been proud to watch every single MM screening programmed by fellow film geek Peter Kuplowsky who I not only run into here but at Fantastic Fest in Austin. The Palme D’Or winner TITANE will be the first Midnight Madness screening this year, which is moving from the Ryerson Theatre to the Bell Lightbox. 

To talk about all of the movies playing at the festival would require a book, but I will let you know right now that I will be at the premiere of DUNE, a new untitled movie by Steven Soderbergh, Edgar Wright’s new LAST NIGHT IN SOHO, BELFAST by Kenneth Branagh and countless other independent, foreign and Canadian releases. At the end of this festival I will have my usual Top 10 of the festival as well.

Like with all TIFF’s, I am all about the movies. As much as the festival gets its reputation as a star and glamour festival, along with many parties…it’s not for me. IO am too busy running a movie website and sharing all of my takes on the festival and movie circuit. Especially at a time when we are just supposed to be a bit distant…either way I focus on the movies. So you’re welcome. Here’s to #TIFF21! 

This year’s TIFF runs from September 9th to 18th. Throughout the festival we will have capsule reviews of movies that I have seen along with a photo gallery on the site of Q&A’s and a few select filmmaker interviews. All photos in the gallery are simply shot on my iPhone 12 Pro Max, so please excuse any imperfections in photos and selfies! For more information on the festival, screening times and where to buy tickets or stream movies from the comfort of your home, point your browser to! 

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