Films To See @TIFF16: Kirk Cooper’s Picks

For most of us in the film industry – TIFF is the most wonderful time of the year. Cue the back to school Staples music just about now. And so it beginnings the most fun we will have in watching films for 10 days.  Films from around the world  will be picked apart and decided on which ones made the grade and the ones that didn’t may just have a short life on VOD (Video on Demand) instead of the theaters.

As I picked through the 300+ films that were chosen by the programming team guided by the leadership of Cameron Bailey – Artistic Director of TIFF, I can see that there are more black content and higher number of films are directed by women directors in this year’s selection. A strong line-up from South Korean and and a couple gems fro the Caribbean ( Jamaica and Haiti). USA always play a huge role in shaping the TIFF line-up and this year is a bit of a mix bag. Besides the present controversy surrounding the biggest title  that ever sold at Sundance – The Birth Of A downloadNation director Nate Parker‘s alleged crime that seems to be stealing the films thunder – there are a few gems but nothing spectacular.  Look out for my highly anticipated stamp on many titles in the list to see who will be released before the end of the year.

And finally if you have already bought your tickets to films and just saw this list no worries most of these titles can be found later in the theater or on VOD platforms before spring 2017. However, it would be wise to keep this list as a catch up on TIFF16. On a different note for those who are reading this and have access to TIFF conference you don’t want to miss out on a few guest speakers such as  Mira Nair and Rob Reiner plus In Conversation with Cheryl Boone Isaacs who is at the helm of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (OSCAR) Cheryl is the third woman and first African American to hold this position. Since taking office in 2013 she had to deal with #OscarSoWhite and the lack of female in the industry. She sit down with Cameron Bailey – should be interesting if he throws in the Nate Parker controversy as well.

This year’s City to City Spotlight is Lagos (Nigeria).

Any titles with this symbol ѱ (book-ended) suggested as anticipated or a must see film for this year.

  • Contemporary World Cinema – Compelling stories, global perspectives.

After Love – Dir: Joachim Lafosse – France / Belgium –

Apprentice – Dir: Boo Junfeng – Singapore / Germany –

Ayiti Mon AmourDir: Guetty Felin – Haiti / USA –

Vaya Dir: Akin Omotoso – South Africa –

ѱX Quinieѱntos ѱ–Dir: Juan Andres Arango – Canada / Colombia / Mexico –




  •  Vanguard – Provocative, sexy… possibly dangerous. This is what’s next.

 Message from the King – Dir: Fabrice Du Welz – United Kingdom / France / Belgium –

ѱ Untamed ѱ– Dir Amat Escalante – Mexico / Denmark –

  • TIFF Docs – Candid and unscripted: the best non-fiction cinema from around the world.

I Am Not Your Negro – Dir: Raoul Peck – USA / France / Belgium / Switzerland. Working from the text of James Baldwin’s unfinished final novel, director Raoul Peck (Moloch TropicalMurder in Pacot) creates a stunning meditation on what it means to be Black in America.

chasingtrane_03ѱ Chasing Trane: The John Coltrane Documentary ѱ– Dir: John Scheinfeld – USA. Veteran documentarian John Scheinfeld (The U.S. vs. John Lennon) explores the life and work of jazz legend John Coltrane, with commentary and appreciations from such diverse Trane devotees as Denzel Washington, Carlos Santana, Common, Cornell West and Bill Clinton.

Giants of Africa – Dir Hubert Davis – Canada. Award-winning Canadian documentarian Hubert Davis chronicles the inspirational work of Giants of Africa, a program founded by Toronto Raptors GM Masai Ujiri that uses basketball to educate and enrich the lives of underprivileged African youth.

  • GALA Presentation – Movie stars. Red-carpet premieres. Major audience interest.

ѱ Arrival ѱ– Dir: Denis Villeneuve – USA –

Justin Timberlakjtandthetenesseekids_01e + The Tennessee Kids – Dir: Jonathan Demme – USA –

Loving – Dir: Jeff Nichols – USA –

Queen of Katwe – Dir: Mira Nair – Uganda / South Africa –

ѱ Snowden ѱ– Dir: Oliver Stone – USA –

ѱ A United Kingdom ѱ– Dir: Amma Asante – United Kingdom –

  • MASTERS – The latest from the world’s most influential art-house filmmakers.

After the Storm – Dir: Hirokazu Kore-eda – Japan –

ѱ The Net ѱ – Dir: Kim Ki-duk – South Korea –

  • Midnight Madness – The wild side: midnight screenings of the best in action, horror, shock and fantasy cinema.


  • Special Presentations – High-profile premieres and the world’s leading filmmakers.

ageofshadows_05The Age of Shadows – Dr: Kim Jee woon – South Korea –

All I See Is You – Dir: Marc Forster – USA / Thailand –

ѱ American Honey ѱ – Dir: Andrea Arnold – United Kingdom / USA –

Asura: The City of Madness – Dir: Sung-soo Kim – South Korea –

Barry – Dir: Vikram Gandhi – USA –

ѱ The Birth of a Nation ѱ – Dir: Nate Parker – USA –

BrOTHERHOOD – Dir: Noel Clarke – United Kingdom –

christine_04Christine – Dir: Antonio Campos – USA –

ѱ I, Daniel Blake ѱ – Dir Ken Loach – United Kingdom / France / Belgium –

King of the Dancehall – Dir: Nick Cannon – USA / Jamaica –

ѱ La La Land ѱ – Dir: Damien Chazelle – USA –

ѱ Manchester by the Sea ѱ – Dir: Kenneth Lonergan – USA –

nocturnalanimals_03ѱ Nocturnal Animals ѱ – Dir: Tom Ford – USA –

Sing – Dir: Garth Jennings – USA / France –

ѱ Toni Erdmann ѱ – Dir: Maren Ade – Germany –

Two Lovers and a Bear – Dir: Kim Nguyen – Canada –

ѱ Wakefield ѱ- Dir: Robin Swicord – USA –

  • Platform – Directors’ cinema now

ѱ Moonlight ѱ – Dir: Barry Jenkins – USA –

  • City to City – Bringing international cities to Toronto audiences. A snapshot of where’s hot right now. This year’s spotlight: Lagos, Nigeria.

download (4)

76 – Dir: Izu Ojukwu – Nigeria –

Green White Green – Dir Abba Makama – Nigeria –

ѱ The Wedding Party ѱ- Dir: Kemi Adetiba – Nigeria –


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