Fifteen must-see movies screening at TIFF 2022
September is here, which means it’s TIFF season
It’s September in Toronto, and that means one thing: TIFF is here. This year’s Toronto International Film Festival features around 200 highly anticipated, star-studded movies, including Rian Johnson’s Knives Out sequel, Sarah Polley’s adaptation of Women Talking, Steven Spielberg’s TIFF debut (yes, really) and so much more. Here are our picks for the most notable screenings at this year’s fest.
Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery (Rian Johnson)
When Rian Johnson’s clever star-studded whodunnit Knives Out debuted at TIFF in 2019, it immediately won over the crowd, so it makes sense that the film’s much-anticipated sequel, Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery, is screening here before hitting Netflix later this year. Daniel Craig is back as unconventional detective Benoit Blanc, who is taking on a new (and very under-wraps) case on a Greek island. This cast is just as stacked as the first film’s and includes Edward Norton, Leslie Odom Jr., Kate Hudson, Dave Bautista, Kathryn Hahn and Janelle Monáe, just to name a few.
The Swimmers (Sally El Hosaini)
To kick off this year’s festivities, TIFF opted for filmmaker Sally El Hosaini’s The Swimmers. Inspired by a true story, the sweeping drama follows sisters and competitive swimmers Yusra and Sara Mardini (played by siblings Nathalie and Manal Issa), who flee their home in war-torn Syria for Europe. Not only are they hoping to find safety during the risky journey, they are also chasing their lifelong dream of competing in the Olympics—something that comes within reach when a swim coach (Matthias Schweighöfer) agrees to work with them.
Women Talking (Sarah Polley)
It’s been about a decade since Canadian actor-writer-filmmaker Sarah Polley has made a movie. That changes this year with Women Talking. Adapted from Miriam Toews’s novel of the same name, the powerful drama centres a group of Mennonite women (including Rooney Mara, Claire Foy, Jessie Buckley and Frances McDormand) who secretly gather one night to discuss the rampant abuse they and the rest of their community have faced at the hands of the men in their colony. As they see it, there are three options: do nothing, leave, or stay and fight.
Hunt (Lee Jung-jae)
On this side of the globe, most people will recognize South Korea’s Lee Jung-jae as the star of the ubiquitous Netflix hit Squid Game. This year, he’s also made his directorial debut with Hunt (which is already a box-office hit in his home country). Lee stars in the 1980s-set espionage thriller as an intelligence chief trying to uncover a mole in his agency—leading him to an assassination plot against the South Korean president.
Bros (Nicholas Stoller)
Rom-com lovers, rejoice: there’s a buzzy new addition to the genre hitting the big screen this fall, and it’s coming to TIFF first. A part-satire co-written by star Billy Eichner and director Nicholas Stoller, Bros follows witty New York podcaster Bobby (Eichner), a self-appointed queer-culture authority who is candid about wanting only uncomplicated hookups. But, when he meets a very handsome lawyer (Canadian Luke Macfarlane), their connection goes way beyond lust. This is also the first major studio rom-com that features an almost entirely LGBTQ principal cast.
The Fabelmans (Steven Spielberg)
Here’s a surprising fact: Steven Spielberg has never screened at TIFF—that is, until now. Starring Michelle Williams, Paul Dano and Seth Rogen, The Fabelmans is being touted as the Oscar winner’s most personal film yet, inspired by his childhood growing up in Arizona. The drama follows Sammy (Gabriel LaBelle), a teen boy obsessed with movie-making, as he navigates home, school, life and the way his relationships influence his creative work.
The Woman King (Gina Prince-Bythewood)
For centuries, a fierce, all-women military regiment known as the Agojie were the formidable protectors of the African kingdom of Dahomey, going up against neighbours, European colonizers and the slave trade. Their story comes to the big screen in Gina Prince-Bythewood’s latest, The Woman King. The action epic follows Nanisca (Viola Davis), the laser-focused leader responsible for making sure the group is prepared for whatever comes their way, and newcomer Nawi (Thuso Mbedu), a young woman seeking to join the Agojie.
Brother (Clement Virgo)
Scarborough comes to TIFF again—this time in filmmaker Clement Virgo’s Brother. Adapted from David Chariandy’s novel of the same name, the coming-of-age drama jumps back and forth between 1991 and 2001, tracking two Black Canadian brothers (Scarborough’s own Lamar Johnson and Aaron Pierre) and their mother (Marsha Stephanie Blake) as they try to reconcile their ambitions with the violence that they encounter in the city.
My Policeman (Michael Grandage)
Have you heard that Harry Styles is making his TIFF debut? But he’s far from the only draw in the forbidden-romance drama My Policeman. Styles plays Tom, a young police officer in 1950s Britain who meets schoolteacher Marion (Emma Corrin) and quickly begins a relationship with her. But, not too long afterward, they meet museum curator Patrick (David Dawson), who unlocks a passion within Tom and provides him with an opportunity to explore his sexuality. Decades later (each character is also played by an older actor), we see how the trio’s lives have been changed by their relationships. The film has already been announced as the winner of the 2022 TIFF Tribute Award for Performance.
Empire of Light (Sam Mendes)
Award-winning filmmaker Sam Mendes is back, this time with a moving drama starring Olivia Colman, Michael Ward and Colin Firth. To be totally honest, plot details about the film, called Empire of Light, are pretty vague at this point: it’s set in the early ’80s in a movie house in an English seaside town and is described as being about “human connection and the magic of cinema.” Not a lot to go on, but is there a better place to screen a movie about the love of movies than TIFF?
Catherine Called Birdy (Lena Dunham)
An adaptation of Karen Cushman’s bestselling book, Catherine Called Birdy seems to be the perfect next step for Lena Dunham. It gives the prolific writer-director-actor another opportunity to explore feminist themes and the lives of women. The medieval comedy centres a rambunctious 14-year-old girl known as Birdy (Bella Ramsey), who has a very relatable wish: to avoid being married off by her father (Andrew Scott) to a rich man. Her solution: to cause minor chaos around their village and thwart his plans—which is a lot more fun anyway.
This Place (V. T. Nayani)
Reservation Dogs’ Devery Jacobs and writer-actor Priya Guns star in Canadian filmmaker V. T. Nayani’s captivating feature-length debut, This Place. Co-written and co–executive produced by Jacobs, the movie tells the love story of two young women in Toronto—one Iranian and Kanien’kehá:ka, the other Tamil—as they both attempt to unravel their complicated family legacies and identities. The film also features dialogue in English, Mohawk, Persian, Tamil and French.
Broker (Hirokazu Kore-eda)
Japanese filmmaker Hirokazu Kore-eda follows up his 2018 Palme d’Or–winning movie, Shoplifters, with another drama—this one in Korean—that has already impressed crowds at this year’s Cannes Festival. Broker follows two men (Parasite star Song Kang-ho and Gang Dong-won) who secretly run an illegal business: when people abandon a baby on the steps of a nearby church, the duo snatch the infant and sell them to a wealthy bidder. Things take an unexpected turn when one young mother returns for her baby the next day and decides to join the men as they interview potential parents.
Ever Deadly (Tanya Tagaq and Chelsea McMullan)
You may already know Tanya Tagaq as an award-winning throat singer, songwriter, performance artist and novelist from Nunavut. Now, in Ever Deadly, Tagaq is giving viewers a much more intimate look into her life. The documentary intersperses dynamic concert footage with scenes of the artist sharing her painful family story (including her mother detailing the forced relocation of their family) while highlighting issues that she is passionate and outspoken about. This includes missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls and the importance of hunting to the North.
The Wonder (Sebastián Lelio)
Florence Pugh has become an actor known for consistently interesting work on the screen. And her next project, taking on material by Irish Canadian writer Emma Donoghue, is no different. The Wonder is based on Donoghue’s 2016 novel of the same name and stars Pugh as a 19th-century nurse who arrives in the Irish Midlands to investigate an odd phenomenon: an 11-year-old girl (Kíla Lord Cassidy) who has reportedly not eaten in four months, has miraculously survived and is turning into a tourist sensation.