TIFF unveils Platform programme &TIFF Shorts

TIFF Cinematheque presents Alanis Obomsawin retrospective Celebrating Alanis and marks 20th Anniversary of Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner

The Toronto International Film Festival® previously announced the full Platform programme and revealed that Academy Award-nominated actor Riz Ahmed will head the jury for the 2021 Platform Competition. TIFF is also delighted to present a special TIFF Cinematheque retrospective of Abenaki artist, filmmaker, singer, writer, and activist Alanis Obomsawin, entitled Celebrating Alanis. Curated by Jason Ryle, this presentation of films spans Obomsawin’s vast accomplishments and is co-presented with the National Film Board of Canada. TIFF also announced five Special Events, as well as the 2021 TIFF Short Cuts programme, comprising 38 short films.

“It’s a pleasure for TIFF to provide the Platform programme as a stage that celebrates brilliant filmmakers. We’re certain that TIFF audiences will be pleasantly surprised with their unique approach to cinematic expression,” said Joana Vicente and Cameron Bailey, TIFF Co-Heads. “Sound of Metal had its World Premiere at TIFF and was part of Platform’s 2019 lineup. Having Riz Ahmed join as Head of the 2021 Platform competition jury is a huge privilege.”

“I am honoured to be named president of the Platform jury at TIFF this year and to be a part of TIFF with Encounter,” said Ahmed. “TIFF has always been a festival that showcases bold and daring cinema on a global stage. Its commitment to celebrating small independent films, like Sound of Metal, has had such a significant impact on my career and many others. I’m looking forward to watching all of this year’s selections and working alongside my fellow jury members.”


Arthur Rambo Laurent Cantet | France
World Premiere

Drunken Birds (Les oiseaux ivres) Ivan Grbovic | Canada
World Premiere

Earwig Lucile Hadžihalilović | United Kingdom/France/Belgium
World Premiere

Huda’s Salon Hany Abu-Assad | Palestine/Egypt/Netherlands/Qatar
World Premiere

Mlungu Wam (Good Madam)(Mlungu Wam) Jenna Cato Bass | South Africa
World Premiere

Montana Story Scott McGehee, David Siegel | USA
World Premiere

Silent Land (Cicha Ziemia) Aga Woszczyńska | Poland/Italy/Czech Republic
World Premiere

Yuni Kamila Andini | Singapore/France/Indonesia/Australia
World Premiere


Celebrating Alanis

“Alanis Obomsawin is often described as an activist filmmaker,” said Cameron Bailey, Artistic Director and Co-Head. “Alanis’s body of work focuses on discrimination and injustice, but also on Indigenous strength and resistance. It is an honour to celebrate her work with these 19 films in the retrospective, including the world premiere of her newest title, Honour to Senator Murray Sinclair. Every story matters, and through Celebrating Alanis, audiences can experience how her work has fundamentally impacted how people in Canada, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous, understand ourselves.”

“It’s a true gift to know Alanis as a friend and through her films. Her works are imbued with tenacity, dignity, and love in equal measures and they have been transformational across nations,” said series curator Jason Ryle. “Her astonishing legacy continues to grow with each year and with each new film in her long career. Within the global Indigenous community, she is a beacon of our pride and a symbol of the power of film to change the world. It’s been a pleasure to curate this programme for TIFF and my hope is that her works reach even broader international audiences.”

A member of the Abenaki Nation and one of Canada’s most distinguished filmmakers, Alanis Obomsawin is a filmmaker and producer at the National Film Board of Canada, where she has worked since 1967. On December 10, 2020, Obomsawin received the Rogers-DOC Luminary Award at the DOC Institute Honours, which is given to an individual who embodies the creative spirit of the Canadian documentary tradition and displays generosity by supporting the next generation of doc makers through mentorship. In October, she received the Glenn Gould Prize, as chosen by an international jury. Obomsawin’s 2019 production Jordan River Anderson, The Messenger (TIFF ’19 Official Selection) was her 52nd film, completed in the 52nd year of a legendary filmmaking career devoted to chronicling the lives and concerns of First Nations people and exploring issues of importance to all. On June 27, 2019, Obomsawin was named a Companion of the Order of Canada — its highest honour. In winter 2022, the retrospective Alanis Obomsawin: Lifework will be presented at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin. Obomsawin will also be honoured with the Jeff Skoll Award in Impact Media supported by Participant Media at the 2021 TIFF Tribute Awards during the Festival.

All programmes in Celebrating Alanis will screen for free on digital TIFF Bell Lightbox with the exception of The Dignity of Children: Programme 2, which will be presented as a ticketed, in-cinema event. The full TIFF 2021 schedule will be announced on August 24.

Celebrating Alanis is co-presented by the National Film Board of Canada. Special thanks to TIFF’s Programming Partner, the Indigenous Screen Office, and Community Partner imagineNATIVE.

Portraits: Programme 1 
Puberty – Part 1 (1975)
Puberty – Part 2 (1975)
Mother of Many Children (1977)

Portraits: Programme 2 
Richard Cardinal: Cry from a Diary of a Métis Child 
No Address (1988)

Lighting the Fire: Programme 1 
The Canoe (1972)
Kanehsatake: 270 Years of Resistance (1993)

Lighting the Fire: Programme 2 
Moose Call (1972)
Amisk (1977)
Incident at Restigouche (1984)

The Dignity of Children: Programme 1 
Snowshoes (1972)
Walking Is Medicine (2017)
Our People Will Be Healed (2017)

The Dignity of Children: Programme 2 
Honour to Senator Murray Sinclair (World Premiere; 2021)
Mount Currie Summer Camp (1975)
Children (1972)
Sigwan (2005)
When All the Leaves Are Gone (2010)
Christmas at Moose Factory (1971)

The Dignity of Children: Programme 2 will include a special preview trailer for the new animated short film Seeds: The Art of Alanis Obomsawin, created and directed by Terril Calder and proudly presented by The Glenn Gould Foundation. The film will be projected as a spectacular outdoor sound and light show onto the east façade of the Royal Ontario Museum for a two-week run starting October 4, 2021. 

Of Calder’s new work, the Glenn Gould Foundation says: “Obomsawin’s life has been dedicated to the arts. Many know her for the 53 films she has made with the National Film Board of Canada, but she is a force of nature across other mediums as well. Seeds uses stop-motion technology, exploring Alanis’s visual art coupled with her powerful musical compositions. It is an opportunity to be guided through the compelling work of an Indigenous artist who has devoted her life’s journey to love, justice, kindness, and creation — kicking doors down with grace and beauty.”

Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner: 20th Anniversary

In 2001, Inuk filmmaker and producer Zacharias Kunuk’s groundbreaking film Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner — the first Canadian feature film produced entirely in Inuktitut — won the Best Canadian Film Award at the 26th Toronto International Film Festival and became the first Canadian film to win the Camera d’Or at Cannes. TIFF Cinematheque marks 20 years since the film opened the Festival and captivated audiences, with a free screening of the film in its digitally remastered version.

Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner (2001) Zacharias Kunuk | Canada
Digitally remastered DCP courtesy of the TIFF Film Reference Library Screening Collection.


TIFF is thrilled to unveil this year’s Short Cuts lineup, which comprises 38 new live-action narrative, documentary, and animated shorts by a diverse group of filmmakers representing 22 countries. Along with works by emerging talents from all over the world, the programme includes new films by such TIFF alumni as Zacharias Kunuk, Albert Shin, Matias Piñeiro, Lois Patiño, and Seth A. Smith. Among the filmmakers returning to Short Cuts are Terril Calder, Lee Filipovski, Rakan Mayasi, and Ayçe Kartal, as well as recent award-winner Paul Shkordoff (2020 IMDbPro Short Cuts Award for Best Canadian Film for Benjamin, Benny, Ben).

“We believe the 38 selections we are presenting in Short Cuts this year are some of the most remarkable films audiences will see this year,” says Short Cuts programmer Jason Anderson. “They are also a testament to the strength, imagination, and resilience that filmmakers have displayed in the face of all the recent challenges. And while these works may differ wildly when it comes to the stories they tell, the forms they take, and the people and perspectives they portray, they are all unique and deeply personal visions that we are thrilled to share with viewers.”

Films programmed in this year’s Short Cuts selection are eligible for three jury-selected IMDbPro Short Cuts Awards (Best Film, Best Canadian Film, and the Share Her Journey Award for Best Film by a woman) and the Shawn Mendes Foundation Changemaker Award.

Short Cuts is also proud to continue introducing TIFF audiences to many of cinema’s most remarkable new talents. Among the Short Cuts alumni directors who are bringing first features to the Festival this year are Danis Goulet (Night Raiders), Thyrone Tommy (Learn To Swim), Haya Waseem (Quickening), Mounia Akl (Costa Brava, Lebanon), Justine Bateman (Violet), and Carlo Francisco Manatad (Whether the Weather is Fine).

A Few Miles South Ben Pearce | United Kingdom
World Premiere

Angakusajaujuq – The Shaman’s Apprentice(Angakusajaujuq) Zacharias Kunuk | Canada
North American Premiere

Anxious Body Yoriko Mizushiri | France/Japan
North American Premiere

ASTEL Ramata-Toulaye Sy | France/Senegal
World Premiere  

Beity Isabelle Mecattaf | Lebanon/United States of America
International Premiere

Bhai Hamza Bangash | United Kingdom/Canada/Pakistan
World Premiere

Boobs Marie Valade | Canada
North American Premiere

Charlotte Zach Dorn | United States of America 
World Premiere 

DEFUND Khadijah Roberts-Abdullah, Araya Mengesha | Canada 
World Premiere

Displaced (Pa Vend) Samir Karahoda | Kosovo
North American Premiere

DUST BATH Seth A Smith | Canada 
World Premiere 

Egúngún(Masquerade) Olive Nwosu | United Kingdom/Nigeria
World Premiere

Fanmi Sandrine Brodeur-Desrosiers, Carmine Pierre-Dufour | Canada
World Premiere

Hanging On Alfie Barker | United Kingdom
International Premiere

I Gotta Look Good for the Apocalypse Ayçe Kartal | France
North American Premiere

I Would Never Kiran Deol | United States of America
World Premiere 

Little Bird Tim Myles | Canada 
World Premiere

Love, Dad (Milý tati) Diana Cam Van Nguyen | Czech Republic/Slovakia
Canadian Premiere

Meneath: The Hidden Island of Ethics Terril Calder | Canada
World Premiere

Motorcyclist’s Happiness Won’t Fit Into His Suit (Al motociclista no le cabe la felicidad en el trajeGabriel Herrera | Mexico
Canadian Premiere 

NuisanceBear Jack Weisman, Gabriela Osio Vanden | Canada 
World Premiere

Ousmane Jorge Camarotti | Canada
World Premiere

Saturday Night Rosana Matecki | Canada
World Premiere

Shark Nash Edgerton | Australia
World Premiere

Soft Animals Renee Zhan | United Kingdom 
North American Premiere

Some Still Search (Algunos Siguen Buscando) Nesaru Tchaas | United States of America
World Premiere

Srikandi Andrea Nirmala Widjajanto | Indonesia/Canada
World Premiere

Successful Thawing of Mr. Moro (Lyckad upptining av herr Moro) Jerry Carlsson | Sweden 
International Premiere

Sycorax (Sycorax) Lois Patiño, Matías Piñeiro | Portugal/Spain
North American Premiere

The Future Isn’t What It Used To Be Adeyemi Michael | United Kingdom
Canadian Premiere

The Infantas (Las Infantas) Andrea Herrera Catalá | Spain
World Premiere

The Syed Family Xmas Eve Game Night Fawzia Mirza | United States of America/Canada
World Premiere

Together (Ham-Gye) Albert Shin | Canada/South Korea
World Premiere

Trumpets in the Sky Rakan Mayasi | Palestine/Lebanon/France/Belgium
World Premiere

Twelve Hours Paul Shkordoff | Canada 
World Premiere

White Devil Mariama Diallo, Benjamin Dickinson | United States of America
World Premiere

You and Me, Before and After Madeleine Gottlieb | Australia
International Premiere

Zero (Nula) Lee Filipovski | Canada/Serbia
World Premiere


Reflecting the breadth of TIFF audiences’ interests, TIFF announced Part One of its Special Events Programme to engage and entertain audiences:

Special IMAX Screenings of Dune

TIFF previously announced that the award-winning Canadian filmmaker and 2021 TIFF Ebert Director Award honouree Denis Villeneuve will screen his film Dune as a World Exclusive Special IMAX Screening at Cinesphere Theatre at Ontario Place. The film, based on Frank Herbert’s classic novel, will screen at the Cinesphere in Toronto on the following dates:

·  Saturday, September 11 – World Exclusive IMAX Special Event
·  Sunday, September 12 – Repeat IMAX Screening  
·  Saturday, September 18 – Public IMAX Screening

TIFF is also delighted to announce an additional Special IMAX screening of Dune in Montreal presented by Bell at Cinéma Banque Scotia Montréal on Sunday, September 12. 

This screening is made possible in venue partnership with Cineplex as part of TIFF’s Canadian Satellite Screening programme. An additional screening of Dune will take place in Toronto at Scotiabank Theatre on September 13.

The Cinesphere is the world’s first permanent IMAX movie theatre, located on the grounds of Ontario Place. Constructed in 1971, it is the largest IMAX theatre in Ontario and has a longstanding relationship with TIFF: in 1976, the inaugural edition of TIFF, then called The Festival of Festivals, screened its first Opening Night film, Cousin, Cousine, and Closing Night film Gypsies are Found Near Heaven at the Cinesphere.

NBA Films For Fans created with OLG

On November 1, 1946, the NBA’s first-ever game was held at Maple Leaf Gardens, where the hometown Toronto Huskies played the New York Knickerbockers. Seventy-five years later, as part of the league’s anniversary celebrations, the NBA honours its Canadian roots at TIFF 2021. 

TIFF is proud to announce the launch of NBA Films For Fans created with OLG. This can’t-miss Special Event will feature five short films from Canadian filmmakers and basketball fans: Thyrone Tommy — also at this year’s Festival with his debut feature, Learn to Swim — and fellow Torontonians and TIFF talent development alumni Romeo Candido, Shawn Gerrard, and S.M. Turrell, as well as Vancouverite Kat Jayme, also a Talent Alumni as the 2019 Pitch This winner. Learn more about the Special Event and register for updates at NBAFilmsForFans.com.

Special Event Films

TIFF is pleased to announce that the following films will be presented as part of the Special Event Programme. Full details on the events that will complement these screenings will be announced in the coming weeks.  

A Hero (Ghahreman) Asghar Farhadi | Iran

Memoria Apichatpong Weerasethakul | Colombia/Thailand/United Kingdom/France/Germany/Mexico 

Spencer Pablo Larraín  | United Kingdom/Germany

TIFF continues to work closely with the Province of Ontario, the City of Toronto, and public health officials on the safe execution of the Festival, with its number-one priority being the health and well-being of both Festival filmgoers and residents of the community. To help ensure the safest possible experience, TIFF has once again partnered with Medcan, a global health care leader providing medical expertise, consultation, and health inspiration to achieve its mission to help people “Live Well, For Life.” Based on the pillars of evidence-based care, exceptional client service, and the latest in technology, Medcan’s team of over 90 physicians supports employee health care across the continuum of health, including its “Safe at Work System,” which helps organizations navigate the pandemic.

Please visit tiff.net for more information. 

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