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23 Films to Watch at TIFF ’23

It feels like just yesterday that the curtains closed on the 2022 Toronto International Film Festival, where Steven Spielberg‘s The Fabelmans took home the coveted People’s Choice Award. And yet here we are again, just a few days away from the 2023 edition. As always, the festival features an impressive lineup of films seeking to garner distribution deals, Oscar buzz and other plaudits. From the return of beloved auteurs to captivating documentaries, TIFF 2023 is hardly short on options for any movie lover. And as the Awards Radar team prepares for a busy 11 days ahead, here are 23 of the titles we’re most excited about:


The cast of Next Goal Wins. Photo by Hilary Bronwyn Gayle. Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures.
© 2022 20th Century Studios All Rights Reserved.

Although TIFF’s usual celebrity sightings will be subdued this year due to the Hollywood strikes, there’s still ample star power represented both in front and behind the camera. In fact, numerous actors will be premiering their directorial debuts at the festival. Kristin Scott Thomas assembles a promising ensemble of actresses for her filmmaking debut North Star, with Scarlett Johansson, Sienna Miller and Emily Beecham co-starring as sisters navigating troubled love lives as their mother prepares for her third wedding. From Anna Kendrick, there’s Woman of the Hour, which tells the fascinating story of a serial killer who boldly appears on a national dating show following his incarceration. Meanwhile, Chris Pine’s Poolman pays homage to 1974’s Chinatown, as he directs himself in the role of a Los Angeles pool cleaner who uncovers a conspiracy.

Another conspiracy fuels Craig Gillespie’s Dumb Money, bringing the incredible true story of the GameStop Wall Street scandal to the big screen. Gillespie’s I’ Tonya was an audience fave at TIFF 2017, much like Taiki Waititi’s Jojo Rabbit in 2019. And the popular New Zealander will surely have high hopes to cop the People’s Choice Award again with Next Goal Wins, an adaptation of a 2014 documentary that follows a coach (played by Michael Fassbender) who aims to lead the underdog American Samoa soccer team to the World Cup. And finally, Patricia Arquette directs Willem Dafoe and Camila Morrone in Gonzo Girl, based on the semi-autobiographical book of the same name.


Concrete Utopia

Oscar fans keeping track of the Best International Feature race can get a good headstart by attending this year’s TIFF, as six festival films have already been announced as official submissions. The lastest of those contenders is a notable surprise, as Japan selected Perfect Days, the Cannes Best Actor-winning drama from acclaimed German filmmaker Wim Wenders. Also playing TIFF after award-winning Cannes debuts are Felipe Gálvez Haberle’s Western The Settlers and Four Daughters from Kaouther Ben Hania, whose The Man Who Sold His Skin earned Tunisia’s first Oscar nomination. Featuring a stellar lead performance from Zar Amir Ebrahimi, Australia will hope to garner more fans of Shayda, after this mother-daughter drama won Sundance’s Audience Award. And Germany’s pick The Teacher’s Lounge will also be unspooling a school-set mystery for Toronto audiences. Meanwhile, South Korean disaster thriller Concrete Utopia will be feted with a Gala premiere.


Copa 71

Documentary lovers have lots to be excited about with this year’s TIFF Docs lineup, as several iconic filmmakers bring their latest works to the fest. Raoul Peck returns to the fest with a typically racially-charged documentary Silver Dollar Road, following a Black family’s fight to keep their land in North Carolina. Peck’s film would make for a natural double feature with Roger Ross Williams’ Stamped From the Beginning, about the history of racist ideology in America. Meanwhile Oscar-winner Errol Morris will also premiere the intriguing The Pigeon Tunnel, in which he converses with famed spy novelist John le Carré about his life. No stranger to TIFF, Indian-Canadian director Deepa Mehta’s collaboration with the titular subject of I Am Sirat should also be a hot ticket, exploring the challenges of transgender life in India.

Among the less established names, Caroline Suh and Cara Mones will surely be in the spotlight for Sorry/Not Sorry, a clear-eyed reflection on the career of disgraced comedian Louis C.K. And soccer fans won’t want to miss the opening night documentary Copa 71. Directed by Rachel Ramsay and James Erskine, it retells the story of the unofficial 1971 Women’s World Cup.


Wild Woman

TIFF is known for its high profile premieres, but it’s also a great festival to discover emerging filmmakers from around the world. Indeed, the aptly titled Discovery section features numerous promising films. After winning the Un Certain Regard prize at the 2023 Cannes Film Festival, Molly Manning Walker’s How To Have Sex will aim to seduce Toronto audiences with its take on the wild girls trip trope. For a more grim exploration of sexuality, M. H. Murray takes audiences on a tense journey in I Don’t Know Who You Are, starring Mark Clennnon as a man struggling to find the money for HIV-preventive treatment after a sexual assault. Meanwhile, some other intriguing Discovery selections include the Navajo Nation-set Frybread Face and Me and Wild Woman, a Cuban drama about a woman trying to run away in the wake of an incriminating video.

Stay tuned for Awards Radar’s daily coverage of the 2023 Toronto International Film Festival from September 7th to 17th.


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Written by Shane Slater

Shane Slater is a passionate cinephile whose love for cinema led him to creating his blog Film Actually in 2009. Since then, he has written for, and The Spool. Based in Kingston, Jamaica, he relishes the film festival experience, having covered TIFF, NYFF and Sundance among others. He is a proud member of the African-American Film Critics Association.

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