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Curtain Closes on TIFF 2023


After 10 days straight of getting up at 5 am to travel to downtown via public transit for press screenings at the 48th Toronto International Film Festival, it felt luxurious to crawl out of bed three hours later!  The star wattage was certainly dimmed because of the striking writers and actors but it did not prevent me from seeing Willem Dafoe going up the escalator at the TIFF Bell Lightbox or Kate Winslet attending as the star and producer of the biopic Lee.  The press screenings were frontloaded with many overlapping with each other and only had one Press & Industry screening which meant some serious decision-making had to be made with a number of press and industry attendees taking advantage of their allotment of public screening tickets to ease the burden caused by the strange scheduling.  It was also stripped down for the press as there was no designated lounge and the press package simply consisted of the lanyard and photo ID. I really wish that a downloadable PDF file could be made of the screening schedule but this could be solved by a festival app that was MIA.  There were some glitches on the first day as there were problems with loading the IMAX projector which caused cancellations and rescheduling as well as major misjudgement of certain titles resulting in people being turned away. However, for the most part, the screenings operated like clockwork.  No fault can be found in the coordinators and volunteers as they were accommodating and helpful.  Even the weather was cooperative as there was only one day that rain was a factor.

The Boy and the Heron

Check out all of our TIFF coverage

On my first day, I ended up at a construction site and thought that all of the talk of the Scotiabank Theatre being scaled back for a condo development was finally happening.  But I regained my senses and thankfully Toronto is a place where pedestrians are willing to point you in the right direction which can then be verified by Google Maps.   I found myself standing in line with screenwriters, movie critics, distributors, cinephiles, and the associate producer for Gonzo Girl and listening to interesting conversations in the theatre while waiting for the screenings to begin.  This is where I heard an astute observation where someone pointed out that he could remember performances rather than stories.  A perfect example is Jodie Comer in the postapocalyptic The End We Start From as she proves herself to be an acting powerhouse on the rise but everything else is standard fare.  Even with Hayo Miyazaki being like the George Foreman of animation where retirement never lasts for very long, getting to see The Boy and the Heron was a pleasure to watch and turned out to be my favourite.  The most pleasant surprise was Shoshana which channeled the political savviness of Graham Greene and John le Carré while the biggest disappointment was the Finestkind as the lackluster storytelling and characters ran counter to cinematic pedigree involved in making the project.  And for the WTF moment, it has to be the conclusion of Evil Does Not Exist which seems to come out of nowhere, or does it?  Outside of the theatre, a pleasant experience for me was getting the opportunity to sit down with French filmmaker Mehdi Fikri and talk about some of the artistic choices he made in his feature directorial debut After the Fire.

Amercian Fiction

As for the awards handed out by TIFF, the real Oscar bellwether for Best Picture is the People’s Choice Award with American Fiction securing the top prize followed by The Holdovers and The Boy and the Heron.  The companion documentary award went to Mr. Dressup: The Magic of Make Believe with the runner-ups being Summer Qamp and Mountain Queen: The Summits of Lhakpa Sherpa.  For horror lovers attending the Midnight Madness programme, Dicks: The Musical was singled out along with Kill and Hell of a Summer.  The Platform Prize went to Dear Jassi which is an honest and poignant portrayal of the inhumanity inflicted by caste systems throughout the world.  Solo was lauded with the Best Canadian Feature Film Award, the Changemaker Award was given to We Grown Now, the Best BIPOC Canadian Feature was presented to Kanaval, and the BIPOC Canadian First Feature Award found a home with Tautuktavuk (What We See)Seagrass did not leave empty-handed as it received the FIPRESCI Prize and such was the case with A Match and the NETPAC Award.  Also, getting showcased are number of short films as part of the Short Cuts programme with the Best Film going to Electra, Best Canadian Film to Motherland and the Share Her Journey Award to Shé (Snake).  “We’re grateful to all the audience members, artists, industry professionals, and supporters who graced Toronto’s cinemas, red carpets, meeting spaces, and streets,” stated Cameron Bailey, CEO, TIFF in a press release.  “As we recognize award winners today, we thank everyone who contributed to this glorious, collective gift.”

Dear Jassi

The 48th Toronto International Film Festival runs September 7-17, 2023, and for more information visit    

Trevor Hogg is a freelance video editor and writer who currently resides in Canada; he can be found at LinkedIn.

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