TIFF 2021: A Reading List

September 9, 2021 | Viveca

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The 2021 Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) takes place from September 9 to September 18. This year, the Festival is using a hybrid approach. They have a handy "Getting Started" guide to help film buffs navigate its in-person and online events, with COVID-19 protocols in place. 

While celebrity encounters may not be in the cards this year, Torontonians can once again rely on TIFF's excellent lineup of feature films, shorts and documentaries from around the world. 

If you like to read the book to see how it compares to the film, get your TIFF 2021 reads here. 


All My Puny Sorrows

All My Puny Sorrows. Canada. Directed by Michael McGowan. Starring Alison Pill, Sarah Gadon, Mare Winningham, Amybeth McNulty and Donal Logue.

This film is based on the 2014 Scotiabank Giller Prize finalist All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews. This novel is about family, commitment, and grief. It focuses on two sisters, Elf (Gadon) and Yoli (Pill), whose relationship is both complex and fraught with challenges. 


Dear Evan Hansen

Dear Evan Hansen.  USA. Directed by Stephen Chbosky. Starring Ben Platt, Kaitlyn Dever, Amandla Stenberg, Nik Dodani, Julianne Moore, Amy Adams, Colton Ryan and Danny Pino.

This film is an adaptation of the Tony Award-winning musical, Dear Evan Hansen. This coming-of-age story follows the story of a shy, bullied teenager whose life changes after a misunderstanding following a tragedy. 


Men Without Women

Drive My Car. Japan. Directed by Ryusuke Hamaguchi. Starring Hidetoshi Nishijima, Toko Miura, Masaki Okada, Reika Kirishima, Park Yurim and Jin Daeyeon.

Hamaguchi's film is based on the short story by Haruki Murakami in his 2017 collection Men Without Women. Yûsuke is a film actor and director who faces his relationship with Oto, his enigmatic and complicated wife. 



Scarborough. Canada. Directed by Shasha Nakhai and Rich Williamson. Starring Liam Diaz, Essence Fox, Anna Claire Beitel, Felix Jedi Ingram Isaac, Ellie Posadas, Cherish Violet Blood, Conor Casey and Aliya Kanani.

This Canadian film is based on Catherine Hernandez' 2017 novel Scarborough which explores the issues of urban life, poverty, and racism through the stories of its diverse inhabitants. 


Mothering Sunday

Mothering Sunday. United Kingdom. Directed by Eva Husson. Starring Odessa Young, Josh O'Connor, Ṣọpẹ́ Dìrísù, Olivia Colman, Colin Firth, Glenda Jackson, Patsy Ferran and Emma D’Arcy.

Husson's film is an adaptation of Graham Swift's 2016 novella Mothering Sunday. Jane Fairchild (Young) works as a maid in an English estate while she is engaged in a secret love affair with their affluent neighbour's son. 


Power of the Dog

The Power of the Dog. Australia, New Zealand. Directed by Jane Campion. Starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Kirsten Dunst, Jesse Plemons, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Thomasin McKenzie, Genevieve Lemon, Keith Carradine and Frances Conroy.

This film is an adaptation of Thomas Savage's 1967 novel The Power of the Dog. Phil (Cumberbatch) and George (Plemons) are brothers and ranchers, but could not be more different. When George brings home a new wife and her son, Phil begins a campaign to destroy them in this story of repression, homophobia and sibling rivalry.


Three Floors Up

Three Floors. Italy, France. Directed by Nanni Moretti .Starring Margherita Buy, Riccardo Scamarcio, Alba Rohrwacher, Adriano Giannini, Elena Lietti, Alessandro Sperduti, Denise Tantucci, Nanni Moretti, Anna Bonaiuto, Paolo Graziosi, Stefano Dionisi and Tommaso Ragno.

Moretti's film, based on Eshkol Nevo's 2017 novel Three Floors Up, is about the interconnected lives of residents in a middle-class apartment building in Tel Aviv. 


The Good House

The Good House. USA. Directed by Maya Forbes and Wallace Wolodarsky. Starring Sigourney Weaver, Kevin Kline and Morena Baccarin.

This film is an adaptation of Ann Leary's 2013 The Good House about Hildy Good (Weaver), a successful real-estate agent and grandmother who also happens to be an alcoholic. 


The Humans

The Humans. USA. Directed by Stephen Karam. Starring Steven Yeun, Beanie Feldstein, Amy Schumer, Richard Jenkins, Jayne Houdyshell and June Squibb.

This film is an adaptation of Karam's Tony award-winning play, The Humans. It follows the interpersonal dramas of a New York family over a Thanksgiving celebration. 



Dune. USA, Hungary. Directed by Denis Villeneuve. Starring Timothée Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Isaac, Josh Brolin, Stellan Skarsgård, Dave Bautista, Stephen McKinley Henderson, Sharon Duncan-Brewster, Zendaya, David Dastmalchian, Charlotte Rampling, Jason Momoa, Javier Bardem and Chang Chen.

Canadian director Villeneuve's film is an adaptation of Frank Herbert's 1965 classic science-fiction novel Dune. Chalamet plays the young nobleman Paul Atreides. Two earlier adaptations are also available to borrow: David Lynch's 1998 Dune and Dune, the 2000 television mini-series. 


Maria Chapdelaine

Maria Chapdelaine. Canada. Directed by Sébastien Pilote. Starring Sara Montpetit, Sébastien Ricard, Hélène Florent, Antoine Olivier Pilon, Émile Schneider and Robert Naylor.

This Canadian film is based on Louis Hémon's 1914 classic, Maria Chapdelaine. It follows the trials and tribulations of a young woman living on a remote farm in Northern Quebec. 


Want More? Check out these related posts from previous years: