TIFF 2022: A Reading List

September 7, 2022 | Viveca

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The 2022 Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) takes place from September 8 to 18 once again with a combination of in-person and selected digital screenings. Browse the film schedule for titles from around the world from series including Contemporary World Cinema, TIFF Docs, and Gala Presentations. Scan the streets of Toronto for a glimpse of Oprah, Steven Spielberg, Taylor Swift, and Harry Styles. 

There is solid Canadian representation at this year's TIFF including films from Clement Virgo, Sarah Polley, Carly Stone, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Tanya Tagaq, and Charlotte Le Bon.   

The Toronto Public Library once again offers up its annual TIFF reading list of films that have been adapted from books. 

Place your holds now and let us know how you thought your favourite book fared on the big screen.  And if you are one of the lucky cineastes who scored tickets to the Festival, please share your recommendations in the comments below!



Brother. Canada. Directed by Clement Virgo. Starring Lamar Johnson, Aaron Pierre, Marsha Stephanie Blake, Kiana Madeira, Lovell Adams-Gray.

David Chariandy's novel Brother won the 2017 Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize, the 2018 Toronto Book Award, and the 2018 Ethel Wilson Prize.  Brother is about Michael and his older brother Francis who grow up in Chariandy's own Scarborough – combatting precarious work, housing, police violence and systemic racism.  Toronto's Clement Virgo is one of Canada's leading directors and Brother is his return to the big screen after working in television for many years. 

Woman Talking

Women Talking. USA.  Directed by Sarah Polley. Starring Rooney Mara, Claire Foy, Jessie Buckley, Judith Ivey, Ben Whishaw, Frances McDormand, Sheila McCarthy, Michelle McLeod. 

Based on Canadian author Miriam Toews' novel, Woman Talking is about a group of Mennonite women who strategize a response to the male community members who have repeatedly drugged and raped them. This novel is a fictional account of a true story. Toronto's venerated actor Sheila McCarthy appears in the film along with the always-powerful Frances McDormand and the Crown's Claire Foy. 

The Wonder

The Wonder. United Kingdom, Ireland.  Directed by Sebastián Lelio. Starring Florence Pugh, Tom Burke, Niamh Algar, Kíla Lord Cassidy, Elaine Cassidy.

Canadian author Emma Donoghue's The Wonder made the 2016 Giller Prize longlist.  It tells the story of Lib Wright, a British nurse who comes to Ireland to assess 11-year old Anna O'Donnell who claims to have not eaten for months.  Is the child a fraud? or a medical mystery? This psychological thriller directed by the Oscar-winning Chilean director Sebastián Lelio comes to the screen with Florence Pugh in the lead role of Nurse Wright. 

My Policeman

My Policeman. United Kingdom, USA. Directed by Michael Grandage. Starring Harry Styles, Emma Corrin, David Dawson, Rupert Everett, Gina McKee, Linus Roache.

This film is based on Bethan Roberts's 2012 novel My Policeman. Set in Brighton during the fifties, the novel explores the complicated relationship between Tom, a policeman, who is in love with Patrick, a museum curator.  Because of homophobic societal constraints, Tom marries Marion, a schoolteacher.  Viewers will be familiar with both singer Harry Styles in the role of Tom and actor Emma Corrin (she played Diana in the Crown) in the role of Marion. The film has also generated some discussion on 2SLGBTQ+ representation in film. 

High School

High School. United States, Canada. Directed by Clea DuVall. Starring Railey Gilliland, Seazynn Gilliland, Cobie Smulders, Kyle Bornheimer.

This television series is based on the memoir High School by Tegan and Sara Quin, twins from Alberta who form the indie rock group, Tegan and Sara.  Winner of the 2020 Alex Award, this critically-acclaimed memoir recounts the challenges and triumphs of these young artists growing up queer in Calgary.  Backed by Brad Pitt's company Plan B Entertainment, the two actors in the lead roles were discovered via Tik Tok – and Canada's own Cobie Smulders (How I Met Your Mother) plays their mom.

North of Normal

North of Normal. Canada. Directed by Carly Stone. Starring Sarah Gadon, Robert Carlyle, James D'Arcy, Amanda Fix, River Price-Maenpaa, Benedict Samuel. 

The memoir North of Normal: A Memoir of My Wilderness Childhood, My Unusual Family, and How I Survived Both by Cea Sunrise Person recounts the author's extremely unorthodox Canadian childhood growing up in the wilderness with her hippie mother.  Toronto director Carly Stone did most of her filming in Northern Ontario. Canadian Screen Award-winning actor Sarah Gadon plays the author's complicated mother. 

Death and the King's Horseman

The King's Horseman. Nigeria. Directed by Biyi Bandele. Starring Odunlade Adekola, Shaffy Bello, Deyemi Okanlawon, Mark Elderkin, Jenny Stead, Omowunmi Dada, Olawale 'Brymo' Ashmi, Jide Kosoko, Kevin Ushi, Langley Kirkwood, Fares Boulous 'Oyibo Rebel'.

This film is based on the 1975 play Death and the King's Horseman by Wole Soyinka about a Yoruba king's horseman who is prevented by colonial rulers from committing ritualistic suicide after the king's death.  This play, currently performing at Stratford explores issues of colonial rule, tradition, and family and is based on a real incident.  Sadly, director Bandele, who previously directed the adaptation of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's Half of a Yellow Sun, died in August. 

All Quiet on the Western Front

All Quiet on the Western Front. USA, Germany. Directed by Edward Berger. Starring Felix Kammerer, Albrecht Schuch, Aaron Hilmer, Moritz Klaus, Edin Hasanovic, Thibault De Montalembert, Daniel Brühl, Devid Striesow. 

This film is the latest adaptation of Erich Maria Remarque's anti-war classic novel All Quiet on the Western Front. Published in 1929, Remarque's novel holds up as a testament to the horrors of war.  You might also check out the 1930 Oscar-winning adaptation directed by Lewis Milestone which was startlingly graphic for its time.   

Catherine Called Birdy

Catherine Called Birdy. United Kingdom. Directed by Lena Dunham. Starring Billie Piper, Andrew Scott, Paul Kaye, Joe Alwyn, Bella Ramsey, Isis Hainsworth, Lesley Sharp, Sophie Okonedo, Dean-Charles Chapman, Archie Renaux, Michael Woolfitt. 

This film is based on Karen Cushman's children's novel Catherine Called Birdy.  Published in 1994, it won a Newbery Honor and a Golden Kite award.  The story takes place in England during the Middle Ages. The novel is narrated in diary form through the eyes of a young girl who must navigate significant social challenges and barriers imposed on women.  In the film adaptation, Bella Ramsey takes on the title role; viewers may remember her as the small but fierce Lyanna Mormont in Game of Thrones. 

Greatest Beer Run Ever

The Greatest Beer Run Ever. USA. Directed by Peter Farrelly. Starring Zac Efron, Russell Crowe, Bill Murray.

This film is based on the memoir, The Greatest Beer Run Ever: A Memoir of Friendship, Loyalty, and War by John "Chick" Donohue and J. T. Molloy.  After a New York bar challenge in 1967, Donohue came up with the risky plan of delivering beer to his friends serving in Vietnam with the hope of boosting morale.  Director Peter Farrelly has previously won the TIFF Audience Award in 2018 for the Oscar-winning Green Book.  


Reference available copies only

Unfortunately, the two following plays are currently out-of-print.  The Toronto Public Library has both available as reference copies only at the Toronto Reference Library.

The Whale

The Whale. USA. Directed by Darren Aronofsky. Starring Brendan Fraser, Sadie Sink, Hong Chau, Ty Simpkins, Samantha Morton. 

Aronofsky's film is based on the 2012 play, The Whale by Samuel D. Hunter who also wrote the screenplay.  The play centers on a 600 lb gay man who is trying to reconcile with his estranged teenage daughter.  The film is being touted as the triumphant return of actor Brendan Fraser with standing ovations shared widely across social media; Fraser had sunk into semi-obscurity over recent years. It has also divided some viewers on the issue of fatphobia.  Director Aronofsky is no stranger to controversy; his previous film, Mother! polarized critics. Viewers will likely recognize Sadie Sink, who plays the daughter, from her recent role as Max in Stranger Things. 


Allelujah by Alan Bennett. United Kingdom. Directed by Richard Eyre. Starring Jennifer Saunders, Bally Gill, David Bradley, Russell Tovey, Derek Jacobi, Judi Dench.

Based on the play Allelujah by Alan Bennett that premiered in England in 2018.  The plot involves the elderly residents of a Yorkshire retirement home who are faced with its closure.  Determined to fight back, they stage a rebellion.  Award-winning director Richard Eyre also won the Order of the British Empire. 


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