Jump to content

2020 Toronto International Film Festival

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

2020 Toronto International Film Festival
Festival poster
Opening filmAmerican Utopia by Spike Lee
Closing filmA Suitable Boy by Mira Nair
LocationToronto, Ontario, Canada
AwardsNomadland (People's Choice Award)
Festival dateSeptember 10–21, 2020
TIFF chronology

The 2020 Toronto International Film Festival, the 45th event in the Toronto International Film Festival series, was held from September 10 to 21, 2020.[1] Due to the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto, the festival took place primarily on an online streaming platform, although limited in-person screenings still took place within the constraints of social distancing restrictions.[2]

Officially the festival concluded on September 19, with the final film premieres and events taking place that day;[3] however, due to the 48-hour rental period applying to film viewings on the online platform, the festival platform remained open until September 21 to honour tickets purchased on closing day.[4]


The festival's executive director Joana Vicente and artistic director Cameron Bailey spoke about the festival's plans in a video conference call launching the international We Are One: A Global Film Festival;[2] Bailey also discussed some of the festival's plans in an interview on IndieWire's "Screen Talk" podcast.[5] Plans included efforts to act as a "united platform" to screen films that had been slated to premiere at other cancelled festivals such as the 2020 Cannes Film Festival, and efforts to capitalize on the resurgence of drive-in theaters by staging some live screenings at drive-in venues.[5] In a joint statement with the Venice Film Festival, the Telluride Film Festival and the New York Film Festival, which along with TIFF are generally considered the "big four" autumn film festivals that often compete with each other to land major film premieres in a normal year, the organizers of all four festivals committed to a spirit of collaboration and unity, designed "to serve the filmmakers, audiences, journalists and industry members who keep the film ecosystem thriving."[6]

On June 24, organizers indicated that a smaller program of 50 films would be screened in a conventional manner, using social distancing strategies such as drive-in or outdoor screenings, over the first five days of the festival, and would then remain available on a dedicated streaming platform for the remainder of the festival.[7] The digital platform was launched in July 2020 as the Digital TIFF Bell Lightbox, with a curated selection of past TIFF films available for short-term digital rental in the weeks leading up to the festival.[8] The digital platform included both a professional option for international critics and industry, and a public option available only to Canadian viewers; ticket prices were the same regardless of whether the viewer was attending a physical screening or watching the film online. The industry platform also included an additional program of 30 films not part of the official public program, designed to act as a film market due to the pandemic-associated shutdown of international travel.[9]

Venues for the festival included the TIFF Bell Lightbox, with social distancing strategies in place, as well as two outdoor screens at Ontario Place and one at Polson Pier.[10] The Isabel Bader Theatre was initially announced as one of the screening venues, but was removed from the event calendar due to social distancing restrictions remaining in place at the University of Toronto.[11] Initially, organizers announced that in-person film screenings would be "masks optional", but were criticized for creating a potential superspreader event as the social nature of the festival could increase the risk for COVID-19 transmission.[12] The festival reversed the decision within 24 hours, citing a surge of new cases in Ontario, and made masks mandatory at the physical screenings.[13]

With a smaller than normal program, both festival programmers and critics noted that films which have a tendency to be overlooked at a normal TIFF, such as documentaries and titles by emerging film directors in the Discovery program, could potentially have a better chance than usual of standing out and gaining attention.[14]

In 2021, Bailey and Vicente indicated that although the 2020 festival saw reduced ticket sales compared to 2019, it was simultaneously the most successful event in the festival's entire history in terms of business activity and sales to film distributors.[15]


Due to the unprecedented nature of the 2020 festival, and the fact that celebrities and filmmakers were largely not able to attend the festival in person, the festival announced a roster of 50 "TIFF Ambassadors", actors and filmmakers who helped to promote the festival through interactive digital experiences and events.[16]


TIFF Tribute Awards[edit]

The festival presented the TIFF Tribute Awards, which were introduced in 2019 to honour actors and filmmakers for distinguished achievements over the course of their careers. Honorees in 2020 included Anthony Hopkins, Chloe Zhao, Mira Nair and Kate Winslet.[17] For the first time, the ceremony was broadcast live by CTV Television Network,[18] and was hosted by Tyrone Edwards and Chloe Wilde of CTV's eTalk.[19]

Regular awards[edit]

Award winners were announced on September 20. The People's Choice Awards were still presented in all three categories; due to the reduced number of films in the Documentary and Midnight Madness streams, only winners were named for those awards rather than runners-up, although first and second runners-up were still named for the main People's Choice award.[20] However, some of the juried awards were suspended, or presented in a different form than usual; notably, the Platform Prize was not presented as no films were named to the Platform program, and the award for Best Canadian First Feature Film was not presented due to the limited number of eligible films. Canadian singer-songwriter Shawn Mendes, in association with TIFF, announced the creation of the Shawn Mendes Foundation Changemaker Award, which awards filmmakers who create films with a social message.[21]

Award Film Director
People's Choice Award Nomadland Chloé Zhao
People's Choice Award, First Runner Up One Night in Miami... Regina King
People's Choice Award, Second Runner Up Beans Tracey Deer
People's Choice Award: Documentaries Inconvenient Indian Michelle Latimer
People's Choice Award: Midnight Madness Shadow in the Cloud Roseanne Liang
Best Canadian Feature Film Inconvenient Indian Michelle Latimer
Best Canadian Feature Film, Honorable Mention Fauna Nicolás Pereda
Best Canadian Short Film Benjamin, Benny, Ben Paul Shkordoff
Best International Short Film Dustin Naïla Guiguet
FIPRESCI Award Beginning Dea Kulumbegashvili
NETPAC Award Gaza mon amour Tarzan Nasser, Arab Nasser
Amplify Voices The Disciple Chaitanya Tamhane
Night of the Kings Philippe Lacôte
Amplify Voices, Honorable Mention Downstream to Kinshasa Dieudo Hamadi
Changemaker Award Black Bodies Kelly Fyffe-Marshall
Share Her Journey Sing Me a Lullaby Tiffany Hsiung


American Utopia by Spike Lee was announced as the festival's opening film.[22] The festival also screened Chloé Zhao's film Nomadland, as part of a special arrangement which saw the film open at TIFF, NYFF and Venice all on the same day.[23]

The first batch of films slated for the festival was announced on June 24, 2020,[24] and more were announced on July 30.[25] The final announcement of short films and special events took place on August 25.[11]

Gala presentations[edit]

English title Original title Director(s) Production country
Ammonite Francis Lee United Kingdom, Australia
Bruised Halle Berry United States, United Kingdom
Concrete Cowboy Ricky Staub United States
David Byrne’s American Utopia Spike Lee United States
Good Joe Bell Reinaldo Marcus Green United States
I Care a Lot J Blakeson United States
Nomadland Chloé Zhao United States
One Night in Miami... Regina King United States
Pieces of a Woman Kornél Mundruczó Canada, Hungary, United States

Special presentations[edit]

English title Original title Director(s) Production country
Another Round Druk Thomas Vinterberg Denmark, Netherlands, Sweden
The Disciple Chaitanya Tamhane India
Falling Viggo Mortensen Canada, United Kingdom
The Father Florian Zeller France, United Kingdom
Penguin Bloom Glendyn Ivin Australia, United States
Shawn Mendes: In Wonder Grant Singer United States
Summer of 85 Été 85 François Ozon France, Belgium
True Mothers 朝が来る, Asa ga Kuru Naomi Kawase Japan

Contemporary World Cinema[edit]

English title Original title Director(s) Production country
Bandar Band Manijeh Hekmat Iran
New Order Nuevo orden Michel Franco Mexico, France
Night of the Kings La Nuit des rois Philippe Lacôte Canada, Côte d'Ivoire, France, Senegal
Preparations to Be Together for an Unknown Period of Time Felkészülés meghatározatlan ideig tartó együttlétre Lili Horvát Hungary
Quo Vadis, Aida? Jasmila Žbanić Bosnia
Under the Open Sky すばらしき世界, Subarashiki Sekai Miwa Nishikawa Japan


English title Original title Director(s) Production country
Notturno Gianfranco Rosi Italy, France, Germany

TIFF Docs[edit]

English title Original title Director(s) Production country
76 Days Hao Wu, Weixi Chen, Anonymous China, United States
City Hall Frederick Wiseman United States
Enemies of the State Sonia Kennebeck United States
Fireball: Visitors from Darker Worlds Werner Herzog, Clive Oppenheimer United States
Inconvenient Indian Michelle Latimer Canada
Lift Like a Girl Ash Ya Captain Mayye Zayed Egypt, Denmark, Germany
MLK/FBI Sam Pollard United States
The New Corporation: The Unfortunately Necessary Sequel Joel Bakan, Jennifer Abbott Canada
No Ordinary Man Aisling Chin-Yee, Chase Joynt Canada


English title Original title Director(s) Production country
180° Rule خط فرضی, Khate Farzi Farnoosh Samadi Iran
Beans Tracey Deer Canada
Beginning Dasatskisi Dea Kulumbegashvili Georgia, France
The Best Is Yet to Come Bu Zhi Bu Xiu Wang Jing China
Gaza mon amour Tarzan Nasser, Arab Nasser Palestine, France, Germany, Portugal, Qatar
Limbo Ben Sharrock United Kingdom
Memory House Casa de Antiguidades João Paulo Miranda Maria Brazil, France
Shiva Baby Emma Seligman Canada, United States
Spring Blossom Seize printemps Suzanne Lindon France
Wildfire Cathy Brady Ireland, United Kingdom

Short Cuts[edit]

English title Original title Director(s) Production country
4 North A Jordan Canning, Howie Shia Canada
Aniksha Vincent Toi Canada, Mauritius
The Archivists Igor Drljaca Canada
As Spring Comes Comme la neige au printemps Marie-Ève Juste Canada
Benjamin, Benny, Ben Paul Shkordoff Canada
Black Bodies Kelly Fyffe-Marshall Canada
David Zach Woods United States
Drought Remi Itani Lebanon
Dustin Naïla Guiguet France
Every Day's Like This Lev Lewis Canada
Found Me David Findlay Canada
The Game Das Spiel Roman Hodel Switzerland
History of Civilization Zhannat Alshanova Kazakhstan
In Sudden Darkness Tayler Montague United States
Loose Fish Francisco Canton, Pato Martinez Argentina, Morocco, United States
Marlon Brando Vincent Tilanus Netherlands
Mountain Cat Shiluus Lkhagvadulam Purev-Ochir Mongolia
Navozande, the Musician Navozande, le musicien Reza Riahi France
O, Black Hole! Renee Zhan United Kingdom
Our Hearts Beat Like War Elinor Nechemya Israel
Pilar Yngwie Boley, Diana van Houten, J.J. Epping Netherlands, Belgium
Point and Line to Plane Sofia Bohdanowicz Canada
The Price of Cheap Rent Amina Sutton, Maya Tanaka United States
RKLSS Tank Standing Buffalo Canada
Rules for Werewolves Jeremy Schaulin-Rioux Canada
Scars Alex Anna Canada
Shooting Star Comme une comète Ariane Louis-Seize Canada
Sing Me a Lullaby Tiffany Hsiung Canada
Sinking Ship La Naufrage Sasha Leigh Henry Canada
Stephanie Leonardo van Dijl Belgium
Still Processing Sophy Romvari Canada
Strong Son Ian Bawa Canada
Succor Hannah Cheesman Canada
Sër Bi Moly Kane France, Senegal
Tie Elo Alexandra Ramires Portugal

Midnight Madness[edit]

English title Original title Director(s) Production country
Get the Hell Out Tao Chu Li Fa Yuan I-Fan Wang Taiwan
Shadow in the Cloud Roseanne Liang New Zealand, United States
Violation Madeleine Sims-Fewer, Dusty Mancinelli Canada

Planet Africa[edit]

English title Original title Director(s) Production country
40 Years a Prisoner Tommy Oliver United States
Akilla's Escape Charles Officer Canada, United States
Downstream to Kinshasa En route pour le milliard Dieudo Hamadi DR Congo
The Way I See It Dawn Porter United States


English title Original title Director(s) Production country
A Suitable Boy Mira Nair United Kingdom
The Third Day Felix Barrett, Dennis Kelly United Kingdom, United States
Trickster Michelle Latimer Canada


English title Original title Director(s) Production country
Fauna Flora y fauna Nicolás Pereda Canada, Mexico
The Inheritance Ephraim Asili United States

Special Events[edit]

English title Original title Director(s) Production country
The Boy from Medellin Matthew Heineman United States, Colombia
The Truffle Hunters Michael Dweck, Gregory Kershaw Greece, Italy, United States
also featuring live DJ set by Rezz
Stacey Lee Canada
The Water Man David Oyelowo United States
Wolfwalkers Tomm Moore, Ross Stewart Ireland, Luxembourg, France

Industry Selects[edit]

The Industry Selects program was a film market for films seeking commercial distribution. Due to the pandemic, which prevented members of the North American film industry from travelling to international film festivals where many of the following films were screened, they were available on the festival's industry platform, but not on the commercial platform for the general public.[9]

English title Original title Director(s) Production country
After Love Aleem Khan France, United Kingdom
And Tomorrow the Entire World Und morgen die ganze Welt Julia Von Heinz France, Germany
Apples Μήλα Christos Nikou Greece, Poland, Slovenia
Baby Done Curtis Vowell New Zealand
Enforcement Shorta Anders Ølholm, Frederik Louis Hviid Denmark
Falling for Figaro Ben Lewin Australia, United Kingdom
The Garden Gullregn Ragnar Bragason Iceland, Poland
A Good Man Marie-Castille Mention-Schaar France
Here We Are הנה אנחנו Nir Bergman Israel, Italy
Holler Nicole Riegel United States
In Between Dying Səpələnmiş ölümlər arasında Hilal Baydarov Azerbaijan, Mexico, United States
Karnawal Juan Pablo Félix Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Norway
The Kid Detective Evan Morgan Canada
Kill It and Leave This Town Zabij to i wyjedź z tego miasta Mariusz Wilczyński Poland
La Verónica Leonardo Medel Chile
Like a House on Fire Jesse Klein Canada
Lovers Amants Nicole Garcia France
Magic Mountains Urszula Antoniak Netherlands
Monday Argyris Papadimitropoulos Greece, United Kingdom, United States
The Monopoly of Violence David Dufresne France
My Best Part Garçon chiffon Nicolas Maury France
My Heart Goes Boom! Explota Explota Nacho Álvarez Spain
My Name Is Francesco Totti Alex Infascelli Italy
Saint-Narcisse Bruce LaBruce Canada
Should the Wind Drop Si le vent tombe Nora Martirosyan Armenia, Belgium, France
Simple Passion Passion simple Danielle Arbid Belgium, France
Sweat Magnus von Horn Poland, Sweden
The Ties Lacci Daniele Luchetti Italy
Tove Zaida Bergroth Finland
The Translator Le Traducteur Rana Kazkaz, Anas Khalaf France, Switzerland, Syria, Belgium, Qatar, United States

Canada's Top Ten[edit]

TIFF's annual Canada's Top Ten list, its national critics and festival programmers poll of the ten best feature and short films of the year, was released on December 9, 2020.[26]

Feature films[edit]

Short films[edit]


  1. ^ Calum Slingerland, "TIFF Still Plans to Have a Physical Festival in 2020". Exclaim!, May 28, 2020.
  2. ^ a b Victoria Ahearn, "TIFF still planning some type of physical festival, execs say". CBC News, May 28, 2020.
  3. ^ Victoria Ahearn, "A pandemic-tailored guide to the Toronto International Film Festival 2020". Global News, August 27, 2020.
  4. ^ Eli Glasner and Jackson Weaver, "What worked and what wowed the mostly virtual TIFF 2020 film fest". CBC News, September 19, 2020.
  5. ^ a b Peter Howell, "What will TIFF 2020 look like?". Toronto Star, May 28, 2020.
  6. ^ Eric Kohn, "How Venice, Telluride, NYFF, and TIFF’s 2020 Collaboration Will Affect the Festival Circuit". IndieWire, July 8, 2020.
  7. ^ "Toronto International Film Festival plans scaled-down event, virtual red carpets". CBC News, June 24, 2020.
  8. ^ "TIFF launches digital platform online film rentals ahead of festival" Archived July 29, 2020, at the Wayback Machine. Victoria Times-Colonist, July 10, 2020.
  9. ^ a b Jeremy Kay, "‘After Love’, ‘Saint-Narcisse’, among 30 sales titles to join TIFF industry roster". Screen Daily, September 1, 2020.
  10. ^ Becky Robertson, "TIFF movies will be screened at three separate outdoor theatres for 2020 festival". BlogTO, August 12, 2020.
  11. ^ a b Jeremy Kay, "TIFF adds special events including new edition of Planet Africa, live talks series". Screen Daily, August 25, 2020.
  12. ^ Etan Vlessing (September 8, 2020). "As Toronto Film Fest Screenings Go Mask-Optional, Attendees Fear Event Will Be a Coronavirus "Superspreader"". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved September 9, 2020.
  13. ^ Etan Vlessing (September 9, 2020). "Toronto Film Fest Reverses Controversial Face Mask Policy". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved September 9, 2020.
  14. ^ Anne Thompson, "TIFF 2020: Fewer Oscar Movies and Gala Premieres Means Docs and Discoveries Could Stand Out". IndieWire, July 30, 2020.
  15. ^ Barry Hertz, "TIFF planning ‘substantially bigger’ 2021 film festival compared to last year’s hybrid event". The Globe and Mail, May 3, 2021.
  16. ^ "Celebrity news: A new crop of actors and directors named TIFF ambassadors". Toronto Star, July 23, 2020.
  17. ^ Michael Rosser, "Anthony Hopkins, Chloe Zhao, Mira Nair to receive TIFF Tribute awards". Screen Daily, August 12, 2020.
  18. ^ "Toronto film festival's TIFF Tribute Awards to air on CTV". CP24, August 12, 2020.
  19. ^ Clayton Davis, "TIFF Tribute Awards Go Virtual With Kate Winslet, Chloé Zhao — and Shawn Mendes". Variety, September 15, 2020.
  20. ^ Etan Vlessing, "Toronto: Chloe Zhao's 'Nomadland' Wins Audience Award". The Hollywood Reporter, September 20, 2020.
  21. ^ Chloe Hatzitolios, "Watch Shawn Mendes cover Stevie Wonder for the 2020 TIFF Tribute Awards". eTalk, September 15, 2020.
  22. ^ Kate Erbland, "TIFF 2020: Spike Lee’s ‘David Byrne’s American Utopia’ Will Open This Year’s Festival". IndieWire, July 21, 2020.
  23. ^ Ravindran, Manori (July 27, 2020). "Chloe Zhao's 'Nomadland' to Play Venice, Toronto, New York Under Fest Alliance". Variety. Retrieved July 27, 2020.
  24. ^ "Toronto International Film Festival sets 2020 plans. It won't look the same". Los Angeles Times. June 24, 2020. Retrieved July 2, 2020.
  25. ^ Wiseman, Andreas (July 30, 2020). "Toronto Sets 2020 Lineup: Werner Herzog, Regina King, Mira Nair, Francois Ozon, Naomi Kawase Titles Join Hybrid Edition". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved July 30, 2020.
  26. ^ Victoria Ahearn, "Toronto International Film Festival releases Top Ten lists for 2020" Archived January 4, 2021, at the Wayback Machine. Squamish Chief, December 9, 2020.

External links[edit]