TIFF 2023 

TIFF 2023 

Photo Credit: Mattea Shuen

Some of the best films from this year’s festival

Justine Lam, Contributor 

The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) returned this year from September 7 to 17 to showcase the best of Canadian and international cinema. The globally renowned film festival presented over 200 feature films in the 11-day period and announced the 2023 award winners at the end of the program.  

The feature films differ across genres and cinematic techniques, touching upon a wide range of topics. Here are a few must-see films: 

The festival opened with the long-anticipated Japanese animated film, The Boy and The Heron. Directed by Hayao Miyazaki, the 124-minute film was the second runner-up for the People’s Choice Award. The Boy and The Heron takes place during World War II, where we are introduced to Mahito Maki, a boy who is forced to move to the countryside following a family tragedy. As Mahito explores his new rural surroundings, he stumbles upon a grey heron and an abandoned tower, where the dreamlike story begins to unfold. The beautiful animation takes on greater significance through the themes of war, loss, and love, reflecting parts of the filmmaker’s childhood. The film does not have an official release date, but it is anticipated to play in North American theatres by November or December this year.  

The comedy film Dicks: The Musical Story tells the tale of two businessmen who discover that they are identical twins and devise a plot to reunite their divorced parents. Directed by Larry Charles, this R-rated film is a parody of the 1998 romantic comedy, The Parent Trap. Dicks received the People’s Choice Midnight Madness Award, and features a complete soundtrack that will debut following the film’s release on October 20.  

Mountain Queen: The Summits of Lhakpa Sherpa is a 111-minute film directed by Lucy Walker, and was awarded second runner-up for the People’s Choice Documentary. The documentary details the life of Lhakpa Sherpa, the first Nepali woman to summit and descend Mount Everest successfully. Throughout the film, we see her encounters with childhood adversity, domestic violence, emigration, and the struggles of raising her children as a single mother. Walker intersperses the storytelling of Sherpa’s life with scenes of her climbs, emphasizing the climber’s persistence and accomplishments in the face of severe hardship, creating an incredibly moving documentary. Netflix recently acquired distribution rights to the documentary and will release it globally next year.  

Directed by Renee Zhan, the short film Shé (Snake) won the Short Cuts Share Her Journey award and was released on September 20. The 15-minute horror depicts Fei, a violinist in a youth orchestra, and her worries that manifest when another Chinese violinist comes to take her place. The film represents Fei’s internal distress in the form of external monsters, and speaks on the idea of internalized racism.  

These four films represent only a small portion of the talents and efforts behind the vibrant stories presented at the TIFF. Many of the films are on their way to premiere at movie theatres or to be distributed to streaming services, and we can’t wait to check them out!