The best film festivals happening in Toronto in October 2019


When: October 3-6

Where: AGO Jackman Hall (317 Dundas West), Cinecyle (129 Spadina)

What’s playing: The annual Latin film and media arts festival kicks off the October festival wave with four nights of shorts and documentaries from all over the world. Check out Sensory Dimensions, the pwyc program of experimental shorts (October 4, 7 pm, Cinecycle), which includes Rodrigo Andres Valenzuela’s Tertiary, about the technological bias racialized people experience every day, and Sheena Rossiter’s 3 Siblings, which looks at three São Paolo siblings – one gay, one trans, and one straight – during Pride Month.

This year’s Queer Program, Crazy Eagerness (October 5, 9 pm, Jackman Hall), features Joanna Reposi Garibaldi’s Lemebel, a feature-length doc about the revolutionary Chilean writer and visual artist credited with launching Latin America’s queer movement in the Pinochet era. The festival’s closing-night program, Occupy, Resist! (October 6, 7 pm, Jackman Hall), presents Eliza Capai’s documentary Your Turn, about the Brazilian student movement that formed in 2013 to protest government cuts to education. (Your ticket stub for that one also gets you into the aluCine after party.)

Toronto Motorcycle Film Fest

When: October 3-6

Where: Revue Cinema (400 Roncesvalles)

What’s Playing: Movies about motorcycles! The third edition of the TMFF crams 17 film selections into four days of screenings. Among the feature-length documentaries on offer: Gareth Maxwell Roberts’s Oil In The Blood (Friday, 9:30 pm), about custom motorcycle culture, and Jeremy Sims’s Wayne (Saturday, 9:30 pm), a profile of 80s Australian racing champion Wayne Gardner.

Toronto Food Film Fest

When: October 4-5

Where: Film screenings at The Royal (608 College), panels at Super Wonder Gallery (584 College), food events at The Emmet Ray (924 College) and The Depanneur (1033 College)

What’s Playing: Toronto’s only food-themed film festival screens features, docs and shorts “with curated snacks,” and also offers panels, cooking classes, beer and scotch tastings and a pasta workshop. Don’t miss Jesse Zigelstein’s sharp indie dramedy Nose To Tail (October 4, 5 pm, The Royal), starring Blindspot’s Aaron Abrams as a Toronto chef spending a frantic day assembling an elaborate meal to woo an investor and save his restaurant. It’s sort of like Big Night, if Big Night was about a self-destructive jackass convinced of his own nobility.



Rendezvous With Madness

When: October 10-20

Where: Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema (504 Bloor St. W), AGO Jackman Hall (317 Dundas West), Workman Arts Theatre (651 Dufferin), Toronto Media Arts Centre (32 Lisgar) and Comedy Bar (945 Bloor West)

What’s playing: Opening on World Mental Health Day, the 27th annual festival adopts the theme of #GetMad as a call to action for mental-health awareness and resilience. RWM will screen 14 features and half a dozen shorts, along with live performances, art installations and the festival’s first foray into stand-up comedy.

It kicks off with Conviction (October 10, 6:30 pm, Hot Docs), a documentary by Nance Ackerman, Teresa MacInnes and Ariella Pahlke that looks at women trapped within Canada’s prison system you’ll also want to keep an eye out for Fabienne Godet’s thoughtful rehab drama Our Wonderful Lives (October 12, 4 pm, Jackman Hall) and closing-night doc Irene’s Ghost (October 19, 8:30 pm, Workman Arts), Scottish filmmaker Iain Cunningham’s lyrical and deeply personal attempt to know his mother, who died when he was just three years old. And if you need something lighter, catch Laughter Vs. The Universe (October 19, 7 pm, Comedy Bar), an evening of stand-up featuring Tamara Shevon and Chanty Marostica and hosted by Christophe Davidson.

Toronto Spanish Film Festival

When: Thursday nights from October 10-31

Where: University Of Toronto, Northrop Frye Hall (73 Queen’s Park East)

What’s playing: The Embassy Of Spain, in collaboration with U of T’s Department of Spanish & Portuguese, imports a quartet of new Spanish features for weekly screenings. Possible highlight: Rodrigo Sorogoyen’s Goya-winning 2018 thriller The Realm (October 17, 6 pm), starring Antonio de la Torre as a corrupt politician suddenly forced to consider the consequences of his actions. (Did you miss it at TIFF last year? We did!)

The Hottest August

Planet In Focus

When: October 15-20

Where: Multiple venues, including The Royal (604 College), Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema (506 Bloor West) and Innis Town Hall (2 Sussex)

What’s playing: Climate change dominates this year’s Planet In Focus program, as one might expect: the festival opens with Brett Story’s New York doc The Hottest August (October 15, 6:30 pm, The Royal), which premiered at Hot Docs earlier this spring, and tugs on the extreme-weather thread further with Tom Burke’s Losing Alaska (October 16, 6 pm, Hot Docs), which is fairly self-explanatory. Judith Helfand’s Cooked: Survival By Zip Code (October 19, 4 pm, Hot Docs) uses the Chicago heat wave of 1995, in which more than 700 people died, to explore the impact of climate change on impoverished and marginalized communities.

Another thread explores our relationship to animals, as seen in Bettina Perut and Ivan Osnovikoff’s Los Reyes (October 17, 8:30 pm, Hot Docs), about a pair of beloved dogs who’ve become the mascots at a Chilean skate park Ton Van Zantvoort’s Sheep Hero (October 18, 6 pm, Hot Docs), about a Dutch sheep-shearer who prefers to work traditionally Flavio Marchetti’s Animals And Other People, about the workers at the Vienna Animal Shelter and the creatures in their care and Floor Van Der Meulen’s The Last Male On Earth, which looks at the final years of Sudan, the world’s last male northern white rhino. (It’s the second film to tell this specific story David Hambridge’s Kifaru played Hot Docs earlier this year.)


When: October 17-21

Where: This year’s festival kicks off at CBC’s Glenn Gould Studio (250 Front West), then moves the rest of its screenings to Canada Square (2200 Yonge)

What’s Playing: For the first time, 100 per cent of ReelWorld’s programming is created by Canadian BIPOC filmmakers. The opening night gala, The Incredible 25th Year Of Mitzi Bearclaw (October 17, 7 pm, Glenn Gould), marks the directorial debut of Mohawk visual artist Shelley Niro it’s a dramedy about an aspiring fashion designer (MorningStar Angeline) who returns home to the Owl Island reserve to care for her ailing mother. Christene Browne’s documentary Farewell Regent (October 19, 5 pm, Canada Square) looks at the changes in the Regent Park community as the neighbourhood shifts from 100 per cent social housing to a mixed-income model. The festival closes with Rohan Fernando, Tamara Segura and Justin Simms’s Becoming Labrador (October 20, 6:30 pm, Canada Square), a documentary about the Filipino migrant worker community in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, and what it means to choose Canada’s east coast as one’s new home.

Toronto After Dark

When: October 17-25

Where: All screenings at the Scotiabank Theatre (259 Richmond West)

What’s Playing: There may not be anything that brings the same level of anticipation as J.J. Abrams’s WWII project Overlord last year, but from the first 10 films announced, After Dark’s 2019 lineup is looking pretty solid. Mike Ahern and Enda Loughman’s ghost-whisperer comedy Extra Ordinary, starring Maeve Higgins and Will Forte, will open the festival, and other titles include Alice Waddington’s dystopian sci-fi thriller Paradise Hills, starring Emma Roberts, Awkwafina and Milla Jovovich Ant Timpson’s Come To Daddy, a father-son thriller that pairs Stephen McHattie and Elijah Wood and the splatteriffic Portuguese 80s throwback Mutant Blast. We’ll update with showtimes and additional titles once the full schedule is announced.

Blood Quantum

Blood Quantum


When: October 22-27

Where: The opening night gala is at Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema (506 Bloor West), but the rest of the festival screenings will be held at TIFF Bell Lightbox (350 King West)

What’s Playing: The annual festival of Indigenous screen content marks its 20th anniversary with a wide-ranging program that mixes world and international premieres with the best of the festival circuit – starting with the opening night gala, Zacharias Kunuk’s One Day In The Life Of Noah Piugattuk (October 22, 7 pm, Hot Docs Cinema), which played at TIFF as a special event.

Other TIFF titles include Jeff Barnaby’s zombie thriller Blood Quantum (October 24, 9:30 pm, TBLB 3), Alanis Obomsawin’s sombre documentary Jordan River Anderson, The Messenger (October 26, 4 pm, TBLB 1) Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers and Kathleen Hepburn’s piercing drama The Body Remembers When The World Broke Open (October 23, 5:45 pm, TBLB 1 October 27, 10:45 am, TBLB 3) Tasha Hubbard’s powerful nîpawistamâsowin: We Will Stand Up (October 25, 1 pm, TBLB 2), about the events that followed the shooting of Colton Bushie. The film opened Hot Docs earlier this spring.

Toronto premieres include Sonia Boileau’s Rustic Oracle (October 26, 3:15 pm, TBLB 2), about an eight-year-old girl trying to comprehend her older sister’s disappearance Dark Place (October 24, 8:30 pm, TBLB 2), an anthology of short horror stories from five Aboriginal filmmakers Vai (October 24, 7 pm, TBLB 1 October 26, 12:30 pm, TBLB 2), a collaborative feature – shot in seven countries and featuring eight different actors playing a single character – from the producers of Waru. And the festival closes with the international premiere of Lyubov Borisova’s The Sun Above Me Never Sets (October 27, 6 pm, TBLB 2), a drama about a young man trying to give an aged neighbour a reason to keep living.


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