Three essential film festivals happening in Toronto on Family Day Weekend 2019

TIFF Next Wave, Toronto Black Film Festival and Toronto Animation Arts Festival International will keep movie lovers busy on the long weekend

Snow days be damned – the February film festivals are upon us! Here’s a handy guide to the avalanche of specialty cinema rolling through downtown over the next few days. Whichever screenings you choose to attend – and feel free to mix it up! – be sure to dress warm and bring snacks.

Toronto Black Film Festival

When: February 13 to 18

Where: Multiple venues, including Isabel Bader Theatre (93 Charles West), the Art Gallery of Ontario (317 Dundas West) and Carlton Cinema (20 Carlton).

What’s playing: Opening-night film Ellen: The Ellen Pakkies Story (Wednesday, 8 pm, Isabel Bader) dramatizes a 2007 murder case that rocked South Africa. Another South African export, Jerôme Pikwane’s The Tokoloshe (Friday, 7 pm, Carlton), is a horror movie about the exploitation of unskilled labour in a haunted hospital.

And keep an eye out for two documentaries about political activism turning personal: Emily Harrold’s While I Breathe, I Hope (Friday, 7 pm, AGO) profiles Bakari Sellers, who became the youngest Black politician in America when, at age 22, he was elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives in 2006. He continues to work for progressive ideals as the vice-chair of the state’s Democratic party. Ngardy Conteh George’s Mr. Jane And Finch (Sunday, 5 pm, Carlton) hits considerably closer to home in its look at Winston LaRose’s run for Toronto city council in Ward 7 last year.

Read an interview with the festival’s founder, Fabienne Colas, here.

TIFF Next Wave

When: February 15 to 17

Where: The good ol’ TIFF Bell Lightbox (350 King West), of course!

What’s playing: In addition to its live Battle Of The Scores (Friday, 7 pm) and the Saturday movie marathon – this year built around unlikely relationships, and featuring Taika Waititi’s Hunt For The Wilderpeople (12:30 pm), Gil Junger’s 10 Things I Hate About You (2 pm), Hayao Miyazaki’s Princess Mononoke (4:15 pm), Jamie Babbit’s But I’m A Cheerleader (7:30 pm) and Hou Hsiao-hsien’s Millennium Mambo (10 pm) – TIFF’s Next Wave festival offers an intense and vivid ride through movies aimed at (or about) teens and twentysomethings.

Young women are a particular focus this year, with Nijla Mu’min’s Jinn (Saturday, 6:15 pm), Amanda Kramer’s Ladyworld (Saturday, 9 pm), Sophie Lorain’s Canadian Screen Awards contender Slut In A Good Way (Sunday, 3:15 pm), Arantxa Echevarría’s Carmen & Lola (Sunday, 3:45 pm) and Lisa Brühlmann’s Blue My Mind (Sunday, 8:30 pm) tackling emerging female sexuality and identity from radically different perspectives.

And if you still haven’t caught up to Bing Liu’s Oscar-nominated documentary Minding The Gap (Sunday, 5:45 pm), this might be your last chance to see it on a big screen. Don’t miss out – it’s great. (As always, Next Wave programming is free for anyone under 25, excluding the marathon and premium screenings.)

Toronto Animation Arts Festival International

When: February 15 to 17

Where: Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema (506 Bloor West)

What’s playing: Feast on six programs of shorts from around the world, or check out the features on offer: Milorad Krstic’s art-heist fantasia Reuben Brandt, Collector (Friday, 9:30 pm), Brazilian festival darling Tito And The Birds (Saturday, 1:30 pm) or the decidedly adult French-Japanese co-production MFKZ (Saturday, 11 pm). This year’s gala is a preview screening of DreamWorks’ How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World (Saturday, 7:15 pm), followed by a Q&A with director Dean DeBlois and star Jay Baruchel. That’ll be good.


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