A handy guide to Toronto’s June film festivals

From movies about sports and new Japanese cinema to shorts by emerging women directors, there's a festival for every taste this month

If you thought May was the end of the spring film-festival cycle, think again. June is packed solid with microfestivals as well. One is even out by the Ontario Science Centre, which might as well be cottage country to downtowners – but it’s totally worth the trek. So mark up your calendars now!


When: June 7-28

Where: Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre (6 Garamond)

What to see: All the way out at Don Mills and Eglinton, there’s a very nice theatre tucked away inside the JCCC – and every spring, it’s bursting with new Japanese cinema. This year’s lineup includes Sion Sono’s delirious horror mash-up Tokyo Vampire Hotel (June 8, 7 pm) The Third Murder, a tense courtroom drama from recent Cannes champion Hirokazu Koreeda (June 11, 7 pm) Ryuichi Hiroki’s Side Job (June 19, 7 pm), a moody drama starring Kumi Takiuchi as a Fukushima survivor who spends her weekends as a sex worker and Ryuichi Sakamoto: CODA (June 20, 7 pm), a documentary about the revered composer’s determination to keep making music after being diagnosed with throat cancer in 2014.


The Stranger blends documentary and fiction at the inaugural Toronto True Crime Film Fest.

TORONTO TRUE CRIME FILM FESTIVAL (torontotruecrimefilm-festival.com)

When: June 8-9

Where: The Royal (608 College)

What to see: Why should books, podcasts and Netflix have all the fun? The inaugural edition of this festival assembles a murderer’s row of documentaries and features – including Gus Krieger’s hip-hop musical My Name Is Myeisha (June 8, 9:30 pm) a 15th anniversary screening of Patty Jenkins’s Aileen Wuornos biopic Monster (June 9, 4 pm) and Nicole Nielsen Horanyi’s terrific docu-fiction hybrid The Stranger (June 9, 7 pm), which examines a catfishing story from the inside out. In addition, there’s a Saturday symposium at the Monarch Tavern (12 Clinton) including a Why Do Women Love True Crime? panel moderated by author and podcaster Anne T. Donahue (June 9, 11 am). 


If you missed Minding The Gap at Hot Docs, it’s back at Canadian Sport Film Fest.

CANADIAN SPORT FILM FESTIVAL (csff.sportfilmfestival.ca)

When: June 8-10

Where: TIFF Bell Lightbox (350 King West)

What to see: Marking a decade in operation, the CSFF rolls out a weekend of very active programming. Inger Molin’s Football For Better Or Worse (June 9, 3:45 pm) follows Swedish player Therese Sjögran as she leaves the field to become a manager in the country’s underfunded women’s league Bing Liu’s deeply felt skate-kid memoir Minding The Gap wowed us at Hot Docs (June 9, 9:15 pm) and Daniel Gordon’s The Fall (June 10, 7 pm), an examination of the collision between track runners Mary Decker and Zola Budd at the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984, works at feature length a lot better than you might think.


When: June 14-22

Where: TIFF Bell Lightbox (350 King West)

What to see: The annual showcase of Italian commercial cinema offers a movie in almost every genre, from Craig Goodwill’s erotic English-language thriller Compulsion (June 16, 9:30 pm) to the celebrity biopic drama The Music Of Silence (June 22, 6:45 pm), a dramatization of the life of Andrea Bocelli from Il Postino director Michael Radford. But you might want to save some time for Paolo Genovese’s The Place (June 16, 7 pm), an unquantifiable ensemble piece about a mysterious gentleman (Valerio Mastandrea) in a café who may or may not be granting wishes to the people who approach him… for a price.

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Don’t miss Jessica Jessica at Breakthroughs Film Festival.

BREAKTHROUGHS FILM FESTIVAL (breakthroughsfilm-festival.com/2018-festival)

When: June 15-16

Where: The Royal (608 College)

What to see: Breakthroughs delivers precisely what it promises: two nights of short films by emerging women directors, curated from all over the world (but with plenty of Canadian contributions). The first program (June 15, 7:30 pm) includes Toronto photographer Jasper Savage’s debut short Jessica Jessica, starring Jessica Greco (who also scripted) and Jessica Hinkson as emotionally codependent friends in their mid-30s, and Dutch actor Joosje Duk’s Night, about four underage friends whose attempt to go clubbing leads to an uncomfortable conversation. The second (June 16, 7:30 pm) offers Claire Allore’s Work, a visually sumptuous conversation with sex workers Malcolm Lovejoy and Vixen Vu, and Sherren Lee’s The Things You Think I’m Thinking, a terrific character study featuring Prince Amponsah and Jesse LaVercombe.

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