TIFF 2016: Winners, Losers, Highlights

While it’s not as grandiose as the Oscars, and not as discussed as the Sundance Film Festival, the TIFF – the Toronto International Film Festival – is an event big enough to be widely covered by the press. Many culture-themed online news outlets have compiled their own lists of highlights from TIFF 2016. To be in tune with them, and to share our experiences with you, here are ours.

Scares and fantastic visitors

TIFF attendees with a taste for scares and fantastic visitors have had their share of new material to enjoy at the event. Perhaps the most anticipated titles of this year were The Arrival, Denis Villeneuve’s take on aliens coming from across the depths of space. Horror fans got their share of excitement with the remake of the 1999 blockbuster The Blair Witch Project – unfortunately the movie that pushed the “found footage” genre in the center of attention at the turn of the century was remade into an unworthy successor.

One visitor told us that instead of sitting through the movie, he stepped out to play slot machines at Royal Vegas Canada instead. The Royal Vegas is a great gaming destination, with enough games to last you through several bad movies back to back. Its mobile version – which makes it especially accessible – has quite a few horror-themed games, and – according to our friend at TIFF – some of them are much scarier than the new Blair Witch movie. I think we can consider it one of the biggest losers of this year. Lucky for our friend, he had the Royal Vegas Mobile at hand.

Bullets and debutants

One of the most interesting films shown at the 2016 edition of TIFF was Ben Wheatley’s latest, a crime thriller called Free Fire. Wheatley is one of the big returners of the festival, with all of his movies made after 2011 being shown here. With an outstanding cast – Brie Larson, Armie Hammer, Cillian Murphy, Sharlto Copley, and Michael Smiley – the movie has captured our attention. Variety author Peter Debruge gave the best description of the movie: ” this almost cartoonishly over-the-top action movie crosses the irreverent cheekiness of Quentin Tarantino’s “Reservoir Dogs” with the ruthless spirit of 1970s B-movies”.

Feature freshman Barry Jenkins made his directorial debut at this year’s TIFF with a highly anticipated feature, Moonlight, which instantly made it leap to the top of many moviegoers’ “must see” list. It’s a story of a young man, who we see at three stages of his life – as a boy, as a teenager, and as an adult – and we follow him through his struggles through life. I won’t give away more details – go and see it.