Ten Films to Watch At TIFF 2021

By Pickle  September 12, 2021
10 Films to Watch at TIFF 2021
10 Films to Watch at TIFF 2021

Belfast

United Kingdom, 2021
English, 97 minutes

Director
Kenneth Branagh

Cast
Caitríona Balfe, Judi Dench, Jamie Dornan, Ciarán Hinds, Colin Morgan, Jude Hill

Cinematography
Haris Zambarloukos

Editing
Úna Ní Dhonghaíle

Producers
Laura Berwick, Kenneth Branagh, Becca Kovacik, Tamar Thomas

Production Company
TKBC

Production Designer
Jim Clay

Screenplay
Kenneth Branagh

Sound
Simon Chase, James Mather, Denise Yarde

Ten Films to Watch At TIFF 2021, Pickle Media

Writer-director Kenneth Branagh has described Belfast as his most personal film to date. It indeed is. Belfast, a black-and-white drama set in the late 1960s, is about a boy and his close-knit working-class family getting by in turbulent Northern Ireland. While young Jude Hill plays the lead, Dame Judi Dench, Jamie Dornan, Caitriona Balfe and Ciaran Hinds play his parents and grandparents. Branagh, one of the world’s most versatile actors, rewinds to his childhood and presents an affecting, delicate portrait of life amid the tumult of the period seen through the eyes of a child discovering music and other forms of self-expression. Belfast is being seen as a film with tremendous Oscar potential.     

Spencer

United Kingdom, Germany, 2021
English, 111 minutes

Director
Pablo Larraín

Cast
Kristen Stewart, Timothy Spall, Sally Hawkins, Sean Harris

Cinematography
Claire Mathon

Editing
Sebastián Sepúlveda

Executive Producers
Tom Quinn, Jeff Deutchman, Christina Zisa, Michael Bloom, Maria Zuckerman, Ryan Heller

Producers
Juan De Dios Larraín, Pablo Larraín, Paul Webster, Jonas Dornbach, Janine Jackowski

Production Companies
Komplizen Film, Fabula Pictures, Shoebox Films

Production Designer
Guy Hendrix Dyas

Screenplay
Steven Knight

Original Score
Jonny Greenwood

Ten Films to Watch At TIFF 2021, Pickle Media

Talking of the Oscars, one actor who is definitely going to be in the awards season mix is Kristen Stewart. She plays Princess Diana in Pablo Larrain’s Spencer, which pans out over one a Christmas weekend at the humongous Sandringham Estate. The three days out in the country off the Norfolk coast marks a major turning point for one of the most famous women in the world. The Princess of Wales takes a decision that liberates her from the life she had chosen and the price she had to pay over the years for being in the public glare day in and day out. For Stewart, it is a role of a lifetime. She nails it.    

The Electrical Life of Louis Wain

United Kingdom, 2021
English, 111 minutes

Director
Will Sharpe

Cast
Benedict Cumberbatch, Claire Foy, Andrea Riseborough, Toby Jones

Cinematography
Erik Alexander Wilson

Editing
Selina Macarthur

Executive Producers
Ron Halpern, Didier Lupfer, Dan MacRae, Julia Oh, Ollie Madden, Daniel Battsek, Benedict Cumberbatch, Simon Stephenson

Producers
Guy Heeley, Ed Clarke, Adam Ackland, Leah Clarke

Production Companies
STUDIOCANAL, Shoebox Films, SunnyMarch, Film4, Amazon Studios

Production Designer
Suzie Davies

Screenplay
Simon Stephenson, Will Sharpe

Sound
Rashad Hall-Heinz, Richard Straker

Original Score
Arthur Sharpe

International Sales Agent
STUDIOCANAL

Ten Films to Watch At TIFF 2021, Pickle Media

In Will Sharpe’s The Electrical Life of Louis Wain, Benedict Cumberbatch (who is also in Jane Campion’s The Power of the Dog) plays the eccentric Victorian-era British artist Louis Wain, best known for his surreal paintings of cats. In his advancing years, Wain, a skilled artist who had to support his widowed mother and five younger sisters, grappled with schizophrenia and was confined to mental institutions. Sharpe, who has also co-written the film, gives Cumberbatch all the room he needs to flesh out a vivid figure of great depth and range. He captures the upheavals of Wain’s life with aplomb. The actor brings alive a dynamic life marked by unsettling ups and downs and Sharpe’s directing technique keeps pace with the principal character’s emotional and psychological vicissitudes.      

Benediction

United Kingdom, 2021
English, 137 minutes

Director
Terence Davies

Cast
Jack Lowden, Peter Capaldi, Gemma Jones, Ben Daniels, Kate Phillips, Simon Russell Beale, Jeremy Irvine, Geraldine James

Cinematography
Nicola Daley

Editing
Alex Mackie

Executive Producers
Paul Ashton, Margarethe Baillou, Norman Merry, Lizzie Francke, Rose Garnett, Jim Mooney, John Taylor, Walli Ullah, Jack Lowden, Peter Hampden

Producer
Michael Elliott

Production Company
EMU Films

Production Designer
Andy Harris

Screenplay
Terence Davies

Sound
Stephen Griffiths, Andy Shelley, Adam Fletcher

International Sales Agent
Bankside Films

Ten Films to Watch At TIFF 2021, Pickle Media

Terence Davis, one of Britain’s most accomplished filmmakers, delivers a biographical drama that goes way beyond the limits of the genre. This drama about the life of 20th century English poet and soldier Siegfried Sassoon mixes sustained solemnity with an immersive visual palette and impressionistic narrative devices. The younger Sassoon, who was decorated as a soldier but raised conscientious objections to the idea of war, is played by Jack Lowden, while the older avatar is portrayed by Peter Capaldi. Davies’ exquisite exploration of heroism and trauma relies more on storytelling that puts what is going in the mind of the protagonist ahead of what is happening around him.           

Huda’s Salon

Palestine, Egypt, Netherlands, Qatar, 2021
Arabic, 91 minutes

Director
Hany Abu-Assad

Cast
Ali Suliman, Maisa Abd Elhadi, Manal Awad

Cinematography
Ehab Assal, Peter Flinckenberg

Editing
Eyas Salman

Executive Producers
Emilie Georges, Mathieu Delaunay

Producers
Amira Diab, Mohamed Hefzy, Hany Abu-Assad

Production Companies
H&A Productions, Film Clinic, MAD Solutions, Lagoonie Film Production, Key Film, Cocoon FIlms

Production Designer
Nael Kanj

Screenplay
Hany Abu-Assad

Sound
Ibrahim Zaher, Mark Glynne, Tom Bijnen

Original Score
Jeffrey Van Rossum

International Sales Agent
Memento Films International

Ten Films to Watch At TIFF 2021, Pickle Media

Oscar-nominated Palestinian writer-director Hany Abu-Assad’s Huda’s Salon is inspired by true events. Shot in Nazareth and Bethlehem in the middle of the pandemic through several disruptions, the film is about a woman whose visit to her West Bank hair salon turns into a nightmare when the owner blackmails her and seeks to paint her into a corner. Huda’s Salon examines the repercussions of occupation on individuals coping with daily challenges in a hostile environment. The film is cast in the mould of a gripping thriller that probes betrayal and danger precipitated by the pressures of constantly living on the edge.

The Power of the Dog

Australia, New Zealand, 2021
English, 127 minutes

Director
Jane Campion

Cast
Benedict Cumberbatch, Kirsten Dunst, Jesse Plemons, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Thomasin McKenzie, Genevieve Lemon, Keith Carradine, Frances Conroy

Cinematography
Ari Wegner

Editing
Peter Sciberras

Executive Producers
Simon Gillis, Rose Garnett, John Woodward

Producers
Jane Campion, Tanya Seghatchian, Emile Sherman, Iain Canning, Roger Frappier

Production Companies
See-Saw Films, Bad Girl Creek, Max Films International, Brightstar, New Zealand Film Commission, Cross City Films, BBC Films

Production Designer
Grant Major

Screenplay
Jane Campion

Sound
Robert Mackenzie

Original Score
Jonny Greenwood

International Sales Agent
Cross City Films

Ten Films to Watch At TIFF 2021, Pickle Media

Jane Campion returns to the big screen with her first feature since 2009’s Bright Star. The Power of the Dog, an adaptation of Thomas Savage’s 1967 novel of the same name, also marks a return to the style and substance of her Oscar and Palme d’Or-winning The Piano. The Power of the Dog is the story of two brothers on a ranch in 192os Montana. Their already fraught relationship is thrown into further disarray when one of them marries a widowed single mother. Benedict Cumberbatch delivers another Oscar-worthy performance as a foul-tempered cowboy with too many unresolved issues for him to be at ease with the world around him. And, of course, Campion is back at the peak of her prowess.       

The Mad Women’s Ball

France, 2021
French, 121 minutes

Director
Mélanie Laurent

Cast
Lou de Laâge, Mélanie Laurent, Emmanuelle Bercot, Benjamin Voisin, Cédric Khan, Lomane De Dietrich, Christophe Montenez, Grégoire Bonnet

Cinematography
Nicolas Karakatsanis

Editing
Anny Danché

Producers
Alain Goldman, Axelle Boucaï

Production Company
Légende Films

Production Designer
Stanislas Reydellet

Screenplay
Mélanie Laurent, Chris Deslandes

Sound
Cyril Moisson, Alexis Place, Cyril Holtz

Original Score
Asaf Avidan

Ten Films to Watch At TIFF 2021, Pickle Media

Prolific French actor and director Melanie Laurent brings Victoria Mas’s novel Le bal des folles. World premiering at TIFF, The Mad Women’s Ball is about a 19th century Frenchwoman who is wrongly sent to a mental asylum. She plans to escape from her ordeal with the help of one of the nurses at the institution. The film has Lou de Laage in the lead role as a young, independent woman. The story is from over a hundred year ago and it deals with the birth of psychiatry. Its unflinching exploration of misogyny gives the film contemporary resonance while reminding the audience of the abuses that women have had to face at the hands of those who claim to be healers in a lopsided system that thrives on power and oppression.         

The Survivor

United States of America, Canada, Hungary, 2021
English, German, 129 minutes

Director
Barry Levinson

Cast
Ben Foster, Vicky Krieps, Billy Magnussen, Peter Sarsgaard, John Leguizamo, Danny DeVito, Dar Zuzovsky, Saro Emirze

Cinematography
George Steel

Editing
Douglas Crise

Executive Producers
Joel Greenberg, Ben Foster, Danny DeVito, Steven Thibault, Ashley Levinson, Anjay Nagpal, Ron McLeod, Jason Cloth, Richard McConnell, David Gendron, Ali Jazayeri

Producers
Matti Leshem, Aaron L. Gilbert, Barry Levinson, Jason Sosnoff, Scott Pardo

Production Companies
BRON Studios, New Mandate Films

Production Designer
Miljen ‘Kreka’ Kljaković

Screenplay
Justine Juel Gillmer

Sound
Lon Bender

Original Score
Hans Zimmer

International Sales Agents
Endeavor Content, BRON Releasing

Ten Films to Watch At TIFF 2021, Pickle Media

Another of the many biopics in the TIFF 2021 selection, Barry Levinson’s The Survivor dramatizes the life and times of Harry Haft, an Auschwitz concentration camp survivor who boxed with fellow prisoners simply in order to survive another day. The loser of every bout would be shot while the winner would live to fight another opponent. Haft went on to have a brief but eventful career as a pugilist in post-war Germany and then as a light heavyweight boxer in the US in the late 1940s. Ben Foster infuses the role with disquieting intensity as he brings alive a bruised and battered man who would not give up on life no matter what. The Survivor is as much about American masculinity as a celebration of one man’s will to live against all odds.

The Forgiven

United Kingdom, 2021
English, Arabic, Tamazight, French, 117 minutes

Director
John Michael McDonagh

Cast
Ralph Fiennes, Jessica Chastain, Matt Smith, Saïd Taghmaoui, Christopher Abbott, Ismael Kanater, Caleb Landry Jones, Mourad Zaoui, Abbey Lee, Alex Jennings, Marie-Josée Croze

Cinematography
Larry Smith

Editing
Elizabeth Eves, Chris Gill

Executive Producers
Norman Merry, Peter Hampden, Phil Hunt, Compton Ross, Jack Heller, Scott Veltri, Kimberly Fox, Donald Povieng, Ollie Madden, Daniel Battsek, Lawrence Osborne

Producers
Elizabeth Eves, John Michael McDonagh, Trevor Matthews, Nick Gordon

Production Companies
House of Un-American Activities, Brookstreet Pictures

Production Designer
Willem Smit

Screenplay
John Michael McDonagh

Sound
Ivor Talbot, Robert Flanagan

Original Score
Lorne Balfe

International Sales Agent
MadRiver Pictures

Ten Films to Watch At TIFF 2021, Pickle Media

British filmmaker John Michael McDonagh directs Ralph Fiennes and Jessica Chastain (also in The Eyes of Tammy Faye) in The Forgiven, an adaptation of the Lawrence Osborne novel of the same name. It tells the story of a about-to-divorce couple on their way to a lavish weekend party in Morocco. They accidentally kill a man. It sets off a chain of events that reveals the workings of a privileged class too trapped in their ivory towers to see how damaging their insensitivity and sense of entitlement can be – to themselves and to those they ride roughshod over. A trenchant critique of bourgeois lives enlivened by a clutch of wonderful performances.      

A Banquet

United Kingdom, 2021
English, 97 minutes

Director
Ruth Paxton

Cast
Sienna Guillory, Jessica Alexander, Ruby Stokes, Kaine Zajaz, Lindsay Duncan

Cinematography
David Liddell

Editing
Mátyás Fekete

Executive Producers
Deepak Nayar, Jeremy Baxter, Justin Bull, Patrick Fischer, Richard Kondal

Producers
Leonora Darby, Mark Lane, Nik Bower, James Harris, Laure Vaysse

Production Companies
Tea Shop Productions, Riverstone Pictures, Rep Productions 8 Limited

Production Designer
Sofia Stocco

Screenplay
Justin Bull

Sound
Alex Outhwaite

Original Score
CJ Mirra

International Sales Agent
Hanway Films

Ten Films to Watch At TIFF 2021, Pickle Media

The only film by a first-time director on this list of recommendations, Ruth Paxton’s TIFF Discover title is a psychological horror drama built around three generations of women. A widowed mother is put through severe psychological stress when her teenage daughter announces that, following a flash of enlightenment, she feels that her body is no longer her own. Initially, the mother is inclined to dismiss her announcement as a sign of youthful rebellion or a momentary meltdown. As her new-found faith quickly strengthens its grip on her, the girl stops eating. The strange phenomenon compels her mother to look inwards in search of answers. This stunning debut film from the UK heralds the arrival of a promising female director.

Write a Reply or Comment

Your email address will not be published.