Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami. Image via TIFF. 

These Women-Directed Films Are the Highlights of TIFF

Period dramas, fantastical comedies, gritty docs and a whole lot of award buzz.

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Aug 25 2017, 7:24pm

Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami. Image via TIFF. 

The 42nd annual Toronto Film Festival opens on September 7 and the list of heavy-hitting crowd favourite premieres is already growing. From George Clooney's Suburbicon to the opening gala movie Borg/McEnroe, the festival always delivers a peek into awards-season fare and your must-watch fall films. This year's slate also has a number of exciting selections from women directors, who are helming buzzworthy features, documentaries, and shorts.

These are my picks for the festival's woman-directed must watch movies.

Maggie Betts - Novitiate
Melissa Leo looks appropriately terrifying in her lead role as the Reverend Mother of a Catholic nunnery that finds itself facing reforms in the 1960s. Desperate to hold onto her power and feeling the commitment of her charges fading, Leo's character struggles to maintain control.


Sophie Fiennes - Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami
What is there to say about music and style icon Grace Jones that would do her justice? This new documentary aims to do just that, while showcasing the androgynous legend's other sides as lover, sister, and mother.


Agnes Varda - Faces Places
Varda's latest documentary won the Golden Eye award at Cannes, where it was heralded as an "unassuming masterpiece." The film follows Varda and French artist JR as they travel through rural areas documenting the people and places they encounter.

Image via TIFF

Brie Larson - Unicorn Store
Larson's directorial debut is a fantastical comedy about a young woman who gets a mysterious invitation that unwittingly fulfills her childhood dreams. Samuel L. Jackson and Mamoudou Athie star.

Image via TIFF

Greta Gerwig - Lady Bird
This highly-anticipated indie marks Gerwig's directorial debut. Saoirse Ronan stars as a west coast high school student who has plans to escape her life by moving to New York. Gerwing also wrote the script.

Image via TIFF

Dee Rees - Mudbound
Dee Rees' latest feature is a period drama set in the rural South during WWII. Starring Carey Mulligan, Garrett Hedlund and Mary J. Blige, Mudbound already has early awards season buzz.


Angelina Jolie - First They Killed My Father
Based on Loung Ung's 2000 memoir about her years under the Pol Pot regime, Jolie's second directorial feature is not without controversy. But the Netflix-acquired film is close to the director's heart, having spent a number of years in Cambodia.

Image via TIFF

Melanie Laurent - Plonger
This is Laurent's fourth feature film as director and the French actress also co-wrote the screenplay. It's loosely based on Christophe Ono-Di-Biot's novel about two Spanish lovers.


Sadaf Foroughi - AVA
This Canadian coming-of-age story about a young Muslim girl is just Foroughi's first feature film and has already attracted international attention.


Molly Parker - Bird
This short is actress Molly Parker's first as a director. The film focuses on Sam, a woman who visits her aging parents and becomes unravelled when her mother's pet bird disappears.


Torril Kove - Threads
Oscar-winning animator Torril Kove's beautiful new short looks at the threads that connect us across cities and urban landscapes.


Michelle Latimer - Nuuca
Executive-produced by Laura Poitras ( Citizenfour), VICELAND's Rise director Michelle Latimer's new short is a disturbing meditation on the link between resource extraction and land exploitation and the violence inflicted on Indigenous women.


Naledi Jackson - The Drop-In
This Scarborough-set genre-bending sci-fi short is an exciting and action-packed 13 minute film from Vancouver native Naledi Jackson.

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