ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI (TIFF 2020) – Review by Alexandra Heller Nicholas

As early as Lois Weber and Ida Lupino, women have shifted professionally from acting to directing. This is no generalized segue to Regina King and her directorial debut, One Night in Miami: as a director, she is that talented, that important, that pioneering. In 2020 we can save ourselves enormous energy and drama by just handing King and One Night in Miami all the major awards now and save ourselves the circus of pretending any film this year will better it.

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BEANS (TIFF 2020) – Review by Leslie Combemale

Framed by a challenging era in Canadian history, Beans is a good film for mothers and daughters to watch and discuss. Friendship, family, and standing your ground, as complicated as that can, are amplified from a female lens, and from the voice of a woman director who knows the story from personal experience. We could use more of these films to help guide girls through their self discovery, and help families support them on their journey.

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Women-made Shorts at TIFF 2020 – Pam Grady reports

Feature films may draw the buzz at film festivals, but shorts are where plenty of gems that are just awaiting for an audience to find them reside. That is certainly true of the Toronto International Film Festival, which even in this pandemic-impacted year, has mounted an impressive slate of five shorts programs. These three, all made by women, are part of TIFF’s Shorts 5 program, described as “journey of discovery.” They certainly are that.

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HOLLER (TIFF 2020) – Review by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

Nicole Riegel’s debut feature Holler is precisely the kind of low-key jewel one attends film festivals for. Playing as part of the TIFF’s Industry Selects program, it may lack the gloss, glitz and red carpet appeal of some bigger name films, but Holler is an almost inexpressibly genuine film that with grace, confidence, empathy and compassion speaks to the present moment in ways far more profound – and moving – than many of its bigger budgeted peers.

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Midnight Madness Gender Parity at TIFF 2020 – Alexandra Heller-Nicholas reports

The 2020 Midnight Madness program is notable for reaching parity through an emphasis on both quantity and quality, making claims of tokenism effectively impossible. While the ethical debates around programming and equity in terms of gender and other points of difference are complex, to achieve gender parity in a program of top shelf films where 50% of the filmmakers are women and 50% are people of color is no small deal.

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Women’s Filmmaking Highlights at TIFF 2020 – Alexandra Heller-Nicholas reports

Big screen or small screen, on-site or watching streaming from home, while many elements of TIFF 2020 will be a new experience, the seemingly conscious emphasis on women’s filmmaking from around the world thankfully remains intact. Unlike a number of other high-profile festivals that have yet to adequately read the room, TIFF again avoids the mistake of assuming women in front of the camera will make up for not programming films where they prominently feature behind it in key creative roles.

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SPOTLIGHT October 2020: Joana Vicente, TIFF-Maker, Indie Producer and Film Activist

Joana Vicente’s first year as co-head of the Toronto International Film Festival was a triumph. The transplanted New Yorker oversaw a TIFF that had all the bases covered: superb films, A-list movie stars in attendance, initiatives in place to level the playing field for filmmakers (and journalists) and all the razzle dazzle required to make the festival a magnet for industry, audience and tourism dollars. Her second TIFF happened in a pandemic. It too was a triumph.

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AN OLD LADY (TIFF20) – Review by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

If elder abuse is a taboo subject that is rarely afforded the serious consideration and action that such horrors demand, then elder sexual abuse is even more so. There’s a sense of sadness that courageous and well executed film about such a difficult subject may pass unseen because the taboo nature of the subject may turn an audience off. But that is what makes this film so urgent; An Old Lady tells us something we don’t want to hear in a way that makes us forget why we refused to listen for so long.

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TRUE MOTHERS (TIFF20) – Review by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

True Mothers is first and foremost a movie about feeling in every sense of the word. Naomi Kawase’s emphasis on ‘feeling’ is harmonized as physical and emotional; the film is punctuated by a steady stream of close ups of hands, highlighting their gestural capacity to communicate complex feelings without words, but also to connection with another person through touch.

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ENEMIES OF THE STATE (TIFF20) – Review by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

Investigative journalist and filmmaker Sonia Kennebeck has released her third documentary, Enemies of the State, a confidently executed film that voices a fundamental lack of confidence in the very concept of the ‘truth’ itself when it comes to human beings, their strengths, their passions and their very real darknesses. The film follows the tight-knit DeHart family, devout Christians whose lives were turned upside down when their home was raided in 2010 by the FBI on the grounds that adult son Matt had solicited child pornography.

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