Toronto Film Festival Lineup Adds ‘Dear Evan Hansen,’ ‘The Eyes of Tammy Faye’ and ‘Clifford the Big Red Dog’

·5-min read

Dear Evan Hansen,” a movie version of the hit Broadway show, will open the 2021 edition of the Toronto International Film Festival.

In addition, the festival’s organizers announced that Chinese director Zhang Yimou’s latest feature “One Second” will close the festival. Described as a “love letter to cinema,” the film stars Wei Fan and Xiaochuan Li and follows a man who escapes a labour camp for a glimpse of his daughter. Other titles that have been slated to play at this year’s TIFF include the kids movie “Clifford the Big Red Dog,” Jessica Chastain’s “The Eyes of Tammy Faye” and director Will Sharpe’s “The Electrical Life of Louis Wain”

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As previously announced, Kenneth Branagh’s coming-of-age story “Belfast,” Edgar Wright psychological thriller “Last Night in Soho,” Céline Sciamma’s “Petite Maman” and HBO’s Alanis Morissette documentary “Jagged” have been scheduled to screen at the 46th annual film festival. The Canadian celebration of cinema will also hold a special presentation of “Dune,” Denis Villeneuve’s adaptation of Frank Herbert’s sci-fi novel that’s set to have its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival.

A scaled-down version of the Toronto International Film Festival is taking place from Sept. 9-18. Last year’s festival took place virtually, with some drive-in screenings, as a concession to the COVID-19 pandemic. The long-running festival is returning in 2021 with in-person screenings, as well as digital and outdoor premieres to accommodate the movie lovers who aren’t able to travel to Canada.

Initially, travel between the U.S. and Canada had been restricted because the Great White North was lagging behind in vaccinations. However, the country’s immunization rates have been greatly improving and, on Monday, Canadian officials set plans to loosen border restrictions on Aug. 9 for fully vaccinated U.S. citizens. That means people will be able to travel to TIFF without having to quarantine, making it easier for stars and directors to attend the festival.

Directed by Stephen Chobsky (“Perks of Being a Wallflower”), “Dear Evan Hansen” tells the story of an anxiety-riddled high schooler (portrayed by Ben Platt) who finds himself caught up in a lie that spirals out of control. The musical opened on Broadway in 2016 and won six Tony Awards, including best actor in a musical for Platt.

“There was no question that ‘Dear Evan Hansen’ was the ideal film to launch the Festival this year,” said Cameron Bailey, TIFF’s artistic director and co-head. “This film is ultimately about healing, forgiveness and reaffirms how connected and essential we all are to one another. We couldn’t think of a more important idea to celebrate this year as we come together once again to share the power and joy of cinema in theaters together.”

Adds Joana Vicente, TIFF’s executive director and co-head, “As TIFF resumed this year in the wake of a pandemic that marked and changed all of our lives, we felt it was important to open this year’s Festival with a film that connects to our shared humanity and that reminds us how deeply we need one another, need to be seen by one another, especially in times of loneliness and despair.”

As part of Tuesday’s announcement, TIFF organizers shared the list of titles that will round out the 11 gala screenings and 21 special presentations.

“We’re so excited to be able to share this year’s lineup with audiences in theaters,” said Vicente. “These films reflect passion, creativity and break new ground to tell their stories. We’re honored to have them as part of TIFF 2021.”

“Some of the year’s biggest films will screen at TIFF this year,” added Bailey. “We’re thrilled to announce these films as Galas and Special Presentations. Our programming team has been hard at work for months searching for the most compelling stories, acclaimed filmmakers, and top onscreen talent that comprise two of TIFF’s highest-profile sections.”

See the updated TIFF lineup below:

Gala Presentations

(*previously announced)

*Belfast – Kenneth Branagh | United Kingdom
World Premiere

Clifford the Big Red Dog – Walt Becker | USA/United Kingdom/Canada
World Premiere

Dear Evan Hansen – Stephen Chbosky | USA
World Premiere

The Electrical Life of Louis Wain – Will Sharpe | United Kingdom
Canadian Premiere

*Jagged – Alison Klayman | USA
World Premiere

*Last Night in Soho – Edgar Wright | United Kingdom
North American Premiere

*The Mad Women’s Ball (Le Bal des folles) – Mélanie Laurent | France
World Premiere

*Night Raiders – Danis Goulet | Canada/New Zealand
North American Premiere

One Second – Zhang Yimou | China
North American Premiere

The Survivor – Barry Levinson | USA/Canada/Hungary
World Premiere

Special Presentations

Ali & Ava – Clio Barnard | United Kingdom
North American Premiere

All My Puny Sorrows – Michael McGowan | Canada
World Premiere

*Benediction – Terence Davies | United Kingdom
World Premiere

Bergman Island – Mia Hansen-Løve | France
International Premiere

*Charlotte – Eric Warin, Tahir Rana | Canada/France/Belgium
World Premiere

*Dionne Warwick: Don’t Make Me Over – Dave Wooley, David Heilbroner | USA
World Premiere

Drive My Car – Ryusuke Hamaguchi | Japan
North American Premiere

Encounter – Michael Pearce | United Kingdom/USA
International Premiere

The Eyes of Tammy Faye – Michael Showalter | USA
World Premiere

*The Guilty – Antoine Fuqua | USA
World Premiere

I’m Your Man – Maria Schrader | Germany
North American Premiere

Inexorable – Fabrice du Welz | Belgium/France
International Premiere

*Lakewood – Phillip Noyce | Canada
World Premiere

The Middle Man – Bent Hamer | Norway/Canada/Germany/Denmark
World Premiere

Official Competition (Competencia Oficial) – Mariano Cohn, Gastón Duprat | Spain/Argentina
North American Premiere

Paris, 13th District (Les Olympiades) – Jacques Audiard | France
North American Premiere

*Petite Maman – Céline Sciamma | France
Canadian Premiere

*The Starling – Theodore Melfi | USA
World Premiere

The Story of My Wife – Ildikó Enyedi | Hungary/Germany/Italy/France
North American Premiere

Three Floors (Tre Piani) – Nanni Moretti | Italy/France
North American Premiere

Violet – Justine Bateman | USA
International Premiere

The Worst Person In The World (Verdens Verste Menneske) – Joachim Trier | Norway/France/Sweden/Denmark
North American Premiere

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