The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) has returned for its 44th edition, from the 5th – 15th of September 2019. If you’re looking for movies starring your favourite, biggest stars, or if you’re looking to discover new talents, we’ve got you covered.
We’re especially excited to see, this year, not only movies starring Africans, but movies directed by Africans, too.
Here are ten films that are definitely on our radar:
Directed by Sarah Gavron, Rocks sees Bukky Bakray, who plays the titular character, take on an utterly feminist role.
Rocks is the story of a girl, also known as Shola, who lives in a London council flat with her younger brother and her mother. Rocks’ life is altered one day when she returns from school to find that she’s on her own, with a child to cater to.
The film has been described as empathetic and beautiful, and we can’t wait to see it for ourselves.
Fresh off becoming the first black woman to win the Cannes’ Jury Grand Prize, Mati Diop has brought Atlantics to Toronto, a movie about two young lovers in Dakar, Senegal, sneaking and wringing love out of the briefest of moments.
The movie stars Mama Sané, who plays Ada, a girl soon to be wed to a wealthy but frivolous man. But her heart belongs to someone else.
We’re impatiently waiting to see this one.
We’ve long been talking about Chinonye Chukwu‘s Sundance Grand Jury Prize-winning stunner, Clemency. It’s been described as brilliant, may even be in the running for an Oscar. Of course we’re pumped to see it.
Clemency follows a death row prison warden Warden Bernadine Williams, played by Alfre Woodard, and the toll her job takes on her and her marriage. Her performance has been described as one of the finest of the year, and we’re stocked!
Okay, so this one doesn’t star any African. Instead, we have Meryl Streep, Gary Oldman, Antonio Banderas and Jeffrey Wright. Of course we’re looking forward to it!
Directed by Steven Soderbergh, the film is a dramatisation of the Panama Papers saga, and is adapted from the Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist Jake Bernstein’s Secrecy World. So there’s crime, money, and great acting. What’s not to look forward to?
Cynthia Erivo‘s CV is something to aspire to. From winning the 2016 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical, as well as the 2017 Grammy for Best Musical Theater Album, she’s broken into the big screen, and in style, too. First starring alongside Viola Davis in Widows, and now leading in Harriet, and already generating Oscar buzz.
Directed by Kasi Lemmons, Harriet is the inspiring biopic about renowned abolitionist Harriet Tubman, who escaped slavery and risked her life to lead others to freedom through the network of safehouses known as the Underground Railroad.
The Lost Okoroshi
You guys know we love us some Seun Ajayi.
Directed by Abba Makama, The Lost Okoroshi follows Raymond (Seun Ajayi), a security guard (and something of a layabout) whose main preoccupations are checking out women and figuring out how to escape the bustle of Lagos in favour of the more relaxed countryside.
We’re excited to see what it has in store for us.
Co-writer of the Kenyan smash-hit Rafiki, Jenna Bass returns with Flatland, set in South Africa and beginning with a sequence that will have you gasping: a wedding then a murder.
With blood on her hands, Natalie (Nicole Fortuin) and her heavily pregnant best friend Poppie (Izel Bezuidenhout) must flee on horseback for Johannesburg. Aided — but ultimately derailed — by a series of men.
The description alone has us wanting more.
You Will Die at Twenty
Okay, seriously, You Will Die at Twenty is the feature debut from Sudanese director Amjad Abu Alala.
The film follows Muzamil, played by Moatasem Rashid, and then as a teen by Mustafa Shehata, who, because he’s been prophesied to die at 20, is watched closely by his mother, and seeks to know what life is life outside her confines.
Hustlers is another star studded one on our radar, starring Jennifer Lopez, Constance Wu, Cardi B, Keke Palmer, and Julia Stiles.
Directed by Lorene Scafaria, Hustlers is inspired by a 2015 New York Magazine article that went viral, and follows a savvy crew of former strippers who band together to turn the tables on their Wall Street clients.
The Obituary of Tunde Johnson
Co-creator of Everybody Hates Chris, Ali LeRoi makes his theatrical debut in this film about teenager Tunde Johnson (Steven Silver) who becomes trapped in a bizarre time loop that has him experiencing his school day and horrific fate over and over again.
What’s this horrific fate? His death, at the hands of the police.
There’s racism, homophobia, and police brutality in this stunner of a movie, and we can’t wait to see how it shows what it feels like to be black a gay in a world that doesn’t like either.
So that’s it! Those are 10 movies that we are checking out at the festival this year. Follow the #BNatTIFF19 and #BNatTIFF2019 on Twitter and Instagram for updates from Toronto.