Toronto 2021: TIFF Galas, Special Presentations


Dear Evan Hansen was selected to open up this year’s Toronto International Film Festival as TIFF named their Gala and Special Presentations.

The Opening Night Gala Presentation at the 46th Toronto International Film Festival and will screen Thursday, September 9 at Roy Thomson Hall. Additional screenings of Dear Evan Hansen will take place at the Visa Screening Room at the Princess of Wales Theatre, at the RBC Lakeside Drive-In at Ontario Place, and digitally on the digital TIFF Bell Lightbox platform.

“There was no question that Dear Evan Hansen was the ideal film to launch the Festival this year,” said Cameron Bailey, Artistic Director and Co-Head, TIFF. “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 theatres together.”

“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,” stated Joana Vicente, Executive Director and Co-Head, TIFF.

Dear Evan Hansen is a film about allowing ourselves to be found, and giving ourselves permission to be our true, authentic selves,” said Stephen Chbosky. “After a year and a half of isolation, so many of us are finding our way back to each other. So, now more than ever, I am honoured that the Toronto International Film Festival has chosen Dear Evan Hansen to open this year’s Festival. We could not have asked for a more ideal festival, or audience, or moment to premiere our film.”

The Closing Night Gala of TIFF 2021, One Second, is the newest offering from the acclaimed Chinese director of Raise the Red Lantern and Hero, Zhang Yimou. The film tells the story of a travelling film projectionist and an escaped prisoner connected through cinema. One Second is a love letter to movies and a reminder of how they can unite people, regardless of our differences. “Every September we invite the whole film world to Toronto, one of the most diverse, movie-mad cities in the world,” said Bailey. “And to have Zhang Yimou’s film here, now, is a true joy.”

TIFF is also delighted to announce the first titles selected for the Festival’s Gala and Special Presentations programmes. This first list of films from the 2021 Official Selection features 11 Galas and 21 Special Presentations.

“We’re so excited to be able to share this year’s lineup with audiences in theatres,” said Vicente. “These films reflect passion, creativity, and break new ground to tell their stories. We’re honoured 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.”

Gala Presentations

  • *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) OPENING NIGHT FILM
  • 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) CLOSING NIGHT FILM
  • The Survivor Barry Levinson | USA/Canada/Hungary (World Premiere)


  • 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)

(* denotes previously announced)

The Federal government announced yesterday that the Canadian border will open to fully-vaccinated U.S. citizens and permanent residents as of August 9, 2021, and to the rest of the world as of September 7, 2021, thus allowing TIFF to welcome a portion of its traditional volume of international press, industry and talent back to the Festival as permitted by the Canadian government.

As a result of the opening of the border and cinemas in Ontario, TIFF has added the Scotiabank Theatre Toronto for the first five days of the festival to its list of venues to accommodate a select number of additional public and press & industry screenings. Press and industry screenings will also remain available online on TIFF Digital Cinema Pro for press and industry unable to travel. The Industry conference will continue to be a digital event only. More information on in-person screening capacities for press & industry, and how access will operate, to follow in the coming two weeks.

TIFF continues to work closely with the Province of Ontario, the City of Toronto, and public health officials on the safe execution of the Festival, with its number-one priority being the health and well-being of both Festival filmgoers and residents of the community.

The 2021 Toronto International Film Festival runs September 9-18, 2021.

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.