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Post-TIFF 21 Recap: Seek Out These 10 Films That Are Not ‘Dune’

The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) has some to a close, and while it was not the triumphant return to normal as many had hoped, it was still a fairly exciting time for film fans to delve into the stories and lives of filmmakers from all over the world. While the big headliners such as Dune, People’s Choice Award winner Belfast, Last Night in Soho, and Spencer took up a ton of breathing room, the festival was not without a few gems to keep an eye out for.

So, here are 10 films that deserve a chance to be seen on the biggest screen possible, and are also amongst the best showings at the festival.

Disclaimer: It was very difficult to condense the festival into 10 films, so if you are an eager cinephile, please take a look at the official festival lineup and make note of the films that sound interesting to you. Many are still looking for distribution, while others may in fact be heading your way very soon.

Happy watching!

Post-TIFF 21 - Night Raiders

Night Raiders directed by Danis Goulet

Danis Goulet’s dystopian drama Night Raiders tells the story of a desperate Cree woman who joins a resistance group to save her daughter from a futuristic residential school. The film speaks to the horrors many Indigenous people faced when their lands were occupied and colonized by European settlers. Goulet’s film blends drama and science-fiction to craft a narrative that teaches us about our past and offers us hope as well. Night Raiders isn’t working with a The Hunger Games level budget, but its story and performances have so much heart, and a sense of urgency that is earned under Goulet’s impactful directing.

Night Raiders will open in theatres in North America on October 8 via Elevation Pictures and Samuel Goldwyn Films.

Jockey directed by Clint Bentley

Clifton Collins Jr. is one of Hollywood’s most prolific character-actors. He has been in many ensemble films, offering his immense skill and talent to liven up whatever story he is inserted in. Jockey is perhaps the first time, in a long time, where Collins Jr. take centre stage as a leading man. Folks, are we surprised to learn that he is fantastic? No, not at all. Here, Collins Jr. plays an aging jockey who is aware his time on the track is coming to an end. As a last hurrah, he is presented with a new horse that may be the ticket to his final win. That is until a young man shows up who claims to be his son. The film is an understated drama about a man coming to terms with the choices he has made in his life, and it is all so beautifully conveyed through Clifton Collins Jr.’s performance.

Jockey was acquired by Sony Classics Pictures. No release date has been announced.

Mlungu Wam (Good Madam) directed by Jenna Cato Bass

Jenna Cato Bass is a rising star within South African cinema with a number of her features being festival darlings in the past few years. Her most recent directorial feature, Mlungu Wam (Good Madam), is a horror satire that confronts the legacy of apartheid in South Africa through domestic servitude. The film isn’t overtly terrifying with scary imagery or jump scares, rather it is an intense experience derived from injustice and the daily violence that haunts the country to this day. It is far more subdued than similar horrors that are searing allegories for the Black experience, but it is one that is worth visiting. It’s an eerie and suspenseful ride.

Visit Films is handling the world sales.

Vengeance Is Mine, All Others Pay Cash directed by Edwin

Vengeance Is Mine, All Others Pay Cash is a throwback to the martial arts films of yesteryear. The retro flick follows an impotent brawler and a mafia bodyguard who fall in love against all the odds. Indonesian auteur Edwin bring us a jam-packed film that will certainly leave you utterly confused and very entertained. A multi-layered picture that defies the bounds of any genre. It is bound to entertain all that enjoy the aesthetic and wacky nature of martial arts melodramatic adventures of the 70s and 80s. Ladya Cheryl and Marthino Lio are remarkable with dazzling charisma, super comedic timing, and of course, bad ass moves.

Vengeance is Mine, All Others Pay Cash doesn’t have worldwide distribution. It is currently going on the festival circuit and is set to screen at Filmfest Hamburg in Germany.

The Guilty directed by Gustav Möller

Sike. Not the Antoine Fuqua film, but the film it is a remake of. There is an usually high-number of international films getting the English-language remake treatment in Hollywood. Quite frankly it’s getting rather absurd that many of these films aren’t even given the chance to play stateside and that Hollywood is so untrusting of their own talent that they are unable to come up with narratives on their own. Well, Jake Gyllenhaal stars in the American-remake, and if you are interested in watching it, it will be available to stream on Netflix starting on September 24. However, if you would like watch the original Danish film with English subtitles (if you are able to) then you can stream it on Hulu and Mubi.

Saloum directed by Jean-Luc Herbulot

If you are looking for a badass Western thriller that blends genres and is under 90 minutes long, then look no further than Senegalese film, Saloum. This is the sort of film that you need to know next to nothing about to truly experience the epicness of it. We have been spoiled by Hollywood giving us films with astronomical budgets and big flashy effects that often just generic, unoriginal and bland. Saloum proves that you don’t need huge budgets or flashy effects to tell a layered and complex narrative that has charismatic leads and a suspenseful narrative. Jean-Luc Herbulot has created a truly inspired cinematic experience that offers us a glimpse at the endless possibilities that the artists of Africa have to offer.

Saloum is the first production from Lacme Studios, a Dakar-based production company founded by Jean Luc Herbulot and Pamela Diop.

The Gravedigger’s Wife directed by Khadar Ayderus Ahmed

The Gravedigger’s Wife is a poetic narrative about one man’s devotion and love to his wife. Starring Omar Abdi and Yasmin Warsame, the film tells the story of Guled, a gravedigger, and his efforts to save his wife who is suffering from kidney failure. It’s a heartwarming story about the lengths one will go to to save the people they love. It is also a story that reclaims the image of Somali people that have been so wrongly misrepresented in Western media. Khadar Ayderus Ahmed crafted a film that will certainly have you in your feels.

The Gravedigger’s Wife is currently on the festival circuit and will be screened at the BFI London Film Festival in October.

I’m Your Man directed by Maria Schrader

Have you ever wanted to see Dan Stevens play a humanoid robot that spoke German? If so, Maria Schrader’s science-fiction romance is the film for you. The story follows a woman who participates in a three-week trial to determine if a robot can make her happy and be a suitable life partner. What unfurls before our eyes is a careful study of what it means to happy and what it means to be human. It’s a charming film that packs an emotional gut punch, however, the shining star are our leads Stevens and German actress Maren Eggert.

Bleecker Street acquired the US distribution rights for I’m Your Man and released it in theatres on September 17.

Scarborough directed by Rich Williamson and Shasha Nakhai

Scarborough is a Canadian drama that centres three young children from a low-income neighbourhood. The film is an unflinching portrait of families struggling to endure a social, economical, and political institutions designed to have them fail. However, through our young protagonists and their families, we see that community will uplift and help those in need. The film has a great amount of compassion and adoration for the lives they are capturing, because this is far from fiction. There is great care given to the story, it’s empathetic to the diverse community that find strength and power through love and respect.

Scarborough received an honorable mention from the jury for the Best Canadian Film award, and was named the winner of the Changemaker Award at TIFF. LevelFILM will distribute the movie.

The Electrical Life of Louis Wain directed by Will Sharpe

Japanese-English writer and director Will Sharpe brings to life the story of Louis Wain, the eccentric artist who was instrumental in changing the image of cats. Once deemed as simple rodent catchers, Louis Wain and his wife Emily helped bring cats into the homes of millions, not just in the UK, but across the world. Benedict Cumberbatch brings forth another stellar performance in a film that is compassionate and empathic to its subject. The film also aims to be as quirky and artistic as the artist it depicts. It does this with great affect as the story will surely have you feeling emotional.

The Electrical Life of Louis Wain is set to have a limited theatrical on October 22 and will have a wide release on Prime Video on November 5.

Delve into the official selection of films that were screened at TIFF 2021 here.

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