TIFF ’21 First Features: The New Voices Heading to Toronto

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Coming from all over the globe, filmmakers will arrive at the 46th Toronto International Film Festival with their first features, ready to make a mark on the cinematic landscape. Joining a league of illustrious greats that have come before them, TIFF gives these new voices their time in the spotlight.

Getting a film made is an accomplishment in and of itself. To have your debut feature accepted into a festival as large as the Toronto? That’s another miracle entirely. For the 46th edition of TIFF, taking place from September 9—18, 2021, the festival’s programmers have chosen 38 first features to play alongside those by heavyweight veterans, including Jane Campion, Denis Villeneuve, Asghar Farhadi, and Céline Sciamma.

Among this year’s first features is Clint Bentley’s Jockey, which won a Special Jury Award at Sundance in January for Clifton Collins Jr.’s leading performance as an aging jockey looking for one last victory while dealing with family issues. Another debut generating awards buzz is The Humans, Stephen Karam’s film starring Steven Yeun, Richard Jenkins, Beanie Feldstein and Amy Schumer, adapted from Karam’s highly-acclaimed play of the same name.

“A sci-fi musical which follows an intersex African hacker, a coltan miner and the virtual marvel born as a result of their union,” is the logline for Neptune Frost, a film from directors Saul Williams (the esteemed musician and star of this year’s Akilla’s Escape) and Anisia Uzeyman. A description like that makes it a must-see. The same can be said for Ruth Paxton’s A Banquet, which follows a widowed mother whose daughter insists that her body is no longer her own, but in service to a higher power, pushing the boundaries and beliefs of both parent and child.

These films, and plenty more, will join the canon of other directorial debuts that have played at TIFF in the past, such as Raw, Hunger, The Lives of Others, Ratcatcher, The Watermelon Woman, Menace II Society, and Girlfriends.

To see all of the first features programmed for this year’s TIFF, the festival has put together a handy list over on their HQ page.

Mitchell Beaupre, Festiville Editor

(Header image from ‘Neptune Frost’)