TIFF 2021 Adds John Michael McDonagh’s ‘The Forgiven’ With Jessica Chastain & New Ava DuVernay Doc On Colin Kaepernick

The 46th Toronto International Film Festival is fast approaching and the festival is finalizing its line-up in the weeks ahead of launch day in September. Today, the festival unveiled a few new titles, announced the Canadian Satellite Screenings, unveiled the 2021 Industry Conference details and the Primetime lineup. What does that mean?

Well, let’s look at the highlights. First and foremost is the addition of John Michael McDonagh‘s “The Forgiven” starring Jessica Chastain and Ralph Fiennes. You may recall that John Michael McDonagh is the older brother of playwright and filmmaker Martin McDonagh (“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri“). They have similar sensibilities and John has directed celebrated films like “The Guard” (2011) and “Calvary” (2014). Another eye-grabbing title is a new Ava DuVernay documentary, about Colin Kaepernick, co-directed by the athlete himself. Titled, “Colin in Black and White,” this doc will surely look at the NFL’s hypocrisy and the way the organization essentially ruined his career under political pressure, arguably one of the gravest injustices in sports history.

TIFF runs September 9–18, 2021

Here’s everything that’s been added to the Toronto International Film Festival line-up today:

The Forgiven John Michael McDonagh | United Kingdom
Gala Presentation

Julia Julie Cohen & Betsy West | USA


New this year, audiences across Canada can enjoy the excitement of TIFF in their own communities with TIFF’s “Coast-to-Coast Screenings”. Film Circuit, TIFF’s film-outreach programme since 1995, will host in-cinema screenings across the country for one evening in each location, to help ignite theatrical exhibition across Canada and celebrate audiences’ return to cinemas. 

Screenings will take place simultaneously on Monday, September 13 at 7pm local time. 

Charlotte (Elevation Pictures) Eric Warin, Tahir Rana | Canada/France/Belgium 

  • Galaxy Cinemas Moose Jaw – Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan

The Electrical Life of Louis Wain (mk2) Will Sharpe | United Kingdom 

  • Cineplex Cinemas Summerside – Summerside, Prince Edward Island

I’m Your Man (Ich bin dein Mensch(Mongrel Media) Maria Schrader| Germany

  • Cineplex Cinemas Markham and VIP – Markham, Ontario

Night Raiders (Elevation Pictures) Danis Goulet | Canada/New Zealand 

  • Cineplex Cinemas Saint John – Saint John, New Brunswick
  • Galaxy Cinemas Collingwood – Collingwood, Ontario

Official Competition (Competencia Oficial)(mk2) Mariano Cohn, Gastón Duprat | Spain/Argentina

  • Famous Players Prince Rupert Cinemas – Prince Rupert, British Columbia


TIFF’s 2021 Primetime programme features compelling television series from Canada and around the world. 
Colin in Black and White Ava DuVernay, Colin Kaepernick | USA
World Premiere

Hellbound Yeon Sang-ho | South Korea
World Premiere

The Panthers Tom Hern, Halaifonua Finau | New Zealand
International Premiere
Sort Of Bilal Baig, Fab Filippo | Canada
North American Premiere


“TIFF is proud of the 2021 Industry Conference offerings. We are excited by the impactful lineup of conversations that our Conference will spark this year amongst the local and international film community,” said Geoff Macnaughton, Senior Director, Industry and Theatrical. “As the industry grapples with a lack of inclusivity and a healthy way forward, these subjects and speakers deserve a global stage and audience.”
Intimate conversations on craft between creators, including directors, writers, showrunners, and documentarians. Variety is the Media Partner. Dialogues sessions are supported by Ontario Creates.
DIALOGUES The Writers’ Room
Academy Award–nominated screenwriter Krysty Wilson-Cairns (1917, Last Night in Soho) and Sterlin Harjo (Reservation Dogs) join Franklin Leonard from The Black List for an in-depth conversation that delves into the evolution of their creative voices, the art of collaboration, and the ups and downs of translating a vision to the screen.
DIALOGUES Primetime 
Join the creators behind three new and highly original comedies — Mae Martin (Feel Good), Sierra Teller Ornelas (Rutherford Falls), and Fab Filippo and Bilal Baig (Sort Of) — as they speak about developing shows that explore characters and stories not often reflected on screen, the process of getting their projects greenlit, and running a writers’ room. 
DIALOGUES Telling Family Stories
Presented by SHOWTIME® Documentary Films
We talk to two young directors making their TIFF debuts with unflinching looks at family history. Rebeca Huntt’s Beba explores her Afro-Latinx background and the tensions of growing up in a one-bedroom New York City apartment with a family of five. Gian Cassini’s Comala investigates the legacy of his father, who was a hitman in Tijuana. The two directors will discuss their strategies for delving into sensitive areas. 

DIALOGUES  Inside The Rescue
Presented by SHOWTIME® Documentary Films
Oscar-winning filmmakers E. Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin (Free Solo, Meru) once again explore the human side of an epic feat in their new film The Rescue. When monsoon floods trapped 12 members of a soccer team and their coach in a cave in Thailand, the story received wide international coverage. The filmmakers discuss how they gained a fresh perspective by fostering local partnerships, obtaining never-before-seen footage, and employing an array of techniques to make viewers experience the rescue for themselves. 
Inspirational sessions with prominent individuals who are forging new creative and business pathways in the industry. The Hollywood Reporter is the Media Partner. 
VISIONARIES Nancy Utley & Steve Gilula
During Steve Gilula and Nancy Utley’s over-20-year tenure helming Searchlight Pictures, the film studio built a reputation as the gold standard for spotlighting singular stories, and for fostering the creative vision of uniquely talented filmmakers. To commemorate their remarkable legacy, TIFF Artistic Director & Co-Head Cameron Bailey leads a conversation with Gilula and Utley about their successes, challenges, and lessons learned along the way.

Moderated and focused discussions on the current state and future of the industry in relation to the panelists’ area of expertise. Screen International is the Media Partner.

PERSPECTIVES Writing in the Margins: The Need for New Voices and New Platforms in Film Criticism
Representation and lack of diversity in film criticism within prominent outlets is an ongoing issue plaguing the film industry. Three distinguished voices in film criticism — Carlos Aguilar, Jourdain Searles, and Caden Mark Gardner — come together to discuss its future, how established systems need to change, and the new spaces and opportunities being forged by diverse writers.

PERSPECTIVES Narrative Sovereignty: Pathways to Partnerships and Collaborations for Indigenous Productions
Building on the Narrative Sovereignty session from last year’s Conference, this panel explores how institutions are supporting Indigneous films through partnerships and cross-organizational collaboration. This vital conversation features Angela Bates (Screen Australia), Anne Lajla Utsi (International Sámi Film Institute), Jesse Wente (Indigenous Screen Office), and Karen Te O Kahurangi Waaka (New Zealand Film Commission) and is moderated by Bird Runningwater, Director of the Indigenous Program at Sundance Institute.

PERSPECTIVES Reset: Dismantling Toxic Behaviours On Set and in the Industry 
A Share Her Journey Initiative generously supported by Betty-Ann Heggie

Meet filmmakers who are making change by pushing for safer spaces in production and prompting best practices in the industry. Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers (The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open), Isabel Sandoval (Lingua Franca), Nisha Ganatra (Late Night) and Andria Wilson Mirza, producer and director of ReFrame, share personal experiences of how they are creating a more equitable and inclusive industry by advocating for structural change on set.

PERSPECTIVES Filmmakers On Africa’s Cinema Industries: From Development to Distribution
Generously supported by Anne-Marie Canning

Africa’s impressive list of TIFF ’21 Official Selections spans the Platform, Midnight Madness, Special Presentations, and Wavelengths programmes.  Festival filmmakers Amil Shivji (Tug of War), Jenna Bass, Babalwa Baartman (Good Madam), Khadar Ayderus Ahmed (The Gravedigger’s Wife), and TIFF programmer Nataleah Hunter-Young will explore western preconceptions that guard pathways to industry,  bind creative autonomy and neglect African audiences.

Complementing this event will be a digital networking event for African and diaspora filmmakers from Official Selection and alumni of TIFF Industry Talent Development.

Sessions for emerging to mid-career filmmakers to interact with experts and gain practical knowledge to move their projects and understanding of the industry forward. Connections will be moderated by recent TIFF Industry talent alumni. 

CONNECTIONS Intimacy on set with Ita O’Brien
Learn how an intimacy coordinator ensures a safe environment for actors and production teams while shooting intimate scenes. Ita O’Brien, who worked on groundbreaking shows such as I May Destroy YouIt’s a Sin, and Master of None talks about building a safe and professional structure on set based on consent.

CONNECTIONS DIY Networking Groups
Diana Mendez (writer and Co-Founder of Latina TV Writers Brunch Group) and Kadon Douglas (Executive Director of BIPOC TV & Film) share how diverse creators can successfully self-organize to build inclusive spaces, foster collaboration, and promote professional opportunities with each other.

CONNECTIONS Diversity Funds with ARRAY
Tilane Jones, President of ARRAY — the distribution, arts, and advocacy collective founded by Ava DuVernay — discusses how emerging creators from under-represented backgrounds can access ARRAY’s new fund in partnership with Google, as well as other programs the company offers.

CONNECTIONS Working with CBC Films
Mehernaz Lentin, Senior Director at CBC Films, discusses the various ways that filmmakers can work with the national public broadcaster through funding, pre-buys, acquisitions, and the TIFF–CBC Films Screenwriter Award. CBC Films funding supports the production of feature films led by female, LGBTQ, Indigenous, and diverse filmmakers.

CONNECTIONS Working with Netflix
Presented by Netflix

Ian Bricke, Vice President, Original Independent Film at Netflix, oversees the development and production of specialized and genre films. He joins us to discuss Netflix’s overall strategy for original independent film and how they are building relationships with emerging, diverse creators and acquiring new content. 

CONNECTIONS Creating Authentic and Inclusive Content with the Black Screen Office
Joan Jenkinson, the Executive Director of the Black Screen Office, will share insights from the organization’s national study with under-represented groups, Being Seen: A Directive for Creating Authentic and Inclusive Content.

CONNECTIONS Telefilm’s Talent to Watch
Presented by Telefilm Canada

Telefilm Canada will present its newly updated guidelines for the Talent to Watch Program, and will shed light on the production, digital distribution, and promotion of a first feature-length film or other format of narrative-based audiovisual content made specifically for online distribution. The Talent to Watch Program aims to support emerging filmmakers, accelerate their career development, and allow them to develop an expertise in digital marketing and promotion of audiovisual projects. 

Connections moderators include Cory Bowles, Tamara Mariam Dawit, Sasha Leigh Henry, Lisa Jackson, Jasmin Mozaffari and Madeleine Sims-Fewer.


Curated and partner programmed discussions that highlight new technologies and new ways of doing business. This year’s sessions will include: Accessibility & Inclusivity: Changing the Narrative for Talent with Disabilities (Presented by Telefilm Canada), Building a Greener Industry: How can we create a more sustainable future? (Presented by Telefilm Canada), The Future of Shared Experiences: How Hopin Can Help (Presented by Hopin), From a Moment to a Movement (Presented by Breaking Through the Lens), Documenting Celebrities (Presented by SHOWTIME® Documentary Films), Documenting History (Presented by SHOWTIME® Documentary Films), The ABCs of Co-Productions: A Case Study on The Middle Man (Presented by Ontario Creates), and The Reel Truth (Presented by WIFT-T).

Confirmed guest speakers are Alison Klayman (Jagged), Penny Lane (Listening to Kenny G), Stanley Nelson (Attica), Stefan Forbes (Hold Your Fire), Bent Hamer (The Middle Man), Simone Urdl (producer of The Middle Man), Dina Amer (Cain and Abel), Nihaarika Negi (Feral), Tricia Lee (Idol), Celine Cotran (Layla in Dreamland), Farida Zahran (The Leftover Ladies), Tamika R. Guishard (Rhythm in Blues), Sontenish Myers (Stampede), Isla Ure (The Tides), Anita Doron (The Truth About Monsters) and Fisayo Olajide (Untitled Underground Railroad Ride).

Below, first-look images of “The Forgiven” and “Colin in Black and White.”

The Forgiven
The Forgiven
Colin in Black and White

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