The 2021 Toronto Arthouse Film Festival featured a great selection of 27 films this year – from narrative films and documentaries to experimental gems and music videos – hailing from Canada and around the globe.
"It was so amazing having to be able to have an in person screening again for TAFF" says Festival Manager Maarten Cornelis. "Social distancing was still in effect and our team did everything to make people feel comfortable while they watched our amazing selection. We even provided free popcorn and concessions. Although people are still careful with going to in person events we are happy to announce we sold out 50 percent of our screenings, what more can we ask for! The excitement and popularity is getting bigger and bigger for our festival and us as organizers or so thrilled about this!"
TAFF screened both last year's selection of 35 films (take a look back at the 2020 award winners on the website: (www.torontofilmfestival.org/2020-awards), and another fresh new batch of 27 films for 2021, carefully selected out of about 1400 submissions from all over the world. Jury members have cast their votes and chose the following films as this year's finest:
Best Narrative Feature Film: In Ashes (Norway) by Kjetil Engh Aasen. The life of Inger and her son Jonas is turned upside down when the man they thought they knew is suspected of unspeakable crimes against children. As painful questions arise, Inger realizes her son is slowly pulling away from her. Inger struggles to find a way back to her son, while at the same time, attempts to deal with her own conflicting feeling towards her husband.
Best Narrative Short Film: The Monkey King (United States) by Yingqi Ren. Bao, a 40-year-old divorcé and small-time Chinese Opera amateur performer finally gets a chance to perform to the city’s VIPs. However, his son’s departure to America forces him to make a decision between their relationship and his potential big break.
Best Documentary Feature Film: Missing in Brooks County (United States) By Lisa Molomot and Jeff Bemiss. Two families search for their loved ones who went missing in the vast ranch lands of Brooks County, Texas, the site of more migrant deaths than anywhere else in the country. On their journey, they meet vigilante ranchers, humanitarian activists, Border Patrol search and rescue teams, and others locked in a proxy version of the national immigration debate.
Best Documentary Short Film: Scars (Canada) By Alex Anna. Alex Anna’s body is a canvas : her scars come to life to tell a new story of self-harming. Live action and animation intertwine in this short and poetic documentary, both intimate and universal.
Best Animated Film: I Want to Be the Ocean (Germany) by Raman Djafari. A small community in the woods experiences a flooding. The people of the city recite a poem, admitting to their doubts. A meandering film about identity, uncertainty and the hope to escape it.
Best Experimental Film: Bellydance Vogue (Lebanon) by Hadi Moussally. "My birthday was on the 3rd of April 2020 during lockdown, and for the first time, I celebrated it all by myself. But even if I was alone, I decided to celebrate it as if it’s the last one." A film made during quarantine.
Best Music Video: Quantum Clouds (Greece) by Dimitris Giouzepas. Unsettling visuals for an unsettling tune, an ever-evolving Rorschach inkblot, an ungrasped idea.
Best Canada Based Filmmaker: The Cut (Canada) by Chloé Cinq-Mars. Recovering from a cesarean section, Emma finally meets her newborn son. As she overcomes her unfamiliarity and slowly falls in love with him, The Cut explores the complexity of the bond between mother and child.
Best Toronto Based Filmmaker: The Mad One (Canada) by Taye Alvis. Short subject documentary about The Mad One. An underground barber shop located in Toronto's Queen West neighbourhood.
Today, a new Call for Entries has been launched on FilmFreeway for the next edition, which will take place October 18-21st 2022. Submit your film now: https://filmfreeway.com/TorontoArthouseFilmFestival