Music-related films get screen time at TIFF

Documentaries, biopics and cameos part of music star power at film fest

The 47th Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), which runs from Sept. 8 through 18, features about 200 films — and a small portion of them are music-related: documentaries, biopics, previews of TV series, or perhaps with a musician-actor or actor-musician in the cast.

There are docs on David Bowie, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Tupac, Louis Armstrong, Tanya Tagag and Tanya Tucker, while Weird Al is the subject of a biopic. Harry Styles has a major part in My Policeman; Tegan and Sara see their coming-of-age memoir adapted into a series; and Lido Pimienta previews her new variety show.

We’ve combed through the schedule and put together a list of the music or music-related offerings. Tickets are on sale now on TIFF.net or, if sold out, try the same-day box office or rush lines.

Screenshot from Ever Deadly

Courtesy of TIFF

Ever Deadly (Canada)

Documentary
English, Inuktitut
WORLD PREMIERE
90 mins.

Screening:  Fri., Sept. 9, Scotiabank Theatre, 9:30pm; Wed., Sept. 14, TIFF Bell Lightbox, 5 pm; Sun., Sept. 18, TIFF Bell Lightbox, 1 pm
Also online: Tue., Sept. 13, digital TIFF Bell Lightbox
Availability: Canada, 10 am

Juno Award- and Polaris Music Prize-winning experimental throat singer Tanya Tagaq co-wrote and co-directed the film with award-winning director Chelsea McMullan, bringing the crew to Nunavut to mix performance with historical perspective.

Screenshot from Moonage Daydream

Courtesy of TIFF

Moonage Daydream (USA)

Documentary
English
NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE
134 mins.

Screening: Mon., Sept. 12, Cinesphere IMAX Theatre, 9:30 pm; Wed., Sept 14, Scotiabank Theatre, 4 pm

Director Brett Morgen (Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck) has created this impressive, genre-busting documentary on the late David Bowie, told in his own words from decades of interviews. Includes performance clips of Moonage Daydream, Space Oddity, Sound and Vision and Heroes.

Buffy Saint-Marie posing

Courtesy of TIFF

Buffy Sainte-Marie: Carry It On (Canada)

Documentary
English
WORLD PREMIERE
90 mins.

Screening: Thurs., Sept. 8, TIFF Bell Lightbox, 8:30 pm; Fri., Sept. 9, Scotiabank Theatre, 5:30 pm; Sat., Sept. 17 Scotiabank Theatre, 12 pm

Directed by Madison Thomas, the documentary explores the trailblazing life of the legendary Indigenous singer-songwriter Buffy Sainte-Marie. Appearances include Joni Mitchell, Robbie Robertson, John Kay, Jackson Browne, Taj Mahal and Jeremy Dutcher.

Main character from Dear Mama

Courtesy of TIFF

Dear Mama (USA)

Documentary
English
WORLD PREMIERE
65 mins.

Screening: Thurs., Sept. 15, TIFF Bell Lightbox, 7 pm

In a deal with Tupac Shakur’s estate, Allen Hughes (The Defiant Ones) of The Hughes Brothers was tapped to direct a five-part TV docu-series, Outlaw: The Saga of Afeni and Tupac Shakur. The title of this episode is taken from a song on the late rapper’s 1995 album, Me Against the World.

Louis Armstrong using typwriter

Courtesy of TIFF

Louis Armstrong’s Black & Blue (USA)

Documentary
English
WORLD PREMIERE
104 mins.

Screening: Thurs., Sept. 8, TIFF Bell Lightbox, 6 pm; Sat., Sept. 10, Scotiabank Theatre, 2:45 pm; Sun., Sept. 18, Scotiabank Theatre, 11:45 am

Late jazz trumpeter and singer Louis Armstrong made audio diaries, which director Sacha Jenkins (Wu-Tang Clan: Of Mics and Men) uses — along with archival footage of his peers Dizzy Gillespie, Count Basie and Artie Shaw — to help reveal a different side of the legend. The correspondence is read by rapper Nas.

Screenshot from A Jazzman’s Blues

Courtesy of TIFF

A Jazzman’s Blues (USA)

English
WORLD PREMIERE
127 mins.

Screening: Sun., Sept. 11, Roy Thomson Hall, 6 pm; Mon., Sept. 12, TIFF Bell Lightbox, 12:30 pm; Sun., Sept. 18, TIFF Bell Lightbox, 9 am

A Jazzmans Blues is the first screenplay Tyler Perry ever wrote, and he directs the movie, which stars Joshua Boone, Amirah Vann, Solea Pfieffer, Austin Scott, Milauna Jackson, Lana Young and Ryan Eggold. It’s a murder mystery injected with musical numbers with songs by Terence Blanchard, choreography by Debbie Allen and music by composer Aaron Zigman.

At the Sun., Sept. 11 world premiere screening at Roy Thomson Hall, singer-songwriter Ruth B. will perform Paper Airplanes, the live debut of the song which multi-platinum artist Ruth B. wrote and recorded with two-time Academy Award nominee and five-time Grammy winner Terence Blanchard specifically for the film. The track was produced by Oscar and Grammy winning producer, D’Mile and Ruth B.

Screenshot from Weird: The Al Yancovic Story

Courtesy of TIFF

Weird: The Al Yancovic Story (USA)

English
WORLD PREMIERE
108 mins.

Screening: Thurs., Sept. 8, Royal Alexandra Theatre, 11:59 pm; Fri., Sept. 9, TIFF Bell Lightbox, 12:15 pm; Sun., Sept. 18, TIFF Bell Lightbox, 9 am

Daniel Radcliffe stars as “Weird Al” Yankovic in this biopic about the king of parody songs. Director Eric Appel co-wrote the screenplay with Yancovic and the cast includes Evan Rachel Wood, Rainn Wilson, Toby Huss, Arturo Castro and Julianne Nicholson.

Screenshot from High Schooll

Courtesy of TIFF

High School (USA,Canada)

English
WORLD PREMIERE
75 mins.

Screening: Sat., Sept. 10, TIFF Bell Lightbox, 2 pm

Based on Tegan and Sara’s best-selling memoir about their high school years, this is a first glimpse at the TV series from Clea DuVall and Laura Kittrell, and starring fellow twins Railey and Seazynn Gilliland as Tegan and Sara respectively. The show features a soundtrack by the likes of The Smashing Pumpkins, Violent Femmes and Green Day.

Screenshot from My Policeman

Courtesy of TIFF

My Policeman (UK, USA)

English
WORLD PREMIERE
113 mins.

Screening: Sun., Sept. 11, Princess of Wales Theatre, 6:30 pm; Mon., Sept. 12, Scotiabank Theatre, 12 pm; Fri., Sept. 16, Princess of Wales Theatre, 2 pm; Sat., Sept. 17, Royal Alexandra Theatre, 1:30 pm

Harry Styles co-stars in this adaptation of Bethan Roberts’s novel, written by Ron Nyswaner and directed by Michael Grandage. The story follows the lives of three people: policeman Tom (Harry Styles/Linus Roache), teacher Marion (Emma Corrin/Gina McKee) and museum curator Patrick (David Dawson/Rupert Everett).

Tanya Tucker

Courtesy of TIFF

The Return of Tanya Tucker: Featuring Brandi Carlile (USA)

Documentary
English
INTERNATIONAL PREMIERE
108 mins.

Screening: Sun., Sept. 11, Scotiabank Theatre, 6 pm; Mon., Sept. 12, Scotiabank Theatre, 11:45 am; Sat., Sept. 17, Scotiabank Theatre, 9:30 am

Director Kathlyn Horan captures country legend Tanya Tucker in the studio creating her first album of original music in 17 years, with singer-songwriter Brandi Carlile at the production helm with Shooter Jennings. The resulting While Im Livin won a Grammy for best country album and Bring My Flowers Now for best country song.

Lido TV

Courtesy of TIFF

Lido TV (Canada, Colombia)

English, Spanish
WORLD PREMIERE
58 mins.

Screening: Sun., Sept. 11, Scotiabank Theatre, 5:15 pm

Created and hosted by Polaris Music Prize-winning artist Lido Pimienta, LIDO TV is a variety show like no other:  part Pee Wees Playhouse, part left-wing 60 Minutes and exploring themes of colonialism, beauty and feminism while still being funny. Guests on this CBC GEM series include Nelly Furtado, Bear Witness and Kittie.

Screenshot from Miúcha, The Voice of Bossa Nova

Courtesy of TIFF

Miúcha, The Voice of Bossa Nova (Brazil, France)

Documentary
Portuguese, English, French
CANADIAN PREMIERE
98 mins.

Screening: Tues., Sept. 13, Scotiabank Theatre, 5:45 pm; Wed., Sept. 14, Scotiabank Theatre, 5:40 pm

Brazilian bossa nova singer Miúcha, who died in December 2018 at age 81, was under-appreciated and under-recognized. Director Daniel Zarvos, her cousin, and co-director Liliane Mutti tell her story by using personal letters, journals, audio diaries, home movies and the singer’s watercolour drawings (animated for the film).

Screenshot from On the Comeup

On the Come Up (USA)

English
WORLD PREMIERE
115 mins.

Screening: Thurs., Sept. 8, Princess of Wales Theatre, 9:30 pm; Fri., Sept. 9, TIFF Bell Lightbox 2 pm; Thurs., Sept. 15, TIFF Bell Lightbox, 2:45 pm; Sun., Sept. 18, TIFF Bell Lightbox, 12:30 pm

Sanaa Lathan’s debut feature is based on the New York Times best-selling novel by Angie Thomas about a teen rapper who wants to follow in her father’s footsteps and become an underground hip hop star. Method Man, Lil Yachty and GaTa are in the cast.

Screenshot from Chevalier

Courtesy of TIFF

Chevalier (USA)

English
WORLD PREMIERE
107 mins.

Screening: Sun., Sept. 11, Princess of Wales Theatre, 3:30 pm; Mon., Sept. 12, Scotiabank Theatre, 9:35 pm; Fri., Sept. 16, Scotiabank Theatre, 9 pm

Described as an “opulent” historical drama, the film is based on the true story of Black composer and violin virtuoso Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges (1745–1799) played by Kelvin Harrison Jr. The cast includes Samara Weaving, Lucy Boynton, Ronke Adekolujoe, Marton Csokas, Alex Fitzalan and Minnie Driver.

Screenshot from Devotion

Courtesy of TIFF

Devotion (USA)

English, Korean
WORLD PREMIERE
138 mins.

Screening: Mon., Sept. 12, Cinesphere IMAX Theatre, 6 pm; Wed., Sept. 14, Cinesphere IMAX Theatre, 9 pm; Thurs., Sept. 15, Cinesphere IMAX Theatre, 5:30 pm

Joe Jonas has a role in this JD Dillard-directed film set during the Korean War and focused on the U.S. Navy’s first Black aviator and his wingman. Adapted from Adam Makos’s bestseller, it’s screening only in IMAX at TIFF because of the aerial sequences. The cast includes Jonathan Majors, Glen Powell, Christina Jackson and Thomas Sadoski.

Coyote screenshot

Courtesy of TIFF

Coyote (Canada)

French, Spanish
WORLD PREMIERE
89 mins.

Screening: Sun., Sept. 11, TIFF Bell Lightbox, 11:30 am; Tue., Sept. 13, Scotiabank Theatre, 2:50 pm
Digital: Thurs., Sept. 15, digital TIFF Bell Lightbox, availability: Canada, 10 am

Eva Avila — whom you might remember from Canadian Idol, the 2017 TV series The Bold Type or the 2018 movie Swap — appears in this film, directed by Katherine Jerkovic. The story follows a widower’s estranged daughter who shows up with a grandson he didn’t know about. The cast also includes Jorge Martinez Colorado and Enzo Desmeules Saint-Hilaire.

Screenshot from The Young Arsonists

Courtesy of TIFF

The Young Arsonists (Canada)

English
WORLD PREMIERE
97 mins.

Screening: Sun., Sept. 11, Scotiabank Theatre, 2:15 pm; Wed., Sept. 14, Scotiabank Theatre, 6:15 pm

Canadian opera star Measha Brueggergosman is part of the cast for this film by director
Sheila Pye. Taking place in the summertime in rural Canada in the ’80s, the film follows four teenage girls running from family trauma. The cast includes Maddy Martin, Jenna Warren, Sadie Rose, Madison Baines, Aaron Poole, Miranda Calderon, Kyle Meagher, Joe Bostick and Lorcan DaSilva-Déiseach.

Screenshot from All Too Well: The Short Film

Courtesy of TIFF

In Conversation With ... Taylor Swift and All Too Well: The Short Film (USA)

English
10 mins.

Screening: Fri., Sept. 9, TIFF Bell Lightbox, 7 pm

Taylor Swift is a late addition to the TIFF lineup. TIFF will premiere her 2021 creation, All Too Well: The Short Film — which she directed, wrote, produced and appeared in — on 35 mm. She then joins TIFF CEO Cameron Bailey to discuss filmmaking and the visual aspects of her music.

Screenshot form Black Ice

Courtesy of TIFF

Others

There’s a few other music connections to some other films. Drake and Future are among the executive producers of Black Ice, a documentary by Hubert Davis about the role of Black players in Canadian hockey. Greatest Beer Run Ever, directed by Peter Farrelly includes Zac Efron (High School Musical, Hairspray, The Greatest Showman) and Russell Crowe (also a musician), based on the true story of a wartime quest to bring back a cold one to the troops in Vietnam. Ciné-Guerrillas: Scenes from the Labudovic Reels from director Mila Turajlic, about the Algerian War for independence, includes a first-hand account of Miriam Makeba’s Ifrikya, written for the Algerian revolt. Also, in the gigantic list of expected guests attending TIFF 2022 are Mustafa and Naughty Boy, but the TIFF press office hasn’t revealed to which film they are connected.

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