Hustlers. Honey Boy. How To Build A Girl. Harriet.
They’re not just alliterative titles, or highly anticipated movies based on true stories, or films starring Shia LaBeouf as his dad. (Okay, that’s just Honey Boy.) Like many of the most interesting offerings at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival, they’re also all directed by women.
Many film festivals claim to be committed to diversity and inclusion. Few succeed in translating those goals into concrete action on the ground. Last month, Venice International Film Festival director Alberto Barbera responded to criticism about the persistent lack of women in that festival’s lineup by claiming that “women directors are unfortunately still a minority.”
That’s true, of course. But as the TIFF 2019 roster proves, there’s still more than enough valuable and interesting work to be found — if you care enough to look for it. Half of the movies on the festival’s Gala lineup have female directors, a record number for the festival, with more still featured in the Special Presentations and Documentary categories. And while those numbers would be encouraging on their own, the breadth of storytelling reflected in these films is what makes this year especially exciting.
Movies by women don’t fit into a single genre, or theme. On this list, you’ll find animated comedies (Abominable), celebrations of real-life heroes (Harriet), LGBTQ-focused dramas (Portrait of A Lady On Fire), coming of age stories (How To Build A Girl) supernatural romances (Atlantics), explorations of identity (Hala), and family sagas (Blow The Man Down). Marielle Heller’s biopic about Fred Rogers and his friendship with journalist Tom Junod (A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood) sits right alongside Marjane Satrapi’s adaptation of a graphic novel about Nobel Prize-winner Marie Curie (Radioactive).
Some of these films are in English, others in French, Arabic, or Hindi. They follow men and women of different nationalities, religions and ethnic backgrounds. But all of them tell stories you won’t want to miss out on. Click through for some of the movies by women we can’t wait to catch at TIFF, and beyond, this year.