Your last-minute TIFF20 FAQ

Mark Wahlberg in GOOD JOE BELL

The 2020 Toronto International Film Festival starts in just a few days, but for regular festival attendees like me, the reality of TIFF20 has not quite set in. The reasons for that … well, they’ll be clear when you read on. 

For those who follow TIFF, or film festivals, or cinema itself, here’s a brief TIFF20 FAQ. 

When is the festival? It starts on Thursday, September 10, and runs through Sunday, September 20.

Are all of the films digital? Nope. In addition to online screenings of TIFF’s digital platform, the festival will offer films at venues like the TIFF Bell Lightbox and even some drive-ins. 

Great! Is the public allowed to buy tickets? Well, yes, but digital film screenings for the public will be available in Canada only.

Wait — so Americans can’t watch? Sadly, the screenings are geoblocked, except for accredited press. (I am pleased to be part of that group.)

If I can’t watch any of the films from America … then why should I be interested? It’s simple. The films that screen at TIFF become some of the most important and talked about releases of the fall and winter — and beyond. And even though the TIFF20 lineup features just fifty films, you can rest assured there will be some major-league entries among that fifty. 

What are this year’s most buzzed-about selections? Some selections are already receiving buzz; I covered ten here

And what are some under-the-radar picks I should expect to be hearing about? Glad you asked. Here are five that stand out:

  • Another Round: The great Mads Mikkelsen in a film about a middle-aged alcoholic, directed by The Celebration’s Thomas Vinterberg? Yep, I’m in. 
  • Good Joe Ball: It is rare these days to see Mark Wahlberg in a role that does not involve wielding handguns or broad comedy. Brokeback Mountain screenwriters Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana authored this film about bullying. 
  • Limbo: Sometimes a plot summary on the TIFF site just grabs you: "A Syrian asylum-seeker finds himself in a purgatorial state on a remote Scottish island." Sounds like an offbeat festival treat. 
  • Violation: This Midnight Madness selection is the debut feature from short film vets Madeleine Sims-Fewer and Dusty Mancinelli. It’s said to be a "hypnotic" horror film about betrayal.
  • Wildfire: The repressed trauma shared by two Irish sisters is the focus of Cathy Brady’s debut feature. 

Interesting! So … what does this all mean for TIFF21? Beats me. But I know I’ll be there — whatever it looks like.

Find the schedule of films and events at Also, TIFF offers its own FAQ here. And watch for reviews from me on The Film Stage and updates here on


Christopher Schobert writes about movies and more for Buffalo Spree and He also regularly contributes to The Film Stage ( Follow him on Twitter at @FilmSwoon.

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