TIFF 2021 to Open with Dear Evan Hansen, Adds Tammy Faye, Bergman Island, Worst Person in the World

This year’s Toronto International Film Festival has an opener: Stephen Chbosky’s feature-film adaptation of the Tony Award–winning musical “Dear Evan Hansen” will serve as the Opening Night Gala Presentation at the 46th Toronto International Film Festival and will screen Thursday September 9 at Roy Thomson Hall. Starring Tony winner Ben Platt as Evan, along with Amy Adams, Julianne Moore, Kaitlyn Dever, Amandla Stenberg, and Nik Dodani, “Dear Evan Hansen” features songs from the original Broadway sensation.

The festival has also announced its closer, Zhang Yimou’s “One Second,” billed as “a love letter to movies and a reminder of how they can unite people, regardless of our differences,” along with a robust series of additions to both the Galas and Special Presentations slates, joining a list of already-announced titles. Standout films include the world premiere of Michael Showalter’s Jessica Chastain- and Andrew Garfield-starring “The Eyes of Tammy Faye,” Clio Barnard’s “Ali & Ava,” Barry Levinson’s “Survivor,” plus recent Cannes hits like “Bergman Island,” “Drive My Car,” “Paris, 13th District (Les Olympiades),” and “The Worst Person in the World.”

“There was no question that ‘Dear Evan Hansen’ was the ideal film to launch the Festival this year,” said Cameron Bailey, Artistic Director and Co-Head, TIFF in an official statement. “This film is ultimately about healing, forgiveness, and reaffirms how connected and essential we all are to one another. We couldn’t think of a more important idea to celebrate this year as we come together once again to share the power and joy of cinema in theatres together.”

“As TIFF resumed this year in the wake of a pandemic that marked and changed all of our lives, we felt it was important to open this year’s festival with a film that connects to our shared humanity and that reminds us how deeply we need one another, need to be seen by one another, especially in times of loneliness and despair,” added Joana Vicente, Executive Director and Co-Head, TIFF.

On September 9, TIFF will kick off its 10-day event with over 100 films in its Official Selection, many of which will be announced later this summer. This year’s festival will include in-person screenings at TIFF Bell Lightbox, Roy Thomson Hall, the Visa Screening Room at the Princess of Wales Theatre, and Festival Village at the iconic Ontario Place.

While it’s currently unclear how many out-of-town visitors the festival, which launched a hybrid version last year, will be able to host in September, Canada announced this week that fully vaccinated travelers would be able to enter the country starting on August 9.

“Some of the year’s biggest films will screen at TIFF this year,” added Bailey. “We’re thrilled to announce these films as Galas and Special Presentations. Our programming team has been hard at work for months searching for the most compelling stories, acclaimed filmmakers, and top onscreen talent that comprise two of TIFF’s highest-profile sections.”

Check out the list of both new and previous additions below.


*previously announced

*”Belfast,” Kenneth Branagh | United Kingdom, World Premiere

“Clifford the Big Red Dog,” Walt Becker | USA/United Kingdom/Canada, World Premiere

“Dear Evan Hansen,” Stephen Chbosky | USA, World Premiere

“The Electrical Life of Louis Wain,” Will Sharpe | United Kingdom, Canadian Premiere

“The Eyes of Tammy Faye” Michael Showalter | USA, World Premiere

"The Eyes of Tammy Faye"

“The Eyes of Tammy Faye”


*”Jagged,” Alison Klayman | USA, World Premiere

*”Last Night in Soho,” Edgar Wright | United Kingdom, North American Premiere

*”The Mad Women’s Ball (Le Bal des folles),” Mélanie Laurent | France, World Premiere

*”Night Raiders,” Danis Goulet | Canada/New Zealand, North American Premiere

“One Second,” Zhang Yimou | China, North American Premiere

“The Survivor,” Barry Levinson | USA/Canada/Hungary, World Premiere


*previously announced

“Ali & Ava,” Clio Barnard | United Kingdom, North American Premiere

“All My Puny Sorrows,” Michael McGowan | Canada, World Premiere

*”Benediction,” Terence Davies | United Kingdom, World Premiere

“Bergman Island,” Mia Hansen-Løve | France, International Premiere

*”Charlotte,” Eric Warin, Tahir Rana | Canada/France/Belgium, World Premiere

*”Dionne Warwick: Don’t Make Me Over,” Dave Wooley, David Heilbroner | USA, World Premiere

“Drive My Car,” Ryusuke Hamaguchi | Japan, North American Premiere

“Encounter,” Michael Pearce | United Kingdom/USA, International Premiere

*”The Guilty,” Antoine Fuqua | USA, World Premiere

“I’m Your Man,” Maria Schrader | Germany, North American Premiere

“Inexorable,” Fabrice du Welz | Belgium/France, International Premiere

“Bergman Island”

*”Lakewood,” Phillip Noyce | Canada, World Premiere

“The Middle Man,” Bent Hamer | Norway/Canada/Germany/Denmark World Premiere

“Official Competition (Competencia Oficial),” Mariano Cohn, Gastón Duprat | Spain/Argentina, North American Premiere

“Paris, 13th District (Les Olympiades),” Jacques Audiard | France, North American Premiere

*”Petite Maman,” Céline Sciamma | France, Canadian Premiere

*”The Starling,” Theodore Melfi | USA, World Premiere

“The Story of My Wife,” Ildikó Enyedi | Hungary/Germany/Italy/France, North American Premiere

“Three Floors (Tre Piani),” Nanni Moretti | Italy/France, North American Premiere

“Violet,” Justine Bateman | USA, International Premiere

“The Worst Person In The World (Verdens Verste Menneske),” Joachim Trier | Norway/France/Sweden/Denmark, North American Premiere

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