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9 Female-Forward Films Coming To TIFF 2019


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Slowly but surely, it seems like we’re getting better at representing women behind the scenes, and specifically behind the camera. That’s definitely apparent with this year’s TIFF lineup, which includes more than 100 entries helmed by female directors.

But to consider a movie truly female-forward, it has to have more than a female director on board. We’re interested in stories about a woman’s full experience, that provide compelling content and interesting subject matter too. Luckily, TIFF isn’t short on those kinds of flicks either.

These nine entries aren’t just directed by women, they feature the type of stories we want to hear more of from Hollywood.


1. Portrait Of A Lady On Fire

Director: Céline Sciamma

What’s it about: They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but what about a portrait? This 18th century drama revolves around the unusual relationship forged between a painter (Noémie Merlant) and her subject matter, a betrothed girl named Héloïse (Adèle Haenel). As they their bond deepens and they learn to open up to each other, societal conventions and expectations threaten to intervene.


2. The Kingmaker

Director: Lauren Greenfield

What’s it about: This fascinating doc explores themes of corruption, affluence and power through the lens of its subject, Imelda Marcos—the former first lady of the Philippines. Although her husband, Ferdinand Marcos, was ousted in 1986 following scandal and corruption, the woman still lives as though she holds her former title today.


3. Tammy’s Always Dying

Director: Amy Jo Johnson

What’s it about: The film traces the complex relationship between a mother and daughter when alcoholism, cancer and escapism play a role. Anastasia Phillips and Felicity Huffman play the respective daughter-mother duo in question, with Clark Johnson, Lauren Holly, Aaron Ashmore, Kristian Bruun and Jessica Greco rounding out the cast.


4. American Woman

Director: Semi Chellas

What’s it about: This fictionalized retelling of the Patty Hearst affair features Sarah Gadon as the title character, who was kidnapped in 1974 by a group of political activists and eventually subscribed to their beliefs. This take in particular follows a twentysomething radical (Hong Chau) who is tasked with taking care of Hearst and a group of other American fugitives.


5. How To Build A Girl

Director: Coky Giedroyc

What’s it about: This coming-of-age story revolves around Johanna Morrigan (Beanie Feldstein), an awkward teen whose ambitions of reinventing herself to become a London music critic lead to complicated self-discoveries. Chris O’Dowd, Emma Thomson and Paddy Considine also star.


6. Hustlers

Director: Lorene Scafaria

What’s it about: This star-studded affair (seriously, J-Lo, Constance Wu, Cardi B, Keke Palmer and Julia Stiles are on board) is based on the New York Magazine article that chronicled a crew of strippers who banded together to take down their Wall Street clients.


7. Radioactive

Director: Marjane Satrapi

What’s it about: When it comes to women in sciences, you can’t help but think of Marie Curie and her two Nobel Prizes. This biopic stars Rosamund Pike and delves into Curie’s life and her ground-breaking discoveries, making it an applause-worthy selection for this year’s closing-night film.


8. Clemency

Director: Chinonye Chukwu

What’s it about: Alfre Woodard’s turn as a death row prison warden dealing with the psychological fallout of her job is the stuff Oscar nominations are made of. As professional as she can be on the job, spending your days with men getting ready to die has got to take a toll on anyone. Wendell Pierce, Aldis Hodge and Richard Schiff also star.


9. Harriet

Director: Kasi Lemmons

What’s it about: We’re not in the market for another film about slavery, but there is a need to recreate Harriet Tubman’s iconic legacy and to tell the importance of her story. Cynthia Erivo is up to that task in this biopic that’s ripped from the pages of history.

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