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TIFF Playlist: Movie-Themed Music To Kill Time In The Rush Line

All expert festival-goers know it: if you’re travelling to the Toronto International Film Festival, you’re going to be spending some time standing in lines. The upside is that it’s September in Toronto—it’s still warm, there are plenty of patios to hit up between movies, and the atmosphere in the city is amazing. There’s no better time to be in Toronto than during TIFF. Still, there are those lines. Solution: the perfect movie-themed playlist for lineup listening. We built ours from songs taken from movies that have screened at the festival over the past few years. Go ahead and steal it for yourself or add to it and make it your own.

“Buffalo” – Alt-J feat. Mountain Man

2012’s TIFF People’s Choice Award-winner Silver Linings Playbook will forever be tied to one song: Stevie Wonder’s “My Cherie Amour.” But that song’s been known to trigger some serious rage in people (see: Bradley Cooper’s Wonder-induced meltdown at his therapist’s office) so check out this chill Alt-J track instead and avoid terrifying your fellow festivalers.

“Touch Me I’m Going To Scream (Pt. 2)” – My Morning Jacket

Jake Gyllenhaal is a tragedy-struck investment banker who deals with grief in incomprehensible and alienating ways in director Jean-Marc Vallée’s Demolition. The movie premiered at TIFF in 2015. Upbeat and dark at the same time, “Touch Me I’m Going To Scream” is the perfect theme song to sum up a character fumbling to reconnect with normalcy in ways that are both funny and totally freaky.

“Don’t Think” – The Chemical Brothers

The music in 2010 TIFF film Black Swan is mostly Tchaikovsky (obviously). To mix things up, director Darren Aronofsky, who places a lot of importance on film soundtracks, asked The Chemical Brothers to lend a song to the club scene in which Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis’ characters go on a bit of a ballerinas-gone-wild bender. Save this song for when you’re waiting to see a Midnight Madness screening/your fourth film of the day and need to recharge.

“Gold Digger” – Kanye West ft. Jamie Foxx

Keep the high-energy vibes going with classic Kanye. 2004 TIFF film Ray featured Jamie Foxx in the title role playing Ray Charles in this biography of the musician’s life. Kanye’s “Gold Digger” heavily samples Charles’ “I Got A Woman” and features Foxx singing backup.

“Festival” -Sigur Ros

Could there be a more appropriately titled track on this list? From the extremely extreme rock-climbing survival flick 127 Hours (a 2010 TIFF Canadian premiere) starring James Franco, this song is the one you want in your headphones when the doors to the theatre open and the race for the best seat begins.

“Because” – Elliot Smith

Smith’s Beatles cover was featured in the Grammy-nominated soundtrack for the 1999 TIFF People’s Choice Award-winner American Beauty. Listen to it to find answers to those esoteric films that leave you asking ‘But why?’

“Starman” – David Bowie


Not to be confused with Matt Damon’s 2014 stranded astronaut film Interstellar, Matt Damon’s 2015 stranded astronaut movie The Martian had its world premiere at TIFF. Of course it included a space-themed Bowie song on it’s soundtrack—it’d be wrong not to.

“Tainted Love/Where Did Our Love Go?” – Soft Cell

Director Ben Wheatley is a festival favourite. Since his second feature film, Kill List, screened in Toronto in 2011, each of his subsequent movies have made a stop at TIFF. Sightseers, his funniest film, features this early ‘80s Gloria Jones cover. The movie opens with Soft Cell’s version and closes to the Jones original. Watch the movie and you’ll understand why.

“My Girl” – The Temptations

“My Girl” has the distinction of being featured in two very different TIFF films, shot over three decades apart: one about a group thirty-something, self-indulgent sops (The Big Chill) and another about warring factions of cold-hearted, tech-obsessed Russian killers (Hardcore Henry). A song that versatile deserves a spot on any playlist.

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