Showbiz / A Roundup Of Our Top TIFF 2017 Highlights

A Roundup Of Our Top TIFF 2017 Highlights

Showbiz Mar 02, 2018

Looking back on the big moments and movies at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival with our top TIFF 2017 highlights.

Star Gazing

Our Top TIFF 2017 Highlights
Our Top TIFF 2017 Highlights: Priyanka Chopra chats with TIFF Artistic Director Cameron Bailey at the annual TIFF Soirée. Photo Credit: GP Images/WireImage for TIFF

Early September always sees a plethora of Hollywood’s finest walking the streets of Toronto. This year, that group included the likes of Jessica Chastain (here to promote Molly’s Game and Woman Walks Ahead), Margot Robbie (I, Tonya), Matt Damon (Downsizing, Suburbicon), Jennifer Lawrence (mother!) and oh so many more. But for us (and, granted, we may be slightly biased), no one owned the red carpet like Priyanka Chopra. She was in town for two reasons: One, as one of the producers of Pahuna: The Little Visitors, a modern-day fairy tale about three Nepalese kids making their way through the state of Sikkim after being separated from their parents at the Indian border. Helmed by actor turned director Paakhi A. Tyrewala (star of Jhoota Hi Sahi), the film received a standing ovation on opening night.

But since she was in the neighbourhood, TIFF organizers thought it might also be a good idea to make Chopra their guest of honour at the annual TIFF Soirée, a pre-festival night of cocktails and in-depth celebrity conversation which raises money for charity. The cause was one close to the Bolly/Hollywood superstar’s heart: Share Her Journey, which helps promote and cultivate female talent in the film industry, on both sides of the camera.

The People’s Choice

Our Top TIFF 2017 Highlights
Our Top TIFF 2017 Highlights: Frances McDormand plays a vengeful mother in People’s Choice winner Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. Photo Credit:

The People’s Choice, TIFF’s audience-awarded top prize, has traditionally presaged Oscar glory. This year, that honour went to a somewhat unexpected choice in the form of Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, the latest loquacious comic crime drama from Irish auteur Martin McDonagh. It’s the story of a small-town Midwest woman (Frances McDormand) who, angered by the lack of progress in solving her daughter’s murder, needles the local cops (Woody Harrelson, Sam Rockwell) by buying space on local billboards and airing her frustrations publicly. When it does arrive in theatres this November, expect crackling dialogue and another electric performance from Rockwell (who previously stole the show in McDonagh’s last delightfully pitch-black crime dramedy, Seven Psychopaths).

The South Asian Connection

Our Top TIFF 2017 Highlights: Naseeruddin Shah co-stars in director Bornila Chatterjee’s sumptuous reimagining of Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus. Photo Credit:

There were only a handful of South Asian flicks at this year’s fest, including the aforementioned Pahuna, as well as Anurag Kashyap’s energetic boxing drama The Brawler, Hansal Mehta’s dark delve into terrorism, Omertà, and the King’s Speech-ian true story Victoria and Abdul, starring Judi Dench and Ali Fazal.

The most striking of this year’s SA slate was The Hungry, a U.K.-India co-production that reimagines Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus as a modern-day revenge tale, wherein a grieving mother (the great Tisca Chopra) seeks revenge on the ruthless businessman (the also-great Naseerudin Shah) who killed her son. Her plan? Agree to marry her intended target’s son (Arjun Gupta of The Magicians) and then use the wedding day as an opportunity to kill the man and his entire family. Visually enthralling and benefitting from a pair of stellar lead performances, director Bornila Chatterjee’s second feature film — like the burgeoning young director herself — is one to watch out for.

Biggest Letdown

Our Top TIFF 2017 Highlights
Our Top TIFF 2017 Highlights: Julianne Moore and Matt Damon in Suburbicon. Photo Credit:

When George Clooney comes to TIFF with a film he directed, based on an old script written by his frequent collaborators the Coen Brothers and starring Matt Damon, expectations are understandably high. But that inherent buzz has been all but obliterated in the film’s festival run, with various critics opining that Clooney’s satirical suburban crime drama is a tonal mess, one sorely lacking the Coen Brothers’ ineffable vision and wit.

Best of the Fest

Our Top TIFF 2017 Highlights
Our Top TIFF 2017 Highlights: Willem Dafoe and young breakout star Brooklynn Prince in festival favourite The Florida Project. Photo Credit:

Director Sean Baker first arrived on the scene with Tangerine, the gritty, micro-budget urban saga of a prostitute hunting down her pimp on Christmas Eve. Two years after that auspicious debut, Baker returns with The Florida Project, one of the most-buzzed films at this year’s festival; take it from us, it lives up to the hype. The biggest name in the cast is Willem Dafoe, who plays the manager of a low-rent Florida motel. But the film belongs to Brooklynn Prince, a pint-sized newcomer who utterly anchors the film as six-year-old Moonee, who lives at the hotel with her tragic trainwreck of a mother. Ironically dubbed the Magic Kingdom, it’s a place mired in poverty and disappointment, but Moonee couldn’t be the wiser, embarking on daily adventures with a gaggle of other motel-dwelling friends, oblivious as the lives of the grown-ups slowly disintegrate. It’s raw, it’s hilarious and it’s deeply affecting. Look for it in October.


Main Image Photo Credit: GP Images/WireImage for TIFF



Matthew Currie

Matthew Currie


A long-standing entertainment journalist, Currie is a graduate of the Professional Writing program at Toronto’s York University. He has spent the past number of years working as a freelancer for ANOKHI and for diverse publications such as Sharp, TV Week, CAA’s Westworld and BC Business. Currie ...


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