This year's TIFF lineup is stacked with movies directed by women

Here are seven we're dying to see.
<i>Girl Unbound</i> tells the story of Maria Toorpakai, who defies threats from Islamic fundamentalists to herself and her family to compete as an international competitive squash player for Pakistani. Courtesy of TIFF. Girl Unbound tells the story of Maria Toorpakai, who defies threats from Islamic fundamentalists to compete as a competitive squash player for Pakistan. Photo, courtesy of TIFF.

The world's largest public film festival has officially begun in Toronto, and the lineup is as diverse as its home city. The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) is being applauded for its inclusivity, with record-breaking numbers of female filmmakers and stories that highlight different sexual orientations, identities, cultures and family backgrounds. Of the nearly 400 movies scheduled, 117 are directed by women, and 83 countries (up from 71 last year) are represented. Artistic director Cameron Bailey also noted that more than half the programmers, those responsible for selecting the lineup, are women.

This year, there are seven films with feminist themes, 15 focusing on discrimination, 12 featuring LGTBQ stories, 14 looking at gender, sexuality and identity and 64 about female experiences. And, for the first time ever, seven female directors will premiere their films at the festival's high-profile gala presentations – where many Oscar contenders are screened. Here are their stories.

A United Kingdom film, premiering at TIFF. Starring Rosamund Pike and David Oyelowo Courtesy of TIFF.

A United Kingdom Director: Amma Asante Starring: Rosamund Pike and David Oyelowo

Asante's film follows the real-life story of Sir Seretse Khama, the first president of Botswana, and his controversial interracial marriage to British banker Ruth Williams. It's a forbidden love story, with objections from both their families and countries, that eventually ends in the independence movement for all of Botswana.

Queen of Katwe starring Lupita Nyong'o Courtesy of TIFF.


Queen of Katwe Director: Mira Nair Starring: Lupita Nyong’o, David Oyelowo

Ten-year-old Phiona Metsi helps her mother sell corn at the market every day, but after a missionary introduces her to chess, Phiona is determined to become an international champion and support her family and community.

Edge of Seventeen starring Hailee Steinfeld and Woody Harrelson Courtesy of TIFF.

The Edge of Seventeen Director: Kelly Fremon Craig Starring: Hailee Steinfeld, Woody Harrelson

Nadine's high school life is already torture, but it hits an all-time low when her best friend starts dating her perfect older brother. The only person who might understand her is her wry history teacher, played by Woody Harrelson. It's the teen angst dramedy of this generation.

Their Finest movie TIFF Courtesy of TIFF.

Their Finest Director: Lone Scherfig Starring: Gemma Arterton, Bill Nighy, Jack Huston, Richard E. Grant

Catrin Cole, a British scriptwriter during World War II, is in charge of putting a female perspective on government war films in order to boost morale during the Blitz. Come for the all-star British cast, stay for the film about a film that's actually a romantic comedy and period piece rolled into one.

Photojournalist movie TIFF Courtesy of TIFF.

The Journey is the Destination Director: Bronwen Hughes Starring: Ben Schnetzer


Hughes tells the real-life story of the late photojournalist Dan Eldon, a Kenyan artist, activist and the youngest journalist Reuters ever hired. The biopic follows Eldon's short life as he skips college to document brutal civilian killings in Somalia and life in refugee camps there.

Strange Weather at TIFF starring Holly Hunter Courtesy of TIFF.

Strange Weather Director: Katherine Dieckmann Starring: Holly Hunter

50-something Darcy Baylor has never truly recovered after her son's suicide years ago. After finding out an old college friend has stolen her business idea for his thriving restaurant chain, Baylor packs up and drives to New Orleans to confront him.

Planetarium starring Natalie Portman and Lily Rose Depp Courtesy of TIFF.


Planetarium Director: Rebecca Zlotowski Starring: Natalie Portman, Lily-Rose Depp

It's 1930s Paris, and two American psychic sisters are touring Europe, communicating with the dead for live audiences, when a French producer wants to shoot them for his film project.


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