The upcoming 2023 Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) is all set to be a cinematic celebration for aficionados of Indian cinema. This year’s festival lineup boasts a remarkable presence of Indian films, marking a significant milestone with the highest representation from the country in over a decade.
A total of six Indian films are set to make their premieres at TIFF, with three more films, although not Indian productions, revolving around India. Additionally, an emotional narrative will delve into the struggles faced by an Indian family in West Asia.
Meenakshi Shedde, who assumed the role of Senior Programme Advisor – South Asia at TIFF this year, expressed her gratification over the diverse range of films selected. The lineup encompasses a spectrum of genres, ranging from mainstream and regional films to documentaries and thrillers.
This remarkable showcase of Indian films at TIFF parallels the record set in 2012, when the festival featured 10 Indian films. It’s important to note that the 2012 edition was distinguished by a special curated “City to City” section that centered around Mumbai. In the subsequent years, the number of Indian films showcased had been relatively lower, with five in the previous year, three in 2021, and a sole entry in the pandemic-affected 2020 edition of the festival.
The Indian films selected for this year’s TIFF include:
- Director Karan Boolani’s “Thank You For Coming”
- Kiran Rao’s sophomore effort “Laapataa Ladies or Lost Ladies”
- Anand Patwardhan’s documentary “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam or The World is Family”
- Jayant Digambar Somalkar’s Marathi film “Sthal or A Match”
- Nikhil Nagesh Bhat’s genre film “Kill”
- Subarna Dash and Vidushi Gupta’s short animation “This is TMI”
Notably, the selection would have been more comprehensive had it not been for the withdrawal of director Honey Trehan’s “Punjab ’95,” a film centered around human rights activist Jaswant Singh Khalra’s revelations of police encounters in Punjab during the 1990s.
Beyond the aforementioned titles, the festival will also showcase a variety of films that highlight India’s cultural significance. These include veteran Indo-Canadian director Deepa Mehta’s documentary “I Am Sirat,” Tarsem Singh Dhandwar’s “Dear Jassi,” Shambhavi Kaul’s “Slow Shift,” and director Wendy Bednarz’s “Yellow Bus,” based on a real-life Indian diaspora incident in the United Arab Emirates.
The impact of the ongoing strikes in Hollywood is expected to limit the red carpet presence of Hollywood stars, creating an opportunity for Indian actors to garner greater visibility. Shedde acknowledged the merit-based selection process and expressed that the international stars attending the festival may benefit from the absence of some Hollywood luminaries due to the SAG-AFTRA strike.
The amplified presence of Indian films at TIFF is also attributed to the keen interest of TIFF’s key figures, including CEO Cameron Bailey, Chief Programming Officer Anita Lee, and Director of Programming and Platform Lead Robyn Citizen.
The 48th edition of TIFF is scheduled to commence on September 7 and will run through September 17. Meenakshi Shedde, with her extensive association with TIFF, expressed her admiration for the robust health of Indian cinema as evidenced by the diverse selection, emphasizing its resilience despite challenges.