Stephen Chbosky’s Dear Evan Hansen to open TIFF

Chinese filmmaker Zhang Yimou’s drama One Second will be the closing night film.

Our Correspondent

Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) co-heads Cameron Bailey and Joana Vicente have announced that the feature-film adaptation of the Tony Award–winning musical Dear Evan Hansen by Stephen Chbosky is the Opening Night Gala Presentation at the 46th edition of the festival.

The film will be screened on Thursday, 9 September, at Roy Thomson Hall.

Dear Evan Hansen is the story of a high-school senior who has a debilitating anxiety disorder.  His private letter to himself, which is part of a therapy exercise, lands in the hands of a fellow classmate, with tragic consequences. The incident propels Evan on a journey of self-discovery that leads him toward belonging and acceptance, not only among the people who love him but also by Evan himself. The film stars Ben Platt as Evan, Amy Adams, Julianne Moore, Kaitlyn Dever, Amandla Stenberg and Nik Dodani.

“There was no question that Dear Evan Hansen was the ideal film to launch the festival this year,” said Bailey, artistic director and co-head, TIFF. “This film is ultimately about healing, forgiveness, and reaffirms how connected and essential we all are to one another. We couldn’t think of a more important idea to celebrate this year as we come together once again to share the power and joy of cinema in theatres together.”

“As TIFF resumed this year in the wake of a pandemic that marked and changed all of our lives, we felt it was important to open this year’s festival with a film that connects to our shared humanity and that reminds us how deeply we need one another, need to be seen by one another, especially in times of loneliness and despair,” said Vicente.

The Closing Night Gala Film is Zhang Yimou’s One Second, the latest offering from the Chinese director. The film tells the story of a travelling film projectionist and an escaped prisoner who connect through cinema. It is a love letter to movies and a reminder of how they can unite people, regardless of our differences.

The festival has announced the first titles selected for the festival’s gala and special presentation programmes. This list from the 2021 official selection features 10 galas and 22 special presentations. The festival is being held from 9-18 September 2021.

Films such as Ali & Ava by British writer-director Clio Barnard, Lakewood by Phillip Noyce and The Eyes of Tammy Faye by Michael Showalter will be screened as special presentations while Will Sharpe's The Electrical Life of Louis Wain, Mélanie Laurent's The Mad Women's Ball and Edgar Wright's Last Night in Soho will be showcased as gala presentations.

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Toronto International Film Festival