Forget about the lack of diversity at the Academy Awards. Toronto probably has more festivals with foreign films than anywhere else in the world. The problem is there’s no one reviewing the best of these films and telling us which ones we just must see. There’s no one passing out awards here for this genre.
How else can any of us choose which films to see out of so many. Aside from Bollywood, China and Iran, how many of us know the good directors and stars?
And why should you see a film from India or China or Iran? I can understand it if you are of Indian background and interested in learning about the culture of your heritage. You might want to master the language of the film. (Most have English sub-titles too.) Or you might want to hear more about the popular culture of a country you are planning to visit.
Maybe someone in your family is dating or marrying someone from another country and you want to find out more about the thinking and customs. Maybe you want to have something to talk about with your Portuguese or Polish neighbour. Whatever the case, some films from abroad are excellent and worth seeing. Some are amateurish and terrible. How can you choose from so many?
The only website focused on different international films that we’ve found so far is: https://www.facebook.com/TorontoFilmFestivals. It says we have about 100 films festivals a year. it does make recommendations about a few films. But what about the rest?
The 2016 festivals with important foreign-themed films are: Hot Docs: Canadian International Documentary Festival: April 28-May 8: http://bit.ly/1SQFwqR, and the Toronto International Film Festival: Sept 8-18. http://tiff.net/festivals/festival15.
And then there are lots of others.
It is impossible to see all the festivals. Unless you want to cover the whole world, It is best to choose your country of interest and subscribe to a festival’s newsletter so you can get the latest possible information about its schedule. Or you might want to subscribe to the mailing list of consulates and cultural organizations in Toronto that show films. Some of these are Mexico, Japan, and Germany (Goethe Institute).
And let’s not forget Canada’s own films. Here is a sampling of film events available in our city usually each year. Be sure to mark your calendar. It’s easy to forget dates unless you do.
Canadian Film Festival: March 30-April 2: http://www.canfilmfest.ca/
Francophone Film Festival: March 31-April 9: http://2016.cinefranco.com/en/2016-festival.
Ireland: March 4-6: http://toirishfilmfest.com/
Italy: June 9-17: http://icff.ca/about-icff/ and May 9-14 (junior): http://icff.ca/junior/
Japan: Feb. 27 and 28: http://tiff.net/cinema-kabuki-winter-2016. See also the Japan Foundation: http://jftor.org/.
Jewish Film Festival: May 4 to 15. Dates are confusing: http://bit.ly/1forUAR. On February 28: Israel’s biggest box office hit of the year: http://bit.ly/1QAOKao
Latin Film and Media Arts Festival: June 2-4: http://alucinefestival.com/callforsubmissions/
Nepal: March 19 and 20: http://www.tnff.ca/tnff-2016-schedule
Punjabi International Film Festival: May 19-23: https://www.facebook.com/PIFFToronto/
April 5 days,
Syria: November 4-6. If you are involved with Syrian refugees, this one should be of interest to you: http://syff.ca/
International Film Festival of South Asia: May 19-23: on.fb.me/1RkPFst.
You might also be interested in some Toronto movie theatres that specialize in foreign language films. The Albion Cinema has films in Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, and Malayalam. It’s at 1530 Albion Rd, Etobicoke. (416) 742-1765. http://www.goldentheatres.com/
Cineplex mentions upcoming films in Mandarin, Korean, Punjabi and French: https://www.cineplex.com/Movies/ComingSoon. Beit Zatoun shows films set in Palestine, Israel and many other countries: http://beitzatoun.org/events/.
And don’t forget television like OMNI which has movies in Cantonese, Mandarin, Punjabi, Italian and many others cultures. http://www.omnitv.ca/on/en/. There are also films from China at: http://bit.ly/1Qeb1bS.
If you can find some one who gives good reviews about Toronto’s international cinema scene, please let us know.