Must-See International Films at TIFF 2019

Watch These Films From Around The World Playing at TIFF

There are so many notable films playing at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival — TIFF 2019. Below is a list of ten international films to expose yourself to new global perspectives.


Country: France, Senegal, Belgium

Language: Wolof

Told in the language of Wolof, a language of Senegal, the Gambia and Mauritania, the film is about marginalized lovers in Senegal desperately seeking a better life by any means necessary. Atlantics is a Cannes Grand-Prix winning feature and is directed by Paris-born actress and director Mati Diop. After winning the Jury Grand Prize at Cannes, she became the first Black woman to win an award in the French festival’s 72-year history. The love story is influenced by politics, migration, and how love and loss haunts us all. Click here to watch a clip from the movie.

“37 Seconds”

Country: Japan, USA

Language: Japanese

Directed by Japanese female director, HIKARI, her first feature debut (which has already won the Berlinale Audience Award) is finally making its Canadian premiere. The film centers on a young Japanese woman with cerebral palsy who is torn between her obligations to her family and her own dreams to become a successful manga artist. Although she can’t walk, she can still draw. Themes of empowerment, family protection, and self-discovery are present throughout. To learn more, click here.


Country: Morocco, France, Belgium

Language: Arabic

This Arabic film features celebrated actor, Maryam Touzani, who steps behind the camera and directs her first feature film. She tells a story about the lives of two vulnerable women in Casablanca – one pregnant and homeless, the other widowed and bereft. The importance of support between women is clearly evident and shines during the entirety of the film. Following the second screening of Adam, Janice Stein, the Founding Director at Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy, will be joining Touzani for an onstage discussion about the film. Watch a clip from the film here


Country: China

Language: Tibetan

Balloon tells a story about a family struggling against spirituality, politics, nature, and free will. The film is set against the beautiful planes of Tibet and offers viewers a brand new perspective in another part of the world.  In Balloon, two boys have found their parents’ stash of new condoms and believe that they are simply oblong balloons. The Chinese government has instituted quotas on family size and it affects this family very much so. Questions arise regarding a woman’s duty in traditional and highly religious communities – to learn more about this film, watch the trailer here.


Country: South Africa, Luxembourg, Germany

Language: Afrikaans & English

Jenna Bass, a well known South African director, directs Flatland, a film centred on two women on the run. Following the murder of her husband, a young woman and her best friend flee their homes in this “neo-noir western feminist road movie”, clearly grounded in the gender, racial, and class issues in South Africa. Watch the trailer here.

“So Long, My Son”

Country: China

Language: Mandarin

The North American premiere of Wang Xiaoshuai’s project is finally here. The film took four years in the making and spans three decades in Chinese history. So Long, My Son is about a married couple that attempts to live after the untimely death of their young son, in addition with the nonstop changes from the Chinese society (the new socialist market economy). Themes of mourning, parenthood, separating private and political – click here to watch the trailer.


Country: India

Language: Malayalam

Dive into Malayalam cinema with Jallikatu, a portrait film of a remote village in which a buffalo escapes and causes ecstatic violence and demonstrates humanity’s capacity for savagery. The film takes place in Kerala, India and is based on a story by S. Hareesh; the title a reference to a traditional spectacle in which individuals attempt to wrangle a bull. This apocalyptic film exposes out dark desires and vulnerability to the “ungovernable vagaries of nature”. Learn more about the film here.

“Made in Bangladesh”

Country: France, Bangladesh, Denmark, Portugal

Language: Bengali & English

The world premiere of Made in Bangladesh is about the story of a Dhaka woman who attempts to unionize her garment factory workplace after being approached by a union advocate who educated her on women workers’ rights. Immediately, ugly walls of resistance arise. Director Rubaiyat Hossain aims to tell a story not only about exploitation in Bangladesh, but also empowerment. Learn more about the film here.

“The Invisbile Life of Eurídice Gusmão”

Country: Brazil, Germany

Language: Portuguese

This film was the winner of the Un Certain Regard award at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival. Set in mid-century Rio de Janeiro is a melodrama about two sisters both trying to make their way through life. Each sister believes the other is living out her dreams half a world away, however, this is not the case. A classic tale of the black sheep finding herself to finally be truly seen while the ostensibly good daughter becomes invisible – this beautiful film is one to watch. Watch the trailer here.

“You Will Die at Twenty”

Country: Sudan, France, Egypt, Germany, Norway, Qatar

Language: Arabic

The North American premiere from Sudanese director Amjad Abu Alala tells the story of a child as he and his mother navigate life together. Instead of receiving a blessing on the day of her firstborn child’s naming ceremony, he was given a curse – proclaimed to die at 20. This is a “coming-of-death” story and offers a new perspective on life, time, and what it truly means to be alive. Learn more about the film here.