TIFF has wrapped up another year of film premieres and events, although 2023 felt a bit different, with less of the talent behind the films able to promote them due to the SAG-AFTRA strike, which has been going on since May 2. Nevertheless, programming and parties ensued. Here is what went down.

Dumb Money, a comedy about the GameStop and Wall Street fiasco, received nods for its clever screenplay. The film takes us back to 2021 when common folk took control of the stock market and made GameStop one of the most sought-after stocks, also saving AMC Entertainment from bankruptcy in the process. Directed by Craig Gillespie, the film stars Pete Davidson, America Ferrera, Nick Offerman, Sébastien Stan, Shailene Woodley, Seth Rogen, and Vincent D’Onoforio. The film will make its public release come September 29.

Origin, a new film from director Ava DuVernay, premiered at Roy Thomson Hall. The film saw the cast and crew travel to India, Berlin, and the American South to capture the footage in order to chronicle American journalist and author Isabel Wilkerson.

CTV’s The Social’s Jess Allen starred in This is Not About Swimming as part of the Short Cuts section of the festival. The short film also features one of Canada’s comedic gems, Emma Hunter, who plays Allen’s sister. Premised on a woman in the midst of a breakdown, the debut from Marti Van Dyk follows along as Allen learns how to swim while coping with tragedy.

Oscar-winner Barry Jenkins and TIFF director Cameron Bailey presented the TIFF Ebert Director Award to the acclaimed Mr. Spike Lee. As part of the TIFF Tribute Awards gala (held at the Fairmont Royal York), the award, named after film critic Roger Ebert, highlights filmmakers who have demonstrated exceptional filmmaking in their careers. Lee now joins the ranks of other iconic directors like Martin Scorsese, Denis Villeneuve, Sam Mendes, and Ava DuVernay. Some of Lee’s most enjoyed films include Do the Right Thing, Malcolm X, BlacKkKlansmanm, and She’s Gotta Have It.

Ethan Hawke premiered Wildcat, which stars his daughter Maya Hawke. The film is a love letter to the work of American author and short story writer Flannery O’Connor.

Patricia Arquette brought audiences along for her premiere of Gonzo Girl, which follows an assistant dealing with, as Variety puts it, “a Hunter S. Thompson-like” writer played by Willem Dafoe. Debauchery and aristry ensues.

Anna Kendrick scored big with Women of the Hour, a thriller about serial killer Rodney Alcala, which Netflix snagged up for $11 million.

Viggo Mortensen’s Civil War drama The Dead Don’t Hurt also received acclaim.

Lil Nas X was one of the performers at this year’s festivities, accompanying the release of Lil Nas X: Long Live Montero, which follows the entertainer as he performs in his first world concert. The event started with a real bomb scare, which wasn’t great, but the show went on.

Talking Heads debuted their concert film Stop Making Sense and won the honour of being Imax’s highest-grossing live event.

Swedish director Niclas Larsson’s feature Mother, Couch made its debut at TIFF 2023. Starring Ewan McGregor and Ellen Burstyn, the film takes place in a furniture store and is all about motherhood. It is based on the book Mamma I Soffa by Jerker Virdborg.

If you caught Mindy Kaling’s The Sex Life of College Kids, then you will be aware of the talent of Amrit Kaur. The Toronto actor is now gaining more recognition thanks to her role in Fawzia Mirza’s film The Queen of My Dreams, where she plays a queen Muslim student who returns home to Pakistan following the death of her father. She also doubles in the role of her mother and plays the younger version of her. Kaur was named a 2023 TIFF Rising Star. Check out this interview Kaur did with Toronto Life.

Hayao Miyazaki’s The Boy and the Heron is his first animated feature in a decade, and the film has received much praise at TIFF. The premiere was sold out.

Jamie Foxx and Tommy Lee Jones star in the legal drama Burial, which is based on a true story of one family trying to hold onto their funeral home. The film is directed by Maggie Betts.

Finally, writer-director Cord Jefferson’s satire film American Fiction, which is about an African-American novelist fighting the system that represses Black storytelling, is another one to make note of.