Festival season continues with the Toronto International Festival (TIFF) kicking off today. Expect big names like Michelle Williams, Jennifer Lawrence, Taylor Swift, Harry Styles, Viola Davis, Hugh Jackman, Elizabeth Moss, Jessica Chastain, Sarah Polley, Mark Duplass, Nelly Furtado, and Ethan Hawke to be gracing the red carpet.

Running from September 8 to 18, TIFF will welcome a handful of selections to suit anyone’s liking. Below are some of our picks to check out.

Werner Herzog’s  Theatre of Thought

Werner Herzog returns to TIFF for the premiere of his new film about the human brain. He looks at the ethical, social, and philosophical implications of technology. He also looks at neurotechnology and artificial intelligence.

All the Beauty and the Bloodshed from Academy Award winner Laura Poitras (Citizenfour, Risk), covers artist Nan Goldin’s battle with the Sackler dynasty, one of the kingpins of the pharmaceuticals industry.

Charlotte Wells’ Aftersun

A father and daughter’s trip to a Turkish seaside resort is recalled first-hand by the father himself—20 years later. The film is from Scottish writer-director Charlotte Wells.

Mary Nighy’s Alice, Darling  

Anna Kendrick captures the anxious psychology of a woman in an abusive relationship as her friends try to reconnect with her while on a cottage getaway. The film makes its debut at TIFF. It also comes from Canadian Mary Nighy.
One of our top picks is Darren Aronofsky’s The Whale, an A24 release. The film stars Brendan Fraser as a 600-pound English teacher who is a recluse living with severe obesity. The man sets out to reconnect with his estranged teenage daughter to try and solve things once and for all.

Fraser will receive a Tribute Award for Performance on September 11. Harry Styles and Emma Corrin will also receive a TIFF Tribute Award as part of the cast for My Policeman.

“Brendan Fraser gives a performance of staggering depth, power, and nuance in The Whale,” said Cameron Bailey, TIFF CEO, in a press statement. “This former Torontonian has been an action star, a screen comic, and a romantic lead. We’re thrilled to welcome him home as the actor behind one of the finest performances of the year.”

Sarah Polley’s Women Talking

Marking her fourth feature, Sarah Polley’s Women Talking brings together wives, mothers, and daughters to address patriarchy and much more, and it stars Rooney Mara, Claire Foy, and Jessie Buckley. If you’ve seen Stories We Tell, you might know what to expect a bit: tender storytelling and thoughtful creativity.

In other movie news, Tippet Canada President Gary Mundell has joined forced with Toronto-based Colin Geddes of Ultra 8 Pictures. Tippet, a two-time Oscar-winning VFX vet, has worked on franchises including Jurassic Park, Star Wars, Twilight and RoboCop. Geddes has been the longstanding TIFF Midnight Madness programmer, who was also executive producer on Mad God.

A fun part of TIFF is the Bask-it-Style event, which previews a selection of VIP gift bags for celebs to enjoy while at the festival. These bags have been hand delivered to celebrities including Rachel McAdams, Pierce Brosnan, Blake Lively, Iggy Pop, Matt Damon, and Elle Fanning, to name a few. This year celebrities will get selections from Browns Shoes, DavidsTEA, Kit & Ace, SodaStream, L’Oreal, Soo’AE, Toronto Popcorn Company, REN Vodka, and the Fairmont Royal York.

Festival Street will return as well this year. Expect a lot of buzzing and excitement of people going to and from events, screening, dinners, or just those wishing to stroll and see the live action. Now in its seventh year, Festival Street, which runs from Festival Street to David Pecaut Square. More excitement will be had via King Street West between Peter Street and University Avenue.

“The excitement of the Festival is something we want to share with the entire city,” said Cameron Bailey, TIFF, CEO. “Festival Street is where everyone can enjoy and experience the excitement of the Festival and its celebration of film. Family-friendly events, great musical performances, and movies in the park — all for free — are just some highlights you can expect, and we invite everyone to join us.”

Slaight Music Stage will open up TIFF festivities starting at 7 p.m. on September 8. Cameron Bailey, Buffy Sainte-Marie, and special guests (perhaps T-Swift?) will be in attendance. Expect performances by Kardinal Offishall, Lido Pimienta, Bear Witness, and a slew of other acts.

The full set of films can be found here.

Main photo courtesy of TIFF.