16 book-to-movie adaptations and literary films to watch for at TIFF

Film lovers, it's TIFF time again! Check out the movie versions of these books at the festival.

Film lovers, it's TIFF time again! Here's a comprehensive list of literary inspired films at the festival this year.

TIFF runs from Sept. 6 to 16, 2018.


​What it's about: A ship carrying settlers to Mars is knocked off course, causing the consumption-obsessed passengers to ponder their place in the cosmos.

Based on: The 1956 science fiction poem written by Swedish Nobel laureate Harry Martinson

Beautiful Boy

​What it's about: This biographical drama film stars Steve Carell, Timothée Chalamet and Maura Tierney. It's based on the real-life story of meth addiction through the eyes of David Sheff, who watches his son Nic struggle with drug abuse and recovery.

Based on: The 2008 memoir Beautiful Boy by David Sheff and the 2009 memoir Tweak by Nic Sheff

If Beale Street Could Talk 

​What it's about: Director Barry Jenkins' follow-up to award-winning 2017 film Moonlight is an adaptation of the James Baldwin novel. It's about a woman fighting to free her falsely accused husband from prison before the birth of their child.

Based on: The 1974 novel of the same name by the American writer James Baldwin

Boy Erased

What it's about: This film, starring Nicole Kidman, Russell Crowe and Lucas Hedges, is about the son of a Baptist pastor being forced to attend a gay-conversion program.

Based on: The 2016 memoir of the same name by Garrard Conley

Can You Ever Forgive Me?

What it's about: Melissa McCarthy stars as Lee Israel in Can You Ever Forgive Me? based on the celebrity biographer who made her living in the 1970s and 1980s documenting the lives of names like Katharine Hepburn, Tallulah Bankhead, Estée Lauder and journalist Dorothy Kilgallen. When Israel finds herself in a financial bind, she becomes a literary forger and thief.

Based on: The 2008 memoir of the same name by Lee Israel


What it's about: Gabrielle Colette, the talented French novelist nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1948, gets the biopic treatment in this film. Keira Knightley stars as the celebrated writer who struggled for proper recognition during her career. 

First Man

What it's about: First Man is the story of Neil Armstrong, the astronaut who became the first man to walk on the Moon on July 20, 1969. The film stars Ryan Gosling, Claire Foy and Jason Clarke. 

Based on: The 2005 book of the same name by James R. Hansen

The Good Girls

What it's about: Set during the 1982 economic crisis in Mexico, this film revolves around a wealthy couple grappling with the prospects of financial uncertainty.

Based on: The 2004 novel Las Niñas Bien by María Guadalupe Loaeza

The Hate U Give

What it's about: When Starr Carter watches the police shoot and kill her best friend, her community demands action. And, as the only witness, Starr must decide if she wants to go public with what she saw — and possibly become the face of a movement.

Based on: The 2017 YA novel of the same name by Angie Thomas

Jeremiah Terminator LeRoy 

Based on a 2008 memoir, Jeremiah Terminator LeRoy stars Laura Dern and Kristen Stewart. (TIFF)

What it's about: A woman named Savannah Knoop spends six years masquerading as writer Laura Albert's literary persona JT LeRoy.

Based on: The 2008 Girl Boy Girl: How I Became JT Leroy by Savannah Knoop


What it's about: Saadat Hasan Manto was an Indo-Pakistani writer, playwright and author. This biopic explores the tumultuous life of the daring writer, considered to be the most controversial short-story writer in the Urdu language. 

A Million Little Pieces

A Million Little Pieces adapts the 2003 book by James Frey. (TIFF)

What it's about: This Sam Taylor-Johnson-directed film adapts James Frey's controversial 2003 bestseller about an drug addict who finds solace in the company of a past crime lord and a former sex worker.

Based on: The 2003 book of the same name by James Frey

The Sisters Brothers

What it's about: Two sibling assassins — Eli and Charlie Sisters — are hired to kill a prospector who has stolen from their boss. The film stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Joaquin Phoenix, John C. Reilly and Riz Ahmed.

Based on: The 2011 novel of the same name by Patrick deWitt

Tell It to the Bees

Tell It to the Bees stars Anna Paquin and Holliday Grainger. (TIFF)

What it's about: Winnipeg's Anna Paquin stars in this Annabel Jankel-directed film about a woman who finds herself growing close to the town's new female doctor in 1950s Scotland. 

Based on: The 2009 novel of the same name by Fiona Shaw.

Through Black Spruce

What it's about: Through Black Spruce, which stars Tantoo Cardinal, Brandon Oakes, Graham Greene and Tanaya Beatty, follows Annie Bird, a Cree woman from James Bay, as she travels to Toronto to locate her missing sister.

Based on: The 2008 novel of the same name by Joseph Boyden 

Vita & Virginia

What it's about: Vita & Virginia, which stars Gemma Arterton and Elizabeth Debicki, gives us the love story between Vita Sackville-West and Virginia Woolf. Their affair and friendship in the 1920s has been said to be what inspired Woolf to write Orlando.


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?