16 literary adaptations to watch for at TIFF

TIFF 2019 is officially here! Check out the film versions of these books at the festival.

The 2019 Toronto International Film Festival has officially begun! Here's a list of literary-inspired films at the festival this year.

TIFF runs from Sept. 5 to 15, 2019.

American Woman

Directed by Toronto-based writer Semi Chellas, this reimagining of the Patty Hearst affair — starring Hong Chau and Sarah Gadon of Alias Grace fame — is set over a period of 11 years. The story involves a single mother who is faced with raising her grandson after her daughter goes missing under mysterious circumstances.

Based on: The 2001 novel American Woman by Susan Choi.


Québécois filmmaker Sophie Deraspe adapts the classic Greek tragedy of the same name. Set in Montreal, the film reimagines the story of a woman's quest for justice as a commentary on the immigrant experience.

Based on: The classic tragedy by Sophocles, which was written in or before 441 BC.


Briarpatch is an upcoming American anthology series that will premiere at TIFF 2019. (TIFF)

Starring Rosario Dawson, Briarpatch revolves around a woman who returns to her hometown to unravel the mystery surrounding her sister's death. The pulpy television series weaves a layered tale involving crime, secrets and revenge. 

Based on: Ross Thomas's 1984 novel of the same name.

The Burnt Orange Heresy

The Burnt Orange Heresy stars Claes Bang and Elizabeth Debicki. (TIFF)

The Burnt Orange Heresy stars Elizabeth Debicki, Donald Sutherland, Claes Bang and Mick Jagger. The film looks at a greedy and ambitious art critic who steals a prized painting and gets in over his head.

Based on: Charles Willeford's 1971 noir novel of the same name.

Color Out of Space

Color Out of Space is a 2019 science fiction horror film written and directed by Richard Stanley. (TIFF)

Color Out of Space is a science fiction horror film written and directed by Richard Stanley. Starring Nicolas Cage, Joely Richardson, Madeleine Arthur, Q'orianka Kilcher and Tommy Chong, it looks at what happens when a meteor falls to earth and lands on the property of a New England family and evil things being to happen.

Based on: The 1927 short story of the same name by H. P. Lovecraft.

The Goldfinch

In The Goldfinch, a young boy's life is upended after his mother is killed in an art gallery bombing. The coming-of-age tale of grief and guilt, reinvention and redemption stars Luke Wilson, Nicole Kidman and Sarah Paulson.

Based on: The 2013 novel of the same name by Donna Tartt.

How to Build a Girl

This coming-of-age story is based on British author Caitlin Moran’s novel. (TIFF)

In How to Build a Girl, an awkward teenager — played by Beanie Feldstein — tries to reinvent herself as a hip London music critic. The coming-of-age story also stars Chris O'Dowd, Alfie Allen and Emma Thompson.

Based on: The 2014 semi-autobiographical novel by author and journalist Caitlin Moran. 


The classic comic book villain — and Batman nemesis — the Joker gets his own film in this psychological thriller. Starring Joaquin Phoenix, Joker is about a failed funnyman named Arthur Fleck, whose descent into mental illness translates into a life of crime in Batman's hometown of Gotham City.

Based on: The Batman DC Comics series.

Just Mercy

Michael B. Jordan, Jamie Foxx and Brie Larson star in this true story of a Harvard-educated lawyer who goes to Alabama to defend the disenfranchised and wrongly condemned — including a man sentenced to death despite evidence proving his innocence.

Based on: The 2014 book of the same name by Bryan Stevenson.


Kuessipan is a fictional look at life among the Innu in rural northeastern Quebec. Starring Sharon Fontaine-Ishpatao and Yamie Grégoire, Kuessipan looks at two best friends who try to stick together as issues of race and class get in the way.

Based on: The 2013 novel of the same name by Naomi Fontaine.

Les Misérables

Les Misérables adapts the classic story to reflect modern day concerns. (TIFF)

This adaptation of the classic Victor Hugo novel is a modern look at the downtrodden citizens of France in light of contemporary issues such as rising nationalism and right-wing politics. Director Ladj Ly's first drama revolves around police and the people of a troubled suburb of Paris.

Based on: The 1862 novel of the same name by Victor Hugo.

Motherless Brooklyn

Motherless Brooklyn centres around the life of a private detective living with Tourette syndrome who ventures to solve the murder of his mentor and best friend. This 1950s-set crime drama is written, directed and produced by actor Edward Norton.

Based on: The 1999 novel of the same name by Jonathan Lethem.

Mrs. Fletcher

Mrs. Fletcher is an HBO comedy series that makes its premiere at TIFF 2019. (TIFF)

Mrs. Fletcher stars Kathryn Hahn as a single mother who rediscovers her identity after her son leaves home for college. Directed by Nicole Holofcener, Mrs. Fletcher is a dual coming-of-age story about sex and love in the age of social media.

Based on: The 2017 novel of the same name by Tom Perrotta.

Once Were Brothers

This documentary on musician Robbie Robertson was executive produced by Martin Scorsese, Brian Grazer and Ron Howard. (TIFF)

This feature documentary is a look at the life of Robbie Robertson, celebrated Indigenous musician and primary songwriter for The Band. Executive produced by Martin Scorsese, Brian Grazer and Ron Howard, the feature documentary follows Robertson from his early life in Toronto and on the Six Nations of the Grand River reserve to the creation of legendary roots-rock group.

Based on: Robbie Robertson's 2016 memoir Testimony.


Marie Curie was a French physicist and chemist who made discoveries around the nature of radioactivity. (TIFF)

Radioactive stars Rosamund Pike as two-time Nobel Prize–winning scientist Marie Curie. The biographical film, directed by Iranian-born French graphic novelist Marjane Satrapi and also starring Sam Riley and Anya Taylor-Joy, looks at the world-changing scientific discoveries she made with her husband, Pierre.

Based on: The 2010 graphic novel of the same name by Lauren Redniss.


Savages is an adaptation of author Sabri Louatah's four-volume series of the same name. (TIFF)

Directed by and starring Marina Foïs, Roschdy Zem and Amira Casar, the film is set in modern day France on the eve of its presidential elections. It weaves together a tale of family ties, crime and politics.

Based on: The four-volume series of the same name by Sabri Louatah.


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