18 book-to-screen adaptations to watch for at TIFF
In 2021, the Toronto International Film Festival features both physical and digital screenings due to pandemic precautions. Check out these films inspired by books this year.
TIFF runs from Sept. 9 to Sept. 18, 2021.
All My Puny Sorrows
Based on: The novel All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews
This adaptation of Miriam Toews' beloved novel about two sisters stars Alison Pill and Sarah Gadon. All My Puny Sorrows revolves around tragedy and trauma surrounding the women of the Von Riesen clan: writer Yoli, who's tormented by self-doubt and is going through a tough, protracted divorce — and her sister Elf, a well-known concert pianist whose bouts with depression threaten to consume her.
The novel All My Puny Sorrows won the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize in 2014 and was shortlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize the same year.
Based on: The novel Scarborough by Catherine Hernandez
Scarborough, based on the celebrated debut novel of the same name, revolves around themes of debt, addiction and economic insecurity through three kids in a low-income neighbourhood who find friendship and community in Scarborough, Ont.
The novel Scarborough was shortlisted for the 2017 Toronto Book Award, the 2018 Trillium Book Award and the 2018 Edmund White Award for debut fiction.
Based on: The novel Dune by Frank Herbert
The anticipated retelling of Frank Herbert's sci-fi epic featuring superpowers, sandworms and class struggle. It is directed by Montreal filmmaker Denis Villeneuve and stars Timothée Chalamet, Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Isaac, Josh Brolin, Stellan Skarsgård and Zendaya.
Drive My Car
Based on: The short story from Men Without Women by Haruki Murakami
Adapted from Haruki Murakami's short story, Drive My Car tracks two people who find the courage to face their past and humanity. The film looks at the lasting legacy of loneliness, loss and bereavement.
Tug of War
Based on: The novel Tug of War by Adam Shafi
Adapted from Adam Shafi's acclaimed historical novel, Tug of War centres on the lives of a young revolutionary and a runaway bride in 1950s Zanzibar. The film adaptation looks at the human struggle for freedoms, colonialism, liberation and romance.
Dear Evan Hansen
Based on: The novel Dear Evan Hansen by Steven Levenson
Dear Evan Hansen is a screen adaptation of a blockbuster musical, which was originally based on a book. It is the story of the titular characters' struggle with social anxiety, grief, identity and the human condition. Based on the Tony Award-winning musical, Dear Evan Hansen sees Ben Platt reprise his Broadway role as a socially anxious high school student who gets caught up in a web of deception following the death of a classmate.
Based on: The novel The Forgiven by Lawrence Osbourne
With an ensemble cast that features actors Jessica Chastain and Ralph Fiennes, The Forgiven adapts this literary tale of wealth, sin, fate, oppression and privilege set in the Moroccan desert. When a young Moroccan man trying to sell fossils by the roadside is hit by a rich couple's car, it sets of a chain of events with lies, deceit and debauchery.
The Good House
Based on: The novel The Good House by Ann Leary
Starring Sigourney Weaver and Kevin Kline, this adaptation of the Ann Leary novel looks at two ex-lovers who face renewed love and reckoning in the twilight of their lives. The comedy-drama is directed by Maya Forbes and Wally Wolodarsky.
The Mad Woman's Ball
Based on: Le bal des folles by Victoria Mas
Set in late 19th-century France, The Mad Women's Ball is a look at mental health and psychiatry through the eyes of the free-spirited protagonist Eugénie Cléry. The film explores women in a world that fears and mistrusts them.
Based on: The Tale of the Heike, Inu-Oh's Episode by Hideo Furukawa
This adaptation, set in 14th-century Japan, is an animated tale of friendship, magic and legend. It explores a legendary figure in Japanese history during a time when the folk theatre of Sarugaku was moving toward the tradition of Noh.
The Middle Man
Based on: The novel Sluk by Lars Saabye Christensen
Adapted from Lars Saabye Christensen's 2012 novel Sluk, the film The Middle Man is an absurdist and noir look at economic insecurity, tragedy and isolation — and what we often do to find our own humanity. It revolves around a small town in the American midwest that is so economically depressed that it hires a middle man to deliver bad news to people.
Based on: The novella Mothering Sunday by Graham Swift
Set after the Second World War, Mothering Sunday stars Olivia Colman and Colin Firth as an aging couple who have suffered loss and must find something to live for in a new world through a secret love. It is based on Booker Prize–winning author Graham Swift's eponymous novella.
The Power of the Dog
Based on: The novel Power of the Dog by Thomas Savage
Directed by Jane Campion, The Power of the Dog stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Kirsten Dunst. It is set in 1920s Montana as it looks at two siblings and how life changes when two strangers arrive at their ranch.
The Story of My Wife
Based on: The novel The Story of My Wife by Milán Füst
Set in the 1920s and adapted from the Hungarian poet Milán Füst's book of the same title, The Story of My Wife is based on the legend of the ghost ship the Flying Dutchman and delves into themes of romance, fate and one's place in a changing world.
Based on: The novel Shalosh Qomot by Eshkol Nevo
This complex morality tale involves the complicated lives of residents of a Rome apartment building. The characters' lives connect and collide with each other as they grapple with death, loss, lies, fate and responsibility.
Compartment No. 6
Based on: The novel Compartment No. 6 by Rosa Liksom
During a long train ride, the lives of two strangers — a Finnish student and a Russian worker — are forever changed in this adaptation of the Rosa Liksom novel. As the journey drags on, truths and prejudices are revealed as it explores identity and social standing.
Based on: The novel Maria Chapdelaine by Louis Hémon
Adapted from the 1913 romance novel of the same name, Maria Chapdelaine is a look at the choices one makes when faced with tragedy. Starring Sara Montpetit as the titular character, the film looks at a young woman in rural Quebec, who is torn between three suitors.
Vengeance Is Mine, All Others Pay Cash
Based on: The novel Vengeance Is Mine, All Others Pay Cash by Eka Kurniawan
This coming of age story focuses on a fearless martial arts fighter named Ajo and the secrets he hides from society. The romance story is about the love between Ajo and a fellow brawler named Iteung. Featuring a vintage aesthetic and minimalist fight choreography, the film looks at love from an offbeat perspective.