TIFF 2020 – A film festival in the middle of a Global pandemic

By Elliott Ingram

An international film festival and world pandemic are two events that don’t seem to fit together, but this year TIFF managed to pull off its annual ten-day festival in the middle of the Coronavirus pandemic. With drive-in screenings, outdoor premieres, and virtual streaming, this year’s festival was full of surprises, changes, and sanitizer. Firstly, the number of films premiering had been cut severely. Going from showing 333 films the previous year, to only having 50 films being featured – a huge difference. Secondly, there was an obvious loss of in-person screenings, red carpet events, and celebrity Q&A’s. In its place, the festival ran virtual for screenings of all films, as well as the electronic premieres, drive-ins ,and outdoor movie events.

Headlining this year’s festival were the films; “One Night in Miami,” “Ammonite,” “Concrete Cowboy,” and finally, “Bruised.” I was able to see “One Night in Miami,” “Concrete Cowboy,” and “The Water Man” all three brilliant movies. The first, ONIM, is the film adaptation of the remarkable play, by the same name. Especially important during these times of speaking out against racial injustice, “One Night in Miami” takes us back in time to 1964, with a fictional encounter of Malcolm X, Muhamed Ali, Sam Cooke, and Jim Brown, all spending one night in a hotel together as they discuss, and debate racial inequality and injustice in America. With the same discussions taking place in todays world, this film is especially important to watch and listen to.

The next, “Concrete Cowboy,” starring Idris Elba and Caleb McLaughlin, looks at a struggling father-son relationship as the two are forced to spend time together. After being kicked out of school, Cole is sent off to spend some time with his dad in Chicago and discovers his father’s newfound love and passion for horses. Cole finds that his dad and his friends have all started to swap cars for horses and care for these large animals in their own homes in the city. However, when some believe that horses belong on a farm, and a farm only, Cole finds himself fighting in the front lines and sticking up for his father and the horses, both of who he has grown to love. Lastly, “The Water Man,” is a more family-friendly film, that has everything done right, and is an overall enjoyable movie to watch. Centering around a young boy’s life who is living with a mother with cancer, Gunner, turns to his books and his talent of drawing to search for a fictional superhero, “The Water Man” to help him heal and save his mother. An overall uplifting film that is a must-see.

When examining these three films, all have a riding theme of hope during difficult times. With each movie, the viewer is able to be transported to a different time, without COVID, and enjoy watching the film. Movies are especially important during todays times because it allows us to leave the world we live in for just a moment and live in a fantasy of somewhere else. Overall, TIFF 2020 was an unforgettable experience. Unlike years prior, there were no celebrity experiences, red carpet walks, but TIFF 2020 gained a community spirit during these difficult times and sustained the love and passion for film that it always has!