South Asian Films screening at TIFF 2023


By Renu Mehta


The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) takes place this year from September 7–17, 2023. The not-for-profit organization whose mission is to transform the way people see the world through film, is an international leader in film culture.  The organization generates an annual economic impact of CAD200 million. Here are some of the films coming from South Asia including Indian Cinema that are from Bollywood or have a South Asian influence and/or with South Asian actors.


Karan Boolani’s film Thank You for Coming will have its Gala world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). Written by Radhika Anand and Prashasti Singh, the laugh riot entertainer is the only Hindi feature film to have a Gala premiere this year at TIFF! The film stars Bhumi Pednekar, Shehnaaz Gill, Dolly Singh, Kusha Kapila, Shibani Bedi, Pradhuman Singh Mall, Natasha Rastogi, Gautmik, Sushant Divgikar, Saloni Daini, Dolly Ahluwalia, Karan Kundrra and Anil Kapoor in a special appearance.


Sept. 15 at 9:45 PM: Roy Thomson Hall

Sept. 16 at 8:30 PM: Royal Alexandra Theatre

THE WORLD IS FAMILY (Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam)

Anand Patwardhan’s documentary The World is Family, which traces his parents’ personal history and their links to the leaders of India’s independence movement, examines history during a period of ongoing contentious politics that escalated tension between Hindus and Muslims. Patwardhan engages in close dialogue with his parents and other relatives to capture their recollections of prominent historical figures like Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, and BR Ambedkar.

Produced, directed, and edited by Anand Patwardhan, The World is Family has been officially selected to premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival.

Public Screenings:

Sept. 10 at 1:00 PM: TIFF Bell Lightbox

Sept. 11 at 9:05 PM: Scotiabank Theatre

Sept 16 at 1:00 PM: TIFF Bell Lightbox  

A ROAD TO A VILLAGE Nabin Subba | Nepal
Directed by Nabin Subba and written by Subba and Mahesh Rai, A Road To a Village will have its World Premiere at TIFF 2023. The film dives deep into the aspirations and challenges faced by a rural Nepali family when a road links their previously isolated village with the modern world and exposes them to novelties both enticing and potentially dangerous. With moments bound to tug at your heartstrings, the film recognizes the importance of dreaming and embracing change in one’s survival.     

The film stars Dayahang Rai, Pashupati Rai, Prasan Rai, Prem Subba, Keshav Rai, and Raj Thapa.

Public Screenings:

Sept. 10 at 7:35 PM: Scotiabank Theatre

Sept. 12 at 9:15 PM: Scotiabank Theatre

DEATH OF A WHISTLEBLOWER Ian Gabriel | South Africa

Directed by the returning director Ian Gabriel, the political thriller Death of a Whistleblower investigates the disturbing national crisis spanning decades, characterized by targeted assassinations of whistleblowers. Co-written by Gabriel, Louis Viljoen, and Marius Scholtz, the film stars Noxolo Dlamini, Kathleen Stephens, Inez Robertson, Irshaad Ally, Deon Coetzee, Anthony Oseyemi, S’Thandiwe Kgoroge, and more.

Public Screenings:
Sept. 09 at 2:45 PM: TIFF Bell Lightbox 1

Sept. 10 at 9:40 PM: Scotiabank Theatre

Sept. 17 at 3:00 PM: Scotiabank Theatre

LOST LADIES (Laapataa Ladies) Kiran Rao | India
Set in the rural Indian landscape of 2001, Kiran Rao’s second directorial venture will have its World Premiere at TIFF and tells the comedic tale of two brides whose lives amusingly intertwine in a series of mix-ups involving mistaken identities. Serving as both, a comedy of errors and a coming-of-age tale packed with feminist commentary, the film stars Pratibha Ranta, Nitanshi Goel, Sparsh Shrivastava, Ravi Kishan, and Chhaya Kadam.

Public Screenings:

Sept. 08 at 12:15 PM: TIFF Bell Lightbox

Sept. 09 at 9:45 PM: Scotiabank Theatre

Defiant Karim Amer | Ukraine/United Kingdom/USA

World Premiere

Filmmaker Karim Amer, known for his documentaries on freedom fights and exposing propaganda campaigns, teams up with producer Mike Lerner and Odessa Rae to delve deep into Ukraine’s defense as key figures in the administration’s fight against the Russian invasion by combatting disinformation. The film follows Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba as he engages in shuttle diplomacy with Washington and Europe, working persistently to regain lost territory including Crimea. The film further features peace negotiator Rustem Umerov and Minister of Digital Transformation Mykhailo Fedorov, thus offering a range of perspectives on Ukraine’s struggle. 

Public Screenings:
Sept. 9 at 6:20 PM: Scotiabank Theatre

Sept. 10 at 3:05 PM: Scotiabank Theatre


Sorry/Not Sorry focuses on women who accused Louis C.K. of sexual harassment and the consequences to their career

Directed by Caroline Suh and Cara Mones, this documentary aims to re-examine the case of comedian Louis C.K., who was accused of sexual harassment by multiple women in 2017. The documentary features in-depth interviews with some of the prominent women accusers of Louis C.K. and reveals the unseen consequences of speaking against the comedian, who sold out shows soon after these accusations came to light. The movie investigates C.K.’s downfall and eventual comeback, promising to push viewers into evaluating their belief systems by asking pointed questions to the parties involved about their own complicity.

Public Screenings:
Sept.10 at 9:30 PM: Scotiabank Theatre

Sept. 12 at 7:35 PM: Scotiabank Theatre

Sept. 17 at 2:45 PM: Scotiabank Theatre

THE MOTHER OF ALL LIES Asmae El Moudir | Morocco/Egypt/Saudi Arabia/Qatar

North American Premier

Moroccan filmmaker Asmae El Moudir uses storytelling in The Mother of All Lies to uncover her family’s past. The film that will have its North American Premiere at TIFF 2023 tells the story of the filmmaker as she constructs a scale model of their Casablanca street with help from her father and gathers her family for a group therapy session to explore the mentalities of her mother and grandmother while recreating the Bread Riots of 1981, a pivotal moment in her neighbourhood’s history. El Moudir’s innovative approach testifies to the power of art in confronting suppressed memories and untold stories, further shedding light on the complexities of personal and collective histories.

Public Screenings:

Sept. 14 at 5:30 PM: TIFF Bellbox

Sept. 15 at 2:50 PM: Scotiabank Theatre


D.W. Waterson’s feature directorial debut Backspot offers a refreshing take on cheerleader movies, delving into the ambition and drive behind the phony smiles of young athletes. The film stars Devery Jacobs, Evan Rachel Wood, Shannyn Sossamon, Kudakwashe Rutendo, Thomas Anthony Olajide, and Wendy Crewson.

Public Screenings:

Sept. 08 at 8:30 PM: TIFF Bell Lightbox

Sept 11 at 3:00 PM: TIFF Bell Lightbox

Sept. 15 at 9:45 PM: Scotiabank Theatre


Directed by M.H. Murray and co-written by Murray and Mark Clennon, I Don’t Know Who You Are delves into the story of a Toronto musician who spends the weekend trying to arrange money for HIV-preventive treatment after being sexually assaulted. The film sheds light on the difficulties of merely surviving in Toronto without money or status. This is Mark Clennon’s debut feature, and he has also served as the film’s producer and story editor. The film stars Mark Clennon, Nat Manuel, Anthony Diaz, Deragh Campbell, Victoria Long, and others. 

Public Screenings:

Sept. 7 at 9:30 PM: TIFF Bell Lightbox

Sept. 8 at 10:00 PM: TIFF Bell Lightbox


Written and directed by Fawzia Mirza, the film explores a Pakistani woman’s life as a resident of Toronto and her relationship with her mother with a dash of Bollywood cinematic flare. The ensemble cast includes Amrit Kaur, Nimra Bucha, Hamza Haq, Gul e Rana, Ali A. Kazmi, Meher Jaffri, Bakhtawar Mazhar, and Adnan Jaffar. Result of a unique cross-border collaboration, the film brings together Pakistani producers Kamil Chima and Carol Noronha with their Canadian counterparts Jason Levangie, Marc Tetreault, and Andria Wilson Mirza.

Public Screenings:

Sept. 8 at 9:30 PM: TIFF Bell Lightbox

Sept. 9 at 7:30 PM: Scotiabank Theatre


A short film centred around an Inuk woman and her struggle to hide a tattoo reminiscent of a dark past, Aftercare is written and directed by Anubha Momin and stars Sofia Banzhaf and Maika Harper.

Public Screenings:
Sept. 9 at 6:45 PM: Scotiabank Theatre

Sept. 13 at 6:15 PM: Scotiabank Theatre


Bloom explores a heartbroken Laurel’s strange connection with a houseplant. Written and directed by Kasey Lum and starring Jodi Balfour, the film explores the interconnectedness of humans and nature.

Public Screenings:

Sept. 8 at 6:50 PM: Scotiabank Theatre

Sept. 12 at 11:30 AM: Scotiabank Theatre  


Directed by Ivan D. Ossa, Express revolves around a determined young man who encounters challenging revelations as he anticipates important news. The film stars Joshua Obra, Martin Marticorena, Isaiah Peck, and Rebecca Ablack.

Public Screenings:

Sept. 10 at 9:15 PM: Scotiabank Theatre

Sept. 14 at 9:00 PM: Scotiabank Theatre


Directed by Atefeh Khademolreza, the Persian film recognizes and retaliates against the oppression experienced by women and the LGBTQ+ community in Iran. 

Public Screenings:

Sept. 07 at 8:45 PM: Scotiabank Theatre

Sept. 14 at 6:15 PM: Scotiabank Theatre


Centralizing a man’s life whose struggles are aggravated when his personal crises intersect with his identity as an Iranian in America amidst socio-political tensions circa 1979, Motherland is directed by Jasmin Mozaffari and stars Behtash Fazlali, Oriana Leman, and John Ralston.

Public Screenings:

Sept. 12 at 6:45 PM: Scotiabank Theatre

Sept. 16 at 6:15 PM: Scotiabank Theatre


Eva Thomas’ Redlights features Kaniehtiio Horn and Ellyn Jade in primary roles as two indigenous women whose evening takes an ominous turn.

Public Screenings:

Sept. 8 at 6:50 PM: Scotiabank Theatre

Sept. 12 at 1:30 AM: Scotiabank Theatre

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

scroll to top