It’s been 40 years since the Toronto International Film Festival started, and in that time it's evolved from a small festival for film lovers to its current standing as one of the biggest and most prestigious film festivals in the world. There are mega-stars on just about every corner (Johnny Depp, Sandra Bullock, George Clooney, Matt Damon, Kristen Stewart, Benedict Cumberbatch—just to name a few) and fans with pens and notepads ready for autographs and iPhones on stand-by for selfies. There are hundreds of films of all varieties and glitzy parties that can be just as important for festival-goers for their promise of rubbing elbows, inking deals, and indulging in an insurmountable amount of free-flowing alcohol.
In 1976, 35,000 people attended the inaugural edition. This year, 500,000 attendees are expected. The fest’s People’s Choice Award has also become a known predictor of potential Oscar Best Picture winners (a.k.a., The King's Speech, Slumdog Millionaire and 12 Years a Slave).
Four decades and thousands of movies, red carpets, parties, and celebrities later, the festival has certainly morphed into something different, something much bigger. But even though there are more stars than you can count and plenty of glitz and Hollywood-centric focus (premieres this year include The Martian, Demolition, and Black Mass), the festival still offers a home for smaller or more unusual titles—and an audience that shares a true love of cinema.
Don't worry—we've checked out some of the best TIFF that look at a variety of topics, from famous jazz musicians to young love to communists. The festival runs until September 20th.