What’s Happening at TIFF This Year–Musically Speaking, That Is

When the Toronto International Film Festival fires up between September 7 and 17, the city is going to be awash in stars: George Clooney, Matt Damon, Angelina Jolie, Nichole Kidman, Jennifer Lawrence, Helen Mirren, Steve Carell, Christian Bale–I could go on, but the full list is already here.

Among the many dozens of films that will be screened are these music movies. (Thanks for Dorothy Lee for compiling everything!)

The Tragically Hip: Long Time Running

The long-awaited, much-anticipated doc on the Hip’s 2016 cross-Canada tour. If you seen the trailer, you know that it’s going to be intensely emotional. Showtimes for TIFF are apparently still being finalized. But if you want to buy tickets for showings at Cineplex and Landmark cinemas (the run starts September 15), go here or here.

Eric Clapton: Life in 12 Bars

An intimate documentary about the life and career of Eric Clapton told by some of the people who were closest to him

including BB King, Jimi Hendrix, and George Harrison. The film also looks at Clapton’s musical influences and how he channelled his life experiences into his music.

Directed by Lili Fini Zanuck

Press Conference Mon Sept 11, 10:30 AM


Fri Sept 8, 11:30 AM

Sun Sept 10, 6:15 PM

Mon Sept 11, 3:30 PM

Wed Sept 13, 11:15 AM

Sat Sept 16, 5:45 PM


Gaga: Five Foot Two

An intimate documentary about the life and career of Stefani Joanne Germanotta, also known as Lady Gaga, including the physical and mental demands of her work life and some of the controversies surrounding her.

A performance by Lady Gaga follows the screening of the film.

Directed by Chris Moukarbel


Fri Sept 8, 6:00 PM


Making of Michael Jackson’s Thriller

A digitally remastered version of Jerry Kramer’s 1983 documentary about Michael Jackson, which includes extensive footage of Jackson during the peak of his success. Director Jerry Kramer also directed The Making of Thriller, and Moonwalker.

Directed by Jerry Kramer

Screenings not listed


Leehom Wang’s Open Fire Concert Film

An intimate concert documentary about Chinese-American artist Leehom Wang featuring his two sold-out shows at Beijing’s Bird’s Nest stadium. Wang is considered one of the biggest pop stars in the world, and his music mixes elements of global pop, R&B and hip-hop with traditional Chinese music. This film illustrates a bridging of the gap between pop culture in North America and China.

Directed by Homeboy Music Inc.

Screenings not listed


The Terry Kath Experience

A intimate documentary by Michelle Kath Sinclair about the life and tragic death of her father, Chicago’s songwriter and lead guitarist Terry Kath. Michelle was just 2 years old at the time of her father’s death, and the film is designed as a search for meaning and includes access to video clips, photos and letters never seen before by the public.

Directed by Michelle Sinclair

Screenings not listed


Chasing Trane: The John Coltrane Documentary

A documentary exploring the life and career of jazz artist John Coltrane, chronicling his highs and lows including overcoming a heroin addiction before his death at the age of 40. The film includes commentary by Denzel Washington, Carlos Santana, Common, Cornell West and Bill Clinton.

Directed by John Scheinfeld

Screenings not listed


I Called Him Morgan

This documentary tells the tragic story of Lee Morgan, a talented trumpeter, who was murdered by his common-law wife Helen in New York jazz club Slug’s Saloon in 1972. Morgan was only 33 years old. This film combines jazz history with a true-crime story, and includes archival footage along with newly collected interviews.

Directed by Kasper Collin

Screenings not listed


Mali Blues

This film documents Fatoumata Diawara (known as Fatou) a rising star in world music, during her return to Mali in 2015 to deliver her first-ever concert in her home country at the Festival of the Niger in the southern Mali city of Ségou. This film illustrates the hardships, perils, and resilience of Mali musicians as they faced Islamic fundamentalists who banned music in northern desert towns in 2012 for several months.

Directed by Lutz Gregor

Screenings not listed


Chronicle of Anna Magdalena Bach

This film depicts the last 27 years of Johann Sebastian Bach’s life and the hardships he faced. The journal of Bach’s second wife, Anna Magdalena, is used to narrate the film.

Directed by Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet

Screenings not listed


MASTER CLASS Composer, Mark Korven

Mark Korven, a Toronto based composer for film and television, delivers an onstage discussion about the process behind the soundtrack to the 2016’s breakout film The Witch, combining film clips with live performance. Korven’s discussion highlights the fundamental contribution of music composition to film and illustrates the collaborative process between composers and directors.

Featuring a live performance

Presented in collaboration with the Screen Composers Guild of Canada


Wed Sept 14, 4:30 PM




A short which examines the various ways in which music makes us feel.

Directed by Keelin Fremlin

Screenings not listed


Jack & Adelaine

This 2 minute short tells the story of Jack and Ad who have been chasing music, fame, love, and trains. Now summer is fading, and possibly, so is their flame.

No director’s information

Screenings not listed


Atlas World

In this narrative music video for the song “Atlas World” by Liu Bei, an evil spirit forces a girl into a dangerous journey through a watery underworld.

Directed by Morgana McKenzie

Screenings not listed


Animated Shorts

Hey Duggee: The Making Music Badge

An animated short by director Grant Orchard who has previously received an Oscar nomination for Best Animated Short Film. This latest short is about Duggee the dog who is a big lovable club leader who teaches the Squirrels troop about the multiple components of music.

Directed by Grant Orchard

Screenings not listed


Jazz Quartet

An animated short featuring a jazz quartet coming to life from a piece of art.

Directed by multiple directors

Screenings not listed


What is Music?

An animated short which reflects on children’s different understandings of musical history.

Directed by Christian Robinson

Screenings not listed


Spring Jam

The premiere of an animated short portraying a lone stag without antlers improvising to make beautiful music for the spring jam.

Directed by Ned Wenlock

Screenings not listed


Special Screening


The Art of the Music Video

In celebrating Canada’s 150th anniversary and as part of Canada on Screen, TIFF will be screening music videos selected from 150 moving-image works. Music videos have become the most consumed moving-image media in the world as the streaming of music through Youtube has become the most popular format for listening to music by Canadians.

There will be special guest appearances by Mitsou, Joel Goldberg, Scott Cudmore and Vincent Morisset.

For additional information, please visit:


Fri Sept 8, 8:00 PM


Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 37880 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

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