TIFF Co-Heads Cameron Bailey and Joana Vicente announced today that the feature-film adaptation of the Tony Award-winning musical Dear Evan Hansen is the Opening Night Gala Presentation at the 46th Toronto International Film Festival and will screen Thursday, September 9 at Roy Thomson Hall.
Additional screenings of Dear Evan Hansen will take place at the Visa Screening Room at the Princess of Wales Theatre, at the RBC Lakeside Drive-In at Ontario Place, and digitally on the digital TIFF Bell Lightbox platform.
Directed by Stephen Chbosky, Dear Evan Hansen is the story of a high-school senior with a debilitating anxiety disorder whose private letter to himself as part of a therapy exercise lands in the hands of a fellow classmate, with tragic consequences.
The incident propels Evan on a journey of self-discovery that leads him toward belonging and acceptance, not only among the people who love him, but also by Evan himself.
Starring Tony winner Ben Platt as Evan, along with Amy Adams, Julianne Moore, Kaitlyn Dever, Amandla Stenberg, and Nik Dodani, Dear Evan Hansen features songs from the original Broadway sensation.
“There was no question that Dear Evan Hansen was the ideal film to launch the Festival this year,” said Cameron Bailey, Artistic Director and Co-Head, TIFF. “This film is ultimately about healing, forgiveness, and reaffirms how connected and essential we all are to one another. We couldn’t think of a more important idea to celebrate this year as we come together once again to share the power and joy of cinema in theatres together.”
“As TIFF resumed this year in the wake of a pandemic that marked and changed all of our lives, we felt it was important to open this year’s Festival with a film that connects to our shared humanity and that reminds us how deeply we need one another, need to be seen by one another, especially in times of loneliness and despair,” stated Joana Vicente, Executive Director and Co-Head, TIFF.
“Dear Evan Hansen is a film about allowing ourselves to be found, and giving ourselves permission to be our true, authentic selves,” said Stephen Chbosky. “After a year and a half of isolation, so many of us are finding our way back to each other. So, now more than ever, I am honoured that the Toronto International Film Festival has chosen Dear Evan Hansen to open this year’s Festival. We could not have asked for a more ideal festival, or audience, or moment to premiere our film.”
The Closing Night Gala of TIFF 2021, One Second, is the newest offering from the acclaimed Chinese director of Raise the Red Lantern and Hero, Zhang Yimou. The film tells the story of a travelling film projectionist and an escaped prisoner connected through cinema. One Second is a love letter to movies and a reminder of how they can unite people, regardless of our differences. “Every September we invite the whole film world to Toronto, one of the most diverse, movie-mad cities in the world,” said Bailey. “And to have Zhang Yimou’s film here, now, is a true joy.”
TIFF is also delighted to announce the first titles selected for the Festival’s Gala and Special Presentations programmes. This first list of films from the 2021 Official Selection features 11 Galas and 21 Special Presentations.
“We’re so excited to be able to share this year’s lineup with audiences in theatres,” said Vicente. “These films reflect passion, creativity, and break new ground to tell their stories. We’re honoured to have them as part of TIFF 2021.”
“Some of the year’s biggest films will screen at TIFF this year,” added Bailey. “We’re thrilled to announce these films as Galas and Special Presentations. Our programming team has been hard at work for months searching for the most compelling stories, acclaimed filmmakers, and top onscreen talent that comprise two of TIFF’s highest-profile sections.”