Posted on January 15, 2021

A year of trials, tribulations, and incredible cinema, 2020 was a rollercoaster from start to finish. While many of us are eager to close the book on 2020, we at CIFF wanted to take a moment to look back at some of our favourite films from this unprecedented year, as well as the films we are most looking forward to in 2021.


Brian Owens, Artistic Director

American Utopia

Favourite Film of 2020: DAVID BYRNE'S AMERICAN UTOPIA.

Noting that I consider "favourite" and "best" to be two different things, my favourite film of 2020 is DAVID BYRNE'S AMERICAN UTOPIA. Directed by Spike Lee and filmed on Broadway just prior to the whole world shutting down, the film not only captures the wonder of David Byrne's unique combination of performance art and music, it also reminds us what it was like to be in a packed theatre and how much an audience means to a work of art. I watched it five times in 2020 and will continue returning to it - not just for the great music and cinematography - but for that sense of nostalgia that it provides.

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Most Anticipated Film of 2021: DUNE

Despite the anger that I initially felt when Warner Bros. announced that they'll be releasing their entire 2021 slate on HBOMax (and VOD here in Canada) at the same time as theatres, my most anticipated 2021 release is Denis Villeneuve's take on DUNE. And I will be seeing it on the largest screen I possibly can.


Brenda Lieberman, Lead Programmer

DIA Main

Favourite Film of 2020: DINNER IN AMERICA

A quirky rom-com/dark comedy, mixed with fantastic punk rock music, I really loved the energy of this film and the chemistry of the leads.

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Most Anticipated Film of 2021: LAST NIGHT IN SOHO

Edgar Wright is by far one of my favourite directors, and I love all his films. I am very much looking forward to this one, and expect I'll love it as much as the others.


Adam Keresztes, Shorts Programmer

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Favourite Film of 2020: POSSESSOR

As a big fan of ANTIVIRAL, I was really looking forward to this in 2020 and it did not disappoint! A creepy cyberpunk tale that combines body-swapping sci-fi and corporate espionage assassinations. Brandon has said he doesn’t want to be compared to his father (David Cronenberg) but based on his first two feature films, it’s clear that he is carrying the body horror torch into the 21st century. A few lucky people were even able to see this on the big screen this year thanks to CIFF.

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Most Anticipated Film of 2021: COMING 2 AMERICA

I’ll be honest, I wasn’t expecting much when this sequel was announced but once I found out Craig Brewer would be at the helm it eased some concern. After 2019’s DOLEMITE IS MY NAME, the team of Brewer and Eddie Murphy have proven they can bring fresh laughs out of decades-old concepts. The return of Arsenio Hall, Louie Anderson, James Earl Jones should be fun but I’m excited about the addition of Tracy Morgan, Leslie Jones, and most importantly, Wesley Snipes!


Morgan Cairns, Digital Marketing Coordinator

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Favourite Film of 2020: MARYGOROUND

For right now, I'm perfectly content with watching films instead of making them. That being said, if I were to ever make a film, I imagine it would be just like MARYGOROUND. The debut feature from Polish director Daria Woszek, this film is a feast for the eyes, with sumptuous jewel tones and production design that would put Wes Anderson to shame. Following a menopausal woman's sexual awakening, MARYGOROUND is darkly funny, seriously sexy and delightfully absurd. Essentially, everything I want a film to be.

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Most Anticipated Film of 2021: RESPECT

One of the film industry's biggest injustices, if you ask me, is how they've treated Jennifer Hudson. In 2007 she wins an Oscar for her incredible role in DREAMGIRLS, and then what? They cast her as Carrie Bradshaw's assistant in SEX AND THE CITY?? The nerve. WHERE'S YOUR OSCAR, SJP?! Anyways, with her starring role as Aretha Franklin in the upcoming biopic RESPECT, my hopes are high that everyone will once again recognize her as a total dramatic force, and she'll finally earn the respect she so rightfully deserves. Plus, it doesn't hurt that I'm a major Aretha fan. 


Lucia Juliao, Development Coordinator


Favourite Film of 2020: THE MOLE AGENT

My favourite film of 2020 was THE MOLE AGENT. It's a documentary about an 83-year-old man infiltrating a nursing home as a spy to find out if the residents are being treated poorly. It's so charming and sweet and funny and I was delighted and moved by this amazing gentleman (in the truest sense of the word).

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Most Anticipated Film of 2021: THE FRENCH DISPATCH

For 2021, I'm most looking forward to the release of the latest Wes Anderson film,  THE FRENCH DISPATCH. I'm a big fan of pretty much everything Wes Anderson has done and the trailer for THE FRENCH DISPATCH makes me think we'll be seeing a classic, whimsical Wes Anderson film.


Kimberley Busato, Box Office Manager

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Favourite Film of 2020: CLASS ACTION PARK

This film was the high point of my pandemic summer. Each summer I live for my vacation where a trip to see family usually also means a trip to our local amusement park. I love roller coasters and slides with all of their thrills and spills. This year, I was loath to forgo this annual tradition, but along came this crazy documentary to fill the void. CLASS ACTION PARK tells the woeful tale of a homemade, blue-collar, can-do-but probably-shouldn't alpine resort and waterpark in Vernon Township, New Jersey. Complete with an alpine slide without breaks, a tarzan swing that dumps into heart attack-inducing cold water and a bone-breaking water slide with a vertical loop in which riders could experience 9 times the force of gravity, Action Park was not only a death trap, but a right of passage for all local youth.

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Most Anticipated Film of 2021: NO TIME TO DIE and GHOSTBUSTERS: AFTERLIFE

For 2021, I am still looking forward to and sincerely hoping for the release of NO TIME TO DIE and GHOSTBUSTERS: AFTERLIFE.

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