The Toronto International Film Festival obviously isn’t an American film festival. But with so many Hollywood movies and American indies playing in its venues, it can be easy to forget it’s in Canada.
And you can tell a lot about what’s going on in the world by looking at what the movies that surface at TIFF are interested in. In 2019, the unofficial theme of the festival (as it was at Cannes in May) seemed to sit at the intersection of privilege and the mistrust of the powerful. Movies about the CIA’s torture program, embezzlement on local and global scales, the death penalty, and anti-immigrant sentiment were among the festival’s most buzzed-about titles, alongside one particularly prominent entry that, in the end, exposed the emptiest of worldviews.
Here are six movies that played at this year’s TIFF that explain a lot about America in 2019.