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Essential Cinema

The 100 greatest films, like you’ve never seen them before

In the spring of 2009, we polled film critics, Festival-goers and TIFF supporters, asking which films they considered essential cinema. At the same time TIFF programmers debated the same question. By marrying both lists, the Essential 100 was born. One hundred essential films grace the screen, along with a FREE exhibition and an exciting line-up of special events, concerts and in-person talks.
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essential 100

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Citizen Kane

Orson Welles in his masterpiece
Begins Thursday, September 23


Monica Vitti in Michelangelo Antonioni’s
Begins Thursday, September 23


“Even at 50, it is still cool, still new”
– New York Times"
Begins Thursday, September 30

special commissions

  • As part of Essential Cinema, TIFF has specially commissioned installations and artworks that explore, deconstruct and recreate the films from the Essential 100 list, and challenge the process of list-making itself.

  • special events

    • In Person

      See the essential films like you’ve never seen them before with our special guest presenters. Highlights include: Isabella Rossellini, John Waters & more. see all

    • In Concert

      Renowned musicians perform the scores live for Essential 100 films. see all



    around the city

    • Future Projections

      This year’s expanded Future Projections programme, which includes installations and projects from internationally acclaimed contemporary artists, celebrates Essential Cinema with projects that relate to films or filmmakers on the Essential 100 list. Presented at TIFF Bell Lightbox and throughout the city of Toronto.



    kids and family

    • For Kids

      Join us on the weekends for behind-the-scenes fun with workshops and free drop-in activities inspired by the movies we love. more

    • Just for Teens

      Boot camp for future filmmakers! Workshops on directing, composing film scores and more.


    industry twitter

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    • September 20, 2021  
      TIFF_NET: RT @NFBMediatheque: If you're already going through #TIFF10 withdrawal, check out some #NFB shorts - Fri at @CINSSU's Free Fri Films on ...
    • September 20, 2021  
      TIFF_NET: 15 hours since #TIFF10 ended and it still feels surreal. Anyone nostalgic already? What is your favorite #TIFF10 memory?
    • September 20, 2021  
      TIFF_NET: Get your tickets now to see David Cronenberg In Person at TIFF Bell Lightbox September 23 + 24.
    • September 20, 2021  
      TIFF_NET: We LOVED having you with us for the last 11 #TIFF10 days! Till Sept 2011, we miss you, we love you, & we'll see you at TIFF Bell Lightbox :)
    • September 19, 2021  
      TIFF_NET: An inspirational #TIFF10 evening at the TIFF Bell Lightbox, whose glow warms more than that meets the eye.
    • September 19, 2021  
      TIFF_NET: We like that problem!RT @wonTONfm: This new @TIFF_NET Bell Lightbox is abt to be a problem. I want to watch all the Essential films & more!
    • September 19, 2021  
      TIFF_NET: For all our free screenings: tickets are handed out to people in line-up on first-come first-serve basis, starting 2 hours pre-screening #fb
    • September 19, 2021  
      TIFF_NET: Congratulations to all the winners and mentions! Day 11 of #TIFF10 is just half over though, see you at the screenings tonight! #TIFF10 #fb
    • September 19, 2021  
      TIFF_NET: Cadillac People's Choice Documentary Award-- Gunnarsson's FORCE OF NATURE: THE DAVID SUZUKI MOVIE. Runner-up: NOSTALGIA FOR THE LIGHT. #fb
    • September 19, 2021  
      TIFF_NET: The Cadillac People's Choice Midnight Madness Award goes to Jim Mickle's STAKE LAND. Runner-up is Michael Dowse's FUBAR II. #TIFF10 #fb