This year’s Toronto Film Festival is full of African, Caribbean, African American, and Afro Canadian star power, and we’ve compiled a list of everything you should have on your radar for TIFF 2022.

Festival premieres include new work by Tyler Perry and Tim Story. We also get to see Gina Prince-Bythewood’s “The Woman King” starring Oscar winner Viola Davis and documentaries on two, prolific creatives: “Sidney,” directed by Reginald Hudlin, and “Louis Armstrong’s Black & Blues” directed by Sacha Jenkins.

Here are our picks for films to check out at the 2022 Toronto Film Festival (TIFF). 

The Woman Kingdirected by Gina Prince-Bythewood

This epic tale, starring Oscar winner Viola Davis, brings to life the true story of the Agojie, the all-female military regiment charged with protecting the embattled West African Kingdom of Dahomey from adversarial neighbors, European colonizers, and the horrors of the slave trade.

The year is 1823. Orphaned at birth and raised by an abusive guardian who seeks only to marry her off for money, young Nawi (Mbedu) petitions for entry into the Agojie, led by the single-minded Nanisca (Davis). To defend their people against the oppressive and heavily armed Oyo Empire, the Agojie run candidates through an arduous training program. Nawi proves herself an outstanding, ferocious soldier, though she questions the Agojie rules, which state that no one in their ranks shall marry or have children. As the Agojie prepares for the fight of their lives against both the Oyo and the Portuguese slave traders with whom they are in league, long-buried secrets come to light, revealing harrowing stories of personal sacrifice that will only strengthen the bonds between these unstoppable warrior women.

Ashkal — directed by Youssef Chebbi

A series of mysterious deaths in an abandoned development north of Tunis sends two detectives down an all-consuming rabbit hole when workers discover the burnt body of a building watchman onsite and call in police detectives Fatma (Fatma Oussaifi) and Batal (Mohamed Houcine Grayaa) to investigate. ( https://www.tiff.net/events/ashkal ) —

Free Money — directed by Sam Soko and Lauren DeFilippo

When universal basic income (UBI) comes to the Kenyan village of Kogutu, lives are forever changed. The filmmakers juxtapose the story of these young economists, bankrolled by Silicon Valley and convinced that they have found an infallible algorithm to end world poverty, with portraits of local Kenyans whose lives are being dramatically impacted for better and for worse.

A Jazzman’s Blues — directed by Tyler Perry

A story of forbidden love and family secrets that reach from the 1940s to the 1980s. Featuring songs by Terence Blanchard, choreography by Debbie Allen, and music by composer Aaron Zigman. A Jazzman’s Blues is a testament to African American music, resilience, and storytelling.

Black Ice — directed by Hubert Davis

This incisive, urgent documentary examines the history of anti-Black racism in hockey, from the segregated leagues of the 19th century to professional leagues today, where Black athletes continue to struggle against bigotry. Executive produced by LeBron James, Drake, and Maverick Carter.

Brother — directed by Clement Virgo

A staggering adaptation of David Chariand’s award-winning novel about two Trinidadian-Canadian brothers coming of age in 1990s Scarborough, where they reconcile their dreams and expectations with the violence that confronts them around every corner.

Bruiser — directed by Miles Warren

A 14-year-old boy turns to a charismatic loner for help after being beaten up. The directors’ 

feature debut about fathers, families, and the effects of fighting.

Chevalier — directed by Stephen Williams

An opulent historical drama, inspired by the true story of composer Joseph Bologne (Kelvin Harrison Jr.), brims with intrigue, romance, and sumptuous music—turning the spotlight on a brilliant artist whose legacy has been woefully obscured. The film opens with a bang as Bologne 

interrupts a Paris concert conducted by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and makes a dramatic impression on the preening genius and his fancy, 18th-century audience.

Dear Mama — directed by Allen Hughes

Hughes’ quintessential documentary series explores the life and legacy of hip hop icon Tupac Shakur and his mother, the Black Panther activist Afeni Shakur, exposing audiences to the dark realities of both the mother and son’s complicated relationships with law enforcement, violence, and drug abuse.

On The Come Up — directed by Emmy-nominated actress Sanaa Lathan

Making her feature directorial debut, this film is a love letter to hip hop as told through the eyes of Bri, a 16-year-old gifted rapper, who attempts to take the battle rap scene by storm in order to lift up her family and do right by the legacy of her father––a local hip hop legend whose career was cut short by gang violence. The film is based on the New York Times No. 1 best-selling novel by Angie Thomas.

Devotion — directed by JD Dillard

Set during the Korean War, this visceral film tells the story of the U.S. Navy’s first African American aviator and his dedicated wingman, pilots who both confront geopolitical uncertainty and racist hostility with uncommon valor.

The King’s Horseman — directed by Biyi Bandele

TIFF dedicates this presentation of “The King’s Horseman” to the memory of Biyi Bandele, (October 1967 – August 2022).  The day comes for Elésin Oba (Odunlade Adekola) to accompany the Alaafin of Oyo, King of Yorubaland (contemporary Nigeria, Togo, and Benin), into the afterlife. Celebration is in order! As the King’s Horseman, Elésin is responsible for the political ruler’s smooth travels in life and in death, making this day the long-intended end of his honorable, fleshly commitments to the Yoruba people. Since the Alaafin is dead, Yoruba religious tradition insists Elésin must commit ritual suicide.

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