What’s happening on Festival Street at TIFF 2022


Rapper Lil Yachty greets fans on Festival Street at TIFF 2022. Photo: Cherryl Bird
Rapper Lil Yachty greets fans on Festival Street at TIFF 2022. Photo: Cherryl Bird

Cultural ambassadors Buffy Sainte-Marie and Kardinal Offishall joined Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) CEO Cameron Bailey to officially open Festival Street on September 8 before the films started screening or stars set foot on the red carpet at this year’s festival.

Festival Street is where people meet before or after they go into theatres to watch a film, go for a stroll or wait for their favourite celebrities to pass by. At the most recent fully in-person festival in 2019, Festival Street drew 200,000 visitors in just four days and was a driving force behind revenue for local businesses.

It’s essentially a street party, with artists painting large-scale murals onsite in a live art walk on opening day, stages where dance, live music, and films are shown, samples are up for grabs and games are played that offer prizes like a free trip to Europe or movie tickets to the festival.

Juno Award-winning Def Jam record executive, DJ, producer, co-host of Canada’s Got Talent, Kardinal Offishall’s bold personality, style and enigmatic presence on stage made him the perfect choice to emcee the 2022 TIFF event. Kardinal Offishall is known for his collaboration on Beautiful with Akon, Just Dance with Lady Gaga, Numba 1 with Rihanna, and Dangerous, a Billboard Hot 100 hit that was a first for a rapper from Canada.

Special guest at the event, Cree singer-songwriter Buffy Sainte-Marie. The Juno-winning Canadian music hall of famer (1995) was the first Indigenous person to receive an Academy Award, for co-writing Up Where We Belong, the Best Original Song from the film An Officer and a Gentleman in 1983. Buffy Sainte-Marie: Carry It On, the documentary about her life premieres at TIFF this year.

In addition to screening world premiere films, TIFF showcases older films during the festival for movie lovers via Festival Street. This year they will host a series a free films outdoors, many of which focus on music, such as School of Rock at Pecaut Park, and free live shows featuring artists like Shad, Lido, and Nelly Furtado at the Slaight Music Stage on the south side of King and Duncan streets. 

Artists performing live include Wolf Saga, Lido Pimienta and Friends featuring Bear Witness and special guests, Thompson Egbo-Egbo, The 99s, Toronto Dance Theatre, Honey Jam Special Performance: Celebrating Women, JESSIA, elijah woods, Jess and Tay, and Slaight Music artists Roslyn Witter and New Friends. Also taking the stage with RBCxMusic is Zenesoul, DESIIRE, Kennen, and Jhyve. 

Three free screenings at TIFF

*TTC Free Screening of Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery – Roy Thomson Hall, today at 3 p.m. (PRESTO card required)
10 Things I Hate About You – OLG Cinema Park, tonight at 10 p.m.
Elizabeth: A Portrait in Part(s) – September 18 at 12:05 p.m. at Scotiabank Theatre: details on Facebook.com/CoreMagazines

The Elizabeth: A Portrait in Part(s) screening is a timely presentation in commemoration of Queen Elizabeth II who died on September 8, 2022, the first day of this year’s Toronto International Film Festival. The film is presented with the support of Canadian distributor Mongrel Media and is the final one from late director Roger Michell (Enduring Love, Notting Hill). Elizabeth: A Portrait in Part(s) organizes archival footage and behind-the-scenes access into a series of chapters on the life of the longest-lived and longest-reigning monarch in British history.

More about some of the performers

Zenesoul (pronounced “zen-soul”) was nominated for a Juno Award this year. The Nigerian-born R&B and neo-soul artist is from Brampton, Ontario. Her first single Love and Be Loved, released two years ago and featuring Aaron Ridge has been streamed millions of times on Spotify and Apple Music playlists and on radio across North America and Europe. Her upcoming Afro-soul EP, Nene, will be available on September 23. 

Honey Jam Special Performance: Celebrating Women – HoneyJam is an artist development program that supports young, emerging Canadian women of all cultures and in all genres of music with mentorship, education, vocal coaching, performance and networking opportunities. The annual program culminates in a showcase of live music performances.

A League of Their Own – The 1992 Penny Marshall feature film, based on the real-life All-American Girls Professional Baseball League starring Geena Davis, Tom Hanks, and Madonna.

JESSIA racked up millions of views on social media with her debut single I’m Not Pretty, which led her to work with singer-songwriter and producer elijah woods, and Grammy Award–nominated artist Bebe Rexha, who was featured on the remix of the track. JESSIA became the iHeart Radio Future Star, SiriusXM and KiSS Radio One to Watch artist, and Billboard’s Chartbreaker. She was on Billboard Canada’s Emerging Artists chart at No. 1 for 13 weeks in a row. Her 2021 debut EP How Are You? was nominated for four Junos this year including the TikTok Juno Fan Choice Award, Single of the Year, and Pop Album of the Year. She won the Breakthrough Artist of the Year award.

These fan favourite films are showing in TIFF’s new open air cinema, OLG Cinema Park in David Pecaut Square: The Greatest ShowmanUHFWest Side Story (2021), The Mummy, a 30th-anniversary screening of A League of Their Own (1992), plus School of Rock, and Love & Basketball.

Things to do on Festival Street 

Note that Festival Street is on King Street West between Peter Street and University Avenue (TTC Subway)

  1. Rest your feet. Catch your breath.
  2. Grab a drink at one of the extended patios.
  3. Sample goods from several popular food truck brands.
  4. View a free Festival title film at Roy Thomson Hall, courtesy of the TTC on Saturday, September 17.
  5. Bell – Take photos at the Bell 360o Cam. Test your TIFF movie knowledge at the Crave Movie Trivia Booth for a chance to win prizes. Snap selfies all Festival long from the Bell Red Carpet Viewing Deck in David Pecaut Square.
  6. Get comfortable at the RBC Red Carpet Gallery viewing stands on the Roy Thomson Hall Red Carpet, with an elevated view.
  7. House of Peroni Nastro Azzurro, an Italian-styled open-house, will pop up in the heart of TIFF’s Festival Village, unique and elevated area ― an opportunity to try their Italian brand beer.
  8. Nespresso ― Enjoy a coffee, share a few stories and watch the stars swagger down the red carpet from your rooftop terrace spot. This cuppa cappuccino was worth the wait in line.
  9. Kim Crawford’s Glitz and Glam booth – You can try a free sample of their New Zealand wines. The one I tried was fruity and refreshing.
  10. Air France presents “La Bulle de Cinéma” ― Relax or experience a director-style photo op against the plant wall, indulge in a movie-inspired beverage with a sweet treat, enjoy a cultural cinema experience, win cinema and Festival passes, or a pair of plane tickets to a European cultural destination of your choice.
  11. TikTok’s Unapology Booth: Unapologetically celebrate Canadian creation in a mobile studio by sharing your story with the community.
  12. Bombay Sapphire presents ImaGIN: Activate your senses through an immersive and intimate cocktail tasting experience in a custom-built theatre making its way across Canada.
  13. Street Style Portraits by The Bay: Celebrate Festival-goers’ street style in an immersive photo studio where photographers are on stand-by.
  14. The Be Unstoppable Film Project: Find out about the Be Unstoppable Film Project. UPS partnered with The Black List to help two emerging filmmakers tell their stories by awarding them $100,000 in production grants. They will provide the resources, time, and expertise to underrepresented and diverse talent, crew, and small businesses behind the scripts, to help them direct and make a short film that will be submitted to TIFF in 2023.
  15. TIFF Cinematheque ― Catch any of five classic films restored to high quality at the Cinematheque, free of charge for all audiences.

For schedules and screening venues, visit the TIFF website. 

*updated Sept. 17 with news from TIFF

by Cherryl Bird – Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Twitter @ladycbird | Instagram @cherrylbird

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