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Award-Winning Authors and Filmmakers Revealed as Guests for 2019 Edition of Books on Film

Pulitzer Prize winner Colson Whitehead, author and scholar Imani Perry, and filmmaker Whit Stillman lead guest slate for Books on Film, running March 4 through June 24, 2019


Exploring the enduring connection between film and literature, Books on Film returns to TIFF from March 4 to June 24 for its exciting ninth season. With a stunning slate of guests including award-winning authors, screenwriters, and filmmakers, this year’s series will engage audiences in thought-provoking discussions at six carefully curated onstage events. Guests this year include: Michael Ondaatje, Imani Perry, Rachel Seiffert, Whit Stillman, and Colson Whitehead.

At each Books on Film event, an adaptation of a book or composition will be screened. The author, director, or screenwriter or a notable subject-matter expert will then join us for an exploration of the film’s journey from book to screen. From the comedy of Jane Austen to Lorraine Hansberry’s iconic play, Books on Film challenges attendees to think beyond the screen and evaluate the processes and artists who have translated some of our most beloved literary works to the big screen. This year’s series will take place on select Mondays at 7pm and will be hosted by the CBC’s Eleanor Wachtel.

About the host

Eleanor Wachtel is the host and co-founder of CBC Radio’s Writers & Company, now in its 28th season. She also co-founded Wachtel On The Arts on CBC Radio’s Ideas. Her most recent books are Random Illuminations (07), which won an Independent Publisher Book Award, and The Best of Writers & Company (16). Wachtel has been widely recognized for her contributions to Canadian cultural life: she has received nine honorary degrees and has been named an Officer of the Order of Canada.

Special guests include:

Colson Whitehead on The Taking of Pelham One Two Three – March 4

The Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Underground Railroad and the forthcoming The Nickel Boys dives into the world of pulp novels that inspired the 1974 classic thriller The Taking of Pelham One Two Three.

The Taking of Pelham One Two Three

dir. Joseph Sargent | USA | 1974 | 104 minutes Walter Matthau stars as a grumbling Transit Authority lieutenant who gets an unlikely shot at heroism when a group of criminals take a downtown subway train hostage and demand a million dollars, in this high-speed thriller based on John Godey’s novel.

Whit Stillman on Love & Friendship – March 25

Writer-director Whit Stillman (The Last Days of Disco, Metropolitan) discusses his adaptation of a long-unpublished Jane Austen novella, which tells the deliciously scruple-free tale of a charmingly devious widow (Kate Beckinsale) looking to land herself a wealthy new husband.

Love & Friendship

dir. Whit Stillman | USA/Ireland/France/Netherlands | 2016 | 94 minutes Love & Friendship revolves around the beautiful and cunning Lady Susan Vernon (Beckinsale), a recent widow who takes up residence at Churchill, her in-laws’ estate, and sets her sights on marrying the dashing (and, more importantly, wealthy) Reginald DeCourcy (Xavier Samuel). However, her plans are derailed when her beautiful daughter, Frederica (Morfydd Clark), turns up at Churchill after being dismissed from boarding school. Fearing that Frederica will turn Reginald’s head, Lady Susan sets outs to obtain her daughter a suitor of her own.

Imani Perry on A Raisin in the Sun – April 15

Author and scholar Imani Perry (Looking for Lorraine) discusses the ongoing significance and relevance of Lorraine Hansberry’s most influential play — celebrating its 60th anniversary in 2019 — and the lauded film adaptation, starring Sidney Poitier.

A Raisin in the Sun

dir. Daniel Petrie | USA | 1961 | 128 minutes Rapidly adapted to the screen from Hansberry’s smash-hit stage play, A Raisin in the Sun focuses on the Youngers, an impoverished family living on the south side of Chicago who receive an unexpected windfall when matriarch Lena (Claudia McNeil) is granted a $10,000 insurance settlement from the death of her husband. While Lena wants to use the money to move the family into a more upscale, all-white neighbourhood, her ambitious and strong-willed son Walter (Poitier) tries to convince her to invest it in a liquor store he is sure will be a moneymaker. Reuniting the original cast of the stage production — with Ruby Dee providing a wonderful counterpoint to her friend Poitier as Walter’s wife, Ruth — A Raisin in the Sun is a Hollywood landmark for its progressive politics and sensitive, realistic depiction of contemporary African American life.

Books on Film: Event 4 — May 6

Our fourth Books on Film event will be announced at a later date.

Michael Ondaatje on Point Blank – June 3

The award-winning Canadian poet, novelist, and essayist revisits one of his favourite films, the neo-noir thriller adapted from the novel by Richard Stark.

Point Blank

dir. John Boorman | USA | 1967 | 92 minutes Miraculously returning from the dead after being set up and mowed down by his duplicitous partner during a job on Alcatraz, tight-lipped, bullet-headed hood Walker (Lee Marvin) heads to Los Angeles with a heater in his hand, money on his mind, and murder in his heart. With the help of a mysterious middleman (Keenan Wynn) and his resentful former sister-in-law (Angie Dickinson), Walker rips through the crime syndicate his partner sold him out for, leading to a suspenseful showdown right back at the island prison where his deathdream began.

Rachel Seiffert on Lore – June 24

Novelist Rachel Seiffert examines the film adaptation of her novella The Dark Room, a gripping survival story and a bold examination of the legacy of Nazism and its horrors.


dir. Cate Shortland | Australia/United Kingdom/Germany | 2012 | 109 minutes Left to fend for herself when her SS officer father is captured by the victorious Allies at the end of World War II, a 14-year-old German girl (Saskia Rosendahl) must lead her four siblings on a gruelling trek across the war-ravaged countryside — and must put her trust in the very person she was taught to hate.

Starting today, TIFF Members can renew their Books on Film subscriptions, with subscription renewals for the general public beginning January 16. New subscriptions to Books on Film go on sale January 23 for TIFF Members and January 30 for the general public. Single tickets are available February 13 for TIFF Members and February 20 for the general public. For more details, visit

New this year! Assigned seating with tiered pricing allows guests to reserve their favourite seat for the entire season at lower subscription prices (starting at $102 for Members and $126 for non-Members). Guests can call the box office at 1-888-599-8433 for assistance and to arrange to sit with family and friends.


About TIFF

TIFF is a charitable cultural organization whose mission is to transform the way people see the world through film. An international leader in film culture, TIFF projects include the annual Toronto International Film Festival in September; TIFF Bell Lightbox, which features five cinemas, major exhibitions, and learning and entertainment facilities; and innovative national distribution program Film Circuit. The organization generates an annual economic impact of $189 million CAD. TIFF Bell Lightbox is generously supported by contributors including Founding Sponsor Bell, the Province of Ontario, the Government of Canada, the City of Toronto, the Reitman family (Ivan Reitman, Agi Mandel and Susan Michaels), The Daniels Corporation, and RBC. For more information, visit

TIFF is generously supported by Lead Sponsor Bell, Major Sponsors RBC, L’Oréal Paris, and Visa, and Major Supporters the Government of Canada, the Government of Ontario, and the City of Toronto.

Penguin Random House is the Programming Partner of Books on Film.

StarMetro is the Media Partner of Books on Film. 

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