Animals are “good to think.” Claude Lévi-Strauss (bonnes à penser)

By Bianca Kapteyn

TIFF 2021:  September 9 – 18 

The 46 edition of the Toronto International Film Festival features 10 days of international and Canadian cinema. With nearly 200 hundred films to chose from in its selections from around the globe. 

 TIFF is the world’s largest public festival. All details are available at,

Canine Culture® selected five films from TIFF’s programming; animation, shorts and features. Our selections were based on subjects about animal characters enmeshed in human culture – from vicarious, totemism , and anthropomorphism.  

 In 1894,Thomas Edison produced Black Maria, a  movie of two cats boxing, providing Facebook fodder more than a century ahead of its time.  In 1877,  English photographer Eadweard Muybridge,  pioneered motion picture  work in animal locomotion with a projection device that depicted a cat running. It is the oldest feline “action film” on record. 

Cinematic stories with animals are often told to evoke narratives.  They are metaphors, marginal characters , and sometimes famous. 

Animals do have a complex and varied culture, but they are not us. It is their variety within the human context that’s so compelling and even unsettling.   Being aware is good thing for conservation and welfare.  Storytelling can be also seen as an essential creative component to the betterment of animal societies, and to our own.   

Films to watch out for: