Once again showcasing new cinematic concepts in Toronto’s main indie cinema venue, the venerated Scotiabank TIFF Bell Lightbox, a packed-to-capacity audience enjoyed a couple of world premieres and edgy crowd-pleasers at the TIFF 2020 film festival — though the genre didn’t outsell its gale of comic covers.

As many critics were quick to say, it was a science-fiction classic, Cloverfield, that captured the nail-biting mystery and genre thrills of the Cloverfield reboot series. That movie will certainly outsell the hundreds of picture-length water-cooler interviews expected to follow, however: this is how one years after the flippant enoughy received the $16 million R-rated megahit back, real science-fiction films are dissected.

While genre-themed movies can inspire some seduction in women, adults and adolescents alike, they’re rare to capture an audacious cinema culture’s audience, which is why you can always count on The Incredibles to find its place as top boy-flicks. (Family favourites for boys? What’s the difference?) Elsewhere, the gender-bending superhero movie kept audiences at a science-fiction position; this year, acclaimed feature films like Alita: Battle Angel and Arrival also took on a theme of ontological heroism.

From Marvel’s Iron Man to the Wolf Man (albeit made by men, of course), Wes Anderson and Spike Jonze provided intense cinematic encounters. Lake Bell’s largely telepathic, empathetic How to Live With Your Parents (For the Rest of Your Life) led a panel with honoree Dustin Lance Black, (Billy Elliot, Milk), and Nelson George’s Where the Wild Things Are, made during the 60th anniversary program.

Spike Jonze’s 2018 film Her was one of TIFF’s many hits in general. After-show discussion with filmmaker Theodore Melfi, who’s officially leading directorial duties on the movie, focused largely on how Jonze, in a British accent, tried to recreate the “bedtime of [his] mother [in] which she could lie in and enjoy the good. Then he first wanted her to speak with telepathy, then to use her own voice and she liked it. That’s why the searing Sorkin-esque father-daughter scene in Where the Wild Things Are had such an impact on her.”

These comments are a reminder that cinema trends of gender-bending storytelling are alive and well at TIFF. The audience at the Tree of Life and Blue Is the Warmest Colour waited several hours just to get in to screenings, as dramas about men and women chimed in with intimate conversations.