It’s the most wonderful time of the year, and we’re not talking about Christmas! From September 10th to 20th Toronto will host the Toronto International Film Festival for the fortieth time. As usual, this is a pretty big deal, and this year the festival is bringing in what may be some fantastic films. TIFF’s Artistic Director Cameron Bailey and CEO Piers Handling took the Cinema 1 stage at the TIFF Bell Lightbox this morning to announce the first slate of Galas and Special Presentations.
Among the announced films was Deepa Mehta’s Beeba Boys, a Vancouver set film about an Indian drug ring. We spoke to Mehta after the press conference. On her return to the festival, Mehta says, “It’s great, it really is. The last time I was here was a couple of year’s ago with Midnight’s Children. I love the festival; I’m a big fan. I also love the fact that it adds a spotlight on Canada and Canadian films. That’s very moving for me and very important.” Mehta was equally enthusiastic about her new film. She tells us, “It’s a kickass film. I thought the story about the gangsters was fascinating because it’s inspired by reality and they exist there in Vancouver. So we just went for it! The story of these gangsters who are kickass, who are stylish, who are feared, who are strong was very important mainly because of the parts that brown actors get in western films. They usually play a terrorist, or a cab driver, and if you’re lucky, a doctor or IT guy.”
This year, the festival also introduces its new Platform programme. We spoke to Artistic Director Cameron Bailey about the new Jury competition. Bailey said, “We’ve been talking about this for a while. We wanted to find a way to really highlight some of the various strong directors’ visions that we show every year that don’t necessarily have big stars or do not necessarily have big name directors, but are just great movies. So how do we get those films a brighter spotlight during the festival? We thought this would be a great way to do it with a dedicated Jury programme. We are encouraging people to follow the selection of the films and see all of the films or as many of them as you can, as you do when you go Cannes, Berlin, Rotterdam, or any other festival that has a competition. This is really an attempt to focus on the highest achievements in cinema. We thought, ‘why not find three directors with very strong voices of their own for the jury?’ So we have Claire Denis, Jia Zhangke, and Agnieszka Holland to look at these films and award a prize.”
Some of the highlights from the first slate of films include the following:
Eye in the Sky (Directed by Gavin Hood, World Premiere, United Kingdom)
Freeheld (Peter Sollett, World Premiere, USA)
The Martian (Ridley Scott, World Premiere, USA)
The Program (Stephen Frears, World Premiere, United Kingdom)
Remember (Atom Egoyan, North American Premiere, Canada)
Stonewall (Roland Emmerich, World Premiere, USA)
Beasts of No Nation (Cary Fukunaga, Canadian Premiere, USA/Ghana)
Black Mass (Scott Cooper, Canadian Premiere, USA)
Brooklyn (John Crowley, Canadian Premiere, United Kingdom/Ireland/Canada)
The Danish Girl (Tom Hooper, North American Premiere, United Kingdom)
The Family Fang (Jason Bateman, World Premiere, USA)
I Smile Back (Adam Salky, Canadian Premiere, USA)
Louder than Bombs (Joachim Trier, North American Premiere, Norway/France/Denmark)
Mountains May Depart (Jia Zhang-ke, North American Premiere, China/France/Japan)
Son of Saul (László Nemes, Canadian Premiere, Hungary)
Spotlight (Tom McCarthy, International Premiere, USA)
Trumbo (Jay Roach, World Premiere, USA)
Un plus une (Claude Lelouch, World Premiere, France)
Youth (Paolo Sorrentino, North American Premiere, Italy/France/United Kingdom/Switzerland)
Matt Hoffman’s Top Picks:*
Lolo (Julie Delpy, World Premiere, France)
While on holiday in the south of France, Parisian sophisticate Violette falls in love with carefree geek Jean-René. As their relationship blossoms, Jean-René heads to Paris to spend more time with Violette but finds himself up against her possessive teenage son Lolo who is determined to sabotage their relationship by any means necessary. A razor-sharp comedy from Julie Delpy.
Why: Who doesn’t love Julie Delpy? The French thespian has not only established herself as an incredible actress in films like Before Midnight and White, but she has also made a rather interesting turn as a director. In 2007 and 2012 Delpy debuted her Woody Allen-esque comedies 2 Days in Paris and 2 Days in New York, respectively, and they were both wonderful. Lolo seems to fall more along the lines of Delpy’s 2009 effort The Countess, which was slightly underwhelming. Nevertheless, we can’t wait to see what Delpy is up to next!
Anomalisa (Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson, Canadian Premiere, USA)
A man struggles with his inability to connect with other people. Starring Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tom Noonan and David Thewlis.
Why: Charlie Fucking Kaufman. With a filmography that includes Adaptation, Being John Malkovich, and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Kaufman has established himself as perhaps the greatest screenwriter working today. Kaufman has not written or directed a film since 2008’s Synecdoche New York, but he has made efforts to get numerous projects off the ground. So finally, seven years since we last heard his incredible voice, Charlie Kaufman is back.
Families (Belles Familles) (Jean-Paul Rappeneau, World Premiere, France)
When Shanghai-based businessman Jérome Varenne learns that his childhood home in the village of Ambray is at the centre of a local conflict, he heads there to straighten things out and finds himself at the centre of familial and romantic complications. Starring Mathieu Amalric.
Why: Over the past decade Mathieu Amalric has cranked out some of the best performances in French cinema. In addition to Amalric, director Jean-Paul Rappeneau has gathered an excellent cast that also features Gilles Lellouche, André Dussollier, and most importantly, Marine Vacth. Aside from being one of the most beautiful women on the planet, Vacth also proved herself as a great actress with her star turn in François Ozon’s 2013 film Young and Beautiful. I really want to look at Marine Vacth for two hours.
Room (Lenny Abrahamson, World Premiere, Ireland/Canada)
Told through the eyes of five-year-old-Jack, Room is a thrilling and emotional tale that celebrates the resilience and power of the human spirit. To Jack, the Room is the world… it’s where he was born, where he and his Ma eat and sleep and play and learn. But while it’s home to Jack, to Ma it’s a prison. Through her fierce love for her son, Ma has managed to create a childhood for him in their 10-by-10-foot space. But as Jack’s curiosity is building alongside Ma’s own desperation — she knows that Room cannot contain either indefinitely. Starring Brie Larson, Jacob Tremblay, Joan Allen, Sean Bridgers and William H. Macy.
Why: Brie Larson has had some great film roles over the past few years, but this may be the one that finally scores her an Oscar nomination. The film is based on Emma Donoghue’s best-selling novel of the same name and anyone who has read the book knows that it features some incredibly disturbing images. With the right treatment, Room has the potential to be one of the best films of the year. Here’s hoping!
Where to Invade Next (Michael Moore, World Premiere, USA)
Oscar-winning director Michael Moore returns with what may be his most provocative and hilarious movie yet. Moore tells the Pentagon to “stand down”— he will do the invading for America from now on. Discretely shot in several countries and under the radar of the global media, Moore has made a searing cinematic work that is both up-to-the-minute and timeless.
Why: It has been six years since Michael Moore has made a documentary. That’s all.
*The synopses above are as written by TIFF
Photo Credit: Abby Minuk