Welcome to the Larry411.com Guest Columnists! April 27, 2013
In my travels to the best film festivals in…
The 40th Toronto International Film Festival is approaching fast. This year's event runs from September 10-20 and is considered by many (including myself) to be the top fest in the Western Hemisphere, second in the world only to Cannes. Many movies have their World, International, or North American premieres there. Almost every major Academy Award-winning motion picture of the past few years debuted at TIFF. The number of features is expected to total over 250.
I've attended over 75 film festivals since the start of 2006, but none as prestigious or breathtaking in scope as this one. I saw more than 255 films there from 2006-2014, and many of my year-end Top Picks across all festivals over the past few years (of over 1500 in total) came from the TIFF lineups. This will be my 10th year in attendance.
Previously announced titles include 49 Galas and Special Presentations, 24 features from Canada included in various sections of the festival along with Wavelengths installations, the list of Rising Stars for 2015, and the Short Cuts Canada section, and 68 features in the TIFF Docs, Midnight Madness, Vanguard, Masters, and Cinematheque programs.
Today TIFF announced two brand new programs. The small screen moves to the big screen in the inaugural Primetime lineup. "The growing convergence and artistic equality between television and cinema has ushered in a new era of high-quality, small-screen programming," said TIFF Director and CEO Piers Handling. "Primetime aims to spotlight the cross-pollination of these two moving image cultures, showcasing the bold and impressive work that’s being produced on an international scale." Added Festival Programmer Michael Lerman, "Television has entered an artistic renaissance; we’re seeing, among other things, many filmmakers experimenting with that medium to broaden their forms of storytelling. The strongest storytellers are masters of change, and TV offers a narrative flexibility, a platform and a luxury for filmmakers to explore ways of telling longer stories that delve deeper into their characters."
Platform is a new juried section that focuses on world cinema in a fresh way. "We created this new programme as a way to sharpen our focus on artistically ambitious cinema in our 40th year and we are thrilled to be able to put the spotlight on these 12 brilliant filmmakers this September," Handling remarked. "They are major creative forces: the next generation of masters whose personal vision will captivate audiences, industry members and media from around the world." TIFF Artistic Director Cameron Bailey added, “Each of the filmmakers in the programme fearlessly transforms a wide range of compelling realities through their unique visual and narrative styles, and they do so with incredible command and precision. From a stark coming-of-age story, a retro-futuristic science-fiction and a lyrical post-western to an abduction thriller, a raw documentary and hard-hitting and topical dramas, this lineup reflects the diversity of international directors’ cinema today."
There are still several sections to be revealed, including additional films in previously announced programs. Finally, the schedule including dates, times, and locations of screenings will be released along with the official list of expected guests. The program book will be made available at that time, as well.
You can find everything you need to know about buying tickets HERE. Ticket packages may be purchased online 24 hours a day at tiff.net/festival, by phone from 10 AM to 7 PM Eastern Time at 416-599-TIFF or 1-888-599-8433, or by visiting the Gupta Box Office in person from 10 AM to 10 PM Eastern Time daily at TIFF Bell Lightbox, Reitman Square, 350 King Street West, until August 26 while quantities last.
Here are the six presentations in the new Primetime program and 12 titles in the inaugural Platform section announced today:
Casual - created by Zander Lehmann and directed by Jason Reitman, USA World Premiere
Festival favourite Jason Reitman (Juno, Up in the Air) directs this wonderfully endearing and quirky comedy from Hulu and Lionsgate that follows the story of young internet entrepreneur, Alex Cole, and his recently divorced therapist sister, Valerie. The creator of a popular dating website, Alex pledges to mentor Valerie as she attempts to embrace the craziness of single life. Meanwhile, he’s not above using his newfound success to supply himself with an endless string of beautiful but emotionally shallow women, none of whom will ever make him happy. Living under the same roof for the first time in years, brother and sister soon discover that while life can be both heartbreaking and hilarious, it’s anything but casual. Starring Tommy Dewey, Michaela Watkins and Tara Lynne Barr. The Festival presents the series premiere of Casual, episodes 1 and 2.
CROMO - created by Lucía Puenzo and Nicolás Puenzo, Argentina World Premiere
Directors Lucía Puenzo (XXY, Wakolda), Pablo Fendrik (Blood Appears, El Ardor) and Nicolás Puenzo team up for this timely eco-thriller, based on the real stories of a team of scientists that set out to expose environmental crimes in the dangerous and exotic wetlands of northern Argentina. Starring Germán Palacios, Guillermo Pfening, Emilia Attias, Alberto Ajaka and Malena Sanchez. The Festival presents the series premiere of CROMO, episodes 1, 2 and 8.
Heroes Reborn - created by Tim Kring, USA World Premiere From creator/executive producer Tim Kring, who imagined NBC’s original critically-acclaimed 2006 Heroes series, comes Heroes Reborn, an epic 13-episode event series that chronicles the lives of ordinary people who discover they possess extraordinary abilities. The series stars Jack Coleman, Zachary Levi, Robbie Kay, Kiki Sukezane, Ryan Guzman, Gatlin Green, Henry Zebrowski, Judith Shekoni, Danika Yarosh and Rya Kihlstedt. The Festival presents the series premiere of Heroes Reborn, episode 1: “Brave New World” and episode 2: “Odessa”.
Keith Richards: Under the Influence - directed by Morgan Neville, USA World Premiere
From Academy Award-winning director Morgan Neville (Twenty Feet from Stardom), this beautifully documented portrait of Keith Richards takes audiences on the road to discover the genesis of his sound as a songwriter, guitarist and performer. This Netflix Original is rich with music and archival materials, drawing upon hours of new, intimate and reflective conversations with Keith. It charts the journey of his sound and influences, back to the music that inspired him then and now — electric blues, country honky-tonk, southern soul, and more — as he creates his first solo album in 23 years.
The Returned (Les Revenants) - created by Fabrice Gobert, France International Premiere
The recently deceased return to (some kind of) life in a small mountain village, in this International Emmy-winning supernatural drama series based on Robin Campillo’s 2004 film Les Revenants, from creator Fabrice Gobert (Simon Werner a disparu…). Starring Anne Consigny, Clotilde Hesme, Céline Sallette, Fédéric Pierrot, Laurent Lucas, Grégory Gadebois, Guillaume Gouix, Pierre Perrier, Ana Girardot, Yara Pilartz, Jenna Thiam, Swann Nambotin and Jean-François Sivadier. The Festival presents the season 2 premiere of The Returned, episodes 1 and 2.
Trapped (Ófærð) - created by Baltasar Kormákur, Iceland World Premiere
In this noir-ish thriller series from director Baltasar Kormákur (Everest, The Deep, 101 Reykjavik), an unidentified torso is found in a small town in Iceland. When a blizzard makes the road out of town impassable, order disintegrates into chaos as the residents realize they are all possible murder suspects or all possibly in danger. A ruthless and troubled cop risks his life, his family and the town’s safety, in order to solve this mystery in the hope of recovering his tarnished reputation. Starring Ólafur Darri Ólafsson, Ilmur Kristjánsdottir, Ingvar Sigurðsson, Nina Dögg Filipusdottir and Bjarne Henriksen. The Festival presents the series premiere of Trapped, episode 1.
Bang Gang (A Modern Love Story) - Eva Husson, France World Premiere
Biarritz. Sixteen-year-old George, a beautiful high-school student, falls in love with Alex. To get his attention, she initiates a group game with Alex, Nikita, Laetitia and Gabriel during which they will discover, test, and push the limits of their sexuality. Through scandals, love and the breakdown of their value systems, each of them manages this intense period in radically different ways. Starring Daisy Broom, Fred Hotier, Lorenzo Lefebvre, Marilyn Lima, and Finnegan Oldfield.
The Clan (El Clan) - Pablo Trapero, Argentina/Spain North American Premiere
Within a typical family home in the traditional neighbourhood of San Isidro, a sinister clan makes its living off kidnapping and murder. Arquímedes, the patriarch, heads and plans the operations. Alejandro, his eldest son, is a star rugby player who gives into his father’s will and identifies possible candidates for kidnapping. To a greater or lesser extent, the members of the family are accomplices in this dreadful venture as they live off the benefits yielded by the large ransoms paid by the families of their victims. Based on the true story of the Puccio family, this film full of suspense and intrigue takes place in the context of the final years of the Argentine military dictatorship and incipient return to democracy. Starring Guillermo Francella and Peter Lanzani.
French Blood (Un Français) - Diastème, France International Premiere
This is the story of a Frenchman, born in 1965 on the outskirts of Paris. The story of a skinhead, who hates Arabs, Jews, blacks, communists and gays. An anger that will take 30 years to die out. A bastard, who will take 30 years to become someone else. And he will never forgive himself for it. Starring Alban Lenoir, Paul Hamy, Samuel Jouy and Patrick Pineau.
Full Contact - David Verbeek, Netherlands/Croatia World Premiere
A contemporary tale of a man who accidentally bombed a school through a remotely operated drone plane. Modern warfare keeps Ivan safe and disconnected from his prey. But after this incident, this disconnectedness starts to apply to everything in his life. He is unable to process his overwhelming feelings of guilt, but needs to open up to his new love Cindy. Only by facing his victims can he rediscover his humanity and find a new purpose in life. Starring Grégoire Colin, Lizzie Brocheré and Slimane Dazi.
High-Rise - Ben Wheatley, United Kingdom World Premiere
1975. Two miles west of London, Dr. Laing moves into his new apartment seeking soulless anonymity, only to find that the building’s residents have no intention of leaving him alone. Resigned to the complex social dynamics unfolding around him, Laing bites the bullet and becomes neighbourly. As he struggles to establish his position, Laing’s good manners and sanity disintegrate along with the building. The lights go out and the elevators fail but the party goes on. People are the problem. Booze is the currency. Sex is the panacea. Starring Tom Hiddleston, Jeremy Irons, Sienna Miller, Luke Evans and Elisabeth Moss.
HURT - Alan Zweig, Canada World Premiere
Steve Fonyo is a one-legged cancer survivor who completed a cross-Canada run raising $13 million in 1985. The next 30 years were straight downhill: petty theft, larceny and drug addiction. The run has nothing to do with the life of this one-time hero, and everything to do with it. Starring Steve Fonyo.
Land of Mine (Under Sandet / Unter dem Sand) - Martin Zandvliet, Denmark/Germany World Premiere
A story never told before. WWII has ended. A group of German POWs captured by the Danish army, boys rather than men, are forced into a new kind of service under the command of a brusque Danish Sergeant. Risking life and limbs, the boys discover that the war is far from over. Starring Roland Møller, Louis Hofmann, Joel Basman, Emil Buschow, Oskar Buschow and Mikkel Boe Følsgaard.
Looking for Grace - Sue Brooks, Australia North American Premiere
Grace, 16, runs away from home. Her parents, Dan and Denise, head off on the road across the Western Australian wheat belt with a retired detective, Norris, to try and get her back. But life unravels faster than they can put it back together. Grace, Dan and Denise learn that life is confusing and arbitrary, but wonderful. Starring Richard Roxburgh, Radha Mitchell, Odessa Young and Terry Norris.
Neon Bull (Boi Neon) - Gabriel Mascaro, Brazil/Uruguay/Netherlands North American Premiere
Iremar and his makeshift family travel through Northeast Brazil taking care of bulls at the Vaquejadas, a Brazilian rodeo. But the region’s booming clothing industry has stirred new ambitions and filled Iremar’s mind with dreams of pattern-cutting and exquisite fabrics. Starring Juliano Cazarré, Aline Santana, Carlos Pessoa and Maeve Jinkings.
The Promised Land (Hui Dao Bei Ai De Mei Yi Tian) - He Ping, China World Premiere
Ai Ling, growing up in a small town, loses her fiancé Jiang He in Beijing. After returning to her hometown with a broken heart, she has to face all the complications life and love have in store for her. Starring Jiajia Wang, Yi Zhang, and Zhiwen Wang.
Sky - Fabienne Berthaud, France/Germany World Premiere
Romy is on holiday in the USA with her French husband, but the journey quickly turns into a settling of old scores for this worn out couple. After a huge argument, Romy decides to break free. She cuts her ties to a stable and secure life that has become alienating and escapes to the unknown. Drifting through a noisy Las Vegas to the wondrous high desert, she goes on with her solitary journey, abandoning herself to her sole intuitions and making it up as she goes. Liberated, she will cross paths with a charismatic and solitary man, with whom she’ll share an inconceivable but pure love. Starring Diane Kruger, Norman Reedus, Gilles Lellouche, Lena Dunham and Q'orianka Kilcher.
The White Knights (Les Chevaliers Blancs) - Joachim Lafosse, France/Belgium World Premiere
Critically acclaimed Joachim Lafosse brings to the screen the Zoe’s Ark controversy which made headlines in 2007: a story about the limits of the right of interference. Jacques Arnault, head of Sud Secours NGO, is planning a high impact operation: he and his team are going to exfiltrate 300 orphans, victims of Chadian civil war and bring them to French adoption applicants. Françoise Dubois, a journalist, is invited to come along with them and handle the media coverage for this operation. Completely immersed in the brutal reality of a country at war, the NGO members start losing their convictions and are faced with the limits of humanitarian intervention. Starring Vincent Lindon, Valérie Donzelli, Reda Kateb, Louise Bourgoin and Rougalta Bintou Saleh.
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In my travels to the best film festivals in…