With the Toronto International Film Festival mere weeks away, cinephiles everywhere are prepping to ship off to America’s hat for ten days of films and fun, all fueled by bagged milk and and trademark Canadian politeness. TIFF has already established itself as North America’s premiere film festival (duking it out with Sundance for top billing), but this year, the festival’s programmers have truly outdone themselves when it comes to putting together a drool-worthy schedule.
This year’s TIFF has already announced the bulk of their lineup, including The Ides of March and Moneyball and their documentary and genre picks, but they now round out their programming with some final and spectacular picks.
Today’s announcement of the addition of 8 more Galas and 17 more Special Presentations only continues the festival’s pattern of blowing film fans’ minds everywhere (even those of us who will not journey north this year). The festival has announced David Hare‘s Page Eight as the fest’s Closing Night Film; it will mark the International Premiere of Hare’s star-packed smart thriller, which stars Bill Nighy, Michael Gambon, Rachel Weisz, Ralph Fiennes, and Judy Davis.
Other Gala adds include the World Premiere of Nick Murphy‘s The Awakening, the International Premiere of Christophe Honoré‘s Beloved, the World Premiere of Tanya Wexler‘s Hysteria, the World Premiere of Gary McKendry‘s Killer Elite, the World Premiere of Darrell J. Roodt‘s Winnie, the World Premiere of Joel Schumacher‘s Trespass, along with the World Premiere of Marc Forster‘s Gerard Butler-starring Machine Gun Preacher.
If all of those films have not already made you consider trading in your citizenship to go full Canadian, the Special Presentations are now joined by new films from Whit Stillman and Juan Carlos Fresnadillo, along with the North American Premiere of Julia Leigh‘s Sleeping Beauty and the World Premiere of Geoffrey Fletcher‘s Violet & Daisy. Things are just better in Canada.
And now the full press release, for your scrolling pleasure:
Toronto – The Toronto International Film Festival® announces the addition of 8 Galas and 17 Special Presentations to the high-calibre selection of crowd-pleasers premiering in September. Today’s announcement includes 14 World Premieres and reveals that Festival-goers will be treated to a programming lineup featuring world premieres from directors including Nick Murphy, Gary McKendry, Joel Schumacher, Gianni Amelio, Agnieszka Holland, Juan Carlos Fresnadillo, Pankaj Kapur, Anne Fontaine, Mathieu Kassovitz and Geoffrey Fletcher. The films unveiled today feature onscreen appearances by Jason Statham, Robert De Niro, Clive Owen, Bill Nighy, Rachel Weisz, Gerard Butler, Ralph Fiennes, Imelda Staunton, Nicolas Cage, Nicole Kidman, Catherine Deneuve, Shahid Kapur, Isabelle Huppert, Saoirse Ronan, Alexis Bledel and James Gandolfini, among others.
This announcement brings the final number of Galas to 20, and the final number of Special Presentations to 67.
Closing Night Film
David Hare, United Kingdom International Premiere
Johnny Worricker (Bill Nighy) is a long-serving M15 officer. His boss and best friend Benedict Baron (Michael Gambon) dies suddenly, leaving behind him an inexplicable file, threatening the stability of the organization. Meanwhile, a seemingly chance encounter with Johnny’s striking next-door neighbour and political activist Nancy Pierpan (Rachel Weisz) seems too good to be true. Set in London and Cambridge, Page Eight is a contemporary spy film which addresses intelligence issues and moral dilemmas peculiar to the new century. Also stars Ralph Fiennes and Judy Davis.
Nick Murphy, United Kingdom World Premiere
Haunted by the death of her fiancé, Florence Cathcart is on a mission to expose all séances as exploitative shams. However, when she is called to a boys’ boarding school to investigate a case of the uncanny, she is gradually forced to confront her skepticism in the most terrifying way, shaking her scientific convictions and her sense of self to the very core. Haunting and moving in equal measure, The Awakening is a sophisticated psychological/supernatural thriller in the tradition of The Others and The Orphanage, but with its own unique and thrilling twist. Starring Rebecca Hall, Dominic West and Imelda Staunton.
Christophe Honoré, France International Premiere
From Paris in the 1960s to London’s modern days, Madeleine and her daughter Vera waltz in and out of the lives of the men they love. But love can be light and painful, cheerful and bitter. An elegy to femininity and passion with musical outbursts. Starring Chiara Mastroianni and Catherine Deneuve.
Tanya Wexler, USA/United Kingdom World Premiere
A romantic comedy based on the surprising truth of how Mortimer Granville came up with the world’s first electro-mechanical vibrator in the name of medical science. Academy Award®-nominee Maggie Gyllenhaal and Hugh Dancy headline in this untold tale of a young Victorian doctor’s quest to figure out the key to women’s happiness. Also starring Jonathan Pryce, Rupert Everett and Felicity Jones.
Gary McKendry, USA/Australia World Premiere
Based on a true story, Killer Elite races across the globe from Australia to Paris, London and the Middle East in the action-packed account of an ex-special ops agent (Jason Statham) who is lured out of retirement to rescue his mentor (Robert De Niro). To make the rescue, he must complete a near-impossible mission of killing three tough-as-nails assassins with a cunning leader (Clive Owen).
Machine Gun Preacher
Marc Forster, USA World Premiere
Machine Gun Preacher is an inspirational true story, about Sam Childers, a former drug-dealing criminal who undergoes an astonishing transformation and finds an unexpected calling as the saviour of hundreds of kidnapped and orphaned children. Gerard Butler (300) delivers a searing performance as Childers in Golden Globe®-nominated director Marc Forster’s (Monster’s Ball, Finding Neverland) moving story of violence and redemption. Machine Gun Preacher was previously announced as a Special Presentation.
Joel Schumacher, USA World Premiere
What happens when a man with everything – a beautiful wife, a teenage daughter and a wealthy estate – is confronted with the reality of losing it all? That is what Kyle Miller must come to terms with as he and his family become the victims of a vicious home invasion. Starring Nicolas Cage and Nicole Kidman.
Darrell J. Roodt, South Africa /Canada World Premiere
This film reveals the enigma that is Winnie Mandela. A sensitive depiction, Winnie portrays her life’s journey amidst the unwavering love between her and Nelson Mandela, and their unfaltering commitment to the struggle for democracy in South Africa. Winnie takes the audience on an epic voyage of understanding – painting a vivid portrait of one of the world’s most remarkable women. Starring Jennifer Hudson, Terrence Howard, Elias Koteas and Wendy Crewson.
The Cardboard Village
Ermanno Olmi, Italy International Premiere
An old priest and his church are about to be demolished. A group of clandestine immigrants seeking protection find refuge in that church. In a circumstance of crisis and discouragement, together these people will be able to find the real meaning of the word “solidarity” and realize that the church is much more than a place for liturgical ceremonies and golden altars. Starring Michael Lonsdale and Rutger Hauer.
Damsels in Distress
Whit Stillman, USA North American Premiere
Damsels in Distress is a comedy about a trio of beautiful girls as they set out to revolutionize life at a grungy American university – the dynamic leader Violet Wister (Greta Gerwig), principled Rose (Megalyn Echikunwoke) and sexy Heather (Carrie MacLemore). They welcome transfer student Lily (Analeigh Tipton) into their group, which seeks to help severely depressed students with a program of good hygiene and musical dance numbers. The girls become romantically entangled with a series of men – including smooth Charlie (Adam Brody), dreamboat Xavier (Hugo Becker), the mad frat-pack of Frank (Ryan Metcalf) and Thor (Billy Magnussen) – who threaten the girls’ friendship and sanity.
Death of a Superhero
Ian FitzGibbon, Germany/Ireland World Premiere
Donald is 15 and dreams of girls, sex and crazy adventures. In his fantasy world, he creates an immortal superhero who fights against all evil. And in reality? Donald is falling in love with the school rebel while fighting against a terminal illness. Starring Andy Serkis, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Aisling Loftus, Michael McElhatton, Sharon Horgan and Jessica Schwarz.
The First Man
Gianni Amelio, France/Algeria/Italy World Premiere
An adaptation of Albert Camus’ autobiographical last novel. Part childhood memoir, part epic narrative of Camus’ beloved Algeria and its struggle for independence from France, The First Man was left unfinished by the Nobel Prize-winner who died at age 46.
Agnieszka Holland, Canada/Germany/Poland World Premiere
In Darkness tells the true story of Leopold Socha, a sewer worker and petty thief in Nazi-occupied Lvov, Poland. Stumbling upon a group of Jews in the sewers, he agrees to hide them for a price. What starts out as a straightforward business arrangement becomes something unexpected, as they all try to outwit certain death during 14 months of intense danger. Starring Robert Wieçkiewicz and Benno Fürmann.
Juan Carlos Fresnadillo, Spain World Premiere
Juan and Mia, two children who live in different countries, are visited every night by a faceless intruder – a terrifying being that wants to get hold of them. These presences become more powerful and start ruling their lives as well as their families’. Anxiety and tension increase when their parents also witness these apparitions. Starring Clive Owen.
Life Without Principle
Johnnie To, Hong Kong North American Premiere
What do a bank teller, a small-time thug and a police inspector have in common? Nothing. Not until a bag of stolen money worth $10 million crosses their paths and forces them to make soul-searching decisions about right and wrong and everything in between on the morality scale.
Nicolas Klotz, Elisabeth Perceval, France North American Premiere
After making love, the youngsters slipped happily into dreamland… but when they opened their eyes the world appeared joyless, and stomach-wrenchingly old. And so they quickly sank back into their happy world, where all sleepers are equal. This is the place they called Low Life.
Mausam (Seasons of Love)
Pankaj Kapur, India World Premiere
Mausam is a story of timeless love in the face of political hostilities and religious conflict, between a proud Punjabi air force officer and an innocent Kashmiri refugee. Set against a landscape that transcends decades and spans continents, Mausam is a classic journey that transports one into a world of indestructible bonds of love enveloped by the roulette of destiny. Starring Shahid Kapur, Sonam A Kapoor and Anupam Kher.
My Worst Nightmare
Anne Fontaine, France/Belgium World Premiere
Agathe doesn’t realize to what extent her life is going to be turned upside down when she takes in Tony, the best friend of her son Adrien. Tony’s father, Patrick, leads Agathe down a merry path of existential chaos, which just may deliver her from herself. Starring Isabelle Huppert.
Mathieu Kassovitz, France World Premiere
April 1988, Ouvea island, New Caledonia, a French colony. Thirty policemen are kidnapped by locals fighting for their independence. Three hundred members of the French army special forces unit are immediately sent on a mission to fix the situation. An encounter of two cultures: Philippe Legorjus, head of the unit, versus Alphonse Dianou, head of the rebels. Together, they’ll fight to resolve the situation through mutual trust and dialogue over violence. Except that they’re at the heart of the most-tense presidential elections in French history – when issues at stake are purely political, rules of law and order are not exactly moral.
Julia Leigh, Australia North American Premiere
“You will go to sleep: you will wake up. It will be as if those hours never existed.” Death-haunted, quietly reckless, Lucy is a young university student who takes a job as a Sleeping Beauty. In the Sleeping Beauty Chamber, old men seek an erotic experience that requires Lucy’s absolute submission. This unsettling task starts to bleed into Lucy’s daily life and she develops an increasing need to know what happens to her when she is asleep. Starring Emily Browning and Rachael Blake.
Emanuele Crialese, Italy International Premiere
Terraferma is the story of an uncontaminated Sicilian island inhabited by fisherman. Still barely touched by tourism, the islanders have begun to alter their mentality and behaviour as they realize the economic potential of this new industry. At the same time, they deal with illegal aliens flooding the island and a new law requiring them to turn back undocumented peoples seeking aid.
Philippe Garrel, France/Italy/Switzerland North American Premiere
A couple living together in Paris – he’s a painter, she’s a film actress – befriends a couple of film extras who fall in love with each other. All four go to Rome where their relationships undergo profound changes as emotions shift and change.
Violet & Daisy
Geoffrey Fletcher, USA World Premiere
Violet & Daisy, the whimsical story of a teenager’s surreal and violent journey through New York City, follows Oscar nominee Saoirse Ronan (Hanna, Atonement, The Lovely Bones) as Daisy. With her volatile partner-in-crime Violet, played by Alexis Bledel (Sin City, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, The Gilmore Girls), the two young assassins face a series of opponents, including one unusually mysterious man (James Gandolfini), in a life-altering encounter. The film, written and directed by Oscar-winning screenwriter Geoffrey Fletcher (Precious), also stars Oscar nominee Marianne Jean-Baptiste and Danny Trejo.
Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale
Wei Te-Sheng, Taiwan North American Premiere
Wei Te-Sheng’s epic film Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale reclaims an extraordinary episode from 20th-century history which is little-known even in Taiwan. It’s a story of the encounter between a people who believe in rainbows and a nation which believes in the sun. It takes the form of a heroic battle in defence of faith and dignity.