Daily | Toronto 2013 Lineup, Round 1

Under the Skin

Scarlett Johannson in Jonathan Glazer’s ‘Under the Skin’

The Toronto International Film Festival has begun rolling out its lineup for the 2013 edition, running from September 5 through 15. With over a dozen strands in all, it’ll take a while, but today, we’re looking at the Galas and Special Presentations, including the opening night film, The Fifth Estate. With descriptions from TIFF and occasional additional notes…


Ritesh Batra’s The Lunchbox. When it screened at Critics’ Week in Cannes in May, Anna Tatarska noted that the film “tells the story of a neglected housewife and a bitter widower who, despite all the barriers that divide them, find closeness… through food and long-forgotten epistolary art.” See more reviews in the Critics’ Week roundup.

Justin Chadwick’s Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom. “Acclaimed British actor Idris Elba (TV’s The Wire) is magnetic as the legendary South African freedom fighter in this rousing adaptation of Mandela’s autobiography Long Walk to Freedom.”

Jeremiah Chechik’s The Right Kind of Wrong. “An eccentric would-be writer and full-time dishwasher does everything and anything to prove to his skeptical inamorata that they are meant to be, in this winsome romantic comedy from director Jeremiah Chechik (Benny & Joon).”

Peter Chan’s American Dreams in China. “Shot by superstar cinematographer Christopher Doyle and dubbed ‘the Chinese Social Network,’ this epic tale of business bravado follows three friends who launch a successful online English instruction school for Chinese students—and then face lawsuits over copyright infringement.”

Cho Ui-seok and Kim Byung-seo’s Cold Eyes. “A high-tech police surveillance team attempts to take down a gang of ruthless bank robbers, in this sizzling South Korean action-thriller.”

Bill Condon’s The Fifth Estate. “Dreamgirls director Bill Condon helms this absorbing dramatization of the rise and fall of Wikileaks and its fascinating founder Julian Assange. The Fifth Estate is a truly 21st century saga of technology, politics and civic responsibility.”

Joel Hopkins’s The Love Punch. “Pierce Brosnan and Emma Thompson star in this romantic caper comedy as a divorced duo who set aside their differences to undertake a high-stakes jewel robbery on the Côte d’Azur.”

Update, 7/24:

Ron Howard’s Rush. The “pulse-pounding true story about hard-driving Formula 1 rivals James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and Niki Lauda (Daniel Brühl), whose clashes both on and off the racetrack made the 1976 season one of the most thrilling and memorable in the sport’s history.”

John Krokidas’s Kill Your Darlings. “In this dynamic portrait of the early days of the Beat Generation, a young Allen Ginsberg (Daniel Radcliffe) and William S. Burroughs (Ben Foster) become embroiled in the notorious 1944 murder of Burroughs’ childhood friend David Kammerer by the object of his affection, the Rimbaudian Beat muse Lucien Carr.” See the reviews from Sundance.

Peter Landesman’s Parkland. According to Wikipedia, the film follows “the events that occurred at Parkland Memorial Hospital after the assassination of John F. Kennedy in 1963.” With Zac Efron, Tom Welling, James Badge Dale, Paul Giamatti, Jacki Weaver, Jackie Earle Haley, Billy Bob Thornton, Marcia Gay Harden, and Bitsie Tulloch.

Don McKellar‘s The Grand Seduction. “In order to secure a vital factory contract, the residents of a small Newfoundland fishing village conspire to charm a disgraced big-city doctor into becoming the town’s full-time physician, in this sparkling comedy from director Don McKellar (Last Night) and screenwriter Michael Dowse (Goon, FUBAR).”

Mike Myers’s Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon. “Myers makes his directorial debut with this star-packed documentary about the fast-lane life of entertainment-industry legend Shep Gordon, who managed the careers of Alice Cooper, Blondie, Luther Vandross, and Raquel Welch—and still had time to invent Celebrity Chef.”

Daniel Schechter‘s Life of Crime. “Jennifer Aniston, Tim Robbins and John Hawkes star in this wildly entertaining crime caper about two ex-cons whose plan to kidnap a real estate developer’s wife doesn’t go quite as smoothly as expected in this latest adaptation of a book from beloved novelist Elmore Leonard.”

Maneesh Sharma’s Shuddh Desi Romance. “From the writer of Chak De! India and the director of Band Baaja Baaraat comes a modern desi love story.”

Jonathan Sobol’s The Art of the Steal. “A dynamite cast—including Kurt Russell, Matt Dillon, Terence Stamp and Jay Baruchel—enlivens this crackling caper movie from writer-director Jonathan Sobol (A Beginner’s Guide to Endings).”

Jonathan Teplitzky’s The Railway Man. “Colin Firth and Nicole Kidman star in the true story of Eric Lomax, a British soldier in World War II who endured gruelling conditions as a forced labourer on the Thailand ‘death railway’ after being captured by Japanese troops.”

John Wells’s August: Osage County. “An astounding ensemble cast—Meryl Streep, Sam Shepard, Julia Roberts and Juliette Lewis—star in this adaptation of Tracy Letts’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play.”


Hany Abu-Assad’s Omar. The film “won the Un Certain Regard Jury Prize at this year’s Cannes Film Festival for this noir-ish psychological thriller set in the occupied West Bank.” See the reviews from Cannes.

Gianni Amelio’s L’intrepido. “Amelio (Lamerica) directs this affecting and timely story about a middle-aged, precariously employed jack-of-all-trades in Milan, who doggedly tries to get by in an unfeeling city while trying to retain his dignity and his passions.”

Amma Asante’s Belle. “Gugu Mbatha-Raw takes the title role alongside Tom Wilkinson, Miranda Richardson, Emily Watson and Canada’s Sarah Gadon in the true story of Dido Elizabeth Belle, the illegitimate, bi-racial daughter of a Royal Navy admiral in 18th-century Britain.”

Richard Ayoade’s The Double. “Jesse Eisenberg and Mia Wasikowska star in writer-director Richard Ayoade’s updating of the famous Dostoevsky novella about a man who finds his life being usurped by his doppelganger.”

Biyi Bandele’s Half of a Yellow Sun. “Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave, Children of Men) and Thandie Newton (Crash, The Pursuit of Happyness) star in this epic chronicle of family ties and tribal violence from celebrated Nigerian playwright Biyi Bandele.”

Jason Bateman’s Bad Words. “Bateman directs and stars in this raucous comedy about a cranky, foul-mouthed, fortysomething high-school dropout who, through a registration loophole, enters a national children’s spelling bee and ruthlessly sets out to destroy his pint-sized competition.”

Ned Benson’s The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Him and Her. “James McAvoy, Jessica Chastain and Viola Davis star in this innovative two-part film that relates a love story from two different perspectives.”

John Carney’s Can a Song Save Your Life? “Kiera Knightly, Mark Ruffalo and Catherine Keener star in this soul-stirring music industry drama about an undiscovered young singer and a washed-up producer. These lost souls meet, see something special in the other and ultimately make beautiful music together in this latest film from Once writer-director John Carney.”

Sylvain Chomet’s Attila Marcel. “Chomet (The Triplets of Belleville, The Illusionist) invokes memories of Buster Keaton and Jacques Tati in his first live-action film, about a mute, sweet-natured man-child whose reawakened childhood memories unleash marvellous musical fantasies.”

Update, 7/24:

Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity. “George Clooney and Sandra Bullock star in this highly anticipated 3D space thriller from acclaimed director Alfonso Cuarón (Children of Men, Y Tu Mamá También).” And a few days before it screens in Toronto, Gravity will open the Venice Film Festival.

Manuel Martín Cuenca’s Cannibal. “In the sleepy Spanish town of Granada, a mild-mannered tailor and secret cannibal unexpectedly finds himself falling in love with his latest prospective victim, in director Manuel Martín Cuenca’s disturbing yet intoxicating tale of bizarre romance.”

John Curran’s Tracks. “Mia Wasikowska (Alice in Wonderland, The Kids Are All Right) stars in the astonishing true story of Robyn Davidson, who in 1977 set out on a solo 2,700-kilometre journey by foot across the Australian Outback.”

Atom Egoyan’s Devil’s Knot. “Egoyan dramatizes the fallout from the notorious 1993 West Memphis murders chronicled in the documentary Paradise Lost trilogy, focusing on the grieving mother (Reese Witherspoon) of one of the murdered boys as she grows increasingly troubled by the lynch-mob fever that grips the town.”

Asghar Farhadi’s The Past. “Traveling to Paris from Tehran to finalize his divorce, an Iranian man (Ali Mosaffa) finds himself suddenly and tragically drawn back into the lives of his ex (Bérénice Bejo, The Artist) and her daughter, in the exquisitely written and magnificently acted new film from Academy Award-winning director Asghar Farhadi (A Separation).” See the reviews from Cannes.

Ralph Fiennes’s The Invisible Woman. “Fiennes directs and stars as Charles Dickens in this opulent period drama about the great novelist’s passionate, years-long secret affair with the young actress Nelly Ternan (Felicity Jones, Like Crazy).”

Stephen Frears’s Philomena. “Frears (The Queen) teams with Judi Dench and Steve Coogan for this powerful true story of an unmarried Irish-Catholic woman who, decades after being forced by her community to give up her newborn son, embarks on a search to find him with the aid of a BBC reporter.”

David Frankel’s One Chance. “This hugely inspiring bio-pic chronicles British tenor Paul Potts’ meteoric rise to stardom via the television program Britain’s Got Talent. One Chance is an endlessly charming, against-the-odds success story from director David Frankel (The Devil Wears Prada).”

Nicole Garcia’s Going Away. “Two unlikely friends—a supply teacher and a lonely young boy suspended between two estranged parents—embark on a weekend motorcycle voyage full of surprises and unforeseen consequences in this surprisingly tough, unsentimental drama from acclaimed French actress and director Nicole Garcia.”

Jonathan Glazer’s Under the Skin. “Scarlett Johannson stars as a voracious alien seductress who scours remote highways and backroads for human prey, in this sci-fi thriller from director Jonathan Glazer (Sexy Beast, Birth).”

Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s Don Jon. “Gordon-Levitt writes, directs and stars in this comedy about a womanizing Jersey boy who finds there’s more to life than constantly scoring when he becomes involved with two very different women (Scarlett Johannson and Julianne Moore).”

David Gordon Green’s Joe. “Nicolas Cage stars as a hard-living ex-con who becomes friend and protector for a hard-luck kid (Tye Sheridan, The Tree of Life, Mud), in this contemporary Southern gothic tale from acclaimed filmmaker David Gordon Green (George Washington, All the Real Girls).”

Paul Haggis’s Third Person. “Liam Neeson, Adrien Brody and James Franco star in the new film from Academy Award-winning writer-director Paul Haggis (Crash), which jumps from Paris to Rome to New York as it traces the hidden connections between three very different men.”

Agnieszka Holland’s Burning Bush. “This epic, long-form docudrama by acclaimed director Agnieszka Holland (made for HBO Europe as a three-part miniseries) chronicles the political, legal, and moral fallout that followed after Czech student protestor Jan Palach set himself on fire in protest against government repression in 1969.”

Nicole Holofcener’s Enough Said. As Lindsey Bahr reported last month for Entertainment Weekly, this was one of the project James Gandolfini had just completed when he died so unexpectedly and too soon. It “centers on Eva, played by Julia Louis-Dreyfus, a woman fresh off a divorce. Eva befriends another recent divorcée, Marianne, played by longtime Holofcener collaborator Catherine Keener, while also deciding to pursue a relationship with Gandolfini’s character Albert, described in a statement as ‘a sweet, funny, like-minded man.’ Unfortunately for Eva, Albert happens to be Marianne’s ex-husband.”

Thomas Imbach’s Mary, Queen of Scots. “The brilliant young French actress Camille Rutherford (Low Life) stars as the doomed monarch in this sumptuous historical drama.”

Jim Jarmusch’s Only Lovers Left Alive. “A reclusive, Bowie-like rock star (Tom Hiddleston)—who also happens to be a centuries-old vampire—has his moody, nocturnal reverie disturbed by clamoring fans, a visit from his bloodsucking belle (Tilda Swinton) and the jibes of her irascible sister (Mia Wasikowska), in the eagerly anticipated new film from American indie icon Jim Jarmusch.” See the reviews from Cannes.

Liza Johnson’s Hateship Loveship. “Kristen Wiig, Guy Pearce, Nick Nolte and Hailee Stanfield (True Grit) star in this smart, funny and moving family drama based on a short story by revered Canadian author Alice Munro.”

Abdellatif Kechiche’s Blue Is The Warmest Color. “Kechiche’s bold, passionate and controversial love story about the tempestuous relationship between a sensitive high-schooler (Adèle Exarchopoulos) and an assertive art student (Léa Seydoux) won the Palme d’Or at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.” See the reviews.

Hirokazu Kore-Eda’s Like Father, Like Son. “Two families—one rich, one poor—discover that their sons were switched at birth, in the poignant new drama from Japan’s Hirokazu Kore-Eda (Still Walking, Nobody Knows, After Life).” See the reviews from Cannes.

Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s REAL. “Kurosawa (Cure, Tokyo Sonata) returns with this story of a man who uses an advanced neurological technology to enter the frightening mindscape of his comatose lover.” See David Bordwell on Kiyoshi Kurosawa.

Sebastián Lelio’s Gloria. “Paulina García won the Silver Bear at the Berlin Film Festival for her performance as a vivacious, middle-aged divorcée who finds what may be her last chance for love while grooving on the dance floor of the local singles club.”

Caroline Link’s Exit Marrakech. “On vacation in the Moroccan capital to visit his estranged theatre-director father, seventeen-year-old Ben finds himself fascinated by the bustling, colorful city — and by a beautiful young woman who hails from a far different world than his own.”

Daniele Luchetti’s Those Happy Years. “A narcissistic artist finds his self-satisfied world turned upside down in the wake of a disastrous exhibition and his previously devoted wife’s extra-marital inclinations, in the touching and insightful new comedy-drama from Italian writer-director Daniele Luchetti.”

David Mackenzie’s Starred Up. “The prison movie genre gets a fresh shot of youthful grit in this hard-hitting but big-hearted drama about a teenaged inmate transferred to the adult prison where his own father is incarcerated.”

Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave. “McQueen follows the acclaimed Hunger and Shame with this shocking, based-on-fact story of a 19th-century freeman kidnapped and sold into slavery in the Deep South. The enormously talented Chiwetel Ejiofor leads an extraordinary cast that includes Michael Fassbender, Paul Giamatti, Alfre Woodard and Benedict Cumberbatch.”

Roger Michell’s Le Week-End. “Revisiting Paris for the first time since their honeymoon, a long-married British couple (Jim Broadbent and Lindsay Duncan) run into an old colleague (Jeff Goldblum) and discover a new vision of what life and marriage might be, in the new film from director Roger Michell (Notting Hill) and screenwriter Hanif Kureishi (My Beautiful Laundrette).”

Lukas Moodysson’s We Are the Best! “Moodysson (Show Me Love, Together) returns with this raucous and ebullient tale of three pre-teen outcasts who form an all-girl punk band.”

François Ozon‘s Young and Beautiful. “Ozon (In the House, 8 Women, Under the Sand) directs this coming-of-age chronicle of a young French girl that takes place over four seasons and four songs.” See the reviews from Cannes.

Pawel Pawlikowski’s Ida. “Pawlikowski (Last Resort, My Summer of Love) returns to his homeland for this moving and intimate drama about a young novitiate nun in 1960s Poland who, on the verge of taking her vows, discovers a dark family secret dating from the terrible years of the Nazi occupation.”

Martin Provost’s Violette. “Emmanuelle Devos (Kings & Queen) stars in this gorgeously rendered biopic of the acclaimed French novelist Violette Leduc, whose intense and fraught relationship with Simone de Beauvoir (Sandrine Kimberlain) fuelled her fearless, nakedly confessional writing.”

Godfrey Reggio’s Visitors. “The dazzling new film from Godfrey Reggio (Koyaanisqatsi) screens with a live performance of Philip Glass’ score by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, in a special presentation introduced by Steven Soderbergh.”

Keanu Reeves’s Man of Tai Chi. “Reeves makes his directorial debut with this spectacular, bone-crunching martial-arts epic starring former Matrix stuntman Tiger Chen and featuring fight choreography by the legendary Yuen Woo-ping.”

Kelly Reichardt‘s Night Moves. “Jesse Eisenberg, Dakota Fanning and Peter Saarsgard star as radical environmental activists whose act of eco-terror plunges them into a moral maelstrom, in the highly anticipated new film from acclaimed American auteur Kelly Reichardt (Wendy and Lucy, Meek’s Cutoff).”

Jason Reitman’s Labor Day. “A precocious thirteen-year-old boy (Gattlin Griffith) and his divorced mother (Kate Winslet) are in for a life-changing surprise when they discover that the friendly stranger (Josh Brolin) they meet on Labor Day weekend is an escaped convict, in the new comedy-drama from director Jason Reitman (Up in the Air, Juno).”

John Ridley’s All Is By My Side. “OutKast’s André Benjamin stars as Jimi Hendrix in this biopic of the rock legend.”

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