Daily | Toronto 2013 Lineup, Round 6

Club Sandwich

‘Club Sandwich’

The Toronto International Film Festival, running from September 5 through 15, announced such a monstrous batch of titles today, it’d be simply overwhelming to toss descriptions, trailers, and such for all of them into one entry. So we’re breaking them down. To recap, so far we’ve seen lineups for Galas and Special Presentations; Midnight Madness; TIFF Docs, Vanguard, City to City, and TIFF Cinematheque; Canadian films; and, announced today, Wavelengths. Here’s the Contemporary World Cinema program (minus the Canadian titles already announced), with descriptions from the festival, plus occasional notes…

Ahmad Abdalla’s Rags and Tatters (Farsh wa ghata). “Escaping from prison amid the turbulence of the 2011 Tahrir Square demonstrations, a nameless fugitive desperately seeks warmth and shelter in the outer regions of Cairo, in director Ahmad Abdalla’s vivid and captivating portrait of the fallout from the Arab Spring.”

Clio Barnard’s The Selfish Giant. “This loose update of the Oscar Wilde fable tells the tale of raging, impulsive Arbor, a boy kicked out of school and into an illegal trade, stealing copper cable for sale. With its underclass characters and misty Bradford setting, Clio Barnard’s second feature has the tone of a Dardennes film, but with a distinct British edge.” See the reviews from Cannes.

Nejib Belkadhi’s Bastardo. “Larger-than-life characters populate director Nejib Belkadhi’s spellbinding combination of film noir and magic realism, which follows a downtrodden orphan—now grown but still saddled with a cruel nickname—who has a reversal of fortune and takes on the thugs who control his ghetto.”

Raisa Bonnet’s Old Moon (Luna Vieja). “Bonnet’s naturalistic short sketches an almost wordless tale of the relationship between a young girl and her grandmother. Beautifully shot, it never tries to do too much within its limited running time.”

Ragnar Bragason’s Metalhead (Málmhaus). “Bragason (Children, Parents) directs this darkly comic drama about a grief-stricken young woman who adopts the persona—and decibel-blasting predilections—of her deceased brother.”

Stephen Brown’s The Sea. “Mourning the recent death of his wife and wrestling with the demons of his past, a retired art historian (Ciaran Hinds; Munich) takes lodging at a seaside cottage under the eye of a watchful housekeeper (Charlotte Rampling), in this adaptation of revered Irish author John Banville’s Man Booker Prize-winning novel.”

Yuri Bykov’s The Major. “Playing out over the course of one day, The Major is a gripping drama that sees screenwriter-director Yuri Bykov deliver an indicting criticism of police corruption and the collateral damage it leaves behind.” See Anna Tatarska‘s review from Cannes.

Robin Campillo‘s Eastern Boys. “Formally fascinating and sexually frank, the audacious latest from director Robin Campillo takes us to the edge of discomfort as it presents a middle-aged Frenchman’s entanglement with a group of young Eastern European hustlers—and gives way to a love story with a conscience.”

Fernando Coimbra’s A Wolf at the Door (O Lobo atrás da Porta). “A nerve-rattling tale of a kidnapped child and the distraught parents left behind, Brazilian filmmaker Fernando Coimbra’s suspenseful feature debut captures the darkness that ensues when panic breeds suspicion and love turns to hate.”

Lance Daly’s Life’s a Breeze. “A Dublin family races to recover their grandmother’s mattress—and its hidden stash of over a million euros in carefully squirreled-away savings—in this delightful comedy.”

Róbert I. Douglas’s This is Sanlitun. “A pair of hapless ex-pats discover that Beijing isn’t the hotbed of entrepreneurial opportunity they had anticipated in this hilarious and timely look at the West’s obsession with the East, directed by Róbert I. Douglas (Eleven Men Out).”

Fernando Eimbcke‘s Club Sandwich. “While vacationing at a beachside resort, a single mother faces inevitable separation anxiety when her 15-year-old son—who is also her best friend—discovers magical chemistry with a girl his own age. Director Fernando Eimbcke approaches the subject with sensitivity while also presenting it as a wonderfully awkward, laugh-out-loud comedy.”

Toa Fraser’s Giselle. “Fraser’s beautifully photographed film captures the Royal New Zealand Ballet’s staging of the classic—about a deceptive nobleman’s punishment at the hands of vengeful spirits—while suggesting a fictionalized, parallel love story offstage between the two lead dancers.”

Dyana Gaye’s Under the Starry Sky (Des Etoiles). “A transcontinental drama that delves into the shadowy world of undocumented travel, the debut feature from Senegalese filmmaker Dyana Gaye charts the interconnected destinies of three far-flung sojourners.”

Guillaume Giovanetti and Çagla Zencirci’s Ningen. “Filmmaking partners Guillaume Giovanetti and Cagla Zencirci immersed themselves in the magical world of Japanese folklore to create this intricate and delightfully amusing modern-day parable.”

Alain Guiraudie’s Stranger by the Lake. “Winner of the best director prize in the Un Certain Regard section at Cannes [reviews, trailer], Alain Guiraudie’s disciplined, eerie ‘naturalist thriller’ follows the comings and goings at a lakeside gay cruising beach as a man falls for a lethally dangerous Adonis.”

Jan Hrebejk’s Honeymoon (Líbanky). “The arrival of an uninvited guest casts a shadow over an idyllic wedding celebration in this wonderfully fraught meditation on guilt and forgiveness, directed by prolific Czech filmmaker Jan Hrebejk (The Holy Quaternity).”

Lars Daniel Krutzkoff Jacobsen’s The Immoral (De Umoralske). “Jacobsen’s corrosive look at contemporary Norwegian society is also a hilarious and provocative comedy that cuts across class lines and rampages through notions of good taste, as it follows an ex-soldier and a single mother who go into the prostitution business after getting kicked off welfare.”

Jeffrey Jeturian’s The Bit Player (Ekstra). “Santos, the enduring Grand Dame of the Philippine film industry, delivers a performance of grace, courage, and peerless comic timing as a single mother toiling as a lowly TV extra in the latest film from veteran director Jeffrey Jeturian (Trespassers).”

Dome Karukoski’s Heart of a Lion (Leijonasydän). “The leader of a gang of racist skinheads finds his prejudices and misplaced loyalties pitted against his desire for love and family when he falls for a waitress whose son is of African descent.”

Judy Kibinge’s Something Necessary. “Kibinge’s daring yet elegant film is an uplifting parable about atonement, set against the deadly violence that followed the 2007 elections in Kenya.”

Levan Koguashvili’s Blind Dates (Brma Paemnebi). “Koguashvili’s film—about a lonely 40-year-old schoolteacher who takes up with the wife of a soon-to-be-released convict—is a compassionate tragicomedy commenting on relationships and the profound emotional responsibilities they trigger.”

Dante Lam‘s Unbeatable. “Fleeing to Macau to escape from threatening loan sharks, a former mixed-martial arts champion becomes embroiled in the lives of a psychologically troubled single mother and a young wannabe fighter, in Hong Kong auteur Dante Lam’s stylish and compelling action-drama.”

Lisa Langseth’s Hotell. “Alicia Vikander (A Royal Affair) stars in this comedy-drama as a recovering control freak who finds support and a new lease on life when she enters group therapy.”

Yossi Madmony‘s A Place in Heaven (Makom be-gan eden). “The fateful contract between a secular Israeli army officer and a devout young Holocaust survivor has profound and unexpected consequences, in this sprawling, decades-spanning epic from director Yossi Madmony (Restoration).”

Mohamad Malas’s Ladder to Damascus (Soullam iIa Dimashq). “Malas, recognized widely as Syrian cinema’s first auteur, resurrects the ghosts of his country’s thirty-year-old dictatorship with this searing drama, shot in Damascus under a shroud of secrecy and at great risk after the outbreak of the 2011 insurgency.”

Donovan Marsh’s iNumber Number. “Adroitly written and directed by South African filmmaker Donovan Marsh, this action-packed heist thriller—about a pair of cops battling corrupt colleagues as well as a gang of armoured-car —boasts an oddball cast that brings comic relief to the ruthless thuggery.”

Rashid Masharawi’s Palestine Stereo (Falastine Stereo). “Mashawari follows his widely acclaimed dark comedy Laila’s Birthday with this compelling and ironic drama about two brothers on the West Bank who, rendered homeless by an Israeli air strike, hustle odd jobs to raise enough money to emigrate to Canada.”

Menno Meyjes’s The Dinner (Het Diner). “Adapting a Dutch bestseller inspired by a shocking real-life crime, Menno Meyjes (screenwriter of The Color Purple and Lionheart) directs this excoriating assessment of Europe’s contemporary social ills.”

Roberto Minervini’s Stop the Pounding Heart. “The teenage daughter of Christian goat farmers in rural Texas rebels against her arranged marriage in this half-fiction, half-documentary hybrid from Italian director Roberto Minervini, shot with non-professional actors performing in their real homes.”

Alberto Morais’s The Kids from the Port (Los Chicos del Puerto). “In this charming neorealist gem set on the sleepy outskirts of Valencia, young Miguel and his friends undertake a seemingly simple mission on behalf of Miguel’s grandfather that teaches them all a lesson in real independence.”

Avi Nesher’s The Wonders (Plaot). “Lewis Carroll meets Carol Reed in this dizzyingly funny and fantastical farce from Israeli director Avi Nesher, about a good-natured slacker who becomes embroiled in a labyrinthine conspiracy in the weird criminal-religious underbelly of Jerusalem.”

Calin Peter Netzer’s Child’s Pose (Pozitia Copilului). “Netzer won the Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival for this sardonic tale about a wealthy, aging Bucharest matriarch who greases more palms than she can shake as she tries to buy her son’s way out of a hit-and-run conviction.”

Noh Young-Seok’s Intruders (Jo Nan-ja-deul). “In this quirky comic thriller from writer-director Noh Young-seok (Daytime Drinking), a screenwriter retreats to a secluded cabin in the woods only to be rudely interrupted by some uninvited guests.”

Leticia Tonos Paniagua’s Cristo Rey. “Set in the Dominican Republic, Leticia Tonos Paniagua’s uniquely Caribbean retelling of Romeo and Juliet chronicles the love between a kind-hearted teenager, ostracized for his mixed Haitian-Dominican descent, and the beautiful sister of a local drug kingpin he’s hired to protect.”

Corneliu Porumboiu’s When Evening Falls on Bucharest or Metabolism (Cand se lasa seara peste Bucuresti sau Metabolism). “A director (Bogdan Dumitrache) with two weeks left on his latest film fakes an ulcer in order to delay production and pursue a romance with his lead actress and muse (Diana Avramut). In the hands of Romanian fimmaker Corneliu Porumboiu, this seemingly simple love story becomes a force of cinematic deconstruction similar to his meta police procedural, Police, Adjective.” See the reviews from Locarno.

Mohammad Rasoulof’s Manuscripts Don’t Burn (Dast-neveshtehaa nemisoozand). “Rasoulof’s latest tackles head-on the machinations of censorship in Iran, detailing the true story of a failed 1995 assassination plot by the Iranian regime against twenty-one writers and journalists.” See the reviews from Cannes.

Alexandre Rockwell’s Little Feet. “Determined to see ‘the river,’ two young children living in Los Angeles leave home to embark on a magical urban odyssey, in the marvelous new film by American indie icon Alexandre Rockwell (In the Soup).”

Mariana Rondón’s Bad Hair (Pelo Malo). “A nine-year-old boy’s preening obsession with straightening his hair elicits a tidal wave of homophobic panic in his hard-working mother, in this tender but clear-eyed coming-of-age tale.”

Dana Rotberg’s White Lies (Tuakiri Huna). “In a small New Zealand town in the early 20th century, three very different women—a Maori medicine woman, a wealthy, sharp-tongued white housewife, and a controlling housekeeper—are brought together by a scandalous secret, in this complex and mesmerizing tale of culture clash and social mores based on a novella by the author of Whale Rider.”

René Sampaio’s Brazilian Western (Faroeste Caboclo). “Loosely based on legendary Brasilia rock band Legiao Urbana’s seminal folk song, René Sampaio’s lyrical, fable-like debut feature follows a young man from the provinces who decides to try his luck in the capital, where he falls in with a rough crowd—and falls for a senator’s daughter.”

Ulrich Seidl’s Paradise: Hope (Paradies: Hoffnung). “The stunning conclusion to Austrian provocateur Ulrich Seidl’s Paradise trilogy unfolds in a diet camp, where its 13-year-old heroine falls for the 40-year-old camp doctor.” See the reviews from Berlin.

Anup Singh’s Qissa. “Set amidst the ethnic cleansing and general chaos that accompanied India’s partition in 1947, this sweeping drama stars Irrfan Khan—also appearing at the Festival in The Lunchbox—as a Sikh attempting to forge a new life for his family while keeping their true identities a secret from their community.”

Götz Spielmann’s October November. “Spielmann follows his acclaimed thriller Revanche with this visually captivating character study, in which a family reunion at a mountainside inn lays bare old wounds and reveals long-held secrets.”

János Szász’s Le Grand Cahier (A Nagy Füzet). “Szász’s gripping adaptation of Agota Kristof’s award-winning novel, about two boys sent to live with their wicked, estranged grandmother during World War II, is a grim, atmospheric drama about fraternal bonds and survival. Szász remodels his wartime coming-of-age story into a Brothers Grimm-like fairy tale, colouring the twins’ environment through the golden and earthy cinematography of Christian Berger (The White Ribbon, Festival 2009).”

Danis Tanović’s An Episode in the Life of an Iron Picker (Epizoda u životu beraca željeza). “Tanovic won the Grand Jury Prize at the Berlin Film Festival for this unflinching exposé of the prejudices faced by Bosnia-Herzegovina’s Roma minority, starring the real-life couple whose harrowing ordeal became a national scandal.”

Alexey Uchitel’s Break Loose (Vosmerka). “Uchitel (The Edge) returns to the Festival with this explosive, pulse-pounding crime drama about the violent rivalry that erupts when an elite police operative falls for a gangster’s moll.”

Diego Vega and Daniel Vega’s El Mudo. “Someone is out to get Constantino Zegarra, a judge with an impressive conviction rate—and any number of enemies. So why is it so hard for others to believe he’s the victim of a conspiracy? This black comedy and offbeat crime procedural combines elements of a paranoid thriller and with social commentary.”

Josh C. Waller’s McCanick. “A hothead cop (David Morse) learns a young man (Cory Monteith, in one of his final film roles) he helped put away seven years ago is back out on the streets—and carries with him an uncomfortable secret. This tough, tension-riddled action-drama is a showcase for Morse’s intensity and Monteith’s charisma.”

Anne Weil and Philippe Kotlarski’s Friends from France (Les Interdits). “Set in Odessa in 1979, this uniquely emotional political thriller recreates meticulously the deep-freeze of the Soviet Union at the crest of the Cold War while following a pair of French cousins in their clandestine effort to reach out to the so-called refuseniks—Jews repressed by the Brezhnev regime.”

To Repel Ghosts: Urban Tales from the African Continent. “Beginning with an ambiguous science fiction in Nairobi and ending with a reenactment of the myth of Noah’s ark in Cape Town’s Khayelitsha township, To Repel Ghosts: Urban Tales from the African Continent showcases remarkably uncanny and fiercely contemporary stories, including: Jim Chuchu’s Homecoming (African Metropolis), Mark Dornford-May’s Noah’s Flood (Unogumbe, Noye’s Fludde), Philippe Lacôte’s To Repel Ghosts (African Metropolis), Vincent Moloi’s Berea (African Metropolis), and Akosua Adoma Owusu’s Kwaku Ananse.”

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