Another Tuesday, another round of titles lined up for the Toronto International Film Festival, running this year from September 4 through 14. To refresh your memory, Round 1 gave us the Gala and Special Presentations. Round 2: Masters, TIFF Docs, Vanguard and Midnight Madness. Round 3: Canadian films sprinkled through various programs. And in today’s round, we have seven more Gala and 17 more Special Presentations, plus the Wavelengths, Contemporary World Cinema, City to City, TIFF Cinematheque (free admission to newly restored classics) and Future Projections (free admissions to the installations) sections and the inaugural Short Cuts International program. With descriptions from the festival:
Boychoir. François Girard, USA. An orphaned 12-year-old boy is sent to prestigious music school where he struggles to join an elite group of world-class singers. No one expects this rebellious loner to succeed, least of all the school’s relentlessly-tough conductor who wages a battle of wills to bring out the boy’s extraordinary musical gift. Starring Dustin Hoffman, Kathy Bates, Josh Lucas, Kevin McHale, Eddie Izzard, Debra Winger and Garrett Wareing.
The Connection (La French). Cédric Jimenez, France/Belgium, World Premiere. Marseille, 1975. Pierre Michel, a young police magistrate with a wife and children, has just been transferred to help crack down on the city’s organized crime. He decides to take on the French Connection, a Mafia-run operation that exports heroin all over the world. Not paying heed to any warnings, he leads a one-man campaign against Mafia kingpin Gaëtan Zampa, the most untouchable godfather of all. But Pierre Michel soon discovers that to get results he will have to change his methods. Starring Jean Dujardin, Gilles Lellouche, Céline Sallette and Benoît Magimel.
Escobar: Paradise Lost. Andrea Di Stefano, France, World Premiere. Young surfer Nick thinks all his dreams have come true when he visits his brother in Colombia. Against an idyllic backdrop of blue lagoons and white beaches, he falls madly in love with Maria, a beautiful Colombian girl. It all seems perfect until he meets her uncle, Pablo Escobar. Starring Benicio del Toro, Josh Hutcherson and Claudia Traisac.
The Forger. Philip Martin, USA, World Premiere. A former art prodigy and second generation petty thief buys his way out of prison to spend time with his ailing son. To do so, he must team up with his father for one last job to pay back the syndicate that arranged his release. Starring John Travolta, Christopher Plummer, Tye Sheridan, Jennifer Ehle, Marcus Thomas, Anson Mount, Abigail Spencer and Travis Wade.
Infinitely Polar Bear. Maya Forbes, USA, Canadian Premiere. Set in the late ’70s, a manic-depressive mess of a father tries to win back his wife by taking responsibility of their two young daughters. The spirited girls don’t make the overwhelming task any easier. Starring Mark Ruffalo, Zoe Saldana, Imogene Wolodarsky, Ashley Aufderheide, Beth Dixon and Keir Dullea.
Laggies. Lynn Shelton, USA, International Premiere. Overeducated and underemployed, 28-year-old Megan is in the throes of a quarter-life crisis. Squarely into adulthood with no career prospects or motivation to think about her future, Megan is comfortable lagging a few steps behind while her friends check off milestones and celebrate their new grown-up status. When her high-school sweetheart proposes, Megan panics and—given an unexpected opportunity to escape for a week—hides out in the home of her new friend, 16-year-old Annika, and her world-weary single dad Craig. A romantic coming-of-age comedy about three people who find their lives intertwined in the most unconventional of ways. Starring Keira Knightley, Sam Rockwell and Chloë Grace Moretz.
Ruth & Alex. Richard Loncraine, USA, World Premiere. Based on Jill Ciment’s novel, Heroic Measures. Ruth & Alex is set over a weekend where a couple (Morgan Freeman and Diane Keaton) must decide whether or not to sell their Brooklyn walk up of 40 years. The story takes a comedic turn when the dynamic couple have to contend with eccentric open house guests, their pushy realtor niece, and the health of their beloved family dog—all while navigating a New York on edge from what turns out to be an media-generated terror threat.
Beyond the Lights. Gina Prince-Bythewood, USA. Noni is the music world’s latest superstar, but the pressures of fame have her on edge—until she meets Kaz Nicol, a young cop and aspiring politician. Can Kaz’s love give Noni the courage to find her own voice and become the artist she was meant to be? Starring Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Nate Parker, Minnie Driver, Colson “MGK” Baker and Danny Glover.
Clouds of Sils Maria. Olivier Assayas, France/USA, North American Premiere. At the peak of her international career, Maria Enders is asked to perform in a revival of the play that made her famous 20 years ago. But back then she played the role of Sigrid, an alluring young girl who disarms and eventually drives her boss Helena to suicide. Now she’s asked to step into the role of the older Helena. She departs with her assistant to rehearse in Sils Maria, a remote region of the Alps. A young Hollywood starlet with a penchant for scandal is to play the role of Sigrid, and Maria finds herself on the other side of the mirror, face to face with an ambiguously charming woman who is, in essence, an unsettling reflection of herself. Starring Juliette Binoche, Chloë Grace Moretz, Kristen Stewart and Lars Eidinger.
The Cobbler. Thomas McCarthy, USA, World Premiere. Max Simkin repairs shoes in the same New York shop that has been in his family for generations. Disenchanted with the grind of daily life, Max stumbles upon a magical heirloom that allows him to step into the lives of his customers and see the world in a new way. Sometimes walking in another man’s shoes is the only way one can discover who they really are. Starring Adam Sandler, Cliff “Method Man” Smith, Ellen Barkin, Melonie Diaz, Dan Stevens, Fritz Weaver, Yul Vazquez, Steve Buscemi and Dustin Hoffman.
Don’t Go Breaking My Heart 2 (Dan Shen Nan Nu 2). Johnnie To, Hong Kong/China, World Premiere. After losing his girl in a love triangle, Shen Ran falls in love with another woman, only to find himself still attached to his old flame. Meanwhile, his new love also finds herself torn between him and another young man. Starring Louis Koo, Miriam Yeung, Gao Yuanyuan and Vic Chou.
Gemma Bovery. Anne Fontaine, France, World Premiere. Martin, an ex-Parisian well-heeled hipster passionate about Gustave Flaubert who settled into a Norman village as a baker, sees an English couple moving into a small farm nearby. Not only are the names of the new arrivals Gemma and Charles Bovery, but their behaviour also seems to be inspired by Flaubert’s heroes. Starring Gemma Arterton, Fabrice Luchini, Jason Flemyng and Niels Schneider.
Gentlemen. Mikael Marcimain, Sweden, World Premiere. Beaten, bruised and afraid, young author Klas Östergren hides out in a Stockholm apartment, writing the story of its vanished inhabitants: the flamboyant, charismatic, enigmatic Morgan brothers. Gentlemen simultaneously celebrates and mourns the post-WWII era—its liberation, wild jazz music and poetry, economic boom and rampant corruption. Starring David Dencik, Ruth Vega Fernandez, David Fukamachi Regnfors, Sverrir Gudnason, Boman Oscarsson and Pernilla August.
Gomorrah. Stefano Sollima, Italy, North American Premiere. This is the inside story of the Camorra, the fierce Neapolitan crime organization, told through the eyes of 30-year-old Ciro, the right hand of the clan’s godfather, Pietro Savastano.
Human Highway (Director’s Cut). Bernard Shakey and Dean Stockwell, USA, World Premiere. The road to the ’80s is reflected through the hi-tech, fantasy lens of Neil Young’s 1982 film, Human Highway. This absurdist comedy-musical deals with one of the most serious issues of our time: the threat of nuclear destruction. Starring Dean Stockwell, Neil Young, Devo, Russ Tamblyn, Dennis Hopper, Charlotte Stewart, Sally Kirkland and Geraldine Baron.
Madame Bovary. Sophie Barthes, United Kingdom/Belgium, World Premiere. In 19th-century France, Emma Bovary, the wife of a dull country doctor, embarks on a series of love affairs and spends well beyond her means. Although the affairs provide moments of perceived bliss, Emma’s idealized notions of love evade her and leave her in ruinous debt. Starring Mia Wasikowska, Laura Carmichael, Ezra Miller, Paul Giamatti, Rhys Ifans, Logan Marshall-Green and Henry Lloyd-Hughes.
Maggie. Henry Hobson, USA, World Premiere. A Midwestern farmer stays by the side of his beloved teenage daughter even as she slowly turns into a cannibalistic zombie, in this daring, genre-bending debut feature from director Henry Hobson. Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Abigail Breslin and Joely Richardson.
Pride. Matthew Warchus, United Kingdom, North American Premiere. Inspired by an extraordinary true story, Pride follows a group of gay and lesbian activists who come together to support the families of striking mine workers in 1984 England. As the strike drags on, the two groups discover that standing together makes the strongest union of all. Starring Bill Nighy, Imelda Staunton, Dominic West, Paddy Considine, Andrew Scott, Joseph Gilgun, George MacKay and Ben Schnetzer.
Revenge of the Green Dragons. Andrew Lau and Andrew Loo, USA, World Premiere. In the vein of crime classics like Mean Streets and Infernal Affairs, this film follows two immigrant friends, Sonny and Steven, who survive the hard streets of New York in the 1980s by joining Chinatown gang The Green Dragons. Sonny and Steven quickly rise up the ranks, drawing the unwanted attention of the city’s police force. Starring Ray Liotta, Justin Chon, Kevin Wu, Harry Shum Jr., Shuya Chang and Geoff Pierson.
The Search. Michel Hazanavicius, France, North American Premiere. The Second Chechen War, 1999. The Search recounts a powerful story of conflict told through four lives that will be brought together by a shocking twist of fate. Starring Bérénice Bejo, Annette Bening, Maxim Emelianov, Abdul-Khalim Mamatsuiev and Zukhra Duishvili.
Shelter. Paul Bettany, USA, World Premiere. Hannah and Tahir come from two different worlds. But when their lives intersect, they’re at the same place: homeless on the streets of New York. A love letter to the great New York dramas of the 1970s, Shelter is an unsparing story of loss, love, sacrifice, redemption and ultimately, hope. Starring Jennifer Connelly, Anthony Mackie.
Three Hearts (3 Coeurs). Benoît Jacquot, France, North American Premiere. One night in a French provincial city, Marc meets Sylvie. They wander the streets until morning and set a date to meet in Paris a few days later. When Marc doesn’t show up on time a twist of fate leaves him romantically torn between two sisters. Starring Benoît Poelvoorde, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Chiara Mastroianni and Catherine Deneuve.
Two Days, One Night (Deux jours, une nuit). Luc Dardenne and Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Belgium/France, Canadian Premiere. Sandra has only one weekend to visit her colleagues and—with the help of her husband—convince them to sacrifice their bonuses so she can keep her job. Starring Marion Cotillard, Fabrizio Rongione, Pili Groyne and Simon Caudry.
Welcome to Me. Shira Piven, USA, World Premiere. A woman with Borderline Personality Disorder wins the Megamillions lottery, quits her meds and buys herself a talk show on an infomercial channel where she talks and creates segments exclusively about herself. This movie is a dark comedic look at our obsession with celebrity and narcissism. Starring Kristen Wiig, James Marsden, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Wes Bentley, Tim Robbins, Joan Cusack and Linda Cardellini.
Wavelengths 1: Open Forms. Inspired by the radical, uncompromising and vital work of KwieKulik—a Polish art collective active in the seventies and eighties led by and named after Zofia Kulik and Przemysław Kwiek—and occasioned by a special loan from Warsaw’s Filmoteka Muzeum, Wavelengths 2014 launches with a program that highlights performativity in both the landscape and the social sphere.
- brouillard – passage #14, Alexandre Larose, Canada.
- Against Landscape, Josh Gen Solondz, USA.
- Open Form – Game on an Actress’s Face, KwieKulik Group, Poland.
- The Dragon is the Frame, Mary Helena Clark, USA.
- Open Form – Street and Tribune in Front of PKiN, KwieKulik Group, Poland.
- Poetry for Sale, Friedl vom Gröller, Austria.
- Under a Changing Sky, Jean-Claude Rousseau, France.
- Panchrome I, II, III, T. Marie, USA
Wavelengths 2: Something in the Atmosphere. There’s something in the atmosphere, slightly amiss, uncomfortable, and, in some cases, surprisingly alluring.
- The pimp and his trophies, Antoinette Zwirchmayr, Austria.
- The Innocents, Jean-Paul Kelly, Canada.
- Catalogue, Dana Berman Duff, USA.
- Relief, Calum Walter, USA.
- Red Capriccio, Blake Williams, Canada.
- Under the Atmosphere, Mike Stolz, USA.
- Beep, Kim Kyung-man, South Korea.
Wavelengths 3: Tales Told. A program of tales told, but also delayed, reconfigured, substituted, perhaps even falsified ones, which arouse the imagination and speak to the present.
- Twelve Tales Told, Johann Lurf, Austria.
- San Siro, Yuri Ancarani, Italy.
- Intransit, Jakrawal Nilthamrong, Thailand.
- Canopy, Ken Jacobs, USA.
- Detour de Force, Rebecca Baron, Austria/USA.
Wavelengths 4: Night Noon. With guiding lunar intensity, this programme draws from the dichotomous, exploring bi-location, interstitial states and an array of personal, geographic and mental shuttles.
- Lunar Almanac, Malena Szlam, Canada/Chile.
- Deep Sleep, Basma Alsharif, Malta/Greece/France/Palestine.
- Orizzonti Orizzonti!, Anna Marziano, Italy.
- The Policeman’s House, Mich’ael Zupraner, Israel/Palestine.
- Night Noon, Shambhavi Kaul, USA/Mexico.
- Sea of Vapors, Sylvia Schedelbauer, Germany.
WAVELENGTHS: MEDIUM-LENGTH FILMS
The Figures Carved into the Knife by the Sap of the Banana Trees. Joana Pimenta, USA/Portugal. The rapid turning of a light draws a circle. In the space bound by its line unravels an archive of postcards sent between the island of Madeira and the former Portuguese colony of Mozambique. The Figures Carved into the Knife by the Sap of the Banana Trees circulates between a fictional colonial memory and science fiction.
The Old Man of Belem. Manoel de Oliveira, Portugal/France, North American Premiere. Glory is often met with opposition, and whether we’re victorious or defeated, we always hold fate responsible. Don Quixote came along 16 years after the defeat of the Invincible Fleet and has erred the Earth ever since. Today, he will attend a meeting between old friends in the Garden of Eternity.
Taprobana. Gabriel Abrantes, Portugal/Sri Lanka/Denmark, North American Premiere. Shot on Super 16mm, Taprobana is a stunningly inventive comedic send-up of Portuguese poet-turned-national hero Luís Vaz de Camõe’s tortured inspiration for his literary masterwork The Lusiads.
Journey to the West (Xi You). Tsai Ming-liang, France/Taiwan, Canadian Premiere. Taiwanese auteur Tsai Ming-liang returns with this entrancing latest entry in his Walker series, in which his slowly locomoting, carmine-robed monk acquires an unexpected acolyte in the form of Denis Lavant (Holy Motors) as he makes his way through the streets of a sun-dappled Marseille.
Spectrum Reverse Spectrum. Margaret Honda, USA, North American Premiere. A film made by exposing 70mm print stock to precisely calibrated colored light in a continuous printer, resulting in a uniform field of color with no frame lines. The colour moves gradually through the visible light spectrum from violet to red, then back to violet. The film can be presented solely by means of a 70mm film projector.
A Single Word (Une Simple Parole). Mariama Sylla, Khady Sylla, Senegal/Qatar, World Premiere. In societies where written archival records are scant, the word becomes capital—passed down orally from teller to teller, it transcends the extinction of death. At once elegiac and explorative, A Single Word explores what is at stake for contemporary society with the loss of the word, synonymous with memory—a question all the more pressing and painful given that Khady Sylla passed away on October 8, 2013, while working on editing the film with her sister Mariama and Rodolphe Respaud.
Horse Money (Cavalo Dinheiro). Pedro Costa, Portugal, North American Premiere. The highly anticipated new film by Portuguese auteur Pedro Costa, Cavalo Dinheiro is the follow-up to Costa’s landmark Fontainhas trilogy (Ossos, In Vanda’s Room, Colossal Youth), reuniting with Colossal Youth’s Ventura, lost in heart rending indeterminacy as revolution breaks out.
Episode of the Sea. Lonnie van Brummelen, Siebren de Haan, the inhabitants of Urk, Netherlands, World Premiere. Episode of the Sea is the result of a two-year collaboration with the fishing community of a former island in the Netherlands. Rendered in black and white to echo neorealist drama and early documentary styles, the film evokes fishing and filmmaking as practices that have been passed on by ancestors.
Fires on the Plain (Nobi). Shinya Tsukamoto, Japan, North American Premiere. Tetsuo director Shinya Tsukamoto creates a gritty and graphic version of the classic war novel about a dazed, wounded soldier who wanders through the surreal carnage of the Pacific War.
From What is Before (Mula sa Kung Ano ang Noon). Lav Diaz, Philippines, North American Premiere. On the eve of Ferdinand Marcos’s proclamation of martial law, a small village is visited by a series of strange, perhaps supernatural occurrences, in the new film from Filipino master auteur Lav Diaz (Norte, the End of History).
Heaven Knows What. Joshua Safdie and Benny Safdie, USA/France, North American Premiere. While you sleep soundly in your bed, the night lepers lord the streets of New York City, lusting after the highest high. Harley “homeless” Holmes is their patron saint, caught in the throes of perpetual extremes. On one corner, her malevolent lover demands a bloodletting. On another, a kindly dope dealer offers her free transfusions. How much ebb and flow can a young heart take before bursting into oblivion? Based on the real-life stories of Arielle Holmes, documented in her forthcoming memoir Mad Love in New York City, the film co-stars Caleb Landry Jones (X-Men: First Class, Byzantium, The Last Exorcist), street legend Buddy Duress, and gore-rap phenomenon Necro.
Jauja. Lisandro Alonso, Denmark/USA/Argentina/Mexico/Netherlands/Germany/France, North American Premiere. In the dazzlingly ambitious new film from Argentinian auteur Lisandro Alonso (Los Muertos, Liverpool) a 19th-century Danish general (Viggo Mortensen) undertakes a grueling physical and metaphysical journey when he pursues his runaway daughter into the rugged wilderness of Patagonia.
La Sapience (La Sapienza). Eugène Green, France/Italy, North American Premiere. In the long-awaited new film from French auteur Eugène Green, a brilliant architect seeks spiritual and artistic renewal during a life-changing voyage to Italy to study the work of the great 17th century architect Francesco Borromini.
Le beau danger. René Frölke, Germany, North American Premiere. Taking its title from a short text by Michel Foucault, this singular portrait of internationally acclaimed Romanian author Norman Manea provocatively explores the interplay and interstices between public persona, the act of creation, lived experience and representation.
Letters to Max. Eric Baudelaire, France, International Premiere. A record of the epistolary encounter between French artist and filmmaker Eric Baudelaire and Maxim Gvinjia, former Foreign Minister of the breakaway Caucasian state of Abkhazia, Letters to Max is both a chronicle of a developing friendship and an ingenious, unusual essay film about the inherently speculative nature of nationhood.
Maidan (Maïdan). Sergei Loznitsa, Ukraine/Netherlands, North American Premiere. Celebrated Ukrainian director Sergei Loznitsa (In the Fog) creates one of the essential cinematic experiences of our time with this epic, formally audacious documentary chronicle of the historic protests in Kiev’s Maïdan square.
The Princess of France (La Princesa de Francia). Matías Piñeiro, Argentina, North American Premiere. Young Argentine auteur Matías Piñeiro follows up his international sensation Viola with the latest of his revisionist takes on the Shakespearean canon, deliciously detailing how life begins to imitate art when a Buenos Aires theatre company mounts a radio version of Love’s Labour’s Lost.
Songs From the North. Soon-Mi Yoo, USA/South Korea/Portugal, North American Premiere. Multi-disciplinary artist and filmmaker Soon-Mi Yoo (Far from Afghanistan) makes her solo feature film debut with this sharp and sensitive essay film about everyday life and ideological distortion in North Korea.
CONTEMPORARY WORLD CINEMA
Aire Libre. Anahí Berneri, Argentina, International Premiere. Even though they refuse to admit it, Lucía and Manuel no longer have dreams in common. Maybe for love or perhaps as a remedy for something that is beyond repair, they plan on rebuilding their life together out of town. Their shared passion for architecture seems to bring them together, as they plan on renovating a house with a garden, selling their apartment and moving in with Lucía’s mother. But living with his wife’s family is suffocating Manuel, and he decides to take a break from cohabitation and moves to his parents’ house. As Lucía and Manuel begin to live separate lives trying to fulfill their own personal dreams, they forget what brought both of them together. Building a place to meet is very hard for them, discovering what they have destroyed is hard as well.
Amour Fou. Jessica Hausner, Austria/Luxembourg/Germany, North American Premiere. Berlin, the Romantic Era. Young poet Heinrich wishes to conquer the inevitability of death through love, yet is unable to convince his skeptical cousin Marie to join him in a suicide pact. It is while coming to terms with this refusal, ineffably distressed by his cousin’s inse