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Toronto Film Festival Takes Shape

For most of the planet, the official end of summer does not come until the autumn equinox on September 21. However, for people in the film industry, the Fall season begins in only a few weeks, with the beginning of the autumn film festival cycle. Kicking off (startingly early this year) in Montreal on August 18 with the Montreal World Film Festival and then dashing across the pond to the Venice Film Festival, which begins on August 28, and then back across to the Toronto Film Festival, which launches on September 8, the official launch of the high-charged festival season is literally just weeks away.  

While enthusiasts argue for their favorites among the above three events (Montreal is loved for its old fashioned charm and l’amou fou with French cinema; Venice for its glamour and glitz; and Toronto for its pragmatic prowess as a launch for the awards season and theatrical distribution), it is the Toronto International Film Festival, entering its 36th edition, that is the big kahuna in terms of industry attendance and critical attention. The Festival, which will be based in the Bell Lightbox, its newly inaugurated year-round cinematheque that is transforming the downtown culture of Canada’s most go-go city, has announced its selection in the Galas and Special Presentation programs. The 10 Galas and 43 Special Presentation, which includes 31 world premieres, are already generating mucho buzz and delineating the constellation of films that will be the talk of the industry and the public in the months to come. So, fasten your seatbelts….the year’s most cinematic season is about to begin.


Some of film’s most dynamic auteurs have chosen Toronto for the world premiere of their latest projects, including such esteemed filmmakers as Bruce Beresford, Luc Besson, Cameron Crowe, Terence Davies, Mathieu Demy, Jay Duplass and Mark Duplass, Roland Emmerich, Francis Ford Coppola, Marc Foster, Rodrigo Garcia, Lasse Hallstrom, Huh Jong-ho, Cédric Khan, Derick Martini, Fernando Meirelles, Bennett Miller, Oren Moverman, Pawel Pawlikowski, Alexander Payne, Sarah Polley, Jennifer Westfeldt, Michael Winterbottom, and Wang Xiaoshuai. Others will bring their projects directly from the canals of Venice or the Croisette in Cannes include the North American premieres from such regarded film artists as Pedro Almodóvar, George Clooney, David Cronenberg, Ralph Fiennes, William Friedkin, Ann Hui, Madonna, Steve McQueen, Nanni Moretti, Lynne Ramsay, Todd Solondz, and Lars von Trier. And star power? Toronto’s got it with red-carpet appearances expected by the likes of  Antonio Banderas, Juliette Binoche, Ryan Gosling, Woody Harrelson, Vanessa Redgrave, Tilda Swinton and many more yet to be confirmed.

 The list is exhaustive (and rather exhausting) but also quite impressive, so for those for whom too much is not enough, here are the list of films in the Galas section (other sections to be detailed in upcoming reports). And if you cannot make it to Toronto next month, don’t despair…..these are the films that are coming at you in the months to come. For more information on the complete Festival program, visit:  TORONTO FILM FESTIVAL GALAS

o ALBERT NOBBS (Rodrigo Garcia, Ireland): A witty Irish-set period drama about the lives of staff at Dublins most luxurious hotel, with an ensemble cast led by Glenn Close.

  • BUTTER JIM (Field Smith, USA): Set in the highly competitive world of championship butter carving, Jennifer Garner stars as Laura Pickler, the self-anointed First Lady of Butter Carving, The film’s co-stars Ty Burrell, Hugh Jackman and Olivia Wilde.
  • A DANGEROUS METHOD (David Cronenberg, France/Ireland/United Kingdom/Germany/Canada): Set in pre-World War I, the film glimpses the turbulent relationship between two giants of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung and the troubled young woman who comes between them. The stellar cast includes Michael Fassbender, Viggo Mortensen and Keira Knightley.
  • A HAPPY EVENT (Rémi Bezancon, France): The tragicomic diary of a young woman who becomes a mother, starring acting find Louise Bourgoin.
  • THE IDES OF MARCH (George Clooney, USA): Taking place during the frantic last days before a heavily contested Ohio presidential primary, the film offers a behind-the-scenes account of American politics at its most dysfunctional. The film boasts one of the year’s most dynamic casts, including Clooney himself, Ryan Gosling, Paul Giamatti, Marisa Tomei, Jeffrey Wright, Evan Rachel Wood and Philip Seymour Hoffman.
  • THE LADY (Luc Besson, France/United Kingdom): The extraordinary story of Burma’s leading social activist Aung San Suu Kyi and her husband, Michael Aris, with award-worthy performances by Michelle Yeoh and David Thewlis.
  • MONEYBALL (Bennett Miller, USA): Corruption in major league baseball is illuminated in this fascinating drama, which stars Jonah Hill.
  • PEACE, LOVE & MISUNDERSTANDING (Bruce Beresford, USA): Jane Fonda returns to the big screen as a hippie grandmother who hosts her uptight New York City lawyer daughter (Catherine Keener) and her family for a summer weekend of family secrets, lies and self-discovery. The film also features heartthrob Chace Crawford and breakout star Elizabeth Olsen.
  • TAKE THIS WALTZ (Sarah Polley, Canada):  An examination of the challenges and rewards of a long-term relationship as played out by Michelle Williams, Seth Rogen and Luke Kirby.
  • W.E. (Madonna, United Kingdom): The material girl’s sophomore directorial effort explores the mysterious connection across decades between two women confronting the consequences of desire, including the scandalous love affair between King Edward VIII and the American divorcee Wallis Simpson. The film’s shining cast of British acting talent includes Abbie Cornish, Andrea Riseborough and James D’Arcy.

Sandy Mandelberger, Festival Circuit Editor  

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Mandelberger Sandy
(International Media Resources)

Coverage of the world of film festivals on the international film festival circuit.

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