The Toronto InternationalFilm Festival has unveiled its second batch of titles premiering in its Gala and Special Presentations programs next month, including two new Gala titles and a whopping 16 new Special Presentations, plus their star-studded Masters and Contemporary World Cinema sections.
Among the new additions, “Waves” stands out as a surprise, as it had been unclear if the A24-produced followup from the director of “It Comes at Night” would surface this fall.
The Gala section will screen only a pair of newly-added titles, including Tom Harper’s “The Aeronauts” and Giuseppe Capotondi’s “The Burnt Orange Hersey.”
“We're thrilled to announce this second wave of Galas and Special Presentations, which I believe are some of the most compelling in the lineup,” said Cameron Bailey, Artistic Director and Co-Head of TIFF. “Audiences will be delighted by the artistry present in this year's splashiest sections.”
The Masters program will play home to a number of new films from established directors, including Ken Loach, Alanis Obomsawin, Kiyoshi Kurosawa, Terrence Malick, Elia Suleiman, and Bertrand Bonello.
“I made it a priority to bring filmmakers into the fold that haven't previously screened in this program so their films can play alongside some of the more established names,” said programmer Brad Deane in an official statement. “By looking at the films in the program, it's apparent that mastering the form is only the jumping-off point for unique and powerful storytelling, and I am looking forward to the discussions that will emerge among Toronto audiences about what makes a master.”
The lineup also now includes the full slate for the Contemporary World Cinema section, including new films from Atiq Rahimi, Mati Diop, Gael García Bernal, Ladj Ly, Pema Tseden, Hikari, Rubaiyat Hossain, Karl Markovics, Nadav Lapid, Edward Burns, and Grímur Hákonarson.
“Contemporary World Cinema is a place where different cultures meet,” said Kiva Reardon, International Programmer and new Lead Programmer for the section said in a statement. “The vision for the program is to help expand the cinematic canon and push the definition of what has previously been deemed as fundamental. This is a selection of essential, urgent cinema.”
Below are the latest additions to the TIFF 2019 lineup. Stay tuned for more programming announcements in the days to come.
The Fox Searchlight astronaut drama will open on the same date as fellow Fox pic 'The Woman in the Window,' which is preparing to move to 2020.
Natalie Portman's Lucy in the Sky will land in select theaters on Oct. 4, Disney announced Thursday.
The Fox Searchlight drama will open on the same date as fellow Fox pic The Woman in the Window, which is preparing to move to 2020. Disney inherited both films when buying much of 21st Century Fox.
Lucy in the Sky also opens as awards season gets underway in earnest the Oscar-winning Portman is a perennial Oscar player.
Directed by Noah Hawley Fargo, the Searchlight pic stars Portman as an astronaut who goes into a downward spiral after returning to earth from a lengthy mission in space and beginning an affair with a fellow astronaut. Jon Hamm, Dan Stevens, Zazie Beetz and Ellen Burstyn co-star.
Lucy in the Sky opens two weeks after Fox and Disney launch space epic Ad Astra on Sept. 20. Ad Astra, directed by James Grey and starring Brad Pitt, is from big Fox and will open nationwide after making its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival. Lucy in the Sky is considered a specialty play that will roll out more slowly.
Despite decades as one of the most prolific film-producing countries on Earth, Nigerian cinema is still largely underrepresented on the festival circuit, so it’s always worth noting when a great movie makes its way to Western audiences, especially when it combines Nigerian traditions with the complexities of modern life. The latest to join that slim but growing section of cinema: “The Lost Okoroshi,” which will premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival as part of its just-announced Discovery slate.
The film follows a young man, stuck in a job he doesn’t enjoy, who begins experiencing visions of his Nigerian ancestors. The experience results in him transforming into a traditional Nigerian masquerade, a masked performer who channels spirits through dance, which sounds fun and all … until he has to go to work the next day in full performance garb. What follows looks to be a Kafkaesque story of a man torn between two worlds.
The tradition of masquerade has roots in almost every culture on Earth, but Nigeria has a particularly special relationship with it. Known as Mmanwu, secret societies within Nigerian communities put on masks to communicate with gods and ancestors. But the ritual is more than prayer, as the wearer of the mask is believed to take on newfound spiritual powers. It’s part of the nation’s rich history, but pairing it with the realities of contemporary working life makes for an interesting story about the role tradition plays in our lives.
This modern Nigerian story is the latest from director Abba Makama, who is one of the leading voices for Nigerian cinema today. He previously directed “Green White Green,” another TIFF selection that is now streaming on Netflix, as well as “Nollywood,” the Al Jazeera documentary about Nigeria’s film industry. He should be a presence at major festivals for years to come.
In an official statement, Makama said, “I want Africans to keep in touch with their cultures and traditions and globalization makes it increasingly difficult for us to connect with our past. Masquerades have generally been demonized and considered bad omens in western religions. With this project I aim to change the narrative and reintroduce the masquerade as a colorful, playful and benign entity.”
“The Lost Okoroshi” will be making its world premiere as part of TIFF’s Discovery program. Check out the film’s first trailer, exclusively on IndieWire, below.
One of the release calendar’s biggest lingering questions finally has an answer: after debuting a trailer way back in March, Fox Searchlight has dated Noah Hawley’s Natalie Portman-starring space drama “Lucy in the Sky.” The film will now land in theaters on October 4, when it will open in limited release. The film, loosely based on the true story of an astronaut who returns home from a long mission and finds herself losing her connection to her family, has long been a question mark on the speciality arm’s slate, especially after the Disney and Fox merger that put a number of previously announced Fox titles into limbo.
Per the film’s official synopsis: “Natalie Portman plays Lucy Cola, who returns to Earth after a transcendent experience during a mission to space and begins to lose touch with reality in a world that now seems too small.” The film also stars Jon Hamm, Zazie Beetz, Dan Stevens, Pearl Amanda Dickson, and Ellen Burstyn.
Despite prime Oscar season dating, the film will go up against another Searchlight hopeful: Taika Waititi’s “Jojo Rabbit,” which will debut at TIFF next month, before hitting theaters just two weeks after “Lucy,” on October 18. Two months later, the Fox speciality arm will release another contender, Terrence Malick’s “A Hidden Life.”
Earlier this summer, Hawley told IndieWire he had high hopes for a festival premiere for the film, which has so far not been announced for the upcoming fall rush, including Venice, TIFF, and NYFF. It’s still possible the film will be added to a festival schedule, and there’s always Telluride, which doesn’t announce its slate plans until just days before the Labor Day event rolls out.
“The studio has their strategy that they're building toward a release, and it's Searchlight, so unlike Disney, which dates their movies three years in advance, they're quite used to going out [to festivals],” he said at the time. “And all those festivals that are in anticipation of fall are starting to look at movies now, so we're going through that process to figure out the best strategy to release it.”
Hawley also put to rest rumors of reshoots. “We did one day of additional photography to put a button on the movie, basically,” he said. “It was just an ending sequence, which I think is very common — less common on movies of a certain budget, but endings are in some ways the most important part. In a movie like this, in the journey we were on, it needed an extra piece.”
Last fall, documentary essayist Mark Cousins unveiled an ambitious new project: “Women Make Film: A New Road Movie Through Film,” which presents an alternative approach to film history exclusively through movies directed by women. The four hours presented at TIFF 2018 boasted a Tilda Swinton voiceover and the searing assertion that “film history is sexist.”
Now, Cousins has completed the project, and TIFF is giving it a lot of space: The entire 14 hours of “Women Make Film” will screen at the festival in five separate installments. “I think that the film is going to rewrite film history and how we understand the role of women directors,” TIFF Docs programmer Thom Powers said.
The previous installments screened quietly at the festival because “Mark was low key about it as he finished it,” Powers said. He wasn't concerned about how moviegoers would make time for the finished product in the midst of a hectic festival schedule. “It's not a sequential thing,” Powers said. “He's constructed it like a film class. Each chapter looks at a different theme of filmmaking, whether it's a close up or a tracking shot, but all the illustrations are drawn from films directed by women.”
Cousins spent years scouring archives for films directed by women, and the finished project includes around 700 clips from 183 films around the world. “You can watch any two hours of this and scribble down names of filmmakers you've never heard before,” Powers said.
“Women Make Film” will be seeking distribution at the festival, with U.K. outfit Dogwoof handling sales. Cousins' previous epic film history project, the 15-hour “The Story of Film,” wound up airing on Turner Classic Movies alongside many of the films it surveyed. Powers said “Women Make Film” deserved a similar fate, but could also fit into the evolving market of festivals buyers. “It will be best consumed as an episodic piece that you could easily break it into hourlong sections,” he said. “For an ambitious streaming platform, it presents an extraordinary opportunity.”
Last year's TIFF was notable for several major documentary sales, including Neon's acquisition of “The Biggest Little Farm,” Sony Pictures Classics taking “Maiden,” and the African nature odyssey “Elephant Queen,” an early acquisition for Apple's burgeoning original content team. That emerging player is likely to be scouring for more titles in the 2019 lineup, as the company hired former A&E documentary veteran Molly Thompson earlier this year. They'll be rubbing shoulders with major players in the documentary space, including Netflix, HBO, and Showtime, all of which will also premiere new films at the festival.
In addition to the Cousins film, documentaries likely to intrigue buyers at this year's TIFF include “And We Go Green,” the latest ecologically-conscious documentary from filmmaker Fisher Stevens, who once again joins forces with producer Leonardo DiCaprio following their 2016 effort “Before the Flood.” The new film centers on Formula E, the racing sport built around electric-powered cars. “The environmentalism in this film takes a backseat to a race car narrative,” Powers said. “You really get to know these drivers and the technology behind their cars.”
Cinetic will be selling “Green” in addition to “Red Penguins,” the latest hockey-related effort from Gabe Polsky. The filmmaker's previous effort, “Red Army,” focused on the migration of Soviet players to American teams, while “Red Penguins” follows the opposite scenario, with American hustlers trying to bring NFL showmanship to the USSR.
It's one of two available documentaries dealing with Russian politics, as UTA will be selling Alex Gibney's “Citizen K,” which profiles oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky as he turns against Vladimir Putin. The prolific Gibney is a perennial on the festival circuit, but Powers said “this is top-notch Gibney,” adding that “for people who really want to understand Russian politics, this is really gifted storytelling.”
The final sales title of note hails from the literary world. Endeavor will be selling “The Capote Tapes,” the directorial debut from Ebs Burnough, who previously served as the deputy social secretary for Barack Obama's White House. The film culls from audio recordings of George Plimpton interviews for an unrealized Truman Capote biography. Powers said Burnough's political background comes through in the project. “He's somebody who comes from a world of interesting social circles that gives him a good sensibility for decoding the world of Capote and that upper echelon NYC,” he said. He compared the appeal of the movie to “I Am Not Your Negro,” in that it “reawakens our interest in a writer from that period.”
Meanwhile, major documentary players will be bringing new projects to the festival, starting with the much-anticipated opening night selection. Fresh off its Oscar win for “Free Solo,” National Geographic's “The Cave” finds Oscar-nominated Syrian filmmaker Feras Fayyad returning to the country to journey into an underground hospital where doctors struggling to save lives while hidden away from the bombing above. As IndieWire previously reported, the secretive project is being positioned as a fall Oscar contender.
“I think it really stands apart from other docs about Syria that are often characterized by shaky cell phone footage — understandably, in wartime — but this film brings a different level of cinematic craft to it,” Powers said. “It's almost like a post-apocalyptic sci-fi movie where the warlords above ground have made life so uninhabitable above the surface that normal citizens have been driven underground to survive.”
Netflix will bring its own explosive documentary to TIFF this year, “Bikram: Yogi, Guru, Predator,” a sprawling overview of Bikram Choudry, the pioneering yoga teacher who has been accused of sexual assault. That scandal, chronicled last year in an ESPN “30 for 30” podcast, will once again become a hot-button talking point. “This film has ample video documentation of Bikram himself,” Powers said. “You really feel about how he changed people's lives positively — which makes the betrayals and the sexual offenses feel all the more shocking.”
Showtime has two films in the lineup, including “Ready for War,” which focuses on American immigrants who served in the U.S. military and then got deported to Mexico — where many of them were hired by the cartel. The film, which counts rappers Drake and Future as well as filmmaker David Ayer as executive producers, includes one character whose identity is masked for the duration of the film.
Powers compared director Andrew Renzi to “Cartel Land” filmmaker Matthew Heineman. “There's real guts that he brings to the storytelling,” Powers said. Showtime also has Laura Greenfield's “The Kingmaker,” a profile of Imelda Marcos and the history of her family in the Philippines.
Other promising entries include documentary veteran Barbara Kopple's “Desert 1,” a look back at the 1980 U.S. attempt to rescue hostages in Iran, produced by the History Channel; and Alan Berliner's HBO-produced “Letter to the Editor,” an essayistic ode to newspapers, which draws on his 40 years of photographic archives. Actress Bryce Dallas Howard will make her own foray into documentary filmmaking with “Dads,” a look at male parenting that includes her famous father, Ron Howard, appearing on camera.
The TIFF lineup makes room for under-the-radar discoveries as well. These include the Romanian documentary “Collective,” which revolves around a journalism team uncovering political scandal in its country's government, and counts “4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days” director Cristian Mungiu as an executive producer. “It's as if you had cameras following Woodward and Bernstein as they uncover Watergate,” Powers said.
Then there's “Love Child,” from Danish director Eva Mulvad “Enemies of Happiness”. The film follows an Iranian couple who fled the country under threat of death for an adulterous relationship that produced a child; they wind up in Turkey in the midst of the refugee crisis in 2012. “It's a really well-crafted film,” Powers said, “but also truly a love story about fighting back against adversity.”
Two of the Toronto International Film Festival's signature programs have today unveiled their full slates, including both the genre-bending Midnight Madness program and the wide-ranging TIFF Docs section. Both slates will feature a number of highly anticipated premieres, with the lauded documentary section playing home to films like Feras Fayyad’s “The Cave” which will open TIFF Docs, Mark Cousins’ 14-hour “Women Make Film,” Bryce Dallas Howard making her feature directorial debut with the documentary “Dads,” along with new films from Barbara Kopple, Alex Gibney, and Lauren Greenfield.
The TIFF Docs lineup includes 25 non-fiction works, including 18 world premieres with representation from 18 countries. The films cover many high-profile figures, both famous and infamous — including Truman Capote, Merce Cunningham, Ron Howard, Bikram Choudhury, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, and Imelda Marcos — and a broad range of themes, including artistic achievement, the power of journalism, immigration, global politics, and resistance against corrupt leaders.
“This year's program captures characters you'll never forget: lovers, fighters, dancers, athletes, despots, rebels, hustlers, and heroes,” said TIFF Docs programmer Thom Powers in an official statement. “We'll be talking about these films for a long time to come.”
In the wild, raucous Midnight Madness section, a combination of new genre filmmakers and old masters offer a section that continues to offer the festival world’s most unique late-night thrills. This year’s Midnight Madness slate includes debuts from Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia, Rose Glass, Andrew Patterson, and Keith Thomas. Old favorites will be out in force too, including Takashi Miike’s latest, and Richard Stanley’s decades-in-the-making return to the section, with his H.P. Lovecraft adaptation “Color Out of Space,” starring no less than Nicolas Cage.
“This year's selections challenge the traditional parameters of genre and shock cinema, but — most excitingly — half of the lineup's wicked provocations are courtesy of filmmakers making their feature-film debut,” said Peter Kuplowsky, Lead Programmer for Midnight Madness said in an official statement. “The tide is high, and be it a Mi'gmaq reserve, a Hassidic neighborhood, or a Ugandan village, more communities are getting opportunities to share their myths and monsters.”
Below are the newest additions to the TIFF 2019 lineup, including the TIFF Docs and Midnight Madness slates, along with the also-announced Discovery and Cinematheque sections. Stay tuned for more programming announcements in the days to come.
“And We Go Green,” directed by Fisher Stevens, Malcolm Venville, World Premiere
“The Australian Dream,” directed by Daniel Gordon, International Premiere
“Bikram: Yogi, Guru, Predator,” directed by Eva Orner, World Premiere
“The Capote Tapes,” directed by Ebs Burnough, World Premiere
“The Cave,” directed by Feras Fayyad, World Premiere
“Citizen K,” directed by Alex Gibney, North American Premiere
“Collective Colectiv,” directed by Alexander Nanau, North American Premiere
“Coppers,” directed by Alan Zweig, World Premiere
“The Cordillera of Dreams La Cordillera de los Sueños,” directed by Patricio Guzmán, North American Premiere
“Cunningham,” directed by Alla Kovgan, World Premiere
“Dads,” directed by Bryce Dallas Howard, World Premiere
“Desert One,” directed by Barbara Kopple, World Premiere
“I Am Not Alone,” directed by Garin Hovannisian, World Premiere
“Ibrahim: A Fate to Define,” directed by Lina Al Abed, North American Premiere
“The Kingmaker,” directed by Lauren Greenfield, Canadian Premiere
“Letter to the Editor,” directed by Alan Berliner, World Premiere
“Love Child,” directed by Eva Mulvad, World Premiere
“My English Cousin,” directed by Karim Sayad, World Premiere
“Paris Stalingrad,” directed by Hind Meddeb, International Premiere
“Ready for War,” directed by Andrew Renzi, World Premiere
“Red Penguins,” directed by Gabe Polsky, World Premiere
“Sing Me A Song,” directed by Thomas Balmès, World Premiere
“There's Something in the Water,” directed by Ellen Page, Ian Daniel, World Premiere
“This Is Not a Movie,” directed by Yung Chang, World Premiere
“Women Make Film: A New Road Movie Through Cinema,” directed by Mark Cousins, World Premiere
“Blood Quantum,” directed by Jeff Barnaby, World Premiere
“Color Out of Space,” directed by Richard Stanley, World Premiere
“Crazy World,” directed by Isaac Nabwana, World Premiere
“First Love Hatsukoi,” directed by Takashi Miike, North American Premiere
“Gundala,” directed by Joko Anwar, International Premiere
“The Platform El Hoyo,” directed by Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia, World Premiere
“Saint Maud,” directed by Rose Glass, World Premiere
“The Twentieth Century,” directed by Matthew Rankin, World Premiere
“The Vast of Night,” directed by Andrew Patterson, Canadian Premiere
“The Vigil,” directed by Keith Thomas, World Premiere
“1982,” directed by Oualid Mouaness, World Premiere
“AFRICA,” directed by Oren Gerner, Premiere
“The Antenna Bina,” directed by Orçun Behram, World Premiere
“The Audition Das Vorspiel,” directed by Ina Weisse, World Premiere
“August Agosto,” directed by Armando Capó, World Premiere
“Black Conflux,” directed by Nicole Dorsey, World Premiere
“Bring Me Home Na-reul cha-ja-jwo,” directed by Kim Seung-woo, World Premiere
“A Bump Along The Way,” directed by Shelly Love, International Premiere
“Calm With Horses,” directed by Nick Rowland, World Premiere
“Certified Mail Bi Elm El Wossul,” directed by Hisham Saqr, World Premiere
“Comets,” directed by Tamar Shavgulidze, World Premiere
“Disco,” directed by Jorunn Myklebust Syversen, World Premiere
“Easy Land,” directed by Sanja Zivkovic, World Premiere
“Entwined,” directed by Minos Nikolakakis, World Premiere
“The Giant,” directed by David Raboy, World Premiere
“The Good Intentions Las Buenas Intenciones,” directed by Ana García Blaya, World Premiere
“Hearts and Bones,” directed by Ben Lawrence, International Premiere
“Hope Håp,” directed by Maria Sødahl, World Premiere
“Kuessipan,” directed by Myriam Verreault, World Premiere
“Lina from Lima,” directed by María Paz González, World Premiere
“The Lost Okoroshi,” directed by Abba Makama, World Premiere
“Love Me Tender,” directed by Klaudia Reynicke, International Premiere
“Murmur,” directed by Heather Young, World Premiere
“My Life as a Comedian,” directed by Rojda Sekersöz, World Premiere
“Noura's Dream,” directed by Hinde Boujemaa, World Premiere
“The Obituary of Tunde Johnson,” directed by Ali LeRoi, World Premiere
“Pompei,” directed by Anna Falguères, John Shank, World Premiere
“Raf,” directed by Harry Cepka, World Premiere
“The Rest of Us,” directed by Aisling Chin-Yee, World Premiere
“Sea Fever,” directed by Neasa Hardiman, World Premiere
“Simple Women,” directed by Chiara Malta, World Premiere
“Sole,” directed by Carlo Sironi, International Premiere
“Son-Mother,” directed by Mahnaz Mohammadi, World Premiere
“Stories From The Chestnut Woods,” directed by Gregor Božič, World Premiere
“Sweetness in the Belly,” directed by Zeresenay Berhane Mehari, World Premiere
“Two of Us Deux,” directed by Filippo Meneghetti, World Premiere
“ZANA,” directed by Antoneta Kastrati, World Premiere
“A Dry White Season,” directed by Euzhan Palcy 1989
“Pickpocket,” directed by Robert Bresson 1959
“No,” directed by Pablo Larraín 2012
“The Last of Sheila,” directed by Herbert Ross 1973
“The Last Waltz,” directed by Martin Scorsese 1978
The Toronto International Film Festival runs September 5 — 15 in Toronto, Canada.