TIFF Reveals Documentaries, Midnight Madness Movies and More
Published Aug 09, 2016Next month, the Toronto International Film Festival will return for its 41st edition. As expected, the lineup is monstrous and overwhelming. We've already seen the first batch of films, and today organizers have expanded the fest greatly.
These include the films programmed in their TIFF Docs, Midnight Madness and Vanguard categories. Of the many films listed, highlights include Jim Jarmusch's Stooges doc Gimme Danger, Ben Wheatley's new genre flick Free Fire, Leonardo DiCaprio's environmental doc The Turning Point and the new Blair Witch movie.
Of course, that's just scratching the surface. You can view all the films in those three categories below, and also be sure to check out the fest's cinematheque programming along with their many shorts packages.
TIFF runs from September 8 to 18.
The 6th Beatle Tony Guma and John Rose, USA/United Kingdom/Germany (World Premiere) This fresh take on music history argues for recognition in The Beatles' legacy of the early promoter Sam Leach. Leach was a working- class Liverpudlian who championed the group, but was eventually replaced as manager by the wealthy, posh-accented Brian Epstein. Interviewing Leach, the band's original drummer Pete Best and other Liverpool musicians, the film gives a touching portrait of a rock 'n' roll true believer.
ABACUS: Small Enough to Jail Steve James, USA (World Premiere) Accused of fraud, Abacus Federal Savings of Chinatown, New York City becomes the only U.S. bank to face criminal charges in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, forcing its owners — the Chinese immigrant Sung family — into an underdog battle to defend their reputation and their community's financial way of life.
Amanda Knox Brian McGinn and Rod Blackhurst, USA/Denmark (World Premiere) Twice convicted and twice acquitted by Italian courts of the brutal killing of her British roommate Meredith Kercher, Amanda Knox became the subject of global speculation over the decade-long case. Featuring unprecedented access to key people involved and never-before-seen archival material, the film explores the case from the inside out. Amanda Knox is a human story that moves past the headlines to examine the often fraught relationship between true crime tragedy, justice and entertainment.
An Insignificant Man Khushboo Ranka and Vinay Shukla, India (World Premiere) Arvind Kejriwal is an activist protesting against India's government corruption when he decided to form a political party and take on the government directly. His main challenger was The Congress, one of the country's oldest political parties. With unprecedented access, this film follows Kejriwal as he tries to overcome his own shortcomings to convince the people of New Delhi that he is the honest politician they need.
The B-Side: Elsa Dorfman's Portrait Photography Errol Morris, (USA International Premiere) Elsa Dorfman is a master practitioner of a rare photographic format, the large size Polaroid 20x24 camera. For three decades in her studio in Cambridge, Massachusetts, she took thousands of portraits, including those of accomplished friends like poet Allen Ginsberg and singer Jonathan Richman. Now in her late 70s, she opens her archives and her memories for this documentary by her longtime friend Errol Morris.
Beauties of the Night María José Cuevas, Mexico (Canadian Premiere) Eight years in the making, Beauties of the Night is a captivating group portrait of iconic Mexican showgirls, still thriving with grace and style in their ostensible golden years. Their stories speak volumes about what it means to be a no-longer-young woman in a career grounded in physical beauty and erotic appeal.
Bezness as Usual Alex Pitstra, Netherlands (North American Premiere) During the rise of mass tourism in the 1970s, young Tunisian men from poor families made it their business — or "bezness" — to romance women visiting from Europe. Among the children born from these relationships was filmmaker Alex Pitstra, who was raised by his mother in Holland and scarcely knew his father in Tunisia. In Bezness as Usual, Pitstra attempts to reconnect with his father and navigate the differences in their cultural attitudes and economic opportunities.
Chasing Trane: The John Coltrane Documentary John Scheinfeld, (USA International Premiere) Revolutionary artist and innovator, John Coltrane expanded the frontiers of his craft by introducing elements from musical traditions the world over. Chasing Trane reveals the critical events, passions, experiences, and challenges that shaped the life of John Coltrane and his revolutionary sounds. It is a story of demons and darkness, of persistence and redemption. Above all else, it is the incredible spiritual journey of a man who found himself and, in the process, created an extraordinary body of work that transcends all barriers of geography, race, religion and age.
The Cinema Travellers Shirley Abraham and Amit Madheshiya, India (North American Premiere) Once every year, travelling cinemas bring the wonder of the movies to faraway villages in India. Seven decades on, as their lorries and cinema projectors crumble and film reels become scarce, their audiences are lured by slick digital technology. Filmed over five years, The Cinema Travellers accompanies a shrewd exhibitor, a benevolent showman and a maverick projector mechanic who bear a beautiful burden — to keep the last travelling cinemas of the world running.
Citizen Jane: Battle for the City Matt Tyrnauer, USA (World Premiere) Jane Jacobs, whose classic book The Death and Life of Great American Cities changed the way we look at and live in cities, would have celebrated her 100th birthday this year. This film explores our urban past and the future of cities through the lens of Jacobs, one of the 20th century's great public intellectuals, and a pioneering community organizer, whose campaigns against New York's master builder, Robert Moses, are the stuff of legend.
Forever Pure Maya Zinshtein, Israel/United Kingdom/Ireland/Norway (International Premiere) Beitar Jerusalem Football Club is the most controversial sports team in Israel. Loyal fans, known as La Familia, take pride in Beitar being the only team in the Israeli Premier League that has never fielded an Arab player. In 2012, team owner Arcadi Gaydamak, a Russian-born billionaire signs two Muslim players from Chechnya. Their presence turns La Familia into opponents of their own team and initiates an ideological contest with wide ripples.
Gaza Surf Club Philip Gnadt and Mickey Yamine, Germany (World Premiere) Trapped in "the world's largest open-air prison" and ruled by war, a new generation is drawn to the beaches. Sick of occupation and political gridlock, they find their own personal freedom in the waves of the Mediterranean — they are the surfers of Gaza.
Gimme Danger Jim Jarmusch, USA (North American Premiere) Emerging from Ann Arbor, Michigan amidst a countercultural revolution, The Stooges' powerful and aggressive style of rock 'n' roll blew a crater in the musical landscape of the late 1960s. Assaulting audiences with a blend of rock, blues, R&B, and free jazz, the band planted the seeds for what would be called punk and alternative rock in the decades that followed. Jim Jarmusch's new film chronicles the story of The Stooges, one of the greatest rock 'n' roll bands of all time.
Girl Unbound Erin Heidenreich, Pakistan/Canada/Hong Kong/South Korea (World Premiere) Maria Toorpakai Wazir has spent her young life defying expectations. At age 25, she is an internationally competitive squash player. But in her family's region of Waziristan, Pakistan, the Taliban forbid women from playing sports. This film follows Maria over several months as she represents Pakistan on the national team and carves her own identity, despite threats to her family.
I Am Not Your Negro Raoul Peck, USA/France/Belgium/Switzerland (World Premiere) With unprecedented access to James Baldwin's original work, Raoul Peck completes the cinematic version of the book Baldwin never finished — a radical narration about race in America today that tracks the lives and assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X and Medgar Evers.
I Called Him Morgan Kasper Collin, Sweden/USA (Canadian Premiere) On a snowy night in February 1972, celebrated jazz musician Lee Morgan was shot dead by his wife Helen during a gig at a club in New York City. The murder sent shockwaves through the jazz community, and the memory of the event still haunts those who knew the Morgans. Filmmaker Kasper Collin examines the two unique personalities and the music that brought them together.
India in a Day Richie Mehta, India/United Kingdom (International Premiere) India in a Day is India's largest crowd-sourced documentary: the story of a single day, October 10, 2015. The film is a unique document, capturing a remarkable range of characters and personal reflections on what it means to be alive in India today, submitted by individuals from across the country.
In Exile Tin Win Naing, Germany/Myanmar (World Premiere) Having filmed politically sensitive events such as the Saffron Revolution, Tin Win Naing fled his home country of Myanmar in 2009. Forced to leave his wife and children behind, he crossed illegally into Thailand, where he encountered the world of Burmese migrants toiling as plantation workers. Theirs is a world of exploitation and danger, but also of solidarity and resilience. This beautiful work of deeply compassionate first-person filmmaking is a testament to their struggle for justice.
Into the Inferno Werner Herzog and Clive Oppenheimer, United Kingdom/Austria (International Premiere) Werner Herzog and volcanologist Clive Oppenheimer take a global journey for a meditation on volcanoes and their meaning, with stops in Indonesia, Ethiopia, Iceland and North Korea. Into the Inferno artfully blends reportage, history, and philosophy into a riveting cinematic experience.
The Ivory Game Kief Davidson and Richard Ladkani, Austria/USA (International Premiere) The Ivory Game follows undercover intelligence operatives in Africa, Asia and Europe who are taking down the ivory cartels, as activists and rangers fight for the survival of the African elephant. As suspenseful as any thriller, the film follows a network of organized crime and corruption. The courage of these elephant advocates makes for a pulse-racing adventure with real-life urgency.
Karl Marx City Petra Epperlein and Michael Tucker, USA/Germany (World Premiere) During the Cold War, filmmaker Petra Epperlein grew up in the German Democratic Republic — a.k.a. East Germany. Twenty-five years after its collapse, she returns to find the truth about her father's rumoured connections to the notorious Stasi secret service. Epperlein and Tucker tap into declassified Stasi footage to explore a world that has eerie corollaries to expanding government surveillance today.
Mali Blues Lutz Gregor, Germany (North American Premiere) With her radiant voice and magnetic presence, Fatoumata Diawara is a rising star in world music. In Mali Blues, we follow her as she returns to her country to give her first home concert. Along the way, we meet other great Mali musicians: the Griot Bassekou Kouyaté, rapper Master Soumy, and Tuareg guitarist Ahmed Ag Kaedi, who fled the northern desert under threats by fundamentalists. The film is a powerful testament to their artistry and resilience.
Politics, Instructions Manual (Política, manual de instrucciones) Fernando León de Aranoa, Spain (International Premiere) Against a backdrop of social cutbacks, unemployment and street protests, the Spanish government invites those unhappy with the system to organize their own party and run for election. A group of activists and university professors accept the challenge. Politics, Instructions Manual is the story of how Podemos was built. The documentary constitutes a practical manual about how to elaborate and communicate a political project in only one year.
Rodnye (Close Relations) Vitaly Mansky, Latvia/Germany/Estonia/Ukraine (North American Premiere) Russian citizen and Soviet-born Ukrainian native Vitaly Mansky criss-crosses Ukraine to explore the experiences of his own large family after the Maidan revolution. They live scattered all across the country: in Lviv, Odessa, the separatist area in Donbass, and Sevastopol in Crimea. With his elegantly composed camerawork, Mansky gains a privileged view on a time of sweeping change.
The Turning Point USA (World Premiere) From Academy Award–winning filmmaker Fisher Stevens and Academy Award–winning actor, environmental activist, and U.N. Messenger of Peace Leonardo DiCaprio, The Turning Point presents an engaging account of how society can prevent the demise of endangered species, ecosystems, and native communities across the globe. DiCaprio interviews individuals from every facet of society in both developing and developed nations who provide unique, impassioned, and pragmatic views on what must be done today to transition our economic and political systems into environmentally friendly institutions.
The War Show Andreas Dalsgaard and Obaidah Zytoon, Denmark/Finland/Syria (North American Premiere) Obaidah Zytoon and her friends journey through Syria to take part in the country's revolution. It is an experience that will change their lives forever as they witness Syria's spiral descent into civil war. In a highly personal road movie, we see a patchwork of epic, but real, human stories.
Water and Sugar: Carlo Di Palma, the Colours of Life Fariborz Kamkari, Italy (International Premiere) A veritable journey through Italian cinema spanning Neorealism and "commedia all'italiana", to the Manhattan of Woody Allen. This film celebrates the great Italian cinematographer Carlo di Palma who marked the history of world cinema forever.
The Autopsy of Jane Doe André Øvredal, USA (World Premiere) Tommy Tilden and his son Austin run a family-owned morgue and when the Sheriff brings in their next case — a 'Jane Doe' — it seems like an open-and-shut case. But as the autopsy proceeds, Tommy and Austin are left reeling as each layer of their inspection brings frightening new revelations and an unnatural force takes hold of the crematorium. Starring Emile Hirsch and Brian Cox.
The Belko Experiment Greg McLean, USA (World Premiere) On what appears to be a normal day at Belko Industries, Belko employees are horrified when they find out that they've become guinea pigs in a company-wide experiment which will lead them to either kill their fellow employees or be murdered themselves. The experiment is masterminded by a mysterious voice which is controlling the loud speaker and instructing the employees to slaughter each other by any means necessary.
Blair Witch Adam Wingard, USA (World Premiere) A group of college students venture into the Black Hills Forest in Maryland to uncover the mysteries surrounding the disappearance of James' sister who many believe is connected to the legend of the Blair Witch. At first the group is hopeful, especially when a pair of locals offer to act as guides through the dark and winding woods; but as the endless night wears on, the group is visited by a menacing presence. Slowly, they begin to realize the legend is all too real and more sinister than they could have imagined.
Dog Eat Dog Paul Schrader, USA (North American Premiere) Dog Eat Dog is a gritty contemporary crime thriller about a trio of ex-cons, deep in the underbelly of Cleveland, who are hired for a kidnapping. When the botched abduction goes awry and gets completely out of control, the cons find themselves on the run, vowing to stay out of prison at all costs. Starring Nicolas Cage and Willem Dafoe.
Free Fire Ben Wheatley, United Kingdom (World Premiere) Justine has brokered a meeting in a deserted warehouse between two Irishmen and a gang led by Vernon and Ord who are selling them a stash of guns. But when shots are fired in the handover, a heart stopping game of survival ensues. Starring Brie Larson, Cillian Murphy, Michael Smiley, Sharlto Copley, and Armie Hammer.
The Girl With All the Gifts Colm McCarthy, United Kingdom (North American Premiere) A heart-stopping original Sci-fi thriller, about hope, humanity and a young girl who wants to save the world. Based on the critically acclaimed novel by Mike Carey. Starring Gemma Arterton, Paddy Considine, Glenn Close, and Sennia Nanua.
Headshot Kimo Stamboel and Timo Tjahjanto, Indonesia (World Premiere) The indomitable Iko Uwais (The Raid) stars in this fast and furious actioner as an amnesiac whose mysterious past as a killing machine comes to the fore when he takes on the henchmen of a vengeful drug lord.
Rats Morgan Spurlock, USA (World Premiere) Inspired by Robert Sullivan's New York Times bestselling book, Rats is a horror documentary that plunges into the darkest depths to expose human kind's most insidious parasite. Thriving in every corner of the globe, rats are harbingers of disease, death, and psychological trauma. In this film, exterminators, farmers, scientists, and even chefs bring us face-to-face with this complicated creature.
Raw (Grave) Julia Ducournau, France/Belgium (International Premiere) Everyone in Justine's family is a vet. And a vegetarian. At 16, she's a brilliant and promising student. When she starts at veterinary school, she enters a decadent, merciless and dangerously seductive world. During the first week of hazing rituals, desperate to fit in whatever the cost, she strays from her family principles when she eats raw meat for the first time. Justine will soon face the terrible and unexpected consequences of her actions as her true self begins to emerge...
Sadako vs. Kayako Kōji Shiraishi, Japan (International Premiere) After viewing a legendary cursed videotape, Natsumi discovers she has only two days before she will be killed by the demonic entity known as Sadako. The only solution: pitting the demon Sadako against Kayako, an accursed spirit possessing a haunted house where everyone who enters disappears.
The Bad Batch Ana Lily Amirpour, USA (North American Premiere) A savage dystopian cannibal fairy tale set in a Texas wasteland where society's rejects are just trying to make ends meat. Starring Suki Waterhouse, Jason Momoa, Giovanni Ribisi, Yolonda Ross, Jayda Fink, Cory Roberts, Louie Lopez, Keanu Reeves, and Jim Carrey.
Blind Sun Joyce A. Nashawati, France/Greece (North American Premiere) Greece, sometime in the near future. A seaside resort is struck by a heavy heat wave, water is rare and violence is mounting. Ashraf, a solitary immigrant, is looking after a villa while its owners are away. On a dusty road crushed by the sun, he is stopped by a police officer for an identity check.
Buster's Mal Heart Sarah Adina Smith, USA (World Premiere) A mountain man on the run from authorities survives the winter by breaking into people's empty vacation homes. He has recurring dreams of being lost at sea — only to find that he is, in fact, the man lost at sea. He is one man in two bodies. This is the story of how he split in two.
Colossal Nacho Vigalondo, Canada (World Premiere) Gloria is an ordinary woman who, after losing her job and being kicked out of her apartment by her boyfriend, is forced to leave her life in New York and move back to her hometown. When news reports surface that a giant creature is destroying Seoul, South Korea, Gloria gradually comes to the realization that she is somehow connected to this far-off phenomenon. As events begin to spin out of control, Gloria must determine why her seemingly insignificant existence has such a colossal effect on the fate of the world. Starring Anne Hathaway, Jason Sudeikis, Dan Stevens, Austin Stowell, and Tim Blake Nelson.
Godspeed Chung Mong-Hong, Taiwan (World Premiere) Critically acclaimed director Chung Mong-Hong's latest endeavour centres on a young man whose plan to reform himself takes a tumble when he, along with a seemingly carefree, innocent cab driver, is kidnapped over the heroin he is delivering. Starring Hong Kong veteran Michael Hui.
I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House Osgood Perkins, Canada/USA (World Premiere) I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House is a modern and minimalist ghost story, set in an 1800s farmhouse in rural Massachusetts. Lily, a hospice nurse, retells the story of how she moved into the house to care for an ailing horror writer in the last few months of her life...and never left.
Interchange Dain Iskandar Said, Malaysia/Indonesia (North American Premiere) A hard-nosed cop and a forensics photographer confront their darkest selves as a macabre murder investigation leads them to the realm of superstitions, shamans and the supernatural.
Message from the King Fabrice Du Welz, United Kingdom/France/Belgium (World Premiere) After suddenly losing all contact with his younger sister, Jacob King arrives in Los Angeles determined to track her down. Piecing together her last known movements, King finds unsettling evidence of a life gone off the rails as he relentlessly pursues the truth about what happened to his sister. Stars Chadwick Boseman.
My Entire High School Sinking Into the Sea Dash Shaw, USA (World Premiere) High school can be brutal. Renowned comic book writer/artist Dash Shaw examines how the social structure within a high school changes when calamity strikes. Starring John Cameron Mitchell, Reggie Watts, Jason Schwartzman, Lena Dunham, Maya Rudolph, Susan Sarandon, and Alex Karpovsky.
Prevenge Alice Lowe, United Kingdom (North American Premiere) Written and directed by British comedian and actress Alice Lowe during her own pregnancy, Prevenge is a darkly comic drama about a pregnant woman out for revenge.
The Untamed (La región salvaje) Amat Escalante, Mexico/Denmark/France/Germany/Norway/Switzerland (North American Premiere) Young mother Alejandra is a working housewife, raising two boys with husband Angel in a small city. Her brother Fabian works as a nurse in a local hospital. Their provincial lives are upset with the arrival of the mysterious Veronica. Sex and love can be fragile in certain regions where strong family values, hypocrisy, homophobia and male chauvinism exist. Veronica convinces them that in the nearby woods, inside an isolated cabin, dwells something not of this world that could be the answer to all of their problems.
WITHOUT NAME Lorcan Finnegan, Ireland (World Premiere) Land surveyor Eric, alienated from urban existence and those who love him, travels to a remote and unnamed Irish woodland to assess its suitability for a dubious development project. Intangible elements are at play in this ethereal environment. The place seems to be imbued by an intelligence of sorts. A silhouette flits between trees. The place fascinates the fragmenting Eric as much as it disturbs him. Following in the psychonautic footsteps of the mysterious Devoy, Eric attempts to communicate with his surroundings, but he becomes a prisoner of a place without a name.