The Face of an Angel, a new Michael Winterbottom drama inspired by the Amanda Knox case, the American exchange student in Italy who was convicted of the murder of a roommate, will have its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival this September.
The film will be featured as part of the Masters program. It is one of more than 40 additional film titles announced by the festival today, rounding out the Masters, documentary, Midnight Madness and Vanguard programs.
The announcement also included a new documentary from Nick Broomfield (Kurt & Courtney), Tales of the Grim Sleeper, about the mishandling of a Los Angeles serial murder case. Several highlights from last May’s Cannes festival, including Jean-Luc Godard’s Goodbye to Language, will get a showcase in the Masters program. And the Midnight Madness section features Clerks’ director Kevin Smith’s venture into horror in Tusk, a film about a podcaster (Justin Long) who becomes the prisoner of a man who wants to turn him into a walrus.
The documentary list is led by 84-year-old American maestro, Frederick Wiseman, who brings his latest three-hour institutional investigation, National Gallery, looking at the restoration and care of Da Vinci, Rembrandt and Turner paintings in England’s famous museum. Another cinema verite project, National Diploma, sees Congolese director Dieudo Hamadi’s observational study of his hometown’s high-school class preparing for the all-important graduation exams.
Several documentaries focus on global violence, including Israeli filmmaker Tamara Erde’s This Is My Land, which examiness how the Palestinian and Israeli education systems teach their national history. Beats of Antonov is a documentary about music and cultural identify in the conflict areas of Sudan. Silvered Water, Syria Self-Portrait looks at the horrors of the war told through eye-witness accounts shot on cell phones. Iraqi Odyssey contrasts strife-torn Iraq with images from the 1950s to 1970s and follows the filmmakers’ own widely dispersed family. Joshua Oppenheimer follows up his look at Indonesia death squads, The Act of Killing, with The Look of Silence, focusing on victims and their families.
Three documentaries focus on environmental issues and corporate control: Merchants of Doubt, from Robert Kenner (Food Inc.), looks at the misuse of science for corporate propaganda. Jonathan Nossiter follows up his 2004 exposé of standardization of the wine industry, Mondovino, with Natural Resistance, a look at vintners who are bucking the system. Cultural jammers the Yes Men return with their third film, The Yes Men Are Revolting, featuring Jacques Servin and Igor Vamos, pranking and exposing the political and corporate elite.
On the entertainment side, I Am Here, from Montreal-based Lixin Fan (Last Train Home), looks at boys competing in a talent show in contemporary China. Red Army, a playful documentary about the former Soviet Union’s national ice hockey team, features former Soviet captain and NHL star, Viacheslav Fetisov. Sunshine Superman looks at the dangerous sport of parachuting from standing objects. Actor Ethan Hawke offers Seymour: An Introuction, about New Jersey-born music educator Seymour Bernstein, and is unrelated to the J.D. Salinger story of the same title.
The Masters category brings three films from the Cannes competition. Andrey Zvyagintsev’s scathing Russian black comedy, Leviathan, set in an arctic fishing village in northwest Russia, rife with political and religious corruption. Timbuktu, a spare, beautifully shot, Mali-set drama directed by Abderrahmane Sissako, follows the trials of poor villagers after they are invaded by gun-toting Islamic jihadists. And Jean-Luc Godard’s 3D Goodbye to Language, which is a cryptic assemblage of quotations, music and narrative fragments. Otherwise, cinephiles will be excited to see Hill of Freedom, the latest study of urban alienation and misbehaviour from prolific South Korean director Hong Sang-Soo, about a Japanese man who stays in a Korean guest house, while seeking an on old lover. His countryman, Im Kwon-Taek, brings his 102nd film, Revivre (aka Cremation), about a cosmetics executive torn between his dying wife and a younger co-worker.
Along with Winterbottom’s film, Masters selections include Hong Kong veteran Ann Hui’s The Golden Era, starring Tang Wei (Lust, Caution) as China’s most famous woman author, Xiao Hong. There are also two Scandinavian offerings, Norway’s Bent Hamer’s 1001 Grams (about a woman scientist at a Paris conference on the kilogram) and Sweden’s favourite absurdist, Roy Andersson's A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting On Existence.
The Midnight Madness program, focusing on genre and horror films, opens with Tokyo Tribe, based on the manga about warring Tokyo gangs, directed by Sion Sono (Suicide Club). Also included are David Robert Mitchell’s Cannes breakout, the possession thriller, It Follows, and Electric Boogaloo: The Wild Untold Story of Cannon Films, a documentary on the B-movie studio behind Death Wish sequels and Chuck Norris movies.
The Vanguard section, for genre-bending films, has announced 11 titles, including The Duke of Burgundy, by British filmmaker Peter Strickland (Berberian Sound Studio), described as a “dark melodrama” that explores the intense relationship between two women, one a butterfly collector. Spring, the sophomore effort from Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead (Resolution), follows the tailspin of a young American man in a personal tailspin, who meets a mysterious woman on the Italian coast.