The Toronto International Film Festival’s latest rollout of films for next month’s festival includes more than 100 new features, ranging from Arnold Schwarzenegger in a zombie movie, Mia Wasikowska in an adaptation of Gustave Flaubert’s 19th-century novel Madame Bovary, a short film from the world’s oldest director, 105-year-old Manoel De Oliveira, and an acclaimed documentary about last winter’s protests in Kiev’s Independence Square.
Today’s bulk announcement filled in the line-up of several programs at this year’s festival (which begins on Sept. 4), adding to the Galas (seven) and Special Presentations (17), and rounding out Contemporary World Cinema (51), Wavelengths (13 features and 33 short and medium-length experimental films), City to City (eight features from Seoul), TIFF Cinematheque’s restored classics (five features) and the inaugural Shortcuts International (39 shorts), as well as five installations as part of the visual-arts-minded Future Projections.
The red-carpet Galas are the festival’s main celebrity events and this year should offer plenty of star-gazing opportunities. This list includes the choral music drama Boychoir from Canadian director François Girard, featuring Dustin Hoffman, Kathy Bates, Josh Lucas, Eddie Izzard and Debra Winger. Escobar: Paradise Lost features Josh Hutcherson as a young surfer who travels to Colombia and falls for the niece of drug lord Pablo Escobar (Benicio Del Toro). And the heist thriller The Forger stars Christopher Plummer and John Travolta as a father-son team of criminals, stealing for a good cause.
Maya Forbes’ serio-comic autobiographical film Infinitely Polar Bear stars Mark Ruffalo as a manic depressive father trying to win back his wife (Zoe Saldana). Laggies, the latest from mumblecore director Lynn Shelton, stars Keira Knightley, Sam Rockwell and Chloe Grace Moretz. And Ruth & Alex stars Morgan Freeman and Diane Keaton as a New York couple trying to sell their flat.
The Special Presentations are distinguished by two French films inspired by Madame Bovary: The first, starring Mia Wasikowska, is a straight-forward British adaptation of the classic novel of a doctor’s wife’s infidelities as a rebellion against her stifling bourgeois life. As well, French director Anne Fontaine’s Gemma Bovery, starring Gemma Arterton, is a modern-day update of the story based on the graphic novel of the same name by The Guardian’s Posy Simmonds.
Other Special Presentations include three Cannes competition entries: Olivier Assayas’ meditative backstage drama Clouds of Sils Maria, with Juliette Binoche and Kristen Stewart, the Chechnyan war drama The Search from director Michel Hazanavicius (The Artist) and Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne’s Two Days, One Night starring Marion Cotillard as a woman who has a weekend to convince her workmates to forgo a bonus so she can keep her job.
Other intriguing entries include Maggie, starring Schwarzenegger as a Midwestern farmer who watches his daughter (Abigail Breslin) turn into a zombie; The Cobbler, from Thomas McCarthy (The Visitor), stars Adam Sandler as a shoemaker who can magically step into other people’s shoes. The Special Programs also includes one retrospective film: the director’s cut of Neil Young’s 1982 “nuclear comedy” Human Highway, co-directed by Dean Stockwell and featuring Stockwell, Dennis Hopper and the members of Devo.
In the sprawling Contemporary World Cinema program, notable films include Japanese director Naomi Kawase’s moody, nature-filled adolescent drama of love and death Still the Water, which competed at Cannes last May. The lineup also includes the latest from Austrian director Jessica Hausner, her well-reviewed sardonic “romantic comedy” Amour Fou, which follows events leading to the double suicide of the poet Heinrich von Kleist and his friend Henriette Vogel in 1811. The program also includes the latest from Bruno Dumont (Humanité ), a 197-minute comedy that originated as a TV miniseries called Li’l Quinquin, about a police investigation into small-town crime. Charlie’s Country, from Dutch-Australian director Rolf de Heer, stars David Gulpilil (Walkabout), who won an award at Cannes for his performance as an aboriginal man who travels to the Outback to live a traditional life.
This year’s Wavelengths category looks particularly inviting to art-house cinema devotees, stretching beyond film’s experimental edges to include some of the major international filmmakers working today. The selection includes a new 19-minute film, The Old Man of Belem, about Don Quixote in heaven, by Portugal’s 105-year-old Manoel De Oliveira, along with a new feature, Cavalo Dinheiro, from acclaimed fellow countryman Pedro Costa.
Ukrainian director Sergei Loznitsa (My Joy) returns to his documentary roots with Maidan, chronicling the events of last winter’s protests and the toppling of former president Vickor Yanukovych.
Other films that will whet the appetites of cinephiles include the magic realist western Jauja, from Argentina’s Lisandro Alonso, starring Viggo Mortensen, and new works by Malaysian-born Tsai Ming-liang, Argentina’s Matias Pineiro and the Philippines’ Lav Diaz.