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TIFF movie reviews Add to ...

Sept. 12, 9 p.m., Elgin; Sept. 14, 9 a.m., Scotiabank 1

Sept. 13, 5:30 p.m., Ryerson; Sept. 14, 3 p.m., Scotiabank 2

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Violeta Ayala and Dan Fallshaw (Australia)


A cause célèbre at its world premiere in Sydney, Australia, earlier this year, Stolen is a dramatic and complex exploration of modern slavery, not to mention a fascinating study of the perils of documentary filmmaking. The project didn't start out that way. While investigating the cause of the Polisario Liberation Front, an organization representing the Sahrawi people and their struggle for an autonomous Western Sahara, the filmmakers uncover evidence of a form of entrenched slavery in a Polisario-controlled refugee camp where they are filming. Their shift in focus puts them in the centre of a still-evolving international story and forced to address questions about their techniques, timeline and translations. J.P.

Sept. 16, 7 p.m., AMC 10; Sept. 18, 4 p.m., Jackman

Tales of the Golden Age

Hanno Hofer, Razvan Marculescu, Cristian Mungiu, Constantin Popescu and Ioana Uricaru (Romania)


Cristian Mungiu, who won the Cannes Palme d'or in 2007 for his drama 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days, wrote all the stories in this portmanteau film, directed by him and four other filmmakers. These darkly humorous stories are based on urban legends about Romanians finding resourceful ways to deal with life under the dictatorship of Nicolae Ceausescu. The first and funniest story is about a village preparing to impress a visiting diplomat, which leads to everyone in town trapped on a spinning carousel all night. Another tells of a near-disaster when photographers, who are assigned to doctor a photo of Ceausescu, make an embarrassing error. The final film, entitled The Air Sellers, concerns a couple who concoct a plan to defraud apartment dwellers out of their empty bottles. In order to suggest the confusion and disinformation of the period, the producers have declined to identify which director made which film. L.L.

Sept. 15, 8:45 p.m., AMC 3; Sept. 16, 2:45 p.m., AMC 3

Tanner Hall

Francesca Gregorini and Tatiana von Furstenberg (USA)


Jane Austen meets Mystic Pizza in this accomplished, autumn-hued coming-of-age film from a first-time co-writing, co-directing duo. Like the aforementioned 1988 film, the success of Tanner Hall hinges on the delightful, nuanced performances of four emerging talents. Three privileged young women return to their ivy-covered school for final year, all on the cusp of discovering the complex power of their sexuality. A disheveled, aggressive newcomer (the fabulous Georgia King) attaches herself and plays a game of subtle manipulation to mask her own private pain. Comedians Amy Sedaris and Chris Kattan kill as the school's resident quirky adults. J.P.

Sept. 14, 7 p.m., Isabel Bader; Sept. 17 a.m., Elgin; Sept 19, 5:15 p.m., AMC 7

The Time That Remains

Elia Suleiman (Britain/Italy/Belgium/France)


Just in case you thought he was merely a filmmaker and not also a cultural theorist, Palestinian-Israeli director Elia Suleiman's latest incursion into the minefield of post-1948 Arab-Israeli relations comes with the subtitle Chronicle of a Present Absentee. The semi-autobiographical film is based on Suleiman's father's diaries and mostly takes place in a representation of his family home, with 20-year leaps forward in time indicated by alterations to the bare-bones set design. Meant as a kind of wry portrayal of the daily lives of Palestinians in Nazareth, everything that worked in his film Divine Intervention falls flat here: Suleiman seems to think that cutting to his silent, expressionless face constitutes not only humour, but a cinematic style in and of itself. Mark Peranson

Sept. 16, 7:30 p.m., Isabel Bader; Sept. 18, 1:30 p.m., Scotiabank 2

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To Die Like a Man

Joao Pedro Rodrigues (Portugal/France)


Set in Lisbon's flourishing drag-queen demimonde during the late 1980s, Joao Pedro Rodrigues's latest foray into the gay body politic is a sensitive and transfixing look at Tonia (Fernando Santos), a veteran transsexual under pressure from her younger junkie boyfriend to make her adopted gender something permanent. At the same time, she is stricken by an illness, and the impending end causes the Catholic Tonia to confront her fate (and her relationship with her son). Completely eschewing spectacle, Rodrigues achieves moments of pure magic. To Die Like a Man retains the feel of a kind of melodramatic 1950s musical, with Fassbinder-like melancholy replacing camp. Mark Peranson

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