Skip to main content

TIFF 2018: Julia Roberts headlines festival’s attempt to blur lines between film and television

Julia Roberts stars as Heidi in Amazon's Homecoming.

Courtesy of TIFF

For the Toronto International Film Festival’s 40th edition three years ago, organizers introduced two new programming slates to the mix: Platform, an award-driven lineup emphasizing on-the-brink auteurs, and Primetime, focusing on the “artistic renaissance” of Peak TV. Yes, television. At a film festival.

“Most of the filmmakers we love are working in television now, too: Steven Soderbergh, Jane Campion and so many others are making very strong work in long-form drama for the small screen, or any screen, really,” TIFF’s artistic director Cameron Bailey said at the time. “We realized the audience for independent film is the same as those following those serial works.”

While the flood of small-screen product has overwhelmed the zeitgeist in recent years – audiences can barely go a week now without having to add a new must-binge series to their digital queues – TIFF’s Primetime lineup has not quite revolutionized the festival, or what festival audiences prioritize.

Story continues below advertisement

Read more: The Globe’s guide to TIFF 2018 movies

The inaugural edition included series that have stuck it out but remained under-the-radar (Hulu’s Casual, which ended last month after four seasons) and others that audiences refused to acknowledge on any sort of radar (NBC’s Heroes Reborn, which will remain the Score: A Hockey Musical equivalent of TIFF’s television efforts). Following years offered a handful of programming coups (the riotous homegrown comedy Nirvanna the Band the Show in 2016, HBO’s top-tier The Deuce in 2017), but also some head-scratchers (the diminishing returns of CBC’s Alias Grace; all eight episodes of the 2017 Czech miniseries Wasteland, which seemed like a lengthy effort to make time for during a film festival).

Perhaps some star power, though, will shift Primetime’s tides this year. On Thursday morning, TIFF revealed that 2018′s Primetime program will feature the world premiere of Amazon’s Homecoming, starring none other than Julia Roberts. The series, based on the podcast of the same name, chronicles the work of Heidi (Roberts), a caseworker at a secret government facility. Four episodes of the 10-episode series, developed by Mr. Robot showrunner Sam Esmail, will be screened during TIFF.

The Facebook web series Sorry for Your Loss will also add some celebrity to Primetime’s mix: Avengers star Elizabeth Olsen headlines the series as Leigh, a young widow who must deal with her grief while attempting to move forward. (The production co-stars Oscar nominee Janet McTeer and The Last Jedi’s Kelly Marie Tran.)

Primetime’s other selections may not feature such name-brand stars, but sound intriguing enough, including the French sci-fi series Ad Vitam, the Israeli comedy Stockholm and the six-part anthology Asian horror production Folklore: A Mother’s Love and Pob.

“Cinematic television has provided a new lane for the consumer’s experience of cinematic art,” Michael Lerman, programmer for Primetime, said in a statement. “These series not only push the boundaries of what can be presented, but also demonstrate how it can transcend culture, visual arts, and communications.”

At a festival that will now open with a film – Netflix’s Outlaw King – that will be available on small screens across the globe just two months later, perhaps that pushing and blurring of boundaries is a good thing. Or, at least, an inevitable thing.

Story continues below advertisement

Just don’t think about bringing a new reboot of Heroes around.

The 43rd edition of TIFF runs Sept. 6 through 16 (tiff.net)

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Comments

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • All comments will be reviewed by one or more moderators before being posted to the site. This should only take a few moments.
  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed. Commenters who repeatedly violate community guidelines may be suspended, causing them to temporarily lose their ability to engage with comments.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.
Cannabis pro newsletter