Films starring an outer-space-bound Natalie Portman, a gas balloon-propelled Eddie Redmayne and a regular old terrestrial Mick Jagger are coming to the Toronto International Film Festival.
As part of TIFF’s summer-long programming announcements, festival organizers on Tuesday morning revealed dozens more titles slated for this year’s September event, including two galas (Tom Harper’s 1800s adventure The Aeronauts, starring Redmayne and Felicity Jones, and Giuseppe Capotondi’s thriller The Burnt Orange Heresy, starring Claes Bang, Elizabeth Debicki and Jagger) plus a slew of special presentations (including the Portman-starring astronaut drama Lucy in the Sky, which is loosely based on the story of Lisa Nowak, a NASA astronaut whose life became mired in criminal charges after an affair gone wrong).
“We’re thrilled to announce this second wave of galas and special presentations, which I believe are some of the most compelling in the lineup,” Cameron Bailey, TIFF’s artistic director and co-head, said in a statement. "Audiences will be delighted by the artistry present in this year’s splashiest sections.”
While some of TIFF’s additions are indeed so splashy they are drowning in celebrity – other new titles include Wave starring last TIFF’s man-of-the-moment Lucas Hedges, Olivier Assayas’s Wasp Network starring Penelope Cruz, and the FBI drama Seberg starring Kristen Stewart – the festival also took time Tuesday to reveal the selections playing its less glitzy but still mission-critical programs: Contemporary World Cinema, Wavelengths and Masters.
On the global cinema front, this year’s TIFF lineup has a refreshed mandate, with new lead programmer Kiva Reardon focusing on “pushing forward and expanding the cinematic canon.” To that end, this year’s Contemporary World Cinema cherry-picked the best in cinema from 48 countries (up from 30 in 2018), with an emphasis on female voices. Twenty-one of the 55 films, or 38 per cent, are directed or co-directed by women.
“What I’m hoping is that audiences respond to Contemporary World Cinema as urgent cinema, as films that are speaking to what’s happening in the world right now,” Reardon says in an interview with The Globe and Mail. “It goes to the idea of films being part of a global dialogue, as a means of engagement. They don’t need to be wedded to one genre or style or type.”
Part of this revamped focus allows for the addition, for the first time, of Canadian and American titles to the Contemporary World Cinema lineup. This year’s titles include Minhal Baig’s Hala, which looks at one Muslim teen growing up in the United States; Michael Angelo Covino’s U.S. drama The Climb, which premiered at Cannes this past spring; a handful of eclectic Canadian selections (including White Lie and The Last Porno Show, which were announced the other week); and the latest from New York writer-director Edward Burns, the dramedy Beneath the Blue Suburban Skies, which has been in the works for a decade.
The decision to include Western films in the global lineup, Reardon says, “goes back to the idea of which films are seen as quote-unquote part of a world lens. I’m very happy that we have American films playing next to ones from Laos or Sudan. It’s all about what the cinematic canon is and part of world cinema is the United States and Canada, as well.”
Over in TIFF’s Masters program, organizers announced 11 titles, including five first-time “Masters”: Terrence Malick (who’s delivering his long-in-the-works and Cannes-certified Second World War drama A Hidden Life), Angela Schanelec (I Was at Home, But), Bertrand Bonello (Zombi Child), Corneliu Porumboiu (The Whistlers), and Elia Suleiman (who directs and stars in the dark comedy It Must Be Heaven).
Meanwhile, TIFF’s avant-garde Wavelengths program announced 37 titles for this year’s fest, including new work from acclaimed Catalan filmmaker Albert Serra (Liberté), Portuguese director Pedro Costa (Vitalina Varela), and Anocha Suwichakornpong and Ben Rivers’s Krabi, 2562, a collaborative “work on memory, landscape and social awareness.”
The 44th edition of the Toronto International Film Festival runs Sept. 5 to 15.
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