My Line-up for TIFF '13! (Updated)

August: Osage County ticket secured!
TIFF is just a week away! I’m very excited to spend 11 upcoming days with friends, movies, and Meryl. Unfortunately, I’m not accredited for the festival this year, but given my new recent OFCS status, I’m taking that as a “lost the battle but won the war” kind of spin. (It might help get me a job next year or a press badge for this here blog… who knows?) The silver lining is that film festivals are much more enjoyable if one attends the public screenings anyways, rather than jetting into town to watch films on a laptop. The best thing about the festival isn’t so much what you see, but chatting with friends/randoms, learning about all the good things that you couldn’t cram into your schedule, and making mental notes for the year ahead. (Thanks to fellow TIFF-goers who caught films such as Blancanieves and In the House, I had good movies on my radar all year long.) I know people complain that TIFF is getting too big, but I like the fact that the festival spills over into the rest of the year. I couldn’t even tell you how many of the films I see throughout the year are TIFF films!

Back to the festival itself: I was fairly fortunate with my ticket selection this year. (Big thanks to friends who are TIFF patrons!) The only major omission in my line-up is the premium screening of August: Osage County, but I got the second screening as insurance in case I can’t swing a ticket on Single Ticket Day/ the day of the screening. At the very least, I can go to the red carpet and see the film the next day. (It’s a strategy I’ve used before that often works well for those of us on a budget.) Other absences from my list are mostly due to scheduling conflicts. When in doubt, I dropped the films I knew had firm release dates, which is why some of my most anticipated films for the year—12 Years a Slave, Gravity, Prisoners, and Dallas Buyers Cub—aren’t on the list. I’ve also has a chance to pre-screen a few Canadian films—Hi-Ho Mistahey, Gerontophilia, and several shorts—so check back soon for reviews. Tip: they’ve all been good so far!

Without further ado, here is my TIFF line-up. It's a good mix of Canadian content, Oscar bait, world cinema, and indies, I think. I might fill in some gaps with more world cinema stuff on Single Ticket day/throughout the festival based on buzz. (I have a 7-hour gap between Eleanor Rigby and The Animal Project on the second Saturday that needs to be filled!) Films are generally listed in screening order and stars expected to be in attendance have been noted in cases in which I’m seeing the premiere screening. Hopefully some of them will be at second screenings… I had good luck last year with stars and directors showing up to the second screenings, so let’s hope more come this year!

At TIFF 2013, I’m seeing:

Exit Marrakech
Dir. Caroline Link (Nowhere in Africa), Germany
Starring: Ulrich Tukur, Samuel Schneider, Hafsia Herzi, Marie-Lou Sellem, Josef Bierbichler
Programme: Special Presentations (International Premiere)
Synopsis: When 17-year-old Ben visits his father Heinrich in Marrakech, it is the start of an adventurous journey through a foreign country with a picturesque charm and a rough beauty where everything appears possible — including the chance that father and son will lose each other for good, or find one another again. From Caroline Link, director of the 2002 Oscar-winner for Best Foreign Language Film Nowhere in Africa.

Hateship Loveship
Dir. Liza Johnson (Return), USA
Starring Kristen Wiig, Guy Pearce, Christine Lahti, Nick Nolte, Hailee Steinfeld, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Sami Gayle.
Programme: Special Presentations (World Premiere)
Synopsis: Johanna Parry moves to a new town to work for Mr. McCauley and his granddaughter, Sabitha. Sabitha and her friend trick Johanna into a one-way epistolary romance with Sabitha’s father Ken. Johanna lights on fire, and commits a criminal act to get to her lover, who barely knows she exists. Based on the short story “Hateship, Loveship, Friendship, Courtship, Marriage” by Alice Munro.
-In attendance: Kristen Wiig, Hailee Steinfeld

Joan and Heisenberg at last year's live read of American Beauty
Jason Reitman Live Read
Programme: Special Events
In this special event, filmmaker Jason Reitman (Labor Day, Up in the Air) directs a live stage reading of a classic screenplay performed by a surprise cast.

Update: This year's script is Boogie Nights! Woo hoo. Fingers crossed for Kate Winslet as Amber Waves.

Empire of Dirt
Dir. Peter Stebbings (Defendor), Canada
Starring: Jennifer Podemski, Luke Kirby, Cara Gee, Shay Eyre, Jordan Prentice, Lawrence Bayne, Michael Cram, Shannon Kook
Programme: Contemporary World Cinema (World Premiere)
Synopsis: Like many Native families, Lena Mahikan grew up in the cycle of abuse. Her father, a residential school survivor, was an alcoholic until he killed himself when Lena was 10. Her mother, only 14 years her senior, turned to the slots. By the time Lena was 15, she was pregnant and, before giving birth, was kicked to the curb by her mom. The cycle continues and Lena is now watching helplessly as her own daughter, Peeka, spirals out of control, landing herself in the  hospital  following a drug overdose. As a final attempt at survival, Lena decides to return home and face her own mother and a past she’s desperate to escape.
-In attendance: Cara Gee

The Railway Man
Dir. Jonathan Teplitzky (Burining Man), Australia/United Kingdom,
Starring: Colin Firth, Nicole Kidman, Jeremy Irvine
Programme: Galas (World Premiere)
Synopsis: Based on the bestselling novel, The Railway Man tells the extraordinary and epic true story of Eric Lomax, a British Army officer who is tormented as a prisoner of war at a Japanese labour camp during World War II. Decades later, Lomax discovers that the Japanese interpreter he holds responsible for much of his treatment is still alive and sets out to confront him, and his haunting past. Starring Academy Award–winner Colin Firth, Jeremy Irvine, and Academy Award–winner Nicole Kidman, the film is a powerful tale of survival, love and redemption.

Enough Said
Dir. Nicole Holofcener (Please Give), USA
Starring: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, James Gandolfini, Catherine Keener, Toni Collette, Ben Falcone, Eve Hewson and Tavi Gevinson.
Programme: Special Presentations (World Premiere)
Synopsis: Eva (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) is a divorced soon-to-be empty-nester wondering about her next act. Then she meets Marianne (Catherine Keener), the embodiment of her perfect self. Armed with a restored outlook on being middle-aged and single, Eva decides to take a chance on her new love interest Albert (James Gandolfini) — a sweet, funny and like-minded man. Things get complicated when Eva discovers that Albert is in fact the dreaded ex–husband of Marianne. This sharp insightful comedy follows Eva as she humorously tries to secretly juggle both relationships and wonders whether her new favourite friend's disastrous ex can be her cue for happiness.
In attendance: Nicole Holofcener, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Toni Collette

Labor Day
Dir. Jason Reitman (Up in the Air, Young Adult), USA
Starring Kate Winslet, Josh Brolin, Gattlin Griffith, Tobey Maguire, Clark Gregg, JK Simmons, Brooke Smith and James Van Der Beek.
Programme: Special Presentations (World Premiere)
Synopsis: Labor Day centres on 13-year-old Henry Wheeler as he confronts the pangs of adolescence while struggling to be the man of the house and care for his reclusive mother, Adele. On a back-to-school shopping trip, Henry and his mother encounter Frank Chambers, a man both intimidating and clearly in need of help, who convinces them to take him into their home and later is revealed to be an escaped convict. The events of this long Labor Day weekend will shape all of them for the rest of their lives.
In attendance: Jason Reitman, Kate Winselt, Josh Brolin

Dir. Terry Miles (A Night for Dying Tigers), Canada
Starring: Jennifer Beals, Ben Cotton, Lauren Lee Smith, Katharine Isabelle, Kett Turton
Programme: Contemporary World Cinema (World Premiere)
Synopsis: The estranged daughter of a famous, recently deceased Quebecois filmmaker undertakes a mission to mount a retrospective of her father’s work, in this slyly funny family drama from director Terry Miles.

You Are Here
Dir. Matthew Weiner (“Mad Men”), USA
Programme: Special Presentations (World Premiere)
Synopsis: When Steve Dallas (Owen Wilson), a womanizing local weatherman, hears that his off-the-grid best friend Ben Baker (Zach Galifianakis) has lost his estranged father, the two return to Ben's childhood home. Once there, they discover Ben has inherited the family fortune, and the ill-equipped duo must battle Ben's formidable sister (Amy Poehler) and deal with his father's gorgeous 25-year old widow (Laura Ramsey). You Are Here is a contemporary adult comedy about family, friendship, money, and the people who keep it all afloat.

Devil's Knot
Dir. Atom Egoyan (The Sweet Hereafter, Chloe), USA
Starring Reese Witherspoon, Colin Firth, Kevin Durand, Bruce Greenwood, Mireille Enos, Dane DeHaan and Stephen Moyer.
Programme: Special Presentations (World Premiere)
Synopsis: A haunting true mystery about the infamous killing of three children in a small Arkansas town. The police charge and convict three teens, aka the West Memphis Three, for committing the murders during an alleged satanic ritual, but a mother and investigator suspect that the truth may be even worse.
In attendance: Atom Egoyan, Reese Witherspoon, Colin Firth

Dir. Stephen Frears (The Queen, Dirty Pretty Things), United Kingdom
Starring: Judi Dench, Steve Coogan
Programme: Special Presentations (North American Premiere)
Synopsis: Based on the 2009 investigative book by BBC correspondent Martin Sixsmith, The Lost Child of Philomena Lee, this film focuses on the efforts of Philomena Lee (Judi Dench), mother to a boy conceived out of wedlock — something Philomena’s Irish-Catholic community didn’t have the highest opinion of — and given away for adoption in the United States. Following church doctrine, she was forced to sign a contract that wouldn’t allow for any sort of inquiry into her son’s whereabouts. After starting a family years later in England and, for the most part, moving on with her life, Philomena meets Sixsmith (Steve Coogan), a BBC reporter with whom she decides to track down her long-lost son.
-In attendance: Dear Dame Judi Dench, Please come to screening 2. Yours, -Pat.

Rhymes for Young Ghouls
Dir. Jeff Barnaby (feature debut), Canada
Starring: Kawennahere Devery Jacobs, Glenn Gould
Programme: Discovery (World Premiere)
Synopsis: Kids on the Red Crow reservation are doomed. If you can't pay your "truancy tax", that's you up at the residential school, beat up and abused. At 15, Aila is the weed princess of Red Crow. After being thrown into the school’s dungeon, she decides to fight back.
-In attendance: Jeff Barnaby, Kawennahere Devery Jacobs

Oh, yes, she's in the Meryl Movie too.
August: Osage County
Dir. John Wells (The Company Men), USA
Starring Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Ewan McGregor, Benedict Cumberbatch, Abigail Breslin, Sam Shepard and Chris Cooper.
Programme: Galas (World Premiere)
Synopsis: August: Osage County tells the dark, hilarious and deeply touching story of the strong-willed women of the Weston family, whose lives have diverged until a family crisis brings them back to the Midwest house they grew up in, and to the dysfunctional woman who raised them. Based on Tracy Letts’ Pulitzer Prize– and Tony Award–winning 2007 play of the same name.

Third Person
Dir. Paul Haggis (Crash, In the Valley of Elah), Belgium
Starring Liam Neeson, Mila Kunis, Adrien Brody, James Franco, Olivia Wilde, Maria Bello, Kim Basinger and Moran Atias.
Programme: Special Presentations (World Premiere)
Synopsis: Love, passion, mystery, betrayal and hope infuse Paul Haggis' new feature, which follows the interrelated stories of three couples in three cities, Rome, New York and Paris — each with its own secrets.

Tom At The Farm (Tom à la ferme)
Dir. Xavier Dolan (Laurence Anyways), Canada/France
Starring: Xavier Dolan, Pierre-Yves Cardinal, Lise Roy, Evelyne Brochu
Programme: Special Presentations (North American Premiere)
Synopsis: Tom, a young advertising copywriter, travels to the country for a funeral. There, he's shocked to find out no one knows who he is, or his relationship to the deceased, whose brother soon sets the rules of a twisted game. In order to protect the family's name and grieving mother, Tom now has to play the peacekeeper in a household whose obscure past bodes even greater darkness for his trip to the farm.
-In attendance: Xavier Dolan, Evelyne Brochu

Dir. Matthew Saville, Australia
Starring: Tom Wilkinson, Joel Edgerton, Jai Courtney, Melissa George
Programme: Special Presentations (World Premiere)
Synopsis: Three detectives become embroiled in a tense struggle after a tragic accident that leaves a child in critical condition. One is guilty of a crime, one will try to cover it up, and the other attempts to expose it. How far will these men go to disguise and unravel the truth? Felony marks the screenwriting debut of star Joel Edgerton (The Great Gatsby, Animal Kingdom)
-In attendance: Joel Edgerton, Tom Wilkinson, Jai Courteney, Melissa George

Dir. Louise Archambault (Familia), Canada
Programme: Special Presentations (North American Premiere)
Starring: Gabrielle Marion-Rivard, Alexandre Landry, Mélissa Désormeaux-Poulin
Synopsis: Gabrielle is a young woman with Williams syndrome who has a contagious joie de vivre and an exceptional musical gift. Since she met her boyfriend Martin at the recreation centre where they are choir members, they have been inseparable. However, because they are different, their loved ones are fearful of their relationship. As the choir prepares for an important music festival, Gabrielle does everything she can to gain her independence. From the Oscar nominated producers of Incendies and Monsieur Lazhar.

Child’s Pose
Dir. Calin Peter Netzer (Maria), Romania
Starring: Bogdan Dumitrache, Luminita Gheorghiu, Florin Zamfirescu, Natasa Raab, Ilinca Goia, Vlad Ivanov, Mimi Branescu
Programme: Contemporary World Cinema (North American Premiere)
Synopsis: Romanian director Calin Peter Netzer won the Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival for this sardonic tale about a wealthy, aging Bucharest matriarch who greases more palms than she can shake as she tries to buy her son’s way out of a hit-and-run conviction. Child’s Pose is Romania’s official entry for Best Foreign Language Film in this year’s Oscar race.

The Husband
Dir. Bruce McDonald (Trigger), Canada
Starring: Maxwell McCabe-Lokos, August Diehl, Sarah Allen, Jodi Balfour, Stephen McHattie
Programme: Special Presentations (World Premiere)
Synopsis: Henry is married, has a son, and a decent job in advertising. Trouble is his wife is in jail for sleeping with a 14-year-old boy. Struggling to keep it together and prepare for her release, an encounter with the boy—his rival—sends Henry on a path of self-destruction.

Dir. Richie Mehta (Amal), Canada
Starring: Rajesh Tailang, Tannishtha Chatterjee, Anurag Arora, Geeta Agrawal Sharma, Naseeruddin Shah
Programme: Contemporary World Cinema (North American Premiere)
Synopsis: After sending away his 12-year-old son Siddharth for work, Mahendra (a chain-wallah who fixes broken zippers on the streets) is relieved —his financial burdens will be alleviated. But when Siddharth fails to return home, Mahendra learns he may have been taken  by child traffickers. With little resources and no connections, he travels across India in pursuit, with the hope that whatever force took  his child away will return him unharmed.

A Touch of Sin
Dir. Jia Zhangke (The World), China/Japan
Starring: Zhao Tao, Jiang Wu, Wang Baoqiang, Luo Lanshan
Programme: Masters (North American Premiere)
Synopsis: Internationally acclaimed Chinese master Jia Zhangke (The World) won the Best Screenplay prize at Cannes for this startling — and startlingly violent — modern wuxia tale of four outcasts on the margins of a rapidly changing China, who channel their underclass rage into a bloody and murderous rampage.

Our Man in Tehran
Dir. Larry Weinstein, Drew Taylor, Canada
Programme: Mavericks (World Premiere)
Synopsis: In conjunction with the premiere of Drew Taylor and Larry Weinstein’s in-depth documentary — which chronicles the true story behind Argo’s Hollywood embellishments — we are proud to present a conversation with the venerable Ken Taylor, Canada’s former ambassador to Iran, who personally sheltered six American diplomats in the operation that became known as "the Canadian Caper."
In attendance: Ken Taylor, Larry Weinstein, Drew Taylor

Sarah Prefers To Run (Sarah préfère la course)
Dir. Chloé Robichaud (feature debut), Canada
Starring: Sophie Desmarais
Programme: Discovery (Toronto Premiere)
Synopsis: Sarah is a gifted runner. Her life changes when she’s offered admission to Quebec’s best university athletics program in Montreal — far from her home. Sarah doesn’t have her mother’s financial support for the move, but she leaves anyway with her friend Antoine. Though barely out of their teens, they get married because they want the best scholarships and loans. Sarah doesn’t want to hurt anyone with  the choices she makes, it’s just that she loves running more than anything else.

The Sea
Dir. Stephen Brown (feat. debut), Ireland
Starring: Ciarán Hinds, Charlotte Rampling, Natascha McElhone, Rufus Sewell, Bonnie Wright, Sinead Cusack
Programme: Contemporary World Cinema (North American Premiere)
Synopsis: Mourning the recent death of his wife and wrestling with the demons of his past, a retired art historian (Ciaran Hinds; Munich) takes lodging at a seaside cottage under the eye of a watchful housekeeper (Charlotte Rampling), in this adaptation of revered Irish author John Banville’s Man Booker Prize-winning novel.

Unforgiven (Yurusarezarumono)
Dir. Lee Sang-il (Villain), Japan
Starring Akira Emoto, Koichi Sato and Ken Watanabe.
Programme: Special Presentations (North American Premiere)
Synopsis: Lee Sang-il’s visionary remake of Clint Eastwood’s iconic Academy Award–winning film transposes the classic Western to Meiji-period Japan. The Tokugawa shogunate has just collapsed and the Ainu aborigines strive to settle the land alongside the newly established government. Jubei Kamata is a relic of the Tokugawa shogunate, and during that time his name a lone terrorized the whole of Kyoto as he killed countless loyalists in the name of the Shogun. After the fall, he vanished from sight. More than 10 years later, Jubei has  fathered children with an Ainu woman and lives in a secluded hamlet, barely making a living. His wife —who succeeded in transforming him from a man who kills—had died, leaving him to a quiet life raising his children and tending her grave. However, poverty leads Jubei to abandon his resolve and once again turn to a life of violence. Starring Akira Emoto, Koichi Sato and Ken Watanabe.

A Field in England
Dir. Ben Wheatley (Sightseers), UK
Starring: Michael Smiley, Reese Shearsmith, Julian Barratt, Peter Ferdinando, Ryan Pope
Programme: Wavelengths (North American Premiere)
Synopsis: A single muddy West Country field provides the setting for this brilliantly bizarre English Civil War drama and psychedelic horror film from genre-fusing cult director Ben Wheatley (Kill List, Sightseers), which features a group of deserters, a necromancer, psychoactive plants and buried treasure.

The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Him and Her
Dir. Ned Benson (debut), USA
Programme: Special Presentations (Work in Progress)
Starring Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy, Nina Arianda, Viola Davis, Bill Hader, Ciarán Hinds, Isabelle Huppert, William Hurt, and Jess Weixler.
Synopsis: The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Him and Her is a two-part love story seen through the eyes of a New York couple trying to understand each other as they cope with personal hardship. The different perspectives of “Him” and “Her” result in two films with a unique look into one couple's attempt to reclaim the life and love they once had.

The Animal Project
Dir. Ingrid Veninger (MODRA), Canada
Starring: Aaron Poole and a bunch of people dresses as animals.
Programme: Contemporary World Cinema (World Premiere)
Synopsis: A story about a father, a son, and six characters dressed in furry suits. An unorthodox acting teacher (Aaron Poole) attempts to push a group of eager young performers out of their comfort zones, while struggling with his own ability to live an authentic and fulfilling life with his teenage son.

Witching and Bitching
Dir. Álex de la Iglesia (The Last Circus), Spain/France
Starring : Hugo Silva, Mario Casas, Pepon Nieto, Carolina Bang, Terele Pavez, Jaime Ordoñez, Carlos Areces, Santiago Segura, Secun de la Rosa, Macarena Gomez, Grabriel Delgado, Carmen Maura
Programme: Midnight Madness (World Premiere)
Synopsis: Fleeing through the impenetrable forests of the Basque countryside after a jewel heist, a hapless band of robbers runs afoul of a coven of witches, in this madcap supernatural spectacle from Spanish genre specialist Alex de la Iglesia (The Last Circus).

Dir. Lisa Langseth, Sweden/Denmark
Starring: Alicia Vikander, David Dencik, Mira Eklund
Programme: Contemporary World Cinema (World Premiere)
Synopsis: Alicia Vikander (A Royal Affair, Anna Karenina) stars in this comedy-drama as a recovering control freak who finds support and a new lease on life when she enters group therapy.

Under the Skin
Dir. Jonathan Glazer (Sexy Beast, Birth), USA/United Kingdom
Starring Scarlett Johansson.
Programme: Special Presentations (North American Premiere)
Synopsis: The story of an alien in human form on a journey through Scotland. Part road movie, part science fiction, part real, it’s a film about seeing the world through alien eyes.

SINGLE TICKET DAY UPDATE: Yikes, what a mess. I don't think I've ever had such bad luck on Single Ticket Day. (No August: Osage County upgrade, sigh.) Wait times were the worst they've ever been since I've been doing TIFF and there were glitches galore. For example, tickets for The Big Chill and When Jews Were Funny were listed as available on the 'Browse by date option', but then weren't available for purchase. If, however, one went by date, they were available. So... three cheers to seeing Glenn Close chat about The Big Chill! That's exciting. A ticket that for means the two-hour wait was well spent.

Newly added:

Around the Block
Dir. Sarah Spillane (debut), Australia
Starring: Christina Ricci, Hunter Page-Lochard
Programme: Discovery (World Premiere)
Synopsis: Christina Ricci stars as an American teacher who takes a troubled inner-city Sydney youth under her wing, in this gritty, unflinching yet inspirational debut feature by Australian director Sarah Spillane.

When Jews Were Funny
Dir. Alan Zweig (15 Reasons to Live), Canada
Programme: TIFF Docs (World Premiere)
Synopsis: Insightful and often hilarious, the latest from documentary filmmaker Alan Zweig surveys the history of Jewish comedy, from the early days of Borsht belt to the present, ultimately exploring not just ethnicity in the entertainment industry, but also the entire unruly question of what it means to be Jewish.

The Big Chill
Dir. Lawrence Kasdan, USA
Starring: Tom Berenger, Glenn Close, William Hurt, Meg Tilly, Kevin Kline, Jeff Goldblum.
Programme: Special Events
Synopsis: The world premiere of Lawrence Kasdan’s The Big Chill in 1983 was a landmark event for the Festival, rocketing our popularity to new heights with audiences and industry, and fostering a tradition for star-studded Gala Presentations to come. To mark the thirtieth anniversary of that premiere, we are delighted to present a sparkling 4K restoration of The Big Chill — itself a landmark film for which Toronto was just the beginning. After winning the People's Choice Award at the Festival, it would go on to herald a new wave of intelligent, baby boomer-driven American cinema. The Big Chill will be presented with an extended Q&A with the cast and crew — including Kasdan, actors Glenn Close and Meg Tilly, and screenwriter Barbara Benedek.


What are you seeing at TIFF this year?