TIFF's Platform Competition Highlights International Films and Stars

Alicia Vikander and Eva Green star Euphoria.
Courtesy of TIFF
The Toronto International Film Festival announced the films selected for the third edition of the Platform competition. Introduced in 2015, Platform offers a prestigious and tightly curated line-up of auteur cinema designed to give new and innovative voices a spotlight in the programme. Previous winners are Alan Zweig's Hurt and Pablo Larrain's Jackie. The programme also gave a major spotlight to Barry Jenkins' Moonlight last year, which went on to win Best Picture at the Oscars.

This year's line-up features an intriguing mix of big names and emerging talents, plus a lot more stars than the programme has had in the past. The programme opens with The Death of Stalin from In the Loop Oscar nominee and Veep creator Armando Iannucci, which stars Jeffery Tambour, Andrea Riseborough, Rupert Friend, and Steve Buscemi. The programme closes with Warwick Thornton's Aussie western Sweet Country. Other stars bringing a bit more of a red carpet feel include Gael Garia Bernal (If You Saw His Heart) and Ruth Wilson (Dark River).

A bit of an oddity in the section is Mike White's Brad Status starring Ben Stiller as a man entering a midlife crisis. It looks like a perfectly fine comedy that might play to respectable reviews on, like, a Sunday afternoon at Ryerson, but it seems like an outlier, especially since White is already well established, particularly as a screenwriter with indie hits like Beatriz at Dinner, The Good Girl and School of Rock. Like Iannucci, he's also had considerable success in television.

More appealing for the auteur palette might be Lisa Langseth's Euphoria. TIFF's been nurturing this talent after giving her promising drama Hotell a boost in 2013, and she seems like a natural fit for the programme. The film reunites Langseth with Oscar winner Alicia Vikander (The Danish Girl) in this drama about two sisters travelling to a mystery destination. Eva Green co-stars.

Equally intriguing is Nabil Ayouch's Razzia, which revisits 1942 Casablanca to show life on the streets that one didn't see through the windows of Rick's little American-style gin joint, while Custody marks the feature debut of Xavier Legrand, the director of the outstanding Oscar-nominated short Just Before Losing Everything.

Most notable however, is the absence of a Canadian film. Last year's Platform comp included two Canuck features, Maliglutit and Those Who Make Revolution Halfway Only Dig Their Own Graves, although this year sounds like a quieter festival overall for Canadian content pending any surprises next Wednesday. (So far the only Canadians films I've heard for the festival are from established filmmakers.)

This year's jury is comprised of Wim Wenders (Pina), Ken Caige (Farewell, My Concubine), and Malgorzata Szumowska (Elles). 

The films in competition are:

Michael Pearce, United Kingdom World Premiere 

Brad's Status 
Mike White, USA World Premiere

Xavier Legrand, France North American Premiere 

Dark River 
Clio Barnard, United Kingdom World Premiere 

The Death of Stalin 
Armando Iannucci, France/United Kingdom/Belgium World Premiere 

Lisa Langseth, Sweden/Germany World Premiere 

If You Saw His Heart 
Joan Chemla, France World Premiere 

Mademoiselle Paradis
Barbara Albert, Austria/Germany World Premiere 

Nabil Ayouch, France World Premiere 

The Seen and Unseen 
Kamila Andini, Indonesia World Premiere 

Sweet Country 
Warwick Thornton, Australia North American Premiere 

What Will People Say (Hva vil folk si) 
Iram Haq, Norway/Germany/Sweden World Premiere

TIFF runs Sept. 7-17.