TIFF Adds More Films to Galas and Special Presentations

Sean Durkin's Southcliffe
Were the Oscar nominations announced today? I feel like all I want to talk about is what’s out, rather than what’s in. The latest slate of films announced for the Gala and Special Presentations programme for the Toronto International Film Festival, presumably the last ones to be named in these categories, includes some surprising omissions. Not set to be screening at the festival are Oscar hopefuls such as Diana and Grace of Monaco, which some writers—myself included—thought could bring to the festival circuit the beginning of a Best Actress face-off between friends Naomi Watts and Nicole Kidman as they play late princesses Diana and Grace Kelly, respectively. Equally notable absences are Cannes winners Nebraska and Inside Llewellyn Davis, which could have made North American premieres at Toronto to kick off their awards runs. Also missing is the Marion Cotillard pic The Immigrant, which debuted at Cannes to more favourable reviews than Cotillard’s other film, Blood Ties, which is screening as a Gala. The absence of The Immigrant and Grace of Monaco could partly be attributed to the heavy set of films from The Weinstein Company that are already set for Toronto, as TWC already has Oscar hopefuls August: Osage County, Philomena, and Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom.

Like the Oscar nominations, though, it’s silly to get caught up on what we won’t be talking about, since the movies that were announced today include some films worth getting excited about. I’m most looking forward to Southcliffe, the new film from Marcy Martha May Marlene director Sean Durkin, which is playing in Special Presentations. Also intriguing is the Japanese remake of Clint Eastwood’s Best Picture Oscar winner Unforgiven, which looks extremely promising from the trailer. Other notable entries include James Franco’s newest directorial effort Child of God; John Turturro’s Fading Gigolo, starring Turturro alongside Woody Allen and Sharon Stone; and Singing Women, starring the director of 2011’s People’s Choice Award winner Where Do We Go Now? Also worth noting are Alex Gibney’s Lance Armstrong doc and Kevin Macdonald’s How I Live Now starring Saoirse Ronan. The festival also announced an extensive and impressive list of films for the Contemporary World Cinema programme, which can be seen on the festival website. This announcement doesn't mark the complete line-up, though, as TIFF still has the Masters and Mavericks programmes to unveil, which include some of the anticipated goodies (or ones we haven't mentioned yet!).

The list of announced films is as follows:


Blood Ties
Guillaume Canet, France/USA, North American Premiere
New York, 1974. 50-year-old Chris has just been released on good behavior after spending several years in prison. Waiting for him reluctantly outside the prison gates is his younger brother, Frank, a cop with a bright future. Chris and Frank have always been different, yet blood ties are the ones that bind. Starring Clive Owen, Billy Crudup, Marion Cotillard, Mila Kunis, Zoe Saldana, Matthias Schoenaerts and James Caan.

Bright Days Ahead(Les Beaux jours)
Marion Vernoux, France, North American Premiere
César–winning French cinema icon Fanny Ardant stars in this sophisticated and sexy drama about a married woman in her 60s tumbling into an affair with a much younger man.

Words and Pictures
Fred Schepisi, USA, World Premiere
A writer (Clive Owen) whose talent has dried up and an artist (Juliette Binoche) struggling to paint, clash at the school where they teach, sparking both an unlikely romance and a school-wide war: which is more powerful, the word or the picture?


A Promise (Une Promesse)
Patrice Leconte, Belgium/France, North American Premiere
Germany, 1912. A youth of humble origins takes up a clerical post in a steel factory. Impressed by his work, the elderly owner takes him on as his private secretary and sets him up in his home.  While there, the young man meets the owner’s beautiful and reserved wife—and falls helplessly in love with her, unbeknownst to the couple. But just as his employer announces that he is sending him to oversee his mines in Mexico, the wife makes him a startling promise. Starring  Rebecca Hall, Alan Rickman and Richard Madden.

The Armstrong Lie
Alex Gibney, USA, North American Premiere,
In 2009, Alex Gibney was hired to make a film about Lance Armstrong’s comeback to cycling.  The project was shelved when the doping scandal erupted, and re-opened after Armstrong’s confession. The Armstrong Lie picks up in 2013 and presents a riveting, insider's view of the unraveling of one of the most extraordinary stories in the history of sports. As Lance Armstrong says himself, “I didn’t live a lot of lies, but I lived one big one.”

Blind Detective
Johnnie To, Hong Kong, North American Premiere
Forced to leave service after he was afflicted with blindness, a former detective ekes out his living by solving cold cases for police rewards. When an attractive, young hit-team inspector enlists his help in a personal case, he decides to take a stab at it with his own personal agenda. Starring Andy Lau and Sammi Cheng.

Child of God
James Franco, USA, North American Premiere
Set in mountainous Sevier County, Tennessee in the 1960s, Child of God tells the story of Lester Ballard, a dispossessed, violent man whom the narrator describes as  “a child of God much like yourself perhaps.” Ballard's life is a disastrous attempt to exist outside the social order. Deprived of both his parents and a home, and with few other ties, Ballard descends to the level of a cave dweller, falling deeper into crime and degradation.Starring James Franco, Scott Haze, Tim Blake Nelson and Jim Parrack.

The Face of Love
Arie Posin, USA, World Premiere
Five years after losing the love of her life, Nikki falls in love again —at first sight. The object of her affection is Tom, an art teacher with a kind heart and a great zest for life, and also a near perfect double for Nikki's deceased husband. Seduced by the chance to live as if  her husband was never lost, Nikki spirals into a fantasy of the present as past, while Tom must unravel the mystery behind her immediate and unconditional love. Starring Annette Bening, Ed Harris, Robin Williams and Amy Brenneman.

Fading Gigolo
John Turturro, USA, World Premiere
Fioravante, at his friend Murray’s suggestion, enters into the world’s oldest profession, and ends up finding something he didn’t know he was looking for. Starring John Turturro, Woody Allen, Vanessa Paradis, Liev Schreiber, Sharon Stone and Sofia Vergara.

The Finishers
Nils Tavernier, Belgium/France, World Premiere
Julien, 17, is wheelchair-bound due to cerebral palsy. Despite their love for him, his family is gradually falling apart under the strain of dealing with his disability. In a bid to bond with his fat her, Julien challenges him to participate with him in the Ironman race in Nice  (French Riviera), a triathlon in which his father has previously competed. Starring Jacques Gamblin, Alexandra Lamy and Fabien Héraud.

How I Live Now
Kevin Macdonald, United Kingdom, World Premiere
Daisy, a teenaged New Yorker, is sent to England one summer to stay with cousins she has never met. Initially resentful, she soon finds herself living in a dreamy, pastoral idyll as she falls madly in love. But this perfect summer is blown apart by the sudden outbreak of a war. The family is separated and Daisy is forced to embark on a terrifying journey to be reunited with the boy she loves. Starring Saoirse Ronan, Tom Hollandand George MacKay.

The Last of Robin Hood
Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland, USA, World Premiere
Errol Flynn, the swashbuckling Hollywood star and notorious ladies’ man, flouted convention all his life, but never more brazenly than in his last years when, swimming in vodka and unwilling to face his mortality, he undertook a liaison with underage starlet Beverly Aadland. The two had a high-flying affair that spanned the globe and was enabled by the girl’s fame-obsessed mother, Florence. It all came crashing to an end in October 1959 when events forced the relationship into the open, creating an avalanche of publicity castigating Beverly and her mother. The Last of Robin Hood is a story about the desire for fame and the price it exacts. Starring Dakota Fanning, Susan Sarandon and Kevin Kline.

The Liberator (Libertador)
Alberto Arvelo, Venezuela/Spain, World Premiere
The film is an epic adventure based on the incredible life of Simón Bolívar, the 19th-century revolutionary who fueled Latin America’s struggle for independence. Bolívar’s quests and military campaigns covered twice the territory of Alexander the Great. Golden Globe nominee Édgar Ramírez brings to life one of the most influential freedom fighters in history. Also starring María Valverde, Danny Huston, Erich Wildpret, Juana Acosta and Imanol Arias.

Love is the Perfect Crime (Amour Crime Parfait)
Arnaud Larrieu and Jean-Marie Larrieu, France/Switzerland, World Premiere
Marc, in his 40s, is a professor of literature at the University of Lausanne. Still a bachelor —and still living with his sister Marianne in a huge, isolated chalet that they inherited when  they were  very young—he carries on one love affair after another with his students. Winter has almost ended when one of his most brilliant students, Barbara,  suddenly disappears. Two days later, Marc meets Barbara’s mother, Anna, who wants to find out more about her vanished daughter. Starring Mathieu Amalric, Karin Viard, Maïwenn, Sara Forestierand Denis Podalydès.

Lucky Them
Megan Griffiths, USA, World Premiere
Lucky Them tells the story of Ellie Klug (Toni Collette), a rock journalist who is tasked with the painful assignment of exploring her own past. Joined by eccentric would-be documentarian Charlie (Thomas Haden Church), Ellie sets out on an emotional treasure hunt in order to finally rid herself of her "ghosts" and get on with her life. Also starring Ryan Eggold, Oliver Platt, Nina Arianda and Ahna O'Reilly.

Rock the Casbah
Laïla Marrakchi, France/Morocco, International Premiere
Laïla Marrakchi returns to the Festival with another lively family drama chronicling the foibles and hypocrisies of Morocco’s middle class, aided by a stellar ensemble that includes screen legend Omar Sharif, Hiam Abbas, Lubna Azabal and Nadine Labaki, director and star of 2011 People’s Choice Award Winner Where Do We Go Now?.

Singing Women (Sarki Söyleyen Kadinlar)
Reha Erdem, France/Germany/Turkey, World Premiere
An island off the coast of Turkey is about to be evacuated due to a possible earthquake — but its inhabitants have been stricken with a mysterious illness, consigning them to an uncertain fate. Reha Erdem's genre-defying new film transports us to a wonderfully wry, oblique universe.

Sean Durkin, United Kingdom, International Premiere
A sudden inexplicable spate of shootings rips through the market town of Southcliffe. The lives of those left behind are torn apart. In this haunting drama a journalist reporting on the tragedy finds himself back in the small town he grew up in, looking for answers from the shattered community whilst trying to reconcile the dark events from his own past. Starring Rory Kinnear, Sean Harris, Shirley Henderson, Anatol Yusef and Eddie Marsan.

Sunshine on Leith
Dexter Fletcher, United Kingdom, World Premiere
The sophomore feature from British actor-turned-director Dexter Fletcher (Wild Bill) stars Peter Mullan (Tyrannosaur) and Jane Horrocks (Little Voice) in a vibrant cinematic adaptation of the acclaimed stage musical, inspired by the chart-topping album from Scottish band The Proclaimers. Also starring George MacKay, Kevin Guthrie, Antonia Thomas, Freya Mavor and Paul Brannigan.

Charlie Stratton, USA, World Premiere
Set in the lower depths of 1860s Paris, Therese is a tale of obsessive love, adultery and revenge, based on Émile Zola’s scandalous novel. Trapped in a loveless marriage to her sickly cousin, Therese embarks on an illicit affair with her husband's childhood friend that  leads to tragic consequences. Starring Elizabeth Olsen, Tom Felton, Jessica Lange and Oscar Isaac

Unforgiven (Yurusarezarumono)
Lee Sang-il, Japan, North American Premiere
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.

The Wind Rises (KazeTachinu)
 Hayao Miyazaki, Japan, North American Premiere
This decade-spanning epic from maestro Hayao Miyazaki is his most unique films to date, inspired by the true stories of Jiro Horikoshi, visionary designer of one the most beautiful airplanes in history — the famed Zero fighter — and the poet Tatsuo Hori, whose verses are brought to life by the vivid animation of Studio Ghibli.

The Toronto International Film Festival runs Sept. 5-15.
Please visit www.tiff.net for more info.