TIFF 2019: TIFF Spreads Out Content In Six Diverse Programs

Posted in Festival Coverage by - August 15, 2019
TIFF 2019: TIFF Spreads Out Content In Six Diverse Programs

That’s right! The Toronto International Film Festival has 108 brand new films and 6 new television shows on their slate. One of those films include a political thriller starring Penelope Cruz, Edgar Ramirez, and Gael Garcia Bernal. They announced two new Galas, including one where Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones fly on a balloon. And on the TV front, they bring us a political drama with Deborah Mailman and Rachel Griffiths.

The title of the Penelope Cruz thriller is Wasp Network, where she sports the film festival’s best hairstyle. The film’s director is Olivier Assayas, who’s been directing intimate, beautiful films like Clouds of Sils Mara. He hasn’t done anything big like Carlos and you know what, it’s about time he switch things up.

The Wasp Network is in the fest’s Special Presentations program as well as the new Daniel Radcliffe film. He stars in Jason Lei Howden’s film Guns Akimbo, where Radcliffe plays a nerdy video game developer. This video game developer goes on the dark web and risks his life so we don’t have to. There’s also Geetu Mohandas’ The Elder One, showing a seedy yet sympathetic version of Mumbai’s underbelly.

The Galas have Eddie Redmayne and Felicty Jones in Tom Harper’s The Aeronauts. That film promises a real life version of steampunk. The other Gala film is Giuseppe Captondi’s Burnt Orange Heresy, about an art heist that’ll go out of control.

They also have a Masters program for the auteur hungry in all of us. One of the headliners in that program is Ken Loach, bringing his new film Sorry We Missed You. His stuff brings mixed results. But this film about a working class couple (Kris Hitchen and Debbie Honeywood) needs to be on the zeitgeist. There’s To The Ends of the Earth. Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s new film  is about Japanese woman travelling to Uzbekistan. There’s also Elia Suleiman’s It Must Be Heaven, putting himself in both sides of the camera. This travelogue also has one of the weirdest trailer’s I’ve ever seen.

The Contemporary World Cinema program has films from 48 different countries. The program’s mission statement to highlight not just to consider those countries but the women within them. The best reflection of that mission is their opening night film, Atiq Rahmi’s Lady of the Nile. It’s about a Catholic boarding school in Rwanda, and it looks like it will bring nuance to that premise. One of those countries include the Philippines, bringing us Raymund Ribay Gutierrez’ Verdict. It’s about an abused housewife looking for justice within a patriarchal legal system. Forty percent of the films in this program have female voices behind it. Zaida Bergoth’s Maria’s Paradise is about the titular 1920s Finnish cult leader, which already fascinates me.

There’s the Wavelengths program with films that TIFF already partly announced. We already know some of the Canadian titles here like Ryan Ferko’s Hrvoji, Look at You From the Tower. Stories about the former Yugoslavia also fascinate me. I want to see more experimental perspective of that place and time. That film has a short running time and so do the films in this program that catch my eye. One of them is documentary 143 Sahara Street. There’s been a movement in Middle Eastern and North African cinema that focuses on the rural. I can’t wait to see how director Hassen Ferhani deals with that landscape. Lastly, there’s Marwa Arsanios’ Who’s Afraid of Ideology Part 2, about Kurdistan. This proves that we need festivals like TIFF to show us a perspective on places we don’t often hear about.

Lastly, TIFF recently announced what’s on their Primetime program, championing emerging serialized content. One of these shows has a controversial title. Black Bitch follows an Australian Indigenous politician (Deborah Mailman). Her unlikely alliance with a settler senator (Rachel Griffiths) makes her story just as compelling. This isn’t the only show in this program that takes a look into politics. The other show looking into that subject is Ivan Zacharias and Ondrej Gabriel’s The Sleepers. This one is a a spy thriller taking place during the Velvet Revolution in the former Czechoslovakia. I’ve always had an interest in that time period and how its protagonist Maria (Tána Pauhofová) navigates it. Fortunately, the movies and shows at TIFF take us both all over the world and back in time too.

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While Paolo Kagaoan is not taking long walks in shrubbed areas, he occasionally watch movies and write about them. His credentials are as follows: he has a double major in English and Art History. This means that, for example, he will gush at the art direction in the Amityville house and will want to live there, which is a terrible idea because that house has ghosts. Follow him @paolokagaoan on Instagram but not while you're working.
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