After announcing their Special Presentations yesterday, the program for the 33rd Annual Toronto International Film Festival continued to come together today with the remaining 19 films in the Discovery program. Nineteen feature films from 18 countries complete the program’s lineup. They join the previously announced 7 films as those eligible for the Diesel Discovery Award, chosen by the Festival press corps which consists of over 1000 accredited media from around the world. “Discovery is the place at TIFF to find this year’s most exciting debuts in cinema,” said festival Co-Director Cameron Bailey in a statement. “This is your one-stop shop for new filmmaking talent.”
The full lineup, including descriptions of the films provided by the festival, is listed below.
2008 Discovery Section
“$9.99” Directed by Tatia Rosenthal, Israel/Australia; World Premiere
Unemployed and still living at home at 28 years old, Dave Peck discovers a booklet claiming to answer the meaning of life for the low price of only $9.99. In his struggle to share his amazing find with the world, Dave’s surreal path crosses with those of his unusual neighbours, including an old man and his disgruntled guardian angel, a magician in debt and a bewitching woman who likes her men extra smooth. A stop-motion animated film, $9.99 features the voices of Geoffrey Rush and Anthony LaPaglia.
“Gigantic” Directed by Matt Aselton, USA; World Premiere
Smart and well-educated, Brian (Paul Dano) feels adrift in his life and his job at an upscale mattress store. The one thing he knows is that he wants to adopt a Chinese baby, and is on a wait list to do so. When he meets Happy (Zooey Deschanel), an odd and feisty rich girl sent to pick up a mattress for her father (John Goodman), he falls head over heels. But Happy has deep reservations about dating a guy who could become a dad at any time. As they negotiate their increasing intimacy, Brian awaits the call from the adoption agency.
“Lovely, Still” Directed by Nik Fackler, USA; World Premiere
With the approach of Christmas causing him to feel lonely in life and love, Robert Malone (Martin Landau) returns home from his job at a grocery store to find a stranger (Ellen Burstyn) in his house. What begins as an odd encounter quickly blossoms into a full-blown love affair, leaving the two struggling with the baggage attached to their late-in-life romance. Also starring Elizabeth Banks and Adam Scott, Lovely, Still features original music by Conor Oberst and a score by members of Bright Eyes.
“Lymelife ” Directed by Derick Martini and
From the filmmaking team behind Smiling Fish and Goat on Fire (TIFF 1999) comes an examination of first love, family dynamics and the American Dream in late 1970s Long Island , as seen through the innocent eyes of a 15-year-old. Scott Bartlett (Rory Culkin) is a gentle boy – a direct contrast to his blustery father, Mickey (Alec Baldwin). After an outbreak of Lyme disease hits their suburban community, the lives of the Bartletts and their neighbours begin to crumble in the wake of illness, confrontation and paranoia. Executive produced by Martin Scorsese, Lymelife co-stars Jill Hennessy, Timothy Hutton, Kieran Culkin, Emma Roberts and Cynthia Nixon.
“Rain” Directed by Maria Govan, Bahamas; World Premiere
In hopes of reconciling with the mother who abandoned her, Rain leaves her simple, sheltered life on rural Ragged Island for the big city of Nassau . But her dream of a loving reunion is quickly shattered when she meets Glory, a scarred, angry woman who bears no resemblance to the mother she had hoped for. Driven by a passion for running and the support of a caring track coach, Rain must find the inner strength to build a new life.
“The Stoning of Soraya M.” Directed by Cyrus Nowrasteh, USA; World Premiere
In a remote Iranian village, a woman stands falsely accused of adultery – a moral crime for which the punishment is death by stoning. Voiceless women, armed with only their innocence and dignity, are no match for the overwhelming primal forces that overrun their town. Based on the book by Freidoune Sahebjam, The Stoning of Soraya M. stars Shohreh Aghdashloo.
“What Doesn’t Kill You” Directed by Brian Goodman, USA; World Premiere
Childhood friends Paulie (Ethan Hawke) and Brian (Mark Ruffalo) grew up looking out for each other in their Irish-Catholic neighbourhood in South Boston . Trapped in a cycle of gangs, gangsters and shady crime, they are constantly dodging local turf wars and the watchful eye of an encroaching police detective (Donnie Wahlberg). But with Brian’s wife (Amanda Peet) growing increasingly distraught by her husband’s lifestyle, will the tried and tested friendship between these two Southies crumble once and for all?
“Cold Lunch” Directed by Eva Sorhaug, Norway; International Premiere
The paths of five people intersect in the Oslo district of Majorstua. After Christer disconnects a main fuse in his building in an attempt to save the rent money he mistakenly placed into the laundry, he sets off a chain reaction of consequential events that will change the lives of a caretaker and his daughter, and a new mother and her child.
“Vacation ” Directed by Hajime Kadoi, Japan; International Premiere
A middle-aged prison guard, Hirai follows an alienated work routine of strict rules and arduous duties, attending to death row’s model inmate, Kaneda. When Kaneda’s execution order is signed by the minister of justice, Hirai has the unexpected opportunity for a week of vacation. But there is a price to pay for this well-deserved break, as Hirai must assist Kaneda during his final moments.
“Apron Strings” Directed by Sima Urale, New Zealand; North American Premiere
Food and love are intertwined in this tale of two mothers who must find the courage to confront the secrets and misunderstandings of the past, in order to set their sons free. Apron Strings is a parallel story of two families and two cultures set in suburban Otahuhu in South Auckland , New Zealand .
“Better Things” Directed by Duane Hopkins, United Kingdom; North American Premiere
Deeply inflected by the UK’s visual arts scene, Duane Hopkins’s feature debut focuses on three groups of characters: Gail, who must overcome agoraphobia and an addiction to romance novels; Rob, coming to terms with the loss of his girlfriend; and the Gladwins, who, following years of unspoken truths that have built a barrier between them, are going through a shift in their 60-year relationship.
“Daytime Drinking” Directed by Young-seok Noh, South Korea; North American Premiere
In a drunken attempt to mend his broken heart, Hyuk-jin and his friends decide to take a trip to the small town of Jeongseon in the Gangwon province. But as the only one to actually make it on the bus, Hyuk-jin embarks on a strange journey that finds him in the middle of a snowy highway without his mobile phone, wallet or pants.
“Hooked” Directed by Adrian Sitaru, Romania/France; North American Premiere
A Sunday picnic seemed like the best way for Mihai and Sweetie to spend some quality time together and take their relationship to a new level. But a series of odd and unexpected events quickly turn this idyllic weekend getaway into the strangest day of their lives.
“Kabuli Kid” Directed by Barmak Akram, France / Afghanistan; North American Premiere
Kabul taxi driver Khaled picks up a woman and, after settling on a price, takes her to her destination. The woman gets out and a new passenger climbs in, only to find a baby in the backseat. Khaled leaps out after the woman, whose face had been obscured by her burqa, but she has vanished. He’s left holding the baby – a six-month-old boy. Who was this woman and how will Khaled find her?
“Parc” Directed by Arnaud des Pallieres, France; North American Premiere
Georges Nail (Sergi Lopez) lives in a new suburb. He’s married, loves his wife, son and dog. Paul Hammer (Jean-Marc Barr) is good-looking, rich and intelligent, but torn between his severe judgment of the world and his desire to be part of it. When their paths cross, Nail sees an opportunity for new friendship. But Hammer sees a new reason for living – to crucify the perfect image of the happy western man and his incarnation in the person of Georges Nail.
“Snow” Directed by Aida Begic, Bosnia and Herzegovina/Germany/France/Iran; North American Premiere
Eastern Bosnia, 1997. Headed by the young and stubborn Alma , the residents of the war-ravaged and isolated village of Slavno face a dilemma. Should they accept an offer from two visiting businessmen willing to pay them to pick up and leave their homes for good, or do they stay, following their hearts but risking life-threatening poverty? Winner of the 2008 Cannes Critics’ Week Grand Prize.
“Tale 52” Directed by Alexis Alexiou, Greece; North American Premiere
After Iasonas and Penelope meet at a dinner party, the flirtatiousness between them quickly blossoms into a relationship. But awaking one morning to find that Penelope has mysteriously disappeared, Iasonas is unable to reconstruct what happened. The disappearance of his new girlfriend drives the rather shy Iasonas to despair, prompting confusing delusions on top of his already fragile mental state.
“Winds of September” Directed by Tom Shu- Yu Lin , Taiwan; North American Premiere
Yen, Tang and their gang of baseball-loving friends are in their last year of high school when a scandal involving their beloved sport takes the nation by storm. With one fatal misstep, they will learn how fragile life can be, how delicate their friendship really is and how much courage they’ll need to face the adult world.
“Zift” Directed by Javor Gardev, Bulgaria; North American Premiere
The Moth is freed on parole after spending time in prison on wrongful conviction of murder. Jailed shortly before the Bulgarian communist coup of 1944, he now finds himself in a new and alien world – the totalitarian Sofia of the 60s. His first night of freedom draws the map of a diabolical city full of decaying neighbourhoods, gloomy streets and a bizarre parade of characters.
“Hunger” Directed by Steve McQueen, United Kingdom; North American Premiere Winner of this year’s Camera d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, Hunger follows Bobby Sands and the other political inmates of Northern Ireland’s Maze Prison in 1981 as they seek to gain special category status for republican prisoners.
“Medicine for Melancholy” Directed by Barry Jenkins, USA; Canadian Premiere
Two African-American twentysomethings wake up in bed together having no recollection of how they arrived there. Wandering the streets of San Francisco, the pair meditate on issues of race, class, identity and gentrification, exploring sights of the city less seen in today’s cinema.
“The Paranoids” Directed by Gabriel Medina, Argentina; International Premiere
At once an unmotivated procrastinator, fearsome hypochondriac and unenthused children’s party entertainer, Luciano is on the fast track to nowhere. When his successful friend arrives from Spain, Luciano is forced to face the realities of his own uninspired existence.
“Three Blind Mice” Directed by Matthew Newton, Australia; International Premiere
Tension mounts between three young Australian naval officers as they hit the streets of Sydney before being shipped out to Iraq. Written and directed by Matthew Newton, who also stars.
“Tony Manero” Directed by Pablo Larrain, Chile/Brazil; North American Premiere
Santiago de Chile, 1978. Dancer Raul Peralta is obsessed with imitating Tony Manero, John Travolta’s character in Saturday Night Fever. His quest for stardom seems within his grasp when a TV station announces a Manero impersonation contest.
“Tulpan” Directed by Sergey Dvortsevoy, Germany/Switzerland/Kazakstan/ Russia/Poland; North American Premiere
Before he can realize his ambition of becoming a shepherd, Asa must first get married. Tulpan, his sole prospect for a future bride, rejects Asa due to his big ears. But Asa refuses to give up. Winner of this year’s Un Certain Regard Prize at the Cannes Film Festival.
“Delta” Directed by Kornel Mundruczo, Hungary/Germany; North American Premiere
Having been away since childhood, a young man returns to the wild, isolated landscape of the Danube Delta. Introduced to the sister he never knew he had, he and his newfound sibling build a house on stilts in the middle of the river, far away from everyone else. But when they invite the villagers over to share a meal together, it becomes apparent that the coarse locals do not accept their “unnatural” relationship.