The Toronto International Film Festival has announced yet another batch of titles for its 34th edition, which runs September 10-19, 2009. Thirty-eight films across three different programs – Special Presentations, Vanguard, and Discovery – were announced to the public this morning, joining a group of titles announced earlier this week, as well as twenty-two titles from the week prior.
The highlights from the eight Special Presentations include Todd Solondz’s much-anticipated “Life During Wartime,” the world premieres of Stephen Poliakoff’s “Glorious 39,” Yoichi Sai’s “Kamui,” and Renato De Maria’s “The Front Line,” as well as high-profile films that previously screened in either Sundance (Lone Scherfig’s “An Education”) or Cannes (Pedro Almodovar’s “Broken Embraces,” Jacques Audiard’s “A Prophet”).
Twenty-one feature films were additionally set for Toronto’s Discovery program – which showcases “provocative feature films by new and emerging directors.” Notable among the announced titles are Oliver Hermanus’s “Shirley Adams,” Paul Fierlinger and Sandra Fierlinger’s “My Dog Tulip,” Martin Pieter Zandvliet’s “Applause,” Rachel Ward’s “Beautiful Kate,” J. Blakeson’s “The Disappearance of Alice Creed,” and the directorial debut of actress Samantha Morton in “The Unloved,” a portrait of a young British girl plucked from an abusive family and thrown into the hands of government care.
Finally, the Vanguard program – which features “bold films that challenge our social and cultural assumptions” – announced nine titles. Among them the world premieres of Jesper Ganslandt’s “The Ape,” Dorothee van den Berghe’s “My Queen Karo,” Paul King’s “Bunny and the Bull,” and Luis Ortega’s “The Dirty Saints,” and the North American premieres of Cannes alums “Spring Fever,” directed by Lou Ye, and Gaspar Noe’s “Enter The Void.”
A complete list of titles is below, with descriptions provided by the festival.
Pedro Almodovar, Spain North American Premiere
Harry Caine, a blind writer, reaches a point when he has to heal his wounds from 14 years ago, when he was still known by his real name, Mateo Blanco, and directing his last movie. As the past is revisited, a story of “amour fou” unfolds, dominated by fatality, jealousy, the abuse of power, treachery and a guilt complex.
Lone Scherfig, United Kingdom Canadian Premiere
A coming-of-age story about a teenaged girl in 1960s suburban London and how her life changes with the arrival of a playboy nearly twice her age. Torn between her parents’ dream of going to Oxford University and a more tempting kind of life, she must decide if the new path is one that will trap her or set her free.
The Front Line
Renato De Maria, Italy World Premiere
Set during a turbulent period in 1970-80s Italy, the plot centres on passionate couple Sergio and Susanna, who have been living as fugitives. Pursuing an uncompromising cause as members of the notorious Prima Linea, they have become increasingly alienated from the real world. Their luck finally runs out when Susanna is captured and thrown in jail. Putting his life on the line, Sergio embarks on a radical plan.
Stephen Poliakoff, United Kingdom World Premiere
This tense conspiracy thriller set on the eve of World War II and based on disturbing real events, focuses on a young woman who stumbles across evidence of a sinister Nazi appeasement plot. As her close friends begin to die in suspicious circumstances, she finds her own life in danger from an increasingly menacing and powerful enemy.
Yoichi Sai, Japan World Premiere
A crowd pleasing, sweeping epic brilliantly directed by one of Japan’s finest auteurs, Kamui is the adventurous story of a fugitive ninja played by superstar Kenichi Matsuyama.
Life During Wartime
Todd Solondz, USA North American Premiere
Happiness director Todd Solondz returns with another unsettling dark comedy about sexual obsession between friends, family and lovers struggling to find love, forgiveness and meaning in a war-torn world. Allison Janney and Ciaran Hinds star.
Jacques Audiard, France North American Premiere
A young Arab man, Malik, is sent to a French prison where he is cornered by the leader of the ruling Corsican gang. He is given a number of “missions” to carry out, toughening him up and gaining the gang leader’s confidence in the process. But Malik is brave and a fast learner, daring to secretly develop his own plans.
The Secret of Their Eyes
Juan Jose Campanella, Argentina/Spain International Premiere
Benjamin Chaparro, a secretary of a court in Buenos Aires, is about to retire and decides to write a novel based on a case that deeply affected him thirty years ago. Chaparro’s tale crosses Argentina’s turbulent years during the 1970s, when nothing was necessarily what it seemed to be.
-for Discovery and Vanguard titles, please continue to the next page-
Margreth Olin, Norway/Sweden/Finland World Premiere
A young mother (played brilliantly by Maria Bonnevie) struggles with a history of drug abuse in this exquisitely rendered and deeply compassionate piece, the first fiction film from one of Norway’s most respected documentary filmmakers.
Martin Pieter Zandvliet, Denmark North American Premiere
Paprika Steen delivers a tour-de-force performance in this devastating drama about an alcoholic actress trying to put her life back together.
Bare Essence of Life
Satoko Yokohama, Japan International Premiere
In this original fusion of black comedy, surreal fantasy and feel-good drama about a mentally challenged hero, Japanese heartthrob Kenichi Matsuyama plays a strange farmer who finds an unexpected path to the miracle of love.
Rachel Ward, Australia International Premiere
In order to make peace with his combative, dying father, a writer must return to his childhood home and confront long-suppressed memories of the mysterious deaths of his brother and twin sister.
A Brand New Life
Ounie Lecomte, South Korea/France North American Premiere
An impressive debut by French-Korean filmmaker Ounie Lecomte who, inspired by her childhood, recounts the emotional journey of a little girl abandoned by her father in an orphanage.
The Disappearance of Alice Creed
J. Blakeson, United Kingdom World Premiere
Two ex-cons kidnap a woman, but the tables turn and turn again in this tight, smart tale. This film is a terrific little thriller starring Eddie Marsan, Martin Compston and Gemma Arterton.
Margaret Corkery, Ireland North American Premiere
A family holiday brings to a head the destructive love triangle between Eamon, a little boy with behavioural problems, his selfish mother Grace and his sexually frustrated father Daniel.
Every Day Is a Holiday
Dima El-Horr, France/Germany/Lebanon North American Premiere
From Lebanon, this is a striking debut about three women on the road to visit their imprisoned men. Mixing real politics and stark absurdity, El-Horr announces herself as a major new voice in Middle Eastern cinema.
Five Hours from Paris
Leon Prudovsky, Israel World Premiere
In a suburb of Tel Aviv, an Israeli cab driver who longs to fly and a Russian music teacher who is soon to board a plane find out that romance is only a cab ride away.
Ahmad Abdalla, Egypt World Premiere
An Egyptian art film with some major stars, Heliopolis weaves together portraits from one of Cairo’s most storied neighbourhoods.
The Day Will Come
Susanne Schneider, Germany/France International Premiere
Thirty years after giving her daughter up for adoption to join the terrorist underground in Germany, Judith is tracked down by her now-adult daughter Alice to a vineyard in the Alsace where she is living with a new family and a new identity.
Le Jour où Dieu est parti en voyage
Philippe van Leeuw, Belgium World Premiere
Offering a new take on the Rwandan genocide, acclaimed cinematographer van Leeuw’s directorial debut recreates the first-person experience of one woman as the horror descends.
Glendyn Ivin, Australia International Premiere
A desperate father and his 10-year-old son flee into the wilderness of the desert and the human heart, battling the elements, the past and each other.
My Dog Tulip
Paul Fierlinger and Sandra Fierlinger, USA North American Premiere
Christopher Plummer and Isabella Rossellini voice this vividly animated, touching tale of friendship between an elderly bachelor and his German Shepherd.
My Tehran for Sale
Granaz Moussavi, Australia/Iran International Premiere
Shot underground on location in Tehran, the film tells the story of modern-day Iranian youth struggling for cultural freedom.
Rigoberto Perezcano, Mexico/Spain World Premiere
Andrés reaches the Mexican border to cross into the United States. As he waits between crossing attempts, he discovers the complicated border world of Tijuana.
Josh Crook, Dominican Republic/USA World Premiere
This gritty and gripping drama explores political intrigue, love, death and the power of memory, set in the Dominican Republic.
Oliver Hermanus, South Africa/USA North American Premiere
This intimate, precise portrait focuses on a mother in Cape Town, South Africa, whose son is disabled in a neighbourhood shooting.
Koji Yakusho, Japan International Premiere
The story of Takuro Yazawa, a day-trader who claims he can earn hundreds of millions of yen in one day, and those around him as they attempt to cope with the death of his son and somehow find a way to benefit spiritually from the experience.
Matias Armand Jordal, Norway International Premiere
The tragic death of a mother causes her family to shatter when they struggle to cope with the loss.
Samantha Morton, United Kingdom International Premiere
Morton shifts from actor to director in this stark portrait of a young British girl plucked from an abusive family and thrown into the hands of government care.
-for Vanguard titles, please continue to the next page
Soi Cheang, Hong Kong, China North American Premiere
Gripping and smartly constructed, this unconventional crime thriller/psychological drama, revolves around assassins who commit murder by making perfectly staged crimes look like unfortunate accidents. Produced by Johnnie To.
Jesper Ganslandt, Sweden World Premiere
A descent into hell, Jesper Ganslandt’s disturbing and suspenseful second feature begins with a man waking up in unfamiliar surroundings, only to find the life he knew the day before is gone.
Bunny and the Bull
Paul King, United Kingdom World Premiere
Shy Stephen and his totally disordered boozehound of a best friend, Bunny, show us how to embark on an adventure-filled road trip without leaving the room.
The Dirty Saints
Luis Ortega, Argentina World Premiere
Luis Ortega’s apocalyptic third feature follows a group of five survivors as they embark on a journey that will force them to face their fears, dreams and longings in their quest for salvation across the Fijman River.
Enter the Void
Gaspar Noé, France/Germany/Italy North American Premiere
Controversial filmmaker Gaspar Noé (Irreversible) is back with a mind-bending journey that transcends life and death as he follows the exploits of a young American drug dealer living in Japan.
Valery Todorovsky, Russia North American Premiere
In a fantastical 1950s Moscow, straight-laced Mels swaps his drab Communist uniform for a saxophone, pompadour and zoot suit in this vibrant musical that is bursting with razzle and dazzle and of course, rhythm.
Felix Van Groeningen, Belgium/Holland North American Premiere
From Belgium comes this rambunctious, vulgar story of a 13-year-old boy growing up in a small village with his father and three uncles, all drunken, incorrigible louts. Yet they are hilarious and they love Roy Orbison.
My Queen Karo
Dorothée van den Berghe, Belgium World Premiere
A young girl witnesses the moral dilemmas of free love when her parents join a squatter community in 1970s Amsterdam.
Lou Ye, China North American Premiere
A lyrical and audacious portrait of a doomed gay love triangle that spins out of control, Spring Fever is inspired by prohibited Chinese novels from the 1920s and directed by controversial filmmaker Lou Ye.