The Toronto International Film Festival (September 4-14) announced an initial lineup of 59 films today, and only a measly six of them are from women directors, including an anthology film.
Danish filmmaker Lone Scherfig’s The Riot Club is the only woman-directed film among the 13 Gala works. Scherfig’s latest is an adaptation of playwright Laura Wade’s Posh.
The female helmers featured in the Special Presentations are equally distinguished. (They’re also all European — and half of them Scandinavian — a fact that suggests women directors face fewer obstacles on the other side of the Atlantic.) Another Danish filmmaker, the wonderfully prolific Oscar winner Susanne Bier, will debut her most recent film, the police-vigilante drama A Second Chance, starring Game of Thrones‘ Nikolaj Coster-Waldau. (Meanwhile, we’re still waiting for news on the Bier’s Jennifer Lawrence-starring Serena.)
Elsewhere in the program, Spanish director Isabel Coixet and Norwegian actress-turned filmmaker Liv Ullmann focus on domestic relationships. Patricia Clarkson stars in Coixet’s Learning to Drive as a writer facing divorce, while Jessica Chastain’s 19th-century aristocratic lady exchanges power struggles with her father’s valet in Ullmann’s Miss Julie.
French director Mia Hansen-Love delves into the world of 1990s electronica in Eden through the rise and fall of a DJ duo somewhat hilariously named Cheers.
Here are the six women-directed films so far unveiled for the 39th Toronto film festival:
The Riot Club – Lone Scherfig, United Kingdom World Premiere
A privileged young man is inducted into the exclusive, debaucherous company of Oxford’s elite “Riot Club,” in this scathing dissection of the British class system. Based on the hit play Posh, the film stars Natalie Dormer, Max Irons, Sam Clafin, Jessica Brown Findlay and Douglas Booth.
Eden – Mia Hansen-Løve, France World Premiere
In the ‘90s, French electronic music is developing at a fast pace. Entering this exciting Parisian nightlife, Paul and his best friend form a DJ duo called Cheers. But just as they rapidly find their audience, they are caught up in a euphoric and short-lived rise to fame. Eden retraces the steps of the “French touch” generation from 1992 to today — a generation that still enjoys outstanding international
success thanks to DJs like Daft Punk, Dimitri from Paris and Cassius. Starring Félix de Givry, Pauline Etienne, Vincent Macaigne,
Greta Gerwig, Golshifteh Farahani, Laura Smet and Vincent Lacoste.
Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet – Roger Allers, Gaëtan Brizzi, Paul Brizzi, Joan C. Gratz, Mohammed Saeed Harib, Tomm Moore, Nina Paley, Bill Plympton, Joann Sfar and Michal Socha, Canada/France/Lebanon/Qatar/USA World Premiere
Inspired by the beloved classic, Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet is a richly-animated story and celebration of Gibran’s book, created by
artists, animators and musicians from around the world. Starring Liam Neeson, Salma Hayek-Pinault, John Krasinski, Frank Langella,
Alfred Molina, John Rhys-Davies and Quvenzhané Wallis.
Learning to Drive – Isabel Coixet, USA World Premiere
As her marriage dissolves, a Manhattan writer takes driving lessons from a Sikh instructor with marriage troubles of his own. In each
other’s company, they find the courage to get back on the road and the strength to take the wheel. Starring Patricia Clarkson and Ben
Miss Julie – Liv Ullmann, Norway/United Kingdom/Ireland World Premiere
A country estate in Ireland in the 1880s. Over the course of one midsummer night, Miss Julie explores the brutal, charged power
struggle between a young aristocratic woman and her father’s valet. Starring Jessica Chastain, Colin Farrell and Samantha Morton.
A Second Chance (En chance til) – Susanne Bier, Denmark World Premiere
How far are decent human beings willing to go, when tragedy blurs the line between just and unjust? Susanne Bier and Anders
Thomas Jensen have crafted a startling yet moving drama, about how easily we lose our grasp on justice when confronted with the
unthinkable, and life as we know it hangs by a thread. Starring Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Ulrich Thomsen, Maria Bonnevie, Nikolaj Lie
Kaas and Lykke May Andersen.