In an effort to boost worthy acquisitions titles that might otherwise pale amid Toronto’s higher-profile, awards-courting titles, the festival this year added the Platform sidebar, to be juried by auteurs Zhang-ke, Claire Denis and Agnieszka Holland.
“We want to provide a platform for special world cinema with strong voices and strong visions,” TIFF Artistic Director Cameron Bailey told us in an interview. “This is a way to give a significantly higher profile to strong films that come to us without big red carpet hoopla.”
Thus, the festival launches its slate of 12 competition titles, below, including Ben Wheatley’s highly anticipated “High-Rise” starring Tom Hiddleston and based on a novel by J.G. Ballard.
One film will receive the Toronto Platform Prize of $25,000 in this lineup intended to offer a sort of North American analogue to the Cannes Palme d’Or. Synopses below courtesy of TIFF.
Bang Gang (A Modern Love Story) Eva Husson, France
Biarritz. Sixteen-year-old George, a beautiful high-school student,
falls in love with Alex. To get his attention, she initiates a group
game with Alex, Nikita, Laetitia and Gabriel during which they will
discover, test, and push the limits of their sexuality. Through
scandals, love and the breakdown of their value systems, each of them
manages this intense period in radically different ways. Starring Daisy
Broom, Fred Hotier, Lorenzo Lefebvre, Marilyn Lima, and Finnegan
The Clan (El Clan) Pablo Trapero, Argentina/Spain
North American Premiere
Within a typical family home in the traditional neighbourhood of San
Isidro, a sinister clan makes its living off kidnapping and murder.
Arquímedes, the patriarch, heads and plans the operations. Alejandro,
his eldest son, is a star rugby player who gives into his father’s will
and identifies possible candidates for kidnapping. To a greater or
lesser extent, the members of the family are accomplices in this
dreadful venture as they live off the benefits yielded by the large
ransoms paid by the families of their victims. Based on the true
story of the Puccio family, this film full of suspense and intrigue
takes place in the context of the final years of the Argentine military
dictatorship and incipient return to democracy. Starring Guillermo
Francella and Peter Lanzani.
French Blood (Un Français) Diastème, France
This is the story of a Frenchman, born in 1965 on the outskirts of
Paris. The story of a skinhead, who hates Arabs, Jews, blacks,
communists and gays. An anger that will take 30 years to die out. A
bastard, who will take 30 years to become someone else. And he will
never forgive himself for it. Starring Alban Lenoir, Paul Hamy, Samuel
Jouy and Patrick Pineau.
Full Contact David Verbeek, Netherlands/Croatia
A contemporary tale of a man who accidentally bombed a school through a
remotely operated drone plane. Modern warfare keeps Ivan safe and
disconnected from his prey. But after this incident, this
disconnectedness starts to apply to everything in his life. He is unable
to process his overwhelming feelings of guilt, but needs to open up to
his new love Cindy. Only by facing his victims can he rediscover his
humanity and find a new purpose in life. Starring Grégoire Colin, Lizzie
Brocheré and Slimane Dazi.
High-Rise Ben Wheatley, United Kingdom
1975. Two miles west of London, Dr. Laing moves into his new apartment
seeking soulless anonymity, only to find that the building’s residents
have no intention of leaving him alone. Resigned to the complex social
dynamics unfolding around him, Laing bites the bullet and becomes
neighbourly. As he struggles to establish his position, Laing’s good
manners and sanity disintegrate along with the building. The lights go
out and the elevators fail but the party goes on. People are the
problem. Booze is the currency. Sex is the panacea. Starring Tom
Hiddleston, Jeremy Irons, Sienna Miller, Luke Evans and Elisabeth Moss.
HURT Alan Zweig, Canada
Steve Fonyo is a one-legged cancer survivor who completed a cross-Canada
run raising $13 million in 1985. The next 30 years were straight
downhill: petty theft, larceny and drug addiction. The run has nothing
to do with the life of this one-time hero, and everything to do with it.
Starring Steve Fonyo.
Land of Mine (Under Sandet / Unter dem Sand) Martin Zandvliet, Denmark/Germany
A story never told before. WWII has ended. A group of German POWs
captured by the Danish army, boys rather than men, are forced into a new
kind of service under the command of a brusque Danish Sergeant. Risking
life and limbs, the boys discover that the war is far from over.
Starring Roland Møller, Louis Hofmann, Joel Basman, Emil Buschow, Oskar
Buschow and Mikkel Boe Følsgaard.
Looking for Grace Sue Brooks, Australia
North American Premiere
Grace, 16, runs away from home. Her parents, Dan and Denise, head off on
the road across the Western Australian wheat belt with a retired
detective, Norris, to try and get her back. But life unravels faster
than they can put it back together. Grace, Dan and Denise learn that
life is confusing and arbitrary, but wonderful. Starring Richard
Roxburgh, Radha Mitchell, Odessa Young and Terry Norris.
Neon Bull (Boi Neon) Gabriel Mascaro, Brazil/Uruguay/Netherlands
North American Premiere
Iremar and his makeshift family travel through Northeast Brazil taking
care of bulls at the Vaquejadas, a Brazilian rodeo. But the region’s
booming clothing industry has stirred new ambitions and filled Iremar’s
mind with dreams of pattern-cutting and exquisite fabrics. Starring
Juliano Cazarré, Aline Santana, Carlos Pessoa and Maeve Jinkings.
The Promised Land (Hui Dao Bei Ai De Mei Yi Tian) He Ping, China
Ai Ling, growing up in a small town, loses her fiancé Jiang He in
Beijing. After returning to her hometown with a broken heart, she has to
face all the complications life and love have in store for her.
Starring Jiajia Wang, Yi Zhang, and Zhiwen Wang.
Sky Fabienne Berthaud, France/Germany
Romy is on holiday in the USA with her French husband, but the journey
quickly turns into a settling of old scores for this worn out couple.
After a huge argument, Romy decides to break free. She cuts her ties to a
stable and secure life that has become alienating and escapes to the
unknown. Drifting through a noisy Las Vegas to the wondrous high desert,
she goes on with her solitary journey, abandoning herself to her sole
intuitions and making it up as she goes. Liberated, she will cross paths
with a charismatic and solitary man, with whom she’ll share an
inconceivable but pure love. Starring Diane Kruger, Norman Reedus,
Gilles Lellouche, Lena Dunham and Q’orianka Kilcher.
The White Knights (Les Chevaliers Blancs) Joachim Lafosse, France/Belgium
Critically acclaimed Joachim Lafosse brings to the screen the Zoe’s Ark
controversy which made headlines in 2007: a story about the limits of
the right of interference. Jacques Arnault, head of Sud Secours NGO, is
planning a high impact operation: he and his team are going to
exfiltrate 300 orphans, victims of Chadian civil war and bring them to
French adoption applicants. Françoise Dubois, a journalist, is invited
to come along with them and handle the media coverage for this
operation. Completely immersed in the brutal reality of a country at
war, the NGO members start losing their convictions and are faced with
the limits of humanitarian intervention. Starring Vincent Lindon,
Valérie Donzelli, Reda Kateb, Louise Bourgoin and Rougalta Bintou Saleh.