For the third year, the Toronto International Film Festival is bringing TV to the well-respected fest, spotlighting a few highly anticipated upcoming series from Netflix, HBO, and Starz, along with international entries representing new voices in the marketplace.
As with last year, TIFF is focusing the Primetime line-up on a limited selection of options, but screening multiple episodes of its five picks. According to TIFF programmer Michael Lerman, the limited number of selections was part of a festival-wide decision to shrink the number of events down, in order to “tighten up the focus a little bit.”
“That way, we can hyperfocus on [the screenings] and make them the best events they can be,” he told IndieWire.
Making its Canadian debut will be HBO’s “The Deuce,” the highly anticipated new series created by David Simon and George Pelecanos, starring James Franco as twin brothers mired in the seedy world of 1970s Times Square. Maggie Gyllenhaal co-stars.
In addition, the Netflix thriller “Dark,” the streaming giant’s first German drama production, will be premiering two episodes prior to its official release this winter. Per the official Netflix site, “A family saga with a supernatural twist, ‘Dark’ set in a German town in present day where the disappearance of two young children exposes the double lives and fractured relationships among four families. In ten, hour-long episodes, the story takes on a supernatural twist that ties back to the same town in 1986.” Lerman compared it to like a more adult “Stranger Things,” based on the trailer below.
Perhaps fitting in best with the fest’s independent spirit is “The Girlfriend Experience,” the second installment in the Starz dramatic half-hour, created by indie favorites Lodge Kerrigan and Amy Seimetz. The two writer/directors are telling two different stories, both set in the world of transactional relationships — Carmen Ejogo, Louisa Krause, and Anna Friel star.
Filling out the international side of the selections is Brazil’s “Under Pressure,” a medical drama created by Andrucha Waddington and Jorge Furtado that was preceded by Waddington’s 2016 feature, as well as the previously announced “Alias Grace,” a US/Canadian co-production set to premiere on Netflix November 3. Anna Paquin and Sarah Gadon star in the series, which was directed by Mary Harron and adapted from Margaret Atwood’s historical novel by Sarah Polley.
The fact that two of the five premieres are both receiving some form of distribution on Netflix wasn’t concerning to Lerman, given that “Alias Grace” is a co-production with the CBC (and will be distributed in Canada via that network), and it’s a very different show from “Dark.”
Below is the full list of selections. The Toronto International Film Festival runs September 7 – 17.
Germany, 2 episodes
Showrunners: Baran bo Odar, Jantje Friese
Director: Baran bo Odar
USA, 2 episodes
Showrunners: David Simon, George Pelecanos
Directors: Michelle MacLaren, Ernest Dickerson
Episode 1, Canadian Premiere
Episode 2, World Premiere
“The Girlfriend Experience” Season 2
USA, 4 episodes
Showrunners and directors: Amy Seimetz, Lodge Kerrigan
Brazil, 2 episodes
Showrunners: Andrucha Waddington, Jorge Furtado
Directors: Andrucha Waddington, Mini Kerti
Canada/USA, 2 episodes
Showrunner: Sarah Polley
Director: Mary Harron