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TIFF List 2013: A Complete Guide To All The Films At The Toronto International Film Festival

Photo of Peter Knegt By Peter Knegt | Indiewire September 10, 2013 at 11:31AM

The Toronto International Film Festival has started announcing what is shaping up to be an epic lineup for its its 38th edition.
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MASTERS

"A Touch of Sin."
"A Touch of Sin."

A Touch of Sin (Tian zhu ding) Jia Zhangke, China/Japan North American Premiere An angry miner, enraged by the corruption of his village leaders, takes action. A rootless migrant discovers the infinite possibilities that owning a firearm can offer. A pretty receptionist working in a sauna is pushed to the limit when a wealthy client assaults her. A young factory worker goes from one discouraging job to the next, only to face increasingly degrading circumstances. Four people, four different provinces.

Abuse of Weakness (Abus de Faiblesse) Catherine Breillat, France/Belgium/Germany World Premiere An extraordinary collaboration between two legends of French cinema, Catherine Breillat’s brutally candid autobiographical drama stars Isabelle Huppert as a stroke-afflicted filmmaker manipulated by a notorious con man.

Bastards (Les Salauds) Claire Denis, France North American Premiere Supertanker captain Marco Silvestri is called back urgently to Paris. His sister Sandra is desperate; her husband has committed suicide, the family business has gone under, and her daughter is spiraling downwards. Sandra holds powerful businessman Edouard Laporte responsible. Marco moves into the building where Laporte has installed his mistress and her son, but he isn’t prepared for Sandra’s secrets, which muddy the waters. Starring Vincent Lindon and Chiara Mastroianni.

Closed Curtain (Parde) Kambozia Partovi and Jafar Panahi, Iran North American Premiere A house by the sea; the curtains are pulled shut, the windows covered with black. Inside, a man is hiding with his dog. He is writing a screenplay, when suddenly a mysterious young woman appears and refuses to leave, much to the writer’s annoyance. But at daybreak, another arrival will flip everyone’s perspective.
Concrete Night Pirjo Honkasalo, Finland/Sweden/ Denmark World Premiere A 14-year-old boy in a stifling Helsinki slum takes some unwise life lessons from his soon-to-be-incarcerated older brother, in Finnish master Pirjo Honkasalo’s gorgeously stylized and emotionally devastating work about what we pass on to younger generations, and the ways we do it.

Home From Home – Chronicle of a Vision (Die Andere Heimat - Chronik einer Sehnsucht) North American Premiere Edgar Reitz, Germany/France Edgar Reitz tells this dramatic story of love and family against the backdrop of rural Germany in the mid-19th century, a time when entire poverty-stricken villages emigrated to faraway South America. The story centres on two brothers who have to decide whether they will stay or go.

How Strange to be Named Federico: Scola Narrates Fellini (Che strano chiamarsi Federico: Scola racconta Fellini) Ettore Scola, Italy International Premiere On the 20th anniversary of Federico Fellini’s death, Ettore Scola, a devoted admirer of the incomparable maestro, commemorates the lesser-known aspects of Fellini’s personality, employing interviews, photographs, behind-the-scenes footage as well as Fellini’s drawings and film clips.

Moebius Kim Ki-duk, South Korea North American Premiere South Korea’s celebrated perennial provocateur Kim Ki-duk (Pieta) returns with this twisted family chronicle perched somewhere between psychological thriller, grotesque comedy and perverse ode to the pleasures of sadomasochism.

Norte, The End of History (Norte, Hangganan ng Kasaysayan) Lav Diaz, Philippines North American Premiere In Philippine cinematic luminary Lav Diaz’s latest work, partially influenced by Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment, a man is accused of murder while the real killer roams free.

Our Sunhi (Uri Sunhi) Hong Sangsoo, South Korea North American Premiere Korean auteur Hong Sang-soo’s latest follows an aspiring young filmmaker who becomes the object of desire for three very different men, in this smart, resonant dramedy.

Triptych (Triptyque) Robert Lepage and Pedro Pires, Canada World Premiere
Triptych is a contemporary urban saga that tells the story of Michelle, a schizophrenic bookseller; Marie, a singer and actress; and Thomas, a German neurologist. These three lives become the primary locus of personal identity and emotion, with their many manifestations, variations, and implications, through each character’s inner development and burning desire for self-expression.

WAVELENGTHS

SHORT FILM PROGRAMMES

Wavelengths 1: Variations On...

Variations on a Cellophane Wrapper David Rimmer (Restoration courtesy of Academy Film Archive), Canada
Pop Takes Luther Price, USA
Airship Kenneth Anger, USA
El Adios Largos Andrew Lampert, Mexico/USA
The Realist Scott Stark, USA

TIFF is honoured to launch Wavelengths 2013 with the world premiere of the Academy Film Archive’s new restoration of Variations on a Cellophane Wrapper, David Rimmer’s 1970 classic of the Canadian avant-garde. Opening with a fragment of a female factory worker as she unravels a sheet of cellophane, which then morphs into a mesmerizing wave of spectral apparitions and alchemical and sonic permutations, Variations perfectly sets the tone for this program of cinematic deviations. With Pop Takes, Luther Price transforms a terrific thrift-store find into a reflexive Warholian catwalk upon which twirling women and jaunty men sashay with decadent, late-’70s zeal, the film’s coarse optical sound and images in negative creating a strange dissonance with the poppy polka-dotted scene. Kenneth Anger’s Airship series consists of three short films, which exhume newsreel footage of mighty dirigibles hovering ominously in the sky. The filmmaker’s characteristic fusion of magic, symbolism, mystery and myth imbues the already incredible footage with an eerie, supernatural quality.

In El Adios Largos, artist-archivist Andrew Lampert undertakes a speculative restoration of Robert Altman’s The Long Goodbye based on the premise that the film’s negative has been lost and the sole surviving print is incorrect in every way: 16mm rather than 35mm, black and white instead of Technicolor, and dubbed into Spanish (N.B. proper prints and a negative do exist, just not in Lampert’s possession!). With dubious methods used to achieve authenticity, El Adios Largos is at once an uncanny aesthetic experience and a playful exploration of the philosophical conundrums involved for those working to preserve film history for generations to come.
Finally, Scott Stark leads us through a dizzying array of consumer goods in his stereoscopic mannequin melodrama The Realist. Composed of flickering still images, this entrancing romp conjures retail worlds both familiar and strange, in which chiseled mannequins may in fact be communing with each other amid the overwhelming array of apparel. Whether viewed as consumerist critique or spellbinding, operatic fantasy, The Realist employs a deft binary structure that skews toward the metaphysical.

Wavelengths 2: Now & Then

Instants Hannes Schüpbach, Switzerland
Pepper’s Ghost Stephen Broomer, Canada
Man in Motion, 2012 (Homme en mouvement, 2012) Christophe M. Saber, Ruben Glauser and Max Idje, Switzerland
Flower Naoko Tasaka, Japan/USA
Constellations (Konstellationen) Helga Fanderl, Germany

Proposing simplicity as a radical antidote to today’s fervent desire for intricacy, these films and videos draw upon either a collaborative process or an intimate subjective encounter to explore the correspondence between images and their perception. Exquisitely shot on 16mm in the French countryside near Avignon, Hannes Schüpbach’s Instants explores the nature of spontaneous time as related to the thinking of French writer Joël-Claude Meffre, transcending portraiture as it not only records the poet working, but also develops a memory of its own. Pepper’s Ghost, by Torontonian Stephen Broomer, transforms an office formerly used for observation studies into a tunnel of performative, transfixing illusionism, creating surprising images using filters, fabric and a combination of sunlight and fluorescents. Recalling Slidelength (1969–71), Michael Snow’s slideshow of plastic gels and hand gestures, Pepper’s Ghost is a prolonged expression of demystified mystification, whose startling results are bolstered by a bold soundtrack. A contemporary version of Muybridgean motion studies meets Duchamp’s Nude Descending a Staircase in Ruben Glauser, Max Idje and Christophe M. Saber’s Man in Motion, 2012. Constructed from the delays in real-time video feedback and recorded onto black-and-white 16mm, the film forms a multiple space via the shifting angles of view in the mysterious passages of a video eye.

Naoko Tasaka’s sphinx-like Flower unfolds like a children’s story before it plumbs the depths of both a physical and metaphorical surface, as straightforward narration gives way to sublimated abstraction. Employing a number of multi-format techniques, Flower displays a compelling, duelling impulse that hovers between a grid and a waterfall. Constellations, a recent grouping of 16mm colour silent blow-ups by Super 8 artist Helga Fanderl, returns the viewer to the natural world, whose beauty has been observed and rendered with a profound curiosity, a patient gaze and an extraordinary ability to capture visual patterns and textures. Whether following at close range the semi-circular motion of a handsome, pacing leopard, its spots evoking rhythmic patterns through Fanderl’s intuitive shooting process, or closely studying a tray of glassware on a ship as the sea reflects and refracts through their crystalline shapes, the artist fully gives herself over to the present moment and allows the audience to bask in it.

Wavelengths 3: Farther Than the Eye Can See

Farther Than the Eye Can See Basma Alsharif, United Arab Emirates
Main Hall Philipp Fleischmann, Austria
45 7 Broadway Tomonari Nishikawa, USA
Bann Nina Könnemann, Germany
Dry Standpipe (Suchy Pion) Wojciech Bakowski, Poland
Gowanus Canal Sarah J. Christman, USA
Nefandus Carlos Motta, USA/Spain

A sense of geographic, spatial and historical freefall attends this programme of works that takes its title from Basma Alsharif’s eponymous video. Visually gripping and intelligently constructed, Farther Than the Eye Can See continues Alsharif’s essayistic explorations of statelessness through a tale of a mass exodus of Palestinians from Jerusalem recounted over a dense, stroboscopic cityscape. A different stroboscopic effect is achieved in Philipp Fleischmann’s Main Hall, which uses 19 specially designed cameras to record the space inside the main exhibition hall of the Vienna Secession. While this bastion of modernity has been crucial to the development of Minimalism and Conceptual Art, film has eluded its mandate; Main Hall adds a purely cinematographic gesture (à la Gordon Matta-Clark) to the space’s history by having it look at its own architecture.

Overlapping light and space continue in Tomonari Nishikawa’s 45 7 Broadway, which captures the paralyzing pace and conflicting rhythms of Times Square. Shot on black-and-white 16mm through red, green and blue filters, then optically printed onto colour film through these same filters, 45 7 Broadway is less jazzy than Mondrian’s Broadway Boogie Woogie but equally eye-popping in its colour and illusionistic effect. With a focus on a decidedly less populated though equally uncanny urbanscape, in Bann Nina Könnemann clandestinely observes the increasingly ostracized smokers in London’s financial district, her keen eye and mischievous editing creating a portrait of alienation, self-consciousness, and perhaps even shame.

A raw, personal, confessional narration undercuts the abstract images in Polish artist, musician and poet Wojciech Bakowski’s interlaced video collage Dry Standpipe. Condensing home videos into blocks of abstraction, Bakowski creates a startling account of depression, numbness and paradoxical lucidity. Sarah J. Christman continues her 16mm ecological explorations with Gowanus Canal, in which contamination and compression of refuse intimate a stultifying state for one of the most polluted bodies of water in the United States. In Carlos Motta’s award-winning Nefandus, a pristine flowing river in the Colombian Caribbean suppresses a tainted history of “wild” beauty and colonialist religious and sexual subjugation. An evocative essay on pre-conquest homoeroticism, Nefandus searches for traces of untold stories and stigmatized historical accounts.

Wavelengths 4: Elysium

Trissákia 3 Nick Collins, UK
Brimstone Line Chris Kennedy, Canada
Listening to the Space in my Room Robert Beavers, Switzerland
Mount Song Shambhavi Kaul, USA/India
Natpwe, the feast of the spirits Tiane Doan na Champassak and Jean Dubrel, France/Burma

Beginning with the ruins of a Greek Byzantine church and ending with trance rituals in Burma, this programme sketches a trajectory of shifting perspectives and iconographic references, from the cloistered and intimate to the expansive and unrestrained. Nick Collins’ Trissákia 3 documents the eponymous c. 13th-century Greek church, its cracked though surprisingly intact frescoes, its crumbling stones and the dubious scaffolding that encases it, his camera revelling in the supernal beauty created by the light and shadow play resulting from its damaged openings. Delineated views similarly make up Chris Kennedy’s Brimstone Line, in which three freestanding grids placed along the Credit River in rural Ontario (reminiscent of the Dürer Grid used by Renaissance draughtsmen in order to achieve accurate proportions) become devices through which the stationary camera frames the landscape and motivates a series of zooms.

Ostensibly a portrait of a place where the artist had resided until recently, the new film by Robert Beavers conjures not only the memory but also the physical presence of those who have previously stayed there. Adhering to a solitary intimacy while simultaneously acting as an ode to human endeavour and shared impulses toward fulfillment through art, Listening to the Space in my Room is a moving testament to existence (whose traces are found in literature, music, filmmaking, gardening) and our endless search for meaning and authenticity. The film’s precise, yet enigmatic sound-image construction carries a rare emotional weight.

A strange yet familiar sense of place dominates Shambhavi Kaul’s deceptively disorienting and visually entrancing Mount Song. As a wild, foreboding gust courses through the night, a subdued elegance is brought forth from past cinema spectacles, whose generic, albeit highly suggestive set constructions remain lodged in the imaginary. In Natpwe, the feast of the spirits, co-directors Tiane Doan na Champassak and Jean Dubrel have produced an immersive, seemingly timeless document of an annual Burmese trance ritual that dates back to the 11th century. Shot in Super 8 and 16mm in sooty black and white, the film conveys the astonishing sense of liberation of tens of thousands of bodies and minds — a mass expression of faith, but also a rapturous respite from societal intolerance.

MEDIUM LENGTH FILMS

Un conte de Michel de Montaigne Jean-Marie Straub North American Premiere
“How easily we pass from waking to sleeping! With how little interest we lose the knowledge of light and of ourselves! Peradventure, it could seem useless and against nature, the faculty of sleep which deprives us of all action and of all feeling, were it not that through this nature does instruct us that she hath equally made us to die as to live, and, from life, presents us the eternal state which she reserveth for us after it to accustom us the reunto and remove from us the fear of it.”

The King’s Body (O Corpo de Afonso) Jõao Pedro Rodrigues North American Premiere
How would it look like, the body of Dom Afonso Henriques, first king of Portugal, tutelary figure, subject to successive mythifications throughout Portuguese history?
Redemption Miguel Gomes North American Premiere
1975, a village in Portugal: a child writes to his parents. 2011, Milan: an old man remembers his first love. 2012, Paris: a man talks to his baby daughter. 1977, Leipzig: a woman is getting married. Where and when have these four poor devils begun searching for redemption?

A Thousand Suns (Mille soleils) Mati Diop International Premiere
Djibril Diop Mambety filmed Touki Bouki in 1972. Mory and Anta are in love. The two young lovers share the same dream of leaving Dakar to go to Paris, but when the time comes, Anta heads off and Mory stays on the quays, alone and incapable of facing the demands of his land. Forty years later, A Thousand Suns (Mille Soleils) investigates the personal and universal heritage of Touki Bouki. What has happened since then? The hero in the film, Magaye Niang, has never left Dakar, and now, the old cowboy wonders what happened to Anta, the love of his youth. Family stories, exile and cinema blend in intimate and mythical spheres.

Letter to a Refusing Pilot
Akram Zaatari North American Premiere
In the summer of 1982, a rumour made the rounds about an Israeli fighter pilot who had been ordered to bomb a target in Lebanon. Knowing the building was a school, he veered off course and dropped his bombs into the sea instead. Letter to a Refusing Pilot is a film that tells the story of a public school and the public housing project that surrounds it in Saida, and reflects on refusal as a decisive and generative act. The work considers the excavation of narratives and the circulation of images in times of war.

Song Nathaniel Dorsky Canadian Premiere
“Song was photographed in San Francisco from early October through the winter solstice in late December, 2012.” –N.D.

Spring Nathaniel Dorsky World Premiere
“Spring was photographed during the months following the winter solstice. I wanted to see if I could make a film that was in itself a garden, a film that, like the world of plants, would yearn and stretch in the oncoming light.” –N.D.

Three Landscapes Peter Hutton World Premiere
A silent film study of human figures on three distinct landscapes in the world. Detroit, Michigan, the Hudson River Valley, and the Dallol Depression in northeastern Ethiopia.

A Field In England

FEATURES

A Field in England Ben Wheatley, United Kingdom North American Premiere
A psychedelic trip into magic and madness from Ben Wheatley, award-winning director of Down Terrace, Kill List and Sightseers.

A Spell to Ward off the Darkness Ben Rivers and Ben Russell, Estonia/France North American Premiere
A Spell to Ward Off the Darkness follows a single character at three disparate moments in his life: as one member of a 15-person collective on a small Estonian island, alone in the wilderness of Northern Finland, and as the singer of a neo-pagan black metal band in Norway.

I'm the same, I'm an other Caroline Strubbe, Belgium World Premiere
A man in his 30s is on the run with a nine-year-old girl. As they take a ferry to the United Kingdom, traces of a common past come to light — a past filled with loss and sorrow. Fleeing in secret, they end up hiding in a small apartment on the seafront, where they live day-to-day, exploring each other’s emotional territories. Mourning will bind them, but is this alliance of dependence appropriate for them and for the outside world?

La ultíma película Raya Martin and Mark Peranson, Canada/Denmark/Mexico/Philippines World Premiere
A famous American filmmaker travels to the Yucatán to scout locations for his last movie. The Mayan Apocalypse intercedes.

Preceded by
RP31 Lucy Raven, USA Canadian Premiere
RP31 is an animation made from 31 film projection test patterns and calibration charts. Used in the motion picture industry to test for focus, aperture, field steadiness and framing, these patterns are images you're not supposed to see, which are made to make you see better.

MANAKAMANA Stephanie Spray and Pacho Velez, USA/Nepal North American Premiere
MANAKAMANA portrays pilgrims as they travel in state-of-the-art cable cars high above a Nepali jungle to the temple of the wish-fulfilling goddess. Shot entirely inside airborne gondolas, this new work from the Sensory Ethnography Lab is a portrait of spiritual experience against a backdrop of rapid modernization. It extends the ambitions of transcendental cinema beyond the limits of fiction, documenting connections between the sacred and the profane in daily life.

Pays Barbare Yvervant Gianikian and Angela Ricci Lucchi, France North American Premiere
“A film necessary for us at this time, about fascism and colonialism... With our 'Analytical Camera” we returned to rummage in private and anonymous archives of Ethiopia over the film frames of the Italian colonial period (1935-1936). The Colonial eroticism. The naked body of women and the 'body' of the film. Images of the Duce in Africa. Body frames of Mussolini and the 'mass' 1945, after the Liberation.” –Yvervant Gianikian and Angela Ricci Lucchi

Story of My Death Albert Serra, Spain/France North American Premiere
Loosely based on the autobiography of Casanova, the film depicts the journeys of the famous libertine from the joyful, sensual and rationalistic 18th century Europe to his last days where violence, sex and dark romanticism reigned.

Stray Dogs (Jiao You) Tsai Ming-Liang, Taiwan/France North American Premiere
A father and his two children wander the margins of modern day Taipei, from the woods and rivers of the outskirts to the rain streaked streets of the city. By day the father scrapes out a meager income as a human billboard for luxury apartments, while his young son and daughter roam the supermarkets and malls surviving off free food samples. Each night the family takes shelter in an abandoned building. The father is strangely affected by a hypnotic mural adorning the wall of this makeshift home. On the day of the father's birthday the family is joined by a woman — might she be the key to unlocking the buried emotions that linger from the past?

The Battle of Tabatô Joao Viana, Portugal/Guinea-Bissau North American Premiere
After 30 years of exile, Baio is returning to Guinea-Bissau. His daughter Fatu is getting married to Idrissa, a famous African musician. The ceremony will take place in Tabatô, a village of griots and musicians.

Preceded by
The Disquiet, Ali Cherri World Premiere
Lebanon is a country whose geographical location on several fault lines has resulted in a number of violent earthquakes. Through an analytical approach to the seismic situation of the country, The Disquiet observes the catastrophe in the making. What if the threat of an imminent catastrophe was far more internal than ever suspected?

The Missing Picture (L’image manquante) Rithy Panh, Cambodia/France North American Premiere
“For many years, I have been looking for the missing picture: a photograph taken between 1975 and 1979 by the Khmer Rouge when they ruled over Cambodia... On its own, of course, an image cannot prove mass murder, but it gives us cause for thought, prompts us to meditate, to record history. I searched for it vainly in the archives, in old papers, in the country villages of Cambodia. Today I know: this image must be missing. I was not really looking for it; would it not be obscene and insignificant? So I created it. What I give you today is neither the picture nor the search for a unique image, but the picture of a quest: the quest that cinema allows.” –Rithy Panh

The Police Officer’s Wife Philip Gröning, Germany North American Premiere
A simple film. A man, a woman, a child. A small town. The square apartment. Perfect Sundays. The story of a young family. The ceaseless labour of love out of which emerges what is later called the soul of a person. Creating the cradle of love that nurtures the child’s evolving soul. Affection and distance. The father’s career at the local police department. And the mother solely devoted to caring for the child. The violence between husband and wife. We watch as this woman sinks. And how she does everything she can to save this child’s soul, to keep it intact, to let it grow. To teach the child love. The Police Officer’s Wife is a film about the virtue of love, the virtue of curiosity, the virtue of joy. And about the dark within us.

The Strange Little Cat Ramon Zürcher, Germany Canadian Premiere
A family get-together in a Berlin flat: preparations, conversations in the kitchen, an evening meal. Deliberately eschewing the larger picture, the film creates a wondrous world and assembles seemingly unspectacular details and snippets into an exciting choreography of the everyday.

‘Til Madness Do Us Apart Wang Bing, France/Hong Kong/Japan North American Premiere
Fifty men live in an isolated asylum for 12 months. They spend their days locked on one floor, with little contact even with the medical team. Each has been committed for a different reason. They have mental problems, killed people, or have upset some local officials. But once inside, they share the same empty life, walking along the same iron fence courtyard, looking for human warmth among their fellow sufferers.

Three Interpretation Exercises (Trois Exercises d’Interprétation) Cristi Puiu, Romania/France North American Premiere
Three films based on Three Conversations by Russian writer and philosopher Vladimir Solovyov. The actors' 'exercises' developed into a minimalistic trilogy on cinema and literature, social and spiritual life. The trilogy is the result of a workshop of famous Romanian director Cristi Puiu at the French artists’ studio Chantiers Nomades.

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This article is related to: Lineups, Film Festival, Toronto International Film Festival, Toronto International Film Festival





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