The Toronto Film Festival added to its already impressive lineup with some women directed films that I’ve been waiting for. There is a long awaited film from Nancy Savoca and Lynn Shelton’s latest. It’s going to be a busy week. I cannot wait.
Galas (descriptions from TIFF press release)
Hysteria directed by Tanya Wexler USA/United Kingdom World Premiere
A romantic comedy based on the surprising truth of how Mortimer Granville came up with the world’s first electro-mechanical vibrator in the name of medical science. Academy Award®-nominee Maggie Gyllenhaal and Hugh Dancy headline in this untold tale of a young Victorian doctor’s quest to figure out the key to women’s happiness. Also starring Jonathan Pryce, Rupert Everett and Felicity Jones.
In Darkness Agnieszka Holland, Canada/Germany/Poland World Premiere
In Darkness tells the true story of Leopold Socha, a sewer worker and petty thief in Nazi-occupied Lvov, Poland. Stumbling upon a group of Jews in the sewers, he agrees to hide them for a price. What starts out as a straightforward business arrangement becomes something unexpected, as they all try to outwit certain death during 14 months of intense danger. Starring Robert Wieçkiewicz and Benno Fürmann.
My Worst Nightmare Anne Fontaine, France/Belgium World Premiere
Agathe doesn’t realize to what extent her life is going to be turned upside down when she takes in Tony, the best friend of her son Adrien. Tony’s father, Patrick, leads Agathe down a merry path of existential chaos, which just may deliver her from herself. Starring Isabelle Huppert.
Sleeping Beauty Julia Leigh, Australia North American Premiere
“You will go to sleep: you will wake up. It will be as if those hours never existed.” Death-haunted, quietly reckless, Lucy is a young university student who takes a job as a Sleeping Beauty. In the Sleeping Beauty Chamber, old men seek an erotic experience that requires Lucy’s absolute submission. This unsettling task starts to bleed into Lucy’s daily life and she develops an increasing need to know what happens to her when she is asleep. Starring Emily Browning and Rachael Blake.
Wuthering Heights Andrea Arnold, United Kingdom North American Premiere
A Yorkshire hill farmer on a visit to Liverpool finds a homeless boy on the streets. He takes him home to live as part of his family on the isolated Yorkshire moors where the boy forges an obsessive relationship with the farmer’s daughter. Starring James Howson and Kaya Scodelario.
Low Life Nicolas Klotz, Elisabeth Perceval, France North American Premiere
After making love, the youngsters slipped happily into dreamland… but when they opened their eyes the world appeared joyless, and stomach-wrenchingly old. And so they quickly sank back into their happy world, where all sleepers are equal. This is the place they called Low Life.
World Cinema Women Directed
Colour of the Ocean Maggie Peren, Germany World Premiere
A Spanish border patrolman of Grand Canary Island, José, decides the fate of hundreds of African boat people. When Nathalie, a German tourist, gets involved, the refugee crisis threatens to spin out of control. It‟s up to José to decide what to do, but he must learn to free himself first before he can help free others.
Goodbye First Love Mia Hansen-Løve, France/Germany Canadian Premiere
It‟s Spring 1999 and Camille, 15, and Sullivan, 19, love each other passionately. Following the progression of this young, first love, the affair evolves from initial rapture to heartbreak as Sullivan decides he wants to travel the world before settling down. Driven to despair, Camille suffers deep emotional turmoil and must learn to deal with his absence.
Hotel Swooni Kaat Beels, Belgium International Premiere
Six lives, 24 hours, and a hotel in the middle of a heat wave. Anna and Hendrik have it all: a great son, a good job, a lovely house – but the wedding they witness in the hotel forces them to reflect on the choices they have made. Violette wants to reconcile with her daughter Vicky before she dies, but Vicky struggles to let go of a hurtful past. Meanwhile, a young African refugee hides out in the hotel from the police. The lives of all these people become irrevocably intertwined until the heat breaks and the rain offers some relief.
Land of Oblivion Michale Boganim, France/Germany/Poland/Ukraine North American Premiere
April 26, 1986: Anya and Piotr are celebrating their marriage when an accident occurs at the Chernobyl power station. As a fireman, Piotr leaves to extinguish the flames – but he never returns. Ten years later, after Chernobyl has become a no man‟s land and a tourist attraction, Anya is still there, working as a guide. Split between two lovers, she tries to accept the hope of a new life.
UFO in her Eyes Xiaolu Guo, Germany World Premiere
Kwok Yun leads a simple peasant’s life in the peaceful village mountains. She lives with her grandfather and works as a labourer. Following a countryside tryst with a married man, she spots a UFO – a giant glowing object in the shape of a dumpling. Later that same day, she helps a snake-bitten American businessman who disappears as mysteriously as the UFO. Using the unexpected events for political gain, the ambitious village leader, Chief Chang, stimulates tourism with UFO tours and gets the local economy roaring, despite the dangers such radical change can bring, especially to the environment.
Union Square Nancy Savoca, USA World Premiere
Union Square chronicles the reluctant reunion of two estranged sisters: one on the verge of marriage, the other on the brink of a nervous breakdown.
Your Sister’s Sister Lynn Shelton, USA World Premiere
Still mourning the recent death of his brother, a bereft and confused man finds love and direction in a most unexpected place.
Some women centric films:
The Awakening Nick Murphy, United Kingdom World Premiere
Haunted by the death of her fiancé, Florence Cathcart is on a mission to expose all séances as exploitative shams. However, when she is called to a boys’ boarding school to investigate a case of the uncanny, she is gradually forced to confront her skepticism in the most terrifying way, shaking her scientific convictions and her sense of self to the very core. Haunting and moving in equal measure, The Awakening is a sophisticated psychological/supernatural thriller in the tradition of The Others and The Orphanage, but with its own unique and thrilling twist. Starring Rebecca Hall, Dominic West and Imelda Staunton.
Beloved Christophe Honoré, France International Premiere
From Paris in the 1960s to London’s modern days, Madeleine and her daughter Vera waltz in and out of the lives of the men they love. But love can be light and painful, cheerful and bitter. An elegy to femininity and passion with musical outbursts. Starring Chiara Mastroianni and Catherine Deneuve.
Winnie Darrell J. Roodt, South Africa /Canada World Premiere
This film reveals the enigma that is Winnie Mandela. A sensitive depiction, Winnie portrays her life’s journey amidst the unwavering love between her and Nelson Mandela, and their unfaltering commitment to the struggle for democracy in South Africa. Winnie takes the audience on an epic voyage of understanding – painting a vivid portrait of one of the world’s most remarkable women. Starring Jennifer Hudson, Terrence Howard, Elias Koteas and Wendy Crewson.
Damsels in Distress Whit Stillman, USA North American Premiere
Damsels in Distress is a comedy about a trio of beautiful girls as they set out to revolutionize life at a grungy American university – the dynamic leader Violet Wister (Greta Gerwig), principled Rose (Megalyn Echikunwoke) and sexy Heather (Carrie MacLemore). They welcome transfer student Lily (Analeigh Tipton) into their group, which seeks to help severely depressed students with a program of good hygiene and musical dance numbers. The girls become romantically entangled with a series of men – including smooth Charlie (Adam Brody), dreamboat Xavier (Hugo Becker), the mad frat-pack of Frank (Ryan Metcalf) and Thor (Billy Magnussen) – who threaten the girls’ friendship and sanity.
Violet & Daisy Geoffrey Fletcher, USA World Premiere Violet & Daisy, the whimsical story of a teenager’s surreal and violent journey through New York City, follows Oscar nominee Saoirse Ronan (Hanna, Atonement, The Lovely Bones) as Daisy. With her volatile partner-in-crime Violet, played by Alexis Bledel (Sin City, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, The Gilmore Girls), the two young assassins face a series of opponents, including one unusually mysterious man (James Gandolfini), in a life-altering encounter. The film, written and directed by Oscar-winning screenwriter Geoffrey Fletcher (Precious), also stars Oscar nominee Marianne Jean-Baptiste and Danny Trejo.