Unlike the folks at Cannes, Toronto seems to understand that there are many great women directors, making films that can play at the highest level and this year is no different.
The first wave of films have been announced and there are many films to be excited about including new films from Sally Potter, Margarethe von Trotta, Deepa Mehta and Mira Nair. I also am excited for Cate Shortland’s Lore and Imogene from Robert Pulcini and Shari Springer Berman. I will be on the ground covering the festival for the second year.
Here are the women directed movies (women centric movies still to come)
Out of the 17 gala presentations, 6 are directed by women
English Vinglish – Gauri Shinde, India World Premiere
Money, fame and a knowledge of English. In India, these 3 factors play a huge role in how society judges an individual. English Vinglish is the story of Shashi, a woman who does not know English and in turn is made to feel insecure by her family and society at large. The film is the lighthearted yet touching and transformational journey of Shashi. Circumstances make her determined to overcome this insecurity, master the language, teach the world a lesson on the way to becoming a self assured and confident woman. This film marks the comeback of India’s biggest female star, Sridevi.
Free Angela & All Political Prisoners – Shola Lynch, USA/France World Premiere
Legendary radical activist Angela Davis’ words and actions made her a revolutionary icon in the 1960s. The documentary Free Angela & All Political Prisoners tells the dramatic story of how a young philosophy professor’s social justice activism implicates her in the botched kidnapping attempt of a judge that ends in bloody shootout. Newsweek asks: what would prompt Angela Davis, “the daughter of the black bourgeoisie, to take a desperate turn to terrorism?
Inescapable – Ruba Nadda, Canada World Premiere
One afternoon, on a typical day at work, Adib is confronted with devastating news: His eldest daughter, Muna, has gone missing in Damascus. Now Adib, who has not been back in over 30 years, must return to Syria and deal with his secret past in order to find her. Inescapable is a thriller about a father’s desperate search for his daughter and the chaos of the Middle East he left behind. Starring Alexander Siddig, Marisa Tomei and Joshua Jackson.
Love, Marilyn – Liz Garbus, USA World Premiere
Nearly 50 years after her death, two boxes of Marilyn Monroe’s private writings and musings were discovered in the home of her acting coach. These papers, brought to life in this innovative documentary film by some of our contemporary icons and stars, give us a new understanding of Monroe — revealing her carefully guarded inner life. Featuring Elizabeth Banks, Lindsay Lohan, Evan Rachel Wood, Ben Foster, Uma Thurman, Paul Giamatti, Viola Davis, Jeremy Piven, Ellen Burstyn, Adrien Brody, Marisa Tomei and Glenn Close.
Midnight’s Children – Deepa Mehta, Canada/ United Kingdom World Premiere
“Born in the hour of India’s freedom. Handcuffed to history.” Midnight’s Children is an epic film from Academy Award-nominated director Deepa Mehta, based on the Booker Prize-winning novel by Salman Rushdie. At the stroke of midnight on August 15, 1947, as India proclaims independence from Great Britain, two newborn babies are switched by a nurse in a Bombay hospital. Saleem Sinai, the illegitimate son of a poor Hindu woman, and Shiva, the offspring of wealthy Muslims, are fated to live the destiny meant for each other. Their lives become mysteriously intertwined and are inextricably linked to India’s whirlwind journey of triumphs and disasters. Starring Satya Bhabha, Shahana Goswami, Rajat Kapoor, Seema Biswas, Shriya Saran, Siddharth, Ronit Roy, Rahul Bose, Kulbushan Kharbanda, Soha Ali Khan, Anita Majumdar, Zaib Shaikh and Darsheel Safary.
The Reluctant Fundamentalist – Mira Nair, USA North American Premiere
Based on the best-selling novel of the same title, that was translated into 25 languages, The Reluctant Fundamentalist is a riveting international political thriller that follows the story of a young Pakistani man chasing corporate success on Wall Street, who ultimately finds himself embroiled in a conflict between his American dream, a hostage crisis and the enduring call of his family’s homeland. Starring Riz Ahmed, Kate Hudson, Kiefer Sutherland and Liev Schreiber.
Out of 45 special presentations, 8 are directed by women (or co-directed by women)
Cloud Atlas – Tom Tykwer, Andy Wachowski, Lana Wachowski, USA World Premiere
The powerful, inspiring epic Cloud Atlas explores how the actions and consequences of individual lives impact one another throughout the past, the present and the future, as one soul is shaped from a killer into a hero, and a single act of kindness ripples across centuries to inspire a revolution. Starring Tom Hanks, Hugo Weaving, Halle Berry, Susan Sarandon, Jim Broadbent and Hugh Grant.
Dreams for Sale – Nishikawa Miwa, Japan World Premiere
After losing their restaurant in a fire, a husband and wife come up with a strange plan to rebuild their shattered finances: marrying the husband off to a series of lonely women and defrauding them. Starring Matsu Takako, Abe Sadavo and Tanaka Lena.
Everybody Has A Plan – Ana Piterbarg, Argentina International Premiere
Everybody Has A Plan tells the story of Agustín (Viggo Mortensen), a man desperate to abandon what he has gradually come to feel is an unfulfilling existence after years of living in Buenos Aires. Following the death of his identical twin brother Pedro, Agustín sets out to begin his life anew by assuming Pedro’s identity and returning to the mysterious Tigre Delta region where the brothers had spent their childhood. Soon after his homecoming, however, Agustín finds himself unwittingly embroiled in the deadly criminal underworld that his brother had been part of.
Ginger and Rosa – Sally Potter, United Kingdom World Premiere London, 1962:
Two teenage girls, Ginger and Rosa, are inseparable. They play truant together, discuss religion, politics and hairstyles, and dream of lives bigger than their mothers’ frustrated domesticity. But as the Cold War meets the sexual revolution, the lifelong friendship of the two girls is threatened. Starring Elle Fanning, Alice Englert, Christina Hendricks, Annette Bening and Alessandro Nivola.
Hannah Arendt – Margarethe von Trotta, Germany World Premiere
Hannah Arendt is a portrait of the genius that shook the world with her discovery of “the banality of evil.” After she attends the Nazi Adolf Eichmann’s trial in Jerusalem, Arendt dares to write about the Holocaust in terms no one has ever heard before. Her work instantly provokes a furious scandal, and Arendt stands strong as she is attacked by friends and foes alike. But as the German-Jewish émigré also struggles to suppress her own painful associations with the past, the film exposes her beguiling blend of arrogance and vulnerability — revealing a soul defined and derailed by exile. Starring Janet McTeer and Barbara Sukowa.
Imogene – Robert Pulcini, Shari Springer Berman, USA World Premiere
Imogene is the story of a moderately successful New York playwright who stages a fake suicide attempt in order to win back her ex- boyfriend — only to end up being forced into the custody of her gambling-addicted mother. Starring Annette Bening, Matt Dillon, Darren Criss and Kristen Wiig.
Lore – Cate Shortland, Australia/United Kingdom/Germany North American Premiere
After her Nazi parents are imprisoned, Lore leads her younger siblings across a war-torn Germany in 1945. Amidst the chaos, she encounters mysterious Jewish refugee Thomas, who shatters her fragile reality with hatred and desire. To live, she must trust someone she was taught to hate and face the darkness within herself. Starring Saskia Rosendahl and Kai Malina.
Venus & Serena – Maiken Baird, USA World Premiere
Venus & Serena takes an honest and unfiltered look into the remarkable lives of sisters and tennis legends Serena and Venus Williams. Through the prism of one year in their lives, the film tells the untold story of how these two great stars came to be and how they struggle to stay on top.
Rian Johnson’s ‘Looper’ to Open Toronto International Film Festival (Hollywood Reporter)