We were promised additional films, and they have arrived. The Toronto International Film Festival has added more films to its Special Presentations and Gala sections, and the highlights include the worst kept secret in the world, Paul Thomas Anderson‘s “The Master,” Walter Salles‘ “On The Road,” Lee Daniels‘ “The Paperboy,” and three rather strong films that are making their premiere in Venice first, including Spike Lee‘s Michael Jackson documentary, “Bad 25,” Brian DePalma‘s heavily anticipated “Passion” starring Rachel McAdams and Noomi Rapace, and Harmony Korine‘s “Springbreakers,” starring James Franco and many young up-and-coming starlets.
The TIFF Galas are now at 20 pictures, Special Presentations are at 70, and the festival already has 200 films to its name. Even more announcements will be coming soon, but we imagine the the biggest names have already been announced. Other highlights include Nick Cassavetes‘ “Yellow,” Susanne Bier‘s “Love Is All You Need,” Paul Andrew Williams‘ “Song For Marion” starring Terence Stamp, Vaness Redgrave and Gemma Arteton, “Greetings from Tim Buckley” starring Imogen Poots and Penn Badgley, and Claude Miller‘s “Thérèse Desqueyroux.” Below are the Gala and Special Presentions additions, and the Wavelength strand. [TIFF]
CLOSING NIGHT FILM
“Song for Marion” Paul Andrew Williams, UK World Premiere
A feel-good, heart-warming story about how music can inspire you. Song for Marion stars Terence Stamp as Arthur, a grumpy pensioner who can’t understand why his wife Marion (Vanessa Redgrave) would want to embarrass herself singing silly songs with her unconventional local choir. But choir director Elizabeth (Gemma Arterton) sees something special in the reluctant Arthur and refuses to give up on him. As she coaxes him out of his shell, Arthur realizes that it is never too late to change.
“Emperor” Peter Webber, Japan/USA World Premiere
In the aftermath of Japan’s defeat in World War II and the American occupation of the country, a Japanese expert (Matthew Fox) on the staff of Gen. Douglas MacArthur (Tommy Lee Jones) is faced with a decision of historic importance, in this epically scaled drama from director Peter Webber (Girl With a Pearl Earring).
“What Maisie Knew” Scott McGehee, David Siegel, USA World Premiere
Based on the Henry James novella, the story frames on 7-year-old Maisie, caught in a custody battle between her mother – a rock and roll icon – and her father. What Maisie Knew is an evocative portrayal of the chaos of adult life seen entirely from a child’s point of view. Starring Joanna Vanderham, Onata Aprile, Alexander Skarsgård, Julianne Moore, and Steve Coogan.
“Arthur Newman” Dante Ariola, USA World Premiere
Wallace Avery is tired of being a loser. Once a hot shot in the world of competitive amateur golf, Wallace was dubbed ‘The Choker’ when he hit the pro circuit. Unable to shake off a monumental loss of nerve on the greens, Wallace retired from the pro tour and slipped into the ranks of the quietly desperate. Deciding to address a radical problem with a radical solution, he stages his own death, buys himself a new identity as Arthur Newman, and sets out toward his own private Oz of golf. An offbeat love story set in a perfect storm of identity crisis, Arthur Newman looks at how two people try to remake themselves and come around to owning up to some basic truths about the identities they left at home. Starring Emily Blunt, Colin Firth, and Anne Heche.
“Bad 25” Spike Lee, USA North American Premiere
Bad 25 celebrates the 25th anniversary of the Michael Jackson “Bad” album with unseen footage, content shot by Jackson himself, and a treasure chest of findings. The documentary is divided into two parts: artists today who were influenced by Michael, and people who worked by his side – musicians, songwriters, technicians, engineers, people at the label – all committed to Michael and the follow-up to the biggest record of all time, “Thriller.” Interviewees include: Mariah Carey, L.A. Reid and Sheryl Crow.
“Disconnect” Henry Alex Rubin, USA North American Premiere
Disconnect interweaves multiple storylines about people searching for human connection in today’s wired world. Through poignant turns that are both harrowing and touching, the stories intersect with surprising twists that expose a shocking reality into our daily use of technology that mediates and defines our relationships and ultimately our lives. Directed by Academy Award® nominee Henry Alex Rubin (Murderball), and starring Jason Bateman, Hope Davis, Frank Grillo, Paula Patton, Michael Nyqvist, Andrea Riseborough, Alexander Skarsgård, and Max Theriot, as well as Jonah Bobo, Colin Ford and Haley Ramm.
“Do Not Disturb” Yvan Attal, France World Premiere
Jeff unexpectedly shows up on Ben’s doorstep at 2am. Since their college days, they’ve taken very different paths. Jeff is still the wild man, a serial lover, an artist and eternal vagabond who’s never stopped roaming the world. Ben has settled down with chilled-out and wonderful Anna; they bought a small and comfortable house in the suburbs and started trying to make a baby. But this quiet life is disrupted by the whirlwind that is Jeff, especially when he takes Ben to a wild party, from which they return at dawn, having made a decision that is about to turn all of their lives upside down. This provocative, hot and funny new film by award-winning French director Yvan Atta stars François Cluzet and Charlotte Gainsbourg.
“Greetings from Tim Buckley” Dan Algrant, USA World Premiere
Greetings from Tim Buckley follows the story of the days leading up to Jeff Buckley’s eminent 1991 performance at his father’s tribute concert in St. Ann’s Church. Through a romance with a young woman working at the concert, he learns to embrace all of his feelings toward the father who abandoned him – longing, anger, forgiveness, and love. Culminating in a cathartic performance of his father’s most famous songs, Jeff’s debut stuns the audience and launches his career as one of the greatest young musicians of his time. Starring Imogen Poots and Penn Badgley.
“Lines of Wellington” Valeria Sarmiento, Portugal North American Premiere
After the failed attempts of Junot and Soult in 1807 and 1809, Napoleon Bonaparte sent a powerful army, commanded by Marshal Massena, to invade Portugal in 1810. The French easily reached the centre of the country, where the Anglo-Portuguese army, led by General Wellington, was waiting. Starring John Malkovich, Nuno Lopes, Soraia Chaves, Marisa Paredes, and Victoria Guerra.
“Love is All You Need” Susanne Bier, Denmark North American Premiere
Love Is All You Need is a new film by Academy Award-winner Susanne Bier. Philip (Pierce Brosnan), an Englishman living in Denmark, is a lonely, middle-aged widower and estranged single father. Ida (Trine Dyrholm) is a Danish hairdresser, recuperating from a long bout of illness, who’s just been left by her husband for a younger woman. The fates of these two bruised souls are about to intertwine, as they embark for Italy to attend the wedding of Philip’s son and Ida’s daughter. With warmth, affection and confidence, Bier has shaken a cocktail of love, loss, absurdity, humour and delicately drawn characters who will leave only the hardest heart untouched. This is a film about the simple yet profound pains and joys of moving on – and forward – with your life.
“On The Road” Walter Salles, France/Brazil North American Premiere
Directed by acclaimed filmmaker Walter Salles and based on the iconic novel by Jack Kerouac, On The Road tells the provocative story of Sal Paradise (Sam Riley), a young writer whose life is ultimately redefined by the arrival of Dean Moriarty (Garrett Hedlund), a free-spirited, fearless, fast-talking Westerner and his girl, Marylou (Kristen Stewart). Traveling cross-country, Sal and Dean venture out on a personal quest for freedom from the conformity and conservatism engulfing them in search of the unknown, themselves, and the pursuit of it – the pure essence of experience. Seeking unchartered terrain and the last American frontier, the duo encounter an eclectic mix of men and women, each adding meaning to their desire for a new way of life. The screenplay is by Jose Rivera (Academy Award nominee for The Motorcycle Diaries), while Executive Producer Francis Ford Coppola has been developing the project since 1978. Also stars Viggo Mortensen and Kirsten Dunst.
“Passion” Brian De Palma, France/Germany North American Premiere
An erotic thriller in the tradition of Dressed To Kill and Basic Instinct, Brian de Palma’s Passion tells the story of a deadly power struggle between two women in the dog-eat-dog world of international business. Christine possesses the natural elegance and casual ease associated with one who has a healthy relationship with money and power. Innocent, lovely and easily exploited, her admiring protégé, Isabelle, is full of cutting-edge ideas that Christine has no qualms about stealing. They’re on the same team, after all… But when Isabelle falls into bed with one of Christine’s lovers, war breaks out. Starring Rachel McAdams, Noomi Rapace, Karoline Herfurth and Paul Anderson.
“Rhino Season” Bahman Ghobadi, Iraqi Kurdistan/Turkey World Premiere
After thirty years spent in prisons of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Kurdish-Iranian poet Sahel finally walks free. Now the one thing keeping him alive is the thought of finding his wife Mina, who thinks he is long dead and has since moved to Turkey. Sahel sets out on an Istanbul-bound search. Starring Behrouz Vossoughi, Monica Bellucci and Yilmaz Erdoğan.
“Spring Breakers” Harmony Korine, USA North American Premiere
Four sexy college girls plan to fund their spring break getaway by burglarizing a fast food shack. But that’s only the beginning. During a night of partying, the girls hit a roadblock when they are arrested on drug charges. Hung over and clad only in bikinis, the girls appear before a judge but are bailed out unexpectedly by Alien (James Franco), an infamous local thug who takes them under his wing and leads them on the wildest spring break trip in history. Rough on the outside but with a soft spot inside, Alien wins over the hearts of the young spring breakers, and leads them on a spring break they never could have imagined. Starring Selena Gomez, James Franco, Vanessa Hudgens and Heather Morris.
“The Master” Paul Thomas Anderson, USA North American Premiere
A striking portrait of drifters and seekers in post World War II America, Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master unfolds the journey of a Naval veteran (Joaquin Phoenix) who arrives home from war unsettled and uncertain of his future — until he is tantalized by The Cause and its charismatic leader (Philip Seymour Hoffman). Starring Amy Adams, Joaquin Phoenix, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Laura Dern.
“The Paperboy” Lee Daniels, USA North American Premiere
A chilling sex-and-race-charged film noir, The Paperboy takes audiences deep into the backwaters of steamy 1960s South Florida, as investigative reporter Ward Jansen and his partner Yardley Acheman chase a sensational, career-making story with the help of Ward’s younger brother Jack and sultry death-row groupie Charlotte Bless. Starring Matthew McConaughey, Nicole Kidman, John Cusack, David Oyelowo and Zac Efron.
“The Son Did It” Daniele Ciprì, Italy/France North American Premiere
The Son Did It is the story of the Ciraulos, a poor family from South Italy whose young daughter is mistakenly killed by the Mafia. As compensation, they receive a large amount of money from the State but this sudden richness will change their life in a completely unexpected way. Starring Toni Servillo, Giselda Volodi, Alfredo Castro and Fabrizio Falco.
“The Suicide Shop” Patrice Leconte, France/Belgium/Canada International Premiere
Imagine a shop that for generations has sold all the accoutrements for the perfect suicide. This family business prospers in all its bleak misery, until the day it encounters joie de vivre in the shape of younger son, Alan. What will become of The Suicide Shop in the face of Alan’s relentless good cheer, optimism and determination to make the customers smile? Starring Bernard Alane, Isabelle Spade, Kacey Mottet Klein, Isabelle Giami and Laurent Gendron.
“Thérèse Desqueyroux” Claude Miller, France International Premiere
In the Landes region of France, near Bordeaux, marriages are arranged to merge land parcels and unite neighbouring families. Thus, young Thérèse Larroque becomes Mrs. Desqueyroux. But her avant-garde ideas clash with local conventions and in order to break free from the fate imposed upon her and live a full life, she will resort to tragically extreme measures. Starring Audrey Tautou, Gilles Lellouche and Anaïs Demoustier.
“White Elephant” Pablo Trapero, Argentina/Spain North American Premiere
In a poverty-stricken and highly dangerous Buenos Aires slum, two men – both friends, both priests, both deeply respected by the local community for their tireless endeavours on behalf of the poor and the dispossessed – take very different paths in their struggle against violence, corruption and injustice. Starring Martina Gusman, Ricardo Darin and Jérémie Renier.
“Yellow” Nick Cassavetes, USA World Premiere
Nick Cassavetes’ seminal work, Yellow, is a searing take on modern society and the demands it makes on people. Centered on Mary Holmes, a young woman who has a difficult time feeling things, and swallowing twenty Vicodin a day doesn’t help. We enter her hallucinatory world, peopled with Busby Berkeley dancers, Cirque du Soleil, Circus freaks, and human farm animals where nothing is quite what it seems. Starring Sienna Miller, Gena Rowlands, Ray Liotta, David Morse, Lucy Punch, Max Theoriot, Riley Keough, Daveigh Chase, Heather Wahlquist and Melanie Griffith.
“The Last Time I Saw Macao” João Pedro Rodrigues, João Rul Guerra da Mata, Portugal/France, 85’
Part memoir, part city symphony, part noir-ish B-movie adventure, the new feature from critically acclaimed Portuguese filmmaking duo João Pedro Rodrigues and João Rui Guerra da Mata (To Die Like a Man) is a sensual, shape-shifting ode to one of the world’s most mythic, alluring and exoticized cities.
“Differently, Molussia” (autrement, la Molussie) Nicolas Rey, France, 81’ Canadian Premiere
autrement, la Molussie is an award-winning philosophical fable that draws on Günthers Anders’ amazingly prescient anti-fascist novel The Molussian Catacomb and is presented on nine reels of dreamy 16mm film shown in random order.
“Bestiaire” Denis Côté, Canada/France, 72’ Canadian Premiere
Visionary filmmaker Denis Côté (Curling) offers a strikingly beautiful contemplation of the caged denizens of a zoo in this intriguing cinematic inquiry into the mysterious rapport and insuperable gulf between animals and humans.
“Far From Afghanistan” John Gianvito, Jon Jost, Minda Martin, Soon-Mi Yoo, Travis Wilkerson, USA, 129’ North American Premiere
Taking inspiration from the collaborative 1967 militant anthology film Far from Vietnam (screening for free as part of the Festival’s new TIFF Cinematheque programme), five of the boldest and most prominent American militant filmmakers unite to create this searing (and seething) omnibus work, employing a variety of approaches to reveal the hidden costs of the United States’ most expensive and longest-running war.
“The Fifth Season” Peter Brosens, Jessica Woodworth, Belgium/The Netherlands/France, 94’ North American Premiere
In their follow-up to the remarkable Altiplano, co-directors Peter Brosens and Jessica Woodworth create a mystifying, surrealistic tale of a mountain village where spring refuses to come, inspiring the villagers to ever more desperate and bizarre measures to save their land and their lives.
“The Lebanese Rocket Society” Joana Hadjithomas, Khalil Joreige, Qatar, 93’ World Premiere
Lebanon’s brief flirtation with space travel in the 1960s becomes a poignant metaphor for the Arab world’s utopian dreams in this riveting documentary by internationally acclaimed artist duo Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige.
“Leviathan” Lucien Castaing-Taylor, Véréna Paravel, France/United Kingdom/USA, 87’ North American Premiere
In the very waters where Melville’s Pequod gave chase to Moby Dick, Leviathan captures the collaborative clash of man, nature, and machine on a dozen cameras—tossed and tethered from fisherman to filmmaker. A cosmic portrait of commercial fishing as it’s never been seen and heard.
“Perret in France and Algeria” Heinz Emigholz, Germany, 110’ North American Premiere
Lauded artist-filmmaker Heinz Emigholz (Schindler’s Houses) offers an exquisite visual study of the work of pioneering French architect Auguste Perret, including privileged views of his innovative concrete structures in Algeria and such magnificent landmarks as Paris’ Art Deco Théâtre des Champs Elysées.
“Post Tenebras Lux” Carlos Reygadas, Mexico/France/The Netherlands/Germany, 120’ North American Premiere
Maverick director Carlos Reygadas presents his most ambitious, personal and controversial work yet with this disorienting, kaleidoscopic vision of a family torn between tenderness and violence.
“Tabu” Miguel Gomes, Portugal/Germany/Brazil/France, 110’ North American Premiere
A temperamental old woman, her Cape Verdean maid and a neighbour devoted to social causes live on the same floor of a Lisbon apartment building. When the old lady dies, the other two learn of an episode from her past: a tale of love and crime set in an Africa straight from the world of adventure films.
“Three Sisters” Wang Bing, China, 153’ North American Premiere
The masterful new documentary from Wang Bing (West of the Tracks) is an intimate, observational portrait of a peasant family who ekes out a humble existence in a small village set against the stunning mountain landscapes of China’s Yunnan province.
“When Night Falls” (Wo hai you hua yao shuo) Ying Liang, South Korea/China, 70’ North American Premiere
Inspired by the notorious case of a young man’s 2008 murder of six Shanghai police officers, the remarkable new film from independent Chinese auteur Ying Liang focuses on the killer’s mother, as she both struggles to comprehend her son’s heinous act and is persecuted by a state that willfully ignores its own laws. Winner of the Best Director and Actress awards at the Locarno Film Festival.
CONTEMPORARY WORLD CINEMA
“3” Pablo Stoll Ward, Uruguay/Germany/Argentina North American Premiere
For Rodolfo (Humberto de Vargas), life at home feels empty and cold, as if he doesn’t belong. Meanwhile, his first wife, Graciela (Sara Bessio) and their teenage daughter Ana (Anaclara Ferreyra Palfy), are living through defining moments in their lives. Subtly, Rodolfo will try to slip back into the place he once had next to them — the one he walked away from 10 years ago. 3 is a comedy about three people and the absurd fate to which they are doomed: being a family.
“A Hijacking” Tobias Lindholm, Denmark North American Premiere
In A Hijacking, Tobias Lindholm turns his attention to a current topic: piracy at sea. The cargo ship MV Rozen is heading for harbour when it is boarded and captured by pirates in the Indian Ocean. Amongst the men on board are the ship’s cook Mikkel (Pilou Asbæk) and the engineer Jan (Roland Møller), who, along with the rest of the seamen, are taken hostage in a cynical game of life and death. With the demand for a ransom of millions of dollars, a psychological drama unfolds between the CEO of the shipping company (Søren Malling) and the Somali pirates.
“A Werewolf Boy” Jo Sung-hee, South Korea World Premiere
Summoned by an unexpected phone call, an elderly woman visits a cottage she used to visit when she was a young girl. Half a century before, she moved to a peaceful village and discovered a “wolf boy” hiding in the darkness. She recalls teaching the boy how to wear clothes, how to speak and how to write along with other human behaviours. However, when threatened, he let loose his bestial instincts and became the subject of the villagers’ fears. In order to save the life of the boy who risked his to be by her side, she left him with a promise: “Wait for me. I’ll come back for you.”
“After the Battle” Yousry Nasrallah, Egypt/France North American Premiere
Mahmoud is one of the “Tahrir Square Knights” who, on February 2, 2011 — manipulated by Mubarak’s regime — charged against the young revolutionaries. Beaten, humiliated, unemployed and ostracized in his neighbourhood near the Pyramids, Mahmoud and his family are losing their footing. It is then that he meets Reem, a young Egyptian divorcée. Modern and secular, Reem works in advertising, is a militant revolutionary and lives in a nice neighbourhood in Cairo. Their meeting will change their lives.
“All That Matters is Past” Sara Johnsen, Norway World Premiere
Reunited after years apart, childhood sweethearts William and Janne are forced to confront the dark secrets of their past-and the menacing presence of William’s pathologically jealous brother — in this haunting story from celebrated Norwegian director Sara Johnsen.
“Baby Blues” Kasia Rosłaniec, Poland World Premiere
Polish director Kasia Rosłaniec follows her controversial, irresistibly scrappy debut Mall Girls with this edgy and disarmingly frank look at teen pregnancy. Natalia is a 17-year-old mom living with her mother and son, Antos. She wanted to have a baby because it was a “cool” thing to do, and because she feels she has someone to love; someone who can love her in return. Everything changes when Natalia’s mother decides to move out, giving Natalia a chance to lead a “normal life.”
“Barbara” Christian Petzold, Germany North American Premiere
Set in East Germany in the early 1980s, the new film from renowned director Christian Petzold (Jerichow) is a suspenseful chamber piece about an accomplished Berlin physician, banished to a rural hospital as punishment, who is torn between the promise of escape across the border and her growing love for a fellow colleague — who may be planning to betray her to the secret police.
“Bwakaw” Jun Robles Lana, Philippines International Premiere
An ornery old retiree— who only came to terms with his homosexuality tragically late in life—leads an isolated existence with only his faithful dog for company, until a chance encounter offers him a final chance for happiness.
“Children of Sarajevo” Aida Begic, Bosnia-Herzegovina/Germany/France/Turkey North American Premiere
Rahima (23) and Nedim (14) are orphans of the Bosnian war. They live in Sarajevo, a transitional society that has lost its moral compass, including in its treatment of the children of those who were killed fighting for the freedom of their city. After crime-prone adolescent years, Rahima has found comfort in Islam and she hopes her brother will follow in her footsteps. Everything becomes more difficult the day Nedim gets into a fistfight at school with the son of a local strongman. The incident triggers a chain of events leading Rahima to discover that her young brother leads a double life.
“Clandestine Childhood” Benjamín Ávila, Argentina/Spain/Brazil North American Premiere
Argentina 1979. After years of exile, Juan (12) and his family come back to Argentina under fake identities. Juan’s parents and his uncle Beto are members of the Montoneros Organization, which is fighting against the Military Junta that rules the country. Because of their political activities, they are being tracked down relentlessly. His friends at school and the girl he loves, Maria, know him as Ernesto, a name he must not forget, his family’s survival being at stake. This is a story about militancy, undercover life and love.
*Brian Stewart, Senior Fellow at the Munk School of Global Affairs, is an acclaimed foreign correspondent and an expert on foreign affairs and the military. He will speak about Clandestine Childhood in an extended Q&A session, following one of the screenings.
“Comrade Kim Goes Flying” Anja Daelemans, Nicholas Bonner and Gwang Hun Kim, Belgium / North Korea / UK World Premiere
Comrade Kim Yong Mi is a North Korean coalminer. Her dream of becoming a trapeze artist is crushed by the arrogant trapeze star Pak Jang Phil, who believes miners belong underground and not in the air. Comrade Kim Goes Flying is a heartwarming story of trying to make the impossible, possible.
“The Cowards Who Looked to the Sky” Yuki Tanada, Japan World Premiere
Based on the award-winning novel of the same name, this boldly erotic yet movingly tender portrait of a group of vulnerable, variously wounded people — a depressed housewife, her high-school-aged lover, and his best friend, who is struggling to provide for himself and his senile grandmother — whose intersecting lives yield both sorrow and a fragile, yet enduring, hope for a brighter future.
“The Cremator” Peng Tao, China World Premiere
Convinced that he should not die single, lonely cremator Cao resorts to marrying a dead woman when he is diagnosed with lung cancer. The plan is complicated by the arrival of a young girl at the crematorium looking for her missing sister.
“Dead Europe” Tony Krawitz, Australia International Premiere
From the producers of Shame and Animal Kingdom, Dead Europe is a tense and moody mystery set on the turbulent streets of contemporary Europe. The film follows a young photographer named Isaac (Ewen Leslie) who — while taking his deceased father’s ashes from Australia to Greece — comes to learn that something sinister happened in his family’s past. Despite an effort to distract himself with a mix of random sex and drugs, Isaac’s world begins to unravel as he realizes that he cannot escape the ghosts of the past. Marking the long awaited second feature of Australian filmmaker Tony Krawitz, with a screenplay by Louise Fox based on the epic novel by Christos Tsiolkas, the film also stars Marton Csokas and Kodi Smit-McPhee.
“Dust” Julio Hernández Cordón, Guatemala/Spain/Chile/Germany North American Premiere
In a small Guatemalan village where many were “disappeared” during the country’s civil war, a troubled young man struggles with the memory of his murdered father — and the nearby presence of the man who turned his father in.
“Eagles” Dror Sabo, Israel World Premiere
Alienated from a society that no longer seems to have a place for them, two elderly ex-soldiers undertake a vigilante campaign against injustice and disrespect on the streets of Tel Aviv.
*Ron Levi, Director of the Master of Global Affairs at the Munk School, is an expert on global justice, and human rights regimes. He will speak about Eagles in an extended Q&A session, following one of the screenings.
“Fin (The End)” Jorge Torregrossa, Spain World Premiere
A group of old friends get together for a weekend in a mountain cabin. Years have gone by, and yet nothing seems to have changed between them. But lurking behind the laughter and stories is a murky episode from the past that continues to haunt them. A strange, sudden incident alters their plans, leaving them stranded and with no line of communication to the outside world. On their way for help, the group starts to disintegrate, just as a new natural order is unveiled.
“The Fitzgerald Family Christmas” Edward Burns, USA World Premiere
Seven adult siblings from a working-class, Irish-American family, must deal with their estranged father’s desire to return home for Christmas for the first time since he walked out on the family 20 years earlier. Family rifts emerge: the four oldest siblings were fully grown when the patriarch Big Jim (Ed Lauter) left, while the younger children never had a relationship with their father, and still feel the effects of his exit. Like with any family, Christmas brings a mixed bag of complicated family dynamics. Alliances form, old wounds are reopened or glossed over, and the possibility for a new hope and forgiveness emerge.
“Fly With the Crane” Li Ruijun, China North American Premiere
Old Ma, who believes that white cranes will carry buried dead bodies to heaven, is absolutely daunted by the idea of being cremated after death. When the government implements the practice of cremation under a mass urbanization measure, he seeks the help of his grandchildren.
“Ghost Graduation” Javier Ruiz Caldera, Spain International Premiere
Modesto is a teacher. Modesto sometimes sees dead people. Not only has this cost him a fortune at the shrink, it has also got him fired from every school he’s ever worked at. His luck changes when he lands a job at Monforte where five students have turned the prestigious school into a house of horrors. Modesto is charged with getting all five kids to pass their senior year and to get out of there once and for all…but it won’t be that easy.
“God Loves Caviar” Iannis Smaragdis, Greece/Russia World Premiere
This majestic epic tells the true-life, stranger-than-fiction tale of eighteenth-century Greek pirate turned merchant Ioannis Varvakis, who rose from humble beginnings to become the head of one of the largest mercantile empires in Europe.
“Gone Fishing” Carlos Sorin, Argentina World Premiere
Marco is a traveling salesman and a recovering alcoholic who decides to change the direction of his life after a stay at a detox center. His counselor suggests he take up a hobby as part of his treatment and Marco decides to try fishing. He then heads to Puerto Deseado during shark fishing season to find his estranged daughter, Ana.
“The Great Kilapy” Zézé Gamboa, Angola/ Brazil/Portugal World Premiere
Zézé Gamboa’s sardonic historical drama follows a good-hearted, apolitical con man who, on the eve of Angolan independence in the mid-1970s, pulls off a massive swindle at the expense of the Portuguese colonial administration — and soon after finds himself hailed as a hero of the national liberation struggle.
“Him, Here, After” Asoka Handagama, Sri Lanka North American Premiere
Returning to his community after defeat in the Sri Lankan civil war, a former Tamil rebel known only as “Him” faces hostility, suspicion and bitter recriminations in Asoka Handagama’s beautifully elegiac meditation on the aftermath of war.
*Michael Ignatieff, Senior Fellow at the Munk School of Global Affairs, is an internationally renowned writer, journalist, former politician, and expert on foreign affairs. He will speak about Him, Here, After in a Q&A session, following one of the screenings.
“The Holy Quaternity” Jan Hřebejk, Czech Republic World Premiere
Two ostensibly ordinary middle-aged couples, Marie and Vitek, and Dita and Ondra, are linked by more than just a lifelong friendship, a shared house in a small town and same-aged adolescent children: they are linked by love. Both men, Ondra and Vitek, who are work colleagues, sincerely love their wives, but they both also harbour a secret yearning for the other’s wife. When, by a stroke of fortune, the foursome finds themselves on an almost uninhabited island in the Caribbean, it’s just a matter of time before their long-suppressed feelings come out.
“Imagine” Andrzej Jakimowski, Poland/France/Portugal World Premiere
Ian, a new instructor at a well-known Lisbon clinic for the visually impaired, starts to teach spatial orientation to his international group of blind patients. For him, the keys to getting around and living a fulfilling life are the mind and the imagination — and not sensory perception. However, his methods — although successful — may prove to be too challenging.
“In The Fog” Sergei Loznitsa, Germany/Russia/Belarus/The Netherlands/Latvia North American Premiere
In this eerie, dreamlike World War II drama from Sergei Loznitsa (My Joy), a partisan suspected of being a traitor is apprehended by his comrades and taken out into the woods to be executed — but as the night fog closes in, the difference between darkness and light (and innocence and guilt) becomes ever more murky.
“In the Name of Love” Luu Huynh, Vietnam World Premiere
In this dark love triangle that proceeds with the inexorable logic of a Greek tragedy, a dedicated wife in a small Vietnamese fishing village secretly turns to another man when her husband is unable to give her the child they both crave — but the surrogate father’s crazed jealousy will have fateful consequences.
“Jackie” Antoinette Beumer, The Netherlands International Premiere
Twin sisters Sofie and Daan (33) have been raised by their two fathers. When they receive an unexpected phone call from their hitherto unknown biological mother Jackie (Holly Hunter) in the US, they embark on an amazing adventure that alters their assumptions about everything they once believed to be true. The trip with the strange and ill-adjusted Jackie will change Sofie’s and Daan’s lives for good.
“Jump” Kieron J. Walsh, Ireland/United Kingdom International Premiere
Jump follows the lives of four twenty-somethings whose lives collide one fateful New Year’s Eve in a night of fast talk, accidents and intrigue. At its heart it is a story of impossible love, a Brief Encounter for our times.
“Just the Wind” Bence Fliegauf, Hungary/Germany/France North American Premiere
A Romani family struggles to continue their simple daily routine amid the anxiety of a series of suspected racially-motivated murders of their neighbours. Just the Wind is inspired by real events, a powerful social statement from the acclaimed director of Womb, Dealer and Milky Way.
“Juvenile Offender” Yikwan Kang, South Korea World Premiere
Ji-gu is a 15-year-old juvenile offender under probation who lives with his ailing grandfather. When he is caught committing a crime, he is sent to the juvenile reformatory. Upon his grandfather’s passing, Ji-gu is reunited with his mother — whom he believed to be dead. Together they set out to make up for lost time.
“Key of Life” Kenji Uchida, Japan North American Premiere
When Kondo, a wealthy contract killer accidentally hits his head in a bathhouse, an unemployed actor named Sakurai switches their locker keys. Sakurai takes on Kondo’s identity, while Kondo, who is suffering from amnesia, assumes the impoverished life of Sakuria. The reversal of fortune becomes complicated when Sakurai finds himself embroiled in a hit gone wrong, while Kondo meets the lovely Kanae, an ambitious magazine editor who is looking for a simple, honest man to be her husband.
“Kinshasa Kids” Marc-Henri Wajnberg, Belgium North American Premiere
Kinshasa, Congo. About 30,000 children are accused of witchcraft and expelled from home. Living on the street, little José and his fellow friends, along with a crazy impresario called Bebson — all considered to be witch children — decide to form a music band to ward off bad luck. Together, they will rock Kinshasa!
“The Land of Hope” Sion Sono, Japan World Premiere
In a typical Japanese village, Yoichi Ono lives with his wife, Izumi and his parents. The Ono family lives a frugal but happy life as dairy farmers in the peaceful village. One day, the worst earthquake in history strikes, causing a nearby nuclear power station to explode. Their neighbours, who live within the range of the nuclear power station, are forcibly ordered by the government to evacuate. But the Ono family, whose property sits half in and half out of the designated range, must decide whether or not to leave their home.
“Middle of Nowhere” Ava DuVernay, USA International Premiere
What happens when love takes you places you never thought you’d go? Winner of the Best Director Award at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, Middle of Nowhere chronicles a young woman caught between two worlds, and two men, in the search for herself. Ruby, a bright medical student, sets aside her dreams when her husband is incarcerated. This new life challenges her to the very core. Her turbulent path propels her in new, often challenging, directions of self-discovery.
“Museum Hours” Jem Cohen, Austria/USA North American Premiere
A Vienna museum guard befriends a foreign visitor who has been called to Austria because of a medical emergency. The grand Kunsthistorisches Art Museum becomes an enigmatic crossroads which sparks explorations of their lives, of the city, and of the ways artworks reflect and shape the world.
“Once Upon a Time Was I, Verônica” Marcelo Gomes, Brazil/France World Premiere This film follows the reflections of Verônica, a recently graduated medical student going through a time of uncertainty. She questions not only her career choices, but also her most intimate bonding and even her ability to cope with life in contemporary urban Brazil.
“Paradise: Love” Ulrich Seidl, Austria/Germany/France North American Premiere
Perennial provocateur Ulrich Seidl (Dog Days, Import/Export) explores the politically charged issue of sex tourism in the sun-kissed “paradise” of Kenya, where a middle-aged Austrian voraciously samples the wares of the local meat market while searching for true love — the one commodity that’s not for sale in this neo-colonial bazaar.
“The Patience Stone” Atiq Rahimi Afghanistan/France World Premiere
In a country torn apart by a war, a beautiful woman watches over her husband in a decrepit room. He is reduced to a vegetative state because of a bullet in the neck. One day, the woman starts a solitary confession to her silent husband. She talks about her childhood, her frustrations, her loneliness, her dreams and her desires.
“Penance” Kioshi Kurosawa, Japan North American Premiere
Fifteen years ago, tragedy struck a small town when a young elementary school girl Emili (Hazuki Kimura) was abducted and killed by a stranger. Four girls who had been playing with Emili at the time were the first to discover her body. The abductor is never found and the crime goes unsolved. Crazed with grief, Emili’s mother Asako (Kyoko Koizumi) condemns the four girls, none of whom can remember the abductor’s face. She tells them, “Do whatever you have to find the killer. Otherwise, you can pay a penance that I approve.” Deeply affected by Asako’s condemnation, the four girls become adults burdened with the curse of “penance,” which eventually triggers a chain of tragic events.
“Peripeteia” John Akomfrah, United Kingdom/Holland World Premiere
British filmmaker John Akomfrah imagines the lives of a black man and woman who appear in a sixteenth-century drawing by German Renaissance master Albrecht Dürer.
“Road North” Mika Kaurismäki, Finland International Premiere
Timo is an esteemed concert pianist whose personal life is on the rocks. One day Timo finds an older, shabby-looking man at his door. The man, Leo, turns out to be his father who left the country when Timo was three — and hasn’t been in touch in 35 years. Leo, an eternal trickster with a positive outlook on life, had to leave his homeland thanks to a series of messy entanglements. Now he’s come back to hand over a rather mysterious legacy to his son and to answer questions regarding the past. To do this, the two will have to embark on a trip together and hit the road north.
“Shores of Hope” Toke Constantin Hebbeln, Germany International Premiere
In this vivid historical drama set in 1980s East Germany, two dockworkers and best friends who dream of escaping the repressive regime are forced to choose their loyalties when the state police promise them safe passage out of the country — if they inform on their co-workers and union leader.
“Sleeper’s Wake” Barry Berk, South Africa International Premiere
John Wraith, a man in his mid-40s, regains consciousness in hospital. His wife and daughter were killed in a car accident because he fell asleep at the wheel. He retreats to a remote coastal hamlet to heal, but finds himself embroiled in a dangerous relationship with a beautiful and unpredictable 17-year-old girl.
“Smashed” James Ponsoldt, USA International Premiere
Kate (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and Charlie (Aaron Paul) are a young married couple whose bond is built on a mutual love of music, laughter and drinking. When Kate’s drinking leads her to dangerous places and her job as a school teacher is put into jeopardy, she decides to join AA and get sober. With the help of her friend and sponsor Jenny (Octavia Spencer), and the vice principal at her school— the awkward, but well intentioned, Mr. Davies — Kate takes steps toward improving her health and life. Sobriety isn’t as easy as Kate had anticipated. Her new lifestyle brings to the surface a troubling relationship with her mother, facing the lies she’s told her employer and calls into question whether or not her relationship with Charlie is built on love or is just a boozy diversion from adulthood.
“The Thieves” Choi Dong-hoon, South Korea North American Premiere
Bullets fly, barbs are traded and old scores are settled when a Korean master criminal and his crew hightail it to Hong Kong to join his treacherous former partner on a $20 million jewel heist, in this full-throttle action caper from South Korean director Choi Dong-hoon.
“The Tortoise, An Incarnation” Girish Kasaravalli, India International Premiere
In Girish Kasaravalli’s gently philosophical character piece, a humble, low-level civil servant cast as the lead in a popular TV serial chronicling the life of Gandhi finds uncanny echoes between his own life and that of the legendary leader — and sets out to correct their mutual failings.
“Three Kids” Jonas d’Adesky, Belgium World Premiere
Best friends Vitaleme, Pierre and Mikenson are 12 years old and live in a home in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Vitaleme is haunted by his memories as a child servant and obsessed by the idea of freedom. When the town is struck by an earthquake, they find themselves on the street and have to get by on petty crime.
“Three Worlds” Catherine Corsini, France North American Premiere
Al, a young man from a modest background is about to marry his boss’ daughter and succeed him as the head of a car dealership. One night, he is guilty of a hit-and-run accident. The next day, a remorseful Al decides to inquire about his victim, not knowing that Juliette, a young woman, has witnessed the accident.
“Thy Womb” Brillante Mendoza, The Philippines North American Premiere
Shaleha Sarail is a barren woman who believes that to fulfill her husband’s greatest wish of having a son is tangible proof of Allah’s grace. She resolves to find the woman who will bear her husband a child.
“Underground” Robert Connolly, Australia World Premiere
Set in 1980s Melbourne, Underground is a riveting thriller that focuses on the teenage years of one of the most controversial figures of modern times —Wikileaks founder Julian Assange (newcomer Alex Williams in his first major role). The film follows Assange and his gang of close friends — the International Subversives as they call themselves — as they wage a battle from their bedrooms, trying to break into the computer systems of the world’s most powerful organizations. In the process, they are forced to battle authorities and eventually one another. Written and directed by Robert Connolly, the film also stars Anthony LaPaglia, Rachel Griffiths and Callan McAuliffe.
“Virgin Margarida” Licinio Azevedo, Mozambique World Premiere
Veteran filmmaker Licinio Azevedo drew on the stories of real women who endured the Mozambican “re-education camps” for this dramatic and inspiring elegy to the insurgent spirit of women across nations, histories and cultures.
“Watchtower” Pelin Esmer, Turkey/Germany/France World Premiere
Haunted by guilt over the death of his family, a man takes a job as a fire warden in a remote tower in the wilderness, and is inexorably drawn towards a young woman with a dark, terrible secret of her own.
“What Richard Did” Lenny Abrahamson, Ireland World Premiere
A high school rugby star’s life is irrevocably changed when a senseless act of violence leads to a sudden, shocking tragedy.
“When I Saw You” Annemarie Jacir, Palestine/Jordan/Greece World Premiere
Jordan, 1967: displaced in a refugee camp after the occupation of their West Bank village, an 11-year old boy and his mother enact the emancipating dream that every refugee has imagined countless times
“Zabana!” Saïd Ould-Khelifa, Algeria World Premiere
Zabana! is an impassioned, meticulously researched account of the short life of Algerian freedom fighter Ahmed Zabana, whose execution in 1956 by French colonial authorities ignited the “Battle of Algiers” — and the crucial phase of Algeria’s struggle for independence.