The Toronto Film Festival unveiled its Primetime program lineup Thursday, marking the TIFF’s second-ever television section. The five shows premiering include series from countries including the United Kingdom, Kenya, the Czech Republic and the U.S.
The five TV premieres chosen for the lineup this year include two new installments of the U.K. anthology series “Black Mirror;” the third season of Jill Soloway’s Amazon series “Transparent”; an interactive procedural crime thriller from Kenya called “Tuko Macho;” the Czech mystery miniseries “Wasteland,” about a coal-mining village facing extinction; and the previously announced “nirvanna the band the show,” the TV adaptation of Matt Johnson’s (“The Dirties”) comedy web series about a two-piece Toronto band. Primetime will once again include Q&A sessions with show creators following each screening.
Choosing just five shows for the section was particularly challenging given the quality of TV programming today, Primetime Programmer Michael Lerman told IndieWire. “We have an embarrassment of riches,” he said, adding that the two-year-old section doesn’t yet accept submissions. “Everything I’ve been doing is through discussion, solicitation, traveling the globe and meeting broadcasters to see what’s out there.”
“Tuko Macho” follows a terrorist cell in Nairobi that kidnaps criminals and puts them on trial in front of the Internet, letting the public decide whether they live or die. To determine the results each week, real viewers of the show vote online to determine which cut of the next episode will air. For TIFF, audience members will vote in real time to decide the outcome of the first episode. “It’s an ethical choose-your-own-adventure,” Lerman said. “Being able to have that level of audience interaction is really exciting.”
TIFF will similarly screen the first two episodes of the sci-fi thriller “Black Mirror,” about the dark side of life and technology. As IndieWire previously reported, the show’s shift from Channel 4 to Netflix challenged its creators to be “bigger and crazier” with its storytelling, producer Annabel Jones said during Netflix’s Television Critics Association press day last month. Episodes to be premiered include “San Junipero,” starring Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Mackenzie Davis, and “Nosedive,” which stars Bryce Dallas Howard, and Alice Eve, and was co-written by Rashida Jones and Mike Schur.
TIFF will also show three episodes from Amazon’s flagship comedy “Transparent,” the third season of which will include flashbacks to when 12-year-old Maura was not yet out as trans, and all eight episodes of “Wasteland.” The Czech mini-series follows the mayor of a coal-mining village whose daughter goes missing, prompting the entire town to embark on a search.
From a programming perspective, Lerman called the Primetime section’s very limited selection a blessing and a curse. “You can take the best of the best and have a very, very strong program, [but] there’s always inevitably a couple things that you love that you just don’t have space for,” he said.
TIFF runs from September 8 – 18.