Fall Festival Wishlist: The 50 Films We Hope To See in Venice, Toronto and/or Telluride

Fall Festival Wishlist: The 50 Films We Hope To See in Venice, Toronto and/or Telluride
Fall Festival Wishlist: The 50 Films We Hope See Venice, Toronto and/or Telluride

As Cannes came to a close last month, speculation and predictions immediately loomed for what was in store for the triad of major festivals of the
very early fall (or, technically, the very late summer). The 70th edition of the Venice Film Festival will run August 28 to
September 7th, while Toronto will celebrate its 38th edition September 5-15. And then of course there’s Telluride, which goes down on Labor Day

A lot of high profile films weren’t ready in time for Cannes, including new ones from Wes Anderson, George Clooney, Alfonso Cuarón, Xavier
Dolan, Atom Egoyan, Spike Lee, Terrence Malick, Steve McQueen, Kelly
Reichardt, Jason Reitman, David O. Russell, Martin Scorsese, Ridley
Scott and Lars von Trier (!). And that’s just the tip
of the iceberg.

So let the serious speculation begin: Which films will be the mammoths of the fall festival circuit? Here’s a list of 50 possibilities, all new movies that haven’t played anywhere
yet, and that Indiewire’s team hopes to see during Telluride, Venice and Toronto (including trailers when available).

“American Hustle” (directed by David O. Russell)
David O. Russell’s 1970s true story about two con artists forced to help police bring down the corrupt mayor of New Jersey is on everyone’s radar for two reasons: “Silver Linings Playbook” and Bradley Cooper’s funky new ‘do. Last year’s Russell-helmed Best Picture nominee debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival, making the Canadian festival the frontrunner for the “American Hustle” premiere. Both films have a Christmas Day release (that’s when “SLP” went wide), and you better believe “American Hustle” hopes to duplicate the box office and awards runs of “SLP.” [Ben Travers]

“Amour Fou” (directed by Jessica Hausner)
“Amour Fou” is inspired by the life and death of the German poet, dramatist and philosopher Heinrich von Kleist and his death in a double suicide with his lover Henriette Vogel. The film addresses the “ambivalence and absurdity inherent in the very concept of two people committing suicide because of their love for one another.” Christian Friedel and Birte Schnölik star as Henrich and Henriette. Directed by Austrian filmmaker Jessica Hausner, it seems like a good bet for Venice (where her previous film, “Lourdes,” premiered). [Madeline Raynor]

“August Osage County” (directed by John Wells)
Nothing coming out this fall screams Oscar quite like “August: Osage County.” Adapted from the Pulitzer Prize-winning play by Tracy Letts (who wrote the screenplay as well), the film stars none other than Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts as an extremely dysfunctional mother and daughter (alongside Chris Cooper, Ewan McGregor, Benedict Cumberbatch, Juliette Lewis and Abigail Breslin as other members of the family)). Though unless distributor the Weinstein Company is really confident festival reviews will be stellar, they might want to hold it off the circuit and wait to gather anticipation until its November release. But since this is a wishlist… [Peter Knegt]

“Captain Phillips” (directed by Paul Greengrass)
With two installments of the Bourne series under his belt, Paul Greengrass has proven his keen ability to sustain a thrill. His forthcoming film, “Captain Phillips,” is sure to be just as charged. Based on the real-life events surrounding a cargo ship hijacked by Somali pirates in 2009, the film stars Tom Hanks as the title character. It’s not Greengrass’ first time tackling real subject matter — in 2006 he directed the 9/11 dramatization “United 93.” The like-minded adventurous writing chops of Billy Ray (“The Hunger Games,” ‘State of Play”) promise some bracing action. “Captain Phillips” also stars Catherine Keener, Max Martini and John Magaro, and is set for release on the Oscar-friendly date of October 11th (which also makes a Toronto a reasonable bet). [Julia Selinger]

“The Counselor”
 (directed by Ridley Scott)
You have to go back to 2008 to find a live-action film starring Brad Pitt that didn’t premiere at a festival. That being said, that film was “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” and it was as much of an Oscar lock six months out as Pitt’s latest, “The Counselor,” is right now. Directed by the long time Oscar snubee Ridley Scott, the thriller co-starring Michael Fassbender is the first original screenplay from Pulitzer Prize-winning author Cormac McCarthy. Every name I just mentioned screams Oscar, especially in 2013 for various reasons. With a plum November 15 release date and plenty of buzz factors, “The Counselor” may not need any early exposure. Still, we can dream. [Ben Travers]

“The Dallas Buyers Club” (directed by Jean-Marc Vallée)
Considering how few major American narrative films have tackled HIV/AIDS
history — especially in the past decade — it’s a little unnerving on the surface to see one finally arrive that tackles the
epidemic, and from the perspective of a womanizing, homophobic
man who, in 1986, was diagnosed with full blown HIV/AIDS. The real-life
story sees him come to terms with his homophobia through his experiences
smuggling alternative medicine with an HIV positive transexual woman
(played by Jared Leto) — which could prove a bit trying if it overdoes a
tolerance theme. But the director (Quebec’s Jean-Marc Vallée, who made
“C.R.A.Z.Y.”), and the cast (Matthew McConaughey plays the lead) are
promising enough to make us have hope this doesn’t turn into a
“Philadelphia” for the 2010s. And given the director’s nationality and its award season hopes, we’ll likely find out for sure in Toronto [Peter Knegt]

“Devil’s Knot” (directed by Atom Egoyan)
Considering Atom Egoyan’s Canadian roots, a Toronto premiere seems to be a lock for his latest film, a crime drama based on the infamous “West Memphis Three” 1993 trial involving the incarceration of a trio of teenagers for the murder of three children. The convicted teens were released after the case was reopened in 2010. Showing at Venice would be a first for the director, who has been something of a semi-regular at Cannes with his past work. But with the film’s substantial star power, including Reese Witherspoon and Colin Firth, a visit to the Lido could be a viable way for “Devil’s Knot” to gain exposure and build even more awards buzz prior to its yet-to-be-announced fall release date in the US. [Clint Holloway]

Diana” (directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel) and “Grace of Monaco” (directed by Olivier Dahan)
These dueling tales of contemporary, beloved princesses are both slated for year-end releases, and one or both could pop up at a fall festival (though both seem more
like Toronto fare than anything else). Starring BFFs Naomi Watts and Nicole Kidman as
Princess Diana and Princess Grace, respectively, each film takes on a
specific period in its subject’s life. For Diana, it’s the two years
leading up to her untimely death in 1997. For Grace, it’s a crisis of
marriage and identity during a dispute between Monaco’s Prince Rainier
III and France’s Charles De Gaulle and a looming French military
invasion of the principality in the early 1960s. Get ready for the award season battle of the Australian actresses playing princesses? [Peter Knegt]

“The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: His & Hers
(directed by Ned Benson)
Perhaps the most fascinating project of the fall is Ned Benson’s feature debut as a writer and director, “The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: His.” Or perhaps the most fascinating project is “The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Hers.” Oh, shoot. Let’s just call it a tie. After all, they’re essentially the same film. Benson’s script for “Eleanor Rigby” appeared on the Black List — not a surprise, by any means, considering the film tells the same story from two different perspectives. Starring James McAvoy and Jessica Chastain as the doomed “him” and “her” of the films’ titles, expect this to play some sort of festival this fall. Details are scant, but it has too many big names (William Hurt, Viola Davis and Bill Hader) to stay hidden for long. [Ben Travers]

“The Double” (directed by Richard Ayoade)
Actor/director Richard Ayoade’s follow up to his sleeper-hit comedy “Submarine” sees him going into similar territory, featuring Jesse Eisenberg as a man whose life is thrown off of balance by the appearance of a doppelgänger. With “Submarine” having shown at Toronto in 2010, the festival seems like a sold fit for the film, which has not yet announced an official release date. Screening at Telluride right before may also be in the cards for the film, which co-stars Mia Wasikowska and Wallace Shawn. [Clint Holloway]

“An Enemy” and “Prisoners” (both directed by Denis Villeneuve).
looks like the fall festival circuit could feature a lot of both
Denis Villeneuve and Jake Gyllenhaal. French-Canadian director Denis
Villeneuve (“Incendies”) is doubling down with Jake for the former’s English-language debuts “Prisoners” and “An Enemy.” The first is a Black List project that has been kicking around since 2009 and has
finally been given a release date for September 20th (meaning it’s primed  to hit Toronto, especially given the director is Canadian). Also starring Hugh Jackman, Maria Bello, Terrance Howard,
Viola Davis, Melissa Leo and Paul Dano, the film revolves around a
carpenter named Keller Dover (Jackman) whose young daughter and friend
are kidnapped. Though Detective Loki (Gyllenhaal) is assigned to the
case, it is a matter of time before Dover takes matters into his own
hands.  “An Enemy,” meanwhile, is based on José Saramago’s novel “The Double” (oddly enough the name of the previous film on his list) and follows a
man who rents a movie to find that one of the minor characters is his exact
double. Both men are played by Gyllenhaal as the dual characters’
lives become intertwined. Like “Prisoners,” the film
boasts an impressive supporting cast, with Melanie Laurent, Isabella
Rossellini, and Sarah Gadon co-starring. Will both debut in Toronto? They both seem like they’re ready. [Julia Selinger]

“Enough Said” (directed by Nicole Holofcener)
It’s been three
years since Nicole Holofcener’s lovely previous feature “Please Give”
(though she’s directed episodes of “Parks & Recreation” and
“Enlightened” in between), and her latest — as yet untitled — has been
good to go since the spring (it had very well received test screening
back then). And while the director often is a Sundance staple, the
timing seems right for Toronto this time around. If so, look for
Catherine Keener (who has starred in all of her films), Toni Collette,
Julia Louis-Dreyfus and the late James Gandolfini in the story of
divorced woman who learns her new love interest is her new friend’s
ex-husband. [Peter Knegt]

“The Fifth Estate”
(directed by Bill Condon)
With its controversial subject matter and an impressive supporting cast, “The Fifth Estate” has been the subject of much anticipation. The film tells the tale of WikiLeaks co-founders Julian Assange and Daniel Domscheit-Berg, played by Benedict Cumberbatch and Daniel Bruhl. Cumberbatch in particular is sure to draw fans from his work in “Sherlock” and “Star Trek” (though we’ll have to see what they think of his bleached blonde mop). The cast also includes Dan Stevens, Alicia Vikander, Carice Van Houten, Anthony Mackie, Stanley Tucci, Laura Linney and Peter Capaldi. The screenplay, penned by Josh Singer (“The West Wing”), is based on the books “Inside WikiLeaks: My Time With Julian Assange At The World’s Most Dangerous Website” by Domscheit-Berg and “WikiLeaks: Inside Julian Assange’s War On Secrecy” by British journalists David Leigh and Luke Harding. It’s set for release in October, seemingly clinching it to launch a month earlier on the circuit.  [Julia Selinger]

“Foxcatcher” (directed by Bennett Miller)
Both of Bennett Miller’s features have played the festival circuit, and both were shown at TIFF. It then would be reasonable to assume we would get to see his latest film there as well, right? Not so fast. We haven’t seen so much as a glimpse of “Foxcatcher,” the true story of Olympic Wrestling Champion Mark Schulz and his brother Dave Schultz who was murdered by paranoid schizophrenic John duPont. Mark Ruffalo plays Dave. Steve Carell plays John. And Channing Tatum stars as Mark. If that’s not a cast to market early and often, I don’t know what would be. That being said, many of this year’s distributors have learned its best not to let your Oscar bait peak too early. Perhaps Columbia Pictures plans to let the film speak for itself. [Ben Travers]

“Gravity” (directed by Alfonso Cuarón)
The brief snippets we’ve gotten of “Gravity” do nothing but whet our appetites all the more for Alfonso Cuarón’s first film since “Children of Men.” I don’t think there’s anyone who saw the haunting teaser for the science fiction space opera and isn’t dying to know what happens to an adrift Sandra Bullock. Will fellow astronaut George Clooney save her? How? Did he ever survice the crash? While “Gravity” already has an October 4 release date scheduled, its director is no stranger to the festival circuit. “Children of Men” and “Y Tu Mama, Tambien” both showed at the Venice Film Festival. Could “Gravity” as well? Hopefully all of these questions will be answered soon. [Ben Travers]

“The Grand Budapest Hotel
” (directed by Wes Anderson)
Wes Anderson returns to globe-trotting mode with this Germany-set story centered in a posh European hotel and revolving around the theft of a Renaissance painting and a much-desired family fortune, all unfolding behind a high-rolling concierge played by Ralph Fiennes. Anderson has said that great screwball comedy director Ernst Lubitsch served as inspiration for the zippy narrative, but on paper the project sounds distinctly Andersonian. Just look at that ensemble cast: Jason Schwartzman, Owen Wilson and Bill Murray are all prominently featured (of course), but the movie also features versatile performers like Jude Law, Harvey Keitel, Tom Wilkinson and Saoirse Ronan. The movie marks Anderson’s return to Fox Searchlight, which didn’t handle last year’s “Moonrise Kingdom” but worked on his two previous features, “The Darjeeling Limited” and “Fantastic Mr. Fox.” Considering those titles as a unit, it’s clear that nobody marries quirk with charm better than Anderson, but his real accomplishment is making us look beyond the excessive style to see the emotion beneath the chic surface. The main ingredients in “The Grand Budapest Hotel” promise more of the same — always a reason for excitement. [Eric Kohn]

“Her” (directed by Spike Jonze)
The next film from Spike Jonze stars Joaquin Phoenix as a writer who falls in love with his female-voiced operating system in this sci-fi/romance hybrid. Some of Hollywood’s most greatest actresses round out the cast of possible “Hers” — including Amy Adams, Scarlett Johansson, Rooney Mara, Samantha Morton and Olivia Wilde. Word has not been released about their specific characters. This will be Jonze’s first film since “Where the Wild Things Are” in 2009, and is set for a November 20 release. Whether it hits the festival circuit first remains to be seen, but we’ll sure be excited if it does [Madeline Raynor]

“Knight of Cups,” The Film Formerly Known As “Lawless” and “Voyage of Time” (all directed by Terrence Malick)
As usual, we don’t know when we’ll get to see the next film from Terrence Malick or what it will even be about. In this period of patience, though, we’re not waiting for him to finish a film. We’re waiting on three. The press-shy director has three projects brewing. “Knight of Cups” — with Christian Bale and Natalie Portman — seems like the frontrunner for the finish line, but anything could happen knowing the editing habits of Mr. Malick. We’re just hoping we get to see one make the festival rounds. [Ben Travers]

“Labor Day” (directed by Jason Reitman)
Jason Reitman had always premiered his films at Toronto’s main event (in the Ryerson Theater to be specific), until he his last feature “Young Adult” broke the trend.  Will it return for his latest, an adaptation of Joyce Maynard’s book “Labor Day”? We’ll find out soon enough, but if it does we’re in for a very promising cast including Kate Winslet, Josh Brolin and Tobey Maguire aiding Reitman in telling the story of depressed single mom who — along with her 13-year-old son — gives a ride to a bleeding man who ends up being an escaped convict. Paramount is releasing the film in theaters on Christmas Day, but perhaps the week after its titular holiday we’ll get a sneak peak in Toronto? [Peter Knegt]

“Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom” (directed by Justin Chadwick)
There has been no shortage of films about the life of Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s first black, democratically elected president. But not only is this incarnation based on Mandela’s autobiography, “A Long Walk to Freedom,” but producer Anant Singh had been in talks with Mandela back when he was still in prison. Singh acquired film rights to the book in 1996 when it was published, and now the film has come to fruition. Idris Elba (“Prometheus,” “The Wire”) stars as Nelson Mandela, and Naomie Harris (“Skyfall”) stars as his wife, Winnie. The biopic will highlight Mandela’s childhood, coming of age, education, and 27 years in prison. The Weinstein Company is handling, and they might want to give the film a festival launch a la some of their recent Oscar fare (“Silver Linings”). [Madeline Raynor]

(directed by Kim Ki-duk)
Fresh from his Venice Film Festival win for the grotesque family drama “Pieta,” Korean provocateur Kim Ki-duk is back with another characteristically unsettling drama that revolves around incest. Already, the director has reportedly fiddled with 21 scenes from the movie after the Korean rating board gave the film a restricted rating. Despite Kim’s tendency to push boundaries with extreme violence and sexuality, the director tends to take an artful approach to his subject matter that pushes it beyond pure shock value. “Moebius” is said to involve a man who sleeps with his mother after dealing with a frustrating upbringing — and also involves the amputation of a certain very sensitive body part. Clearly not for everyone, “Moebius” is still certain to get people talking, as Kim’s films tend to do. Those up for another dose of the old Kim ultraviolence are likely to be satiated with this effort. [Eric Kohn]

“The Monuments Men”
(directed by George Clooney)
Though it may seem somewhat unlikely George Clooney’s latest star-studded project makes a festival run before its December 18 release date, there is one bit of hope for those unable to wait for the Matt Damon, Cate Blanchett and Bill Murray-starring historical art caper. The film is backed by Smokehouse Pictures, the production company founded by Clooney and writing partner Grant Heslov, the same duo that sent “Argo” on a festival tour prior to its long theatrical run and eventual Best Picture victory. Perhaps they’ll follow the successful formula one more time and let us see “The Monuments Men” at Telluride or Toronto. [Ben Travers]

“A Most Wanted Man” (directed by Anton Corbijn)
Anton Corbijn seems eager to please after the critic-approved but audience-denied thriller “The American” failed to spark any box office or awards season fires. “A Most Wanted Man” is not just an adaptation of popular author John le Carre’s 2008 novel. It also sports a cast of likable and awards-friendly thespians including Rachel McAdams, Robin Wright, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Willem Dafoe. The film is scheduled for a November 22 release in the UK, but has yet to land a date stateside. Could it get an awareness boost with a plum festival spot at VIFF, TIFF or Telluride? We can only wait and hope. [Ben Travers]

“Night Moves” (directed by Kelly Reichardt)
Reichardt has
repeatedly delivered some of the most thoughtful American independent
films in recent years, starting with “Old Joy,”
which followed with “Wendy and Lucy” and “Meek’s Cutoff.” Each movie
starts with rather basic scenarios — a weekend getaway, a missing dog, a
minimalist western — and develops them into profound explorations of
personal yearning. While Reichardt has repeatedly worked with Michelle
Williams, the trio of big names associated with this particular project
certainly attest to her current clout, while the premise about a trio
of environmentalists planning to blow up a bomb sounds exactly like the
simple plots that Reichardt always manages to infuse with new life.
Additionally, her films tend to be attuned to the relationship between
man and nature, so the theme is a familiar one for fans of oeuvre. [Eric

“Nymphomaniac” (directed by Lars von Trier)
It feels a little funny to include this on a “wish list,” considering Lars von Trier’s latest cinematic assault sounds a lot like art house porn, but the inflammatory director certainly knows how to build buzz around his films, hence the heightened interest. First came the announcement of the film’s taboo sexual material, followed by Shia LaBeouf’s implication that he would be performing the acts “for real.” Now we know the actual sex scenes will feature body doubles for the more intimate moments with the bodies of the actors and stunt doubles superimposed in post-production. The website for the two-part film has provided a chapter list for the film and is promising “more to come” on June 28. What “more” there is remains unclear, but you better believe von Trier will make it newsworthy. [Ben Travers]

“Oldboy” (directed by Spike Lee)
Not a scene has been seen of Spike Lee’s remake of Park Chan-wook’s Cannes Grand Prix-winning 2003 thriller, yet expectations are fairly lofty considering the high regard film fans hold for the original (and who took over the remake). Lee has assembled an intriguing cast, including Josh Brolin in the lead role as a man kidnapped and imprisoned for 20 years (five longer than the original film), released freely into the world, and given no explanation for either. Elizabeth Olsen co-stars along with Samuel L. Jackson, Sharlto Copley (“District 9”), and Lance Reddick (“The Wire,” “Fringe”). Lee’s last two features opened at Sundance (“Red Hook Summer”) and TIFF (“Miracle at St. Anna”), so there’s a reasonable shot we’ll see “Oldboy” show at a festival before its October 25 release in the U.S. [Ben Travers]

“Out of the Furnace” (directed by Scott Cooper)
Christian Bale is searching for his younger brother in Scott Cooper’s star-studded thriller, “Out of the Furnace.” Casey Affleck, Zoe Saldana, Woody Harrelson, Forest Whitaker, Sam Shepard and Willem Dafoe round out the impressive cast in what will be the director’s second film. His first, “Crazy Heart,” earned his leading man an Oscar. Considering we haven’t seen one shot of Cooper’s flick, it’s impossible to say if Bale is primed to earn his second gold statue. But that’s all the more reason to hope it hits a festival sooner rather than later. [Ben Travers]

“Parkland” (directed by Peter Landesman)
The last star-studded JFK biopic to hit screens was Emilio Estevez’s “Bobby” in 2006. The film premiered at the Venice Film Festival and then played at Toronto before its limited theatrical rollout in November. Despite clever, awards-baiting scheduling, “Bobby” was a critical and commercial flop. Surely Peter Landesman has higher hopes for “Parkland,” a film set at the Dallas hospital JFK was rushed to after being shot, his film may follow the same path to theaters. If it catches a couple of early fall festivals, it could hit theaters in time for the 50th anniversary of JFK’s assassination. [Ben Travers]

“Philomena” (directed by Stephen Frears)
It’s hard to tell what will happen with a Stephen Frears film. The Oscar-nominated director of “The Queen” and “High Fidelity” has seen the other side of the coin more recently with the critical and commercial flop, “Lay the Favorite.” Nevertheless, when Helen Mirren’s iconic performance carried her film to multiple Oscar nods in 2006, the journey of “The Queen” began at the Venice Film Festival. Will Frears’ latest effort mirror its path with its own Academy-friendly leading lady in Judi Dench? The drama co-starring and co-written by British comedian Steve Coogan seems like an odd fit for Oscar, but Dench has proven she can take just about anything and spin it into gold. [Ben Travers]

“The Railway Man” (directed by Jonathan Teplitzky)
In “The Railway Man,” Australian filmmaker Jonathan Teplitzky’s latest, Colin Firth plays real-life army officer Eric Lomax. Based on Lomax’s memoir, the film tells the tale of the Scottish lieutenant’s suffering at the hands of Japanese soldiers during World War II when he is shipped off to a camp in Thailand. It isn’t until years later that the PTSD-inflicted Lomax, at the behest of his wife (played by fellow Aussie Nicole Kidman), seeks closure from his former captor. While there is no release date yet, “The Railway Man” should be a shoo-in for TIFF if its ready, where Teplitzky’s film “Burning Man” premiered in 2011. [Julia Selinger]

“The Rover” (directed by David Michod)
Toronto seems a safe bet for director David Michod’s follow-up to 2010’s “Animal Kingdom,” a crime drama taking place in the Australian desert in the near future that sees Guy Pearce and Robert Pattinson teaming up to track down the gang of thieves that stole Pearce’s car. The setting automatically gives off “Mad Max” vibes, which could make it unlikely to show up at Venice, unless they’re interested in adding some counter-programming to their normally straight-laced lineup. [Clint Holloway]

“Rush” (directed by Ron Howard)
In a follow-up to “Frost/Nixon,” Ron Howard and Peter Morgan reteam for a biopic of the Formula 1 champion racer Niki Lauda centered around his 1976 near-death crash. Daniel Bruhl stars as Lauda alongside Chris Hemsworth as his rival James Hunt. When Lauda recovers, Hunt must prepare himself for his opponent’s resurgence while sporting a guilty conscience after the crash. “Rush” will be released September 20, making a Toronto kick-off a few weeks earlier a safe bet. [Madeline Raynor]

(directed by Shane Salerno)
This film has been shrouded in buzz and speculation, just like the famously reclusive author it attempts to capture. The talking head documentary will look at J.D. Salinger’s life after he went into seclusion following the publication of “The Catcher in the Rye,” the seminal novel that young people everywhere have looked to for a (sometimes grim) philosophy on life. Salinger retreated from the world to a New Hampshire cabin, from which he wrote a tantalizing amount of fiction that he withheld from publication. Salinger passed away in 2010, raising controversy about whether the public would have access to his hidden body of work. The film is said to be filled with secrets and revelations about the author’s deeply private life, including the reveal of “the biggest secret of his lifetime.” The countdown to the revelation is on, with the film premiering September 6. [Madeline Raynor]

(directed by Susanne Bier)
Susanne Bier’s Depression-era drama has one major hook: its two leads. The film is the second on our list and the second expected in 2013 (“American Hustle” is the other) to co-star Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper, an extremely attractive couple following the success of “Silver Linings Playbook.” Yet we shouldn’t forget Bier directed “In a Better World,” which won the Best Foreign Language Oscar in 2010, “Thing We Lost in the Fire,” and the original “Brothers” (2004). She’s an intriguing filmmaker who will undoubtedly leave just as much of a mark on “Serena” as her two young leads. [Ben Travers]

“Snowpiercer” (directed by Bong Joon-ho)
For his English language debut, Korean director Bong Joon-ho (“The Host”) has assembled a killer cast for his futuristic thriller. Chris Evans, Jamie Bell, Octavia Spencer, Tilda Swinton, Ewan Bremner, John Hurt, Ed Harris, Song Kang-ho and Go Ah-sung co-star as passengers on a class-divided train who make up the only survivors on Earth in AD 2031. The film is adapted from the French graphic novel “Le Transperceneige.” No U.S. release date is set yet. [Madeline Raynor]

(directed by Guy Maddin)
Canadian filmmaker Guy Maddin’s best work owes a major debt to silent cinema, so it was only a matter of time before he acknowledged its history. While Maddin has made his own silent films in the past, “Spiritismes” promises something different: a series of recreations of silent films that have been lost due to the lack of proper restoration efforts over the years. Maddin has talked about “Spiritismes” as a séance that rejuvenates dead movies, an entrancing concept in tune with his poetic approach to cinematic experiences. It’s also, in its own unique way, a form of creative advocacy that highlights the need to keep track of film history. [Eric Kohn]

“Tom at the Farm” (directed by Xavier Dolan)
Xavier Dolan returns both in front of and behind the camera with his fourth
feature film, and his first adaptation.  A take on Michel Marc
Bouchard’s play “Tom à la Ferme,” the story follows Tom (Dolan), a man
coping with the death of his boyfriend. When he heads to meet the
deceased’s family at their rural farm, it becomes clear his mother was
not aware of her son’s relationship with Tom (or his sexual
orientation), and things spiral out of control. Dolan fans are surely
already counting the minutes, and for once it won’t be the minutes to Cannes. Dolan is taking the fall festival route this time around, and while his native Canadian festival stop Toronto seems like a given, a Venice premiere first should not be ruled out.  [Peter Knegt]

“Twelve Years a Slave” (directed by Steve McQueen)
British director Steve McQueen first gained serious
critical acclaim in 2007 for his tense prison drama “Hunger,” which he
followed up with the 2011 drama “Shame,” an unnerving portrait of sex
addiction. Here, he adapts Solomon Northup’s remarkable account of being
kidnapped and sold into slavery for a dozen years in the middle of the
19th century. The material is inherently suspenseful and harrowing,
since Northup provides a detailed account of slavery’s brutal nature in
the Deep South. But it’s Fassbender’s penchant for creating disquieting
atmosphere that’s well positioned to make this spectacular survival tale
come to life and possibly provide one of the more accurate recreations
of slavery life in America. (Take that, “Django Unchained.”) It also
could provide a bigger showcase for Ejiofor, a great underrated
character actor. [Eric Kohn]

“The Two Faces of January” (directed by Hossein Amini)
Based on the novel of the same name by Patricia Highsmith, “The Two Faces of January” marks the directorial debut of “Drive” scribe Hossein Amini. It follows a an American couple (Viggo Mortensen and Kirsten Dunst) who meet and are charmed by a local tourist guide (Oscar Isaac), eventually pulling him into a complicated web of crime and deceit. While a Toronto premiere is likely, the film’s sumptuous locations and starry cast could a make it an appealing prospect to unveil at Venice as well. [Clint Holloway]

“Under the Skin” (directed by Jonathan Glazer)
Jonathan Glazer’s last two films, “Sexy Beast” and “Birth,” both generated buzz from the festival circuits, even if the latter didn’t earn a ton of positive word. Surely his new star Scarlett Johansson expects a better fate for “Under the Skin,” a science fiction film about an alien in human form who goes on a journey through Scotland. The unique premise as well as Johansson should certainly appeal to festival programmers. Glazer’s film could land anywhere, but it’s certainly expected somewhere. [Ben Travers]

“Welcome To New York” (directed by Abel Ferrara)
Decades after first establishing his grimy vision of New York City dramas, Abel Ferrara remains one of the most compelling underground filmmakers in the world. While his recent movies haven’t received the U.S. distribution they deserve, in recent years Ferrara has produced some of the more fascinating contemporary portraits of vulgar New Yorkers in “Go Go Tales” and the apocalyptic “4:44 Last Day on Earth,” not to mention the amusingly slapdash documentary “Chelsea on the Rocks.” It’s only fair that one of the great chroniclers of sleazy urban life would take a crack at one of the great recent sleazy New York stories — the exploits of Dominique Strauss-Kahn and a certain hotel maid in a midtown hotel. Ferrara’s apparently loose treatment of the material gives a starring role to Gerard Depardieu (who else?) opposite Jacqueline Bisset, which sounds like a match made in cinephile heaven for Ferrara fans. You could title nearly any Ferrara movie “Welcome to New York,” and the label here suggests another seminal entry in a filmography that never lost its sultry appeal. [Eric Kohn]

“White Bird in a Blizzard” (directed by Gregg Araki)
Gregg Araki appears to be returning to the serious territory of his acclaimed “Mysterious Skin” with his new film “White Bird in a Blizzard.” Adapted from Laura Kasischke’s novel, the film details a young woman’s life as its thrown into chaos due to her mother’s disappearance. Starring Eva Green, Shailene Woodley, Angela Bassett, Shiloh Fernandez and Gabourey Sidibe, it features a remarkable cast and could mark another surprising turn in the now 25-year career of Araki (whose last film, 2010’s “Kaboom,” was seen as a throwback to his less serious roots). And considering it finished filming in January, it seems like Venice and/or Toronto seem like good bets for us to find out. [Peter Knegt]

“The Wolf of Wall Street” (directed by Martin Scorcese)
I don’t think anyone expects Martin Scorcese’s latest big budget collaboration with Leonardo DiCaprio to premiere anywhere before its prime November 15 release date, but this is a wish list and we really want to see it. As if we needed more than just those two names to get excited for this sure-fire Oscar contender, the first trailer featured Leo popping-and-locking like a mad man to Kanye West’s “Black Skinhead,” Matthew McConaughey pulling a Tarzan at a swanky Manhattan restaurant, and Jonah Hill spouting what can already be named Accent of the Year. Scorcese’s last narrative feature, “Hugo,” did debut at the New York Film Festival in October before its November release, so I guess there’s a shred of hope we’ll get to see Leo & Co. a bit early. Here’s hoping. [Ben Travers]

“The Young & Prodigious T.S. Spivet”
(directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet)
French filmmaker Jean-Pierre Jeunet tackles Americana in “The Young & Prodigious T.S. Spivet,” about a brainy young boy who leaves his Montana ranch to receive an award at the Smithsonian Institute for his invention. What ensues is the kind of zany and dazzling display of visuals that many have come to expect from the “Amélie” director. Venice, Toronto and/or Telluride audience could be in for a treat. [Clint Holloway]

“The Zero Theorem”
(directed by Terry Gilliam)
If anyone makes films meant to play at festivals, it’s Terry Gilliam. The director of unique and sometimes bizarre features like “Tideland,” “The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus” and “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” is back with “The Zero Theorem,” a drama about a computer hacker searching for the reason for human existence. His quest is continually interrupted by the “Management,” who send a people to distract him. Matt Damon, Christoph Waltz and Tilda Swinton star in what certainly sounds like a return to “Brazil”-like territory for the veteran filmmaker. It’s nailed down 2013 release dates abroad, but has yet to land one in the U.S. Perhaps it’s time for Terry to hit the festival circuit one more time. [Ben Travers]

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