After being struck by the pandemic the last few years, TIFF is back in full swing. And — despite the ongoing writers and actors strike — the city is buzzing as movie lovers prepare to watch a range of Canadian and international titles from an offering of over 200 selections.
The festival is usually a strong indicator of Oscar contenders and this year’s slate is just as promising: Famed filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki opens the festival with his highly anticipated animated feature The Boy and the Heron; Netflix’s Sly is the closing night selection, a documentary by Thom Zimny on Sylvester Stallone’s epic career; Tony Award–winning playwright and director George C. Wolfe’s biopic Rustin as Colman Domingo plays the activist and Taika Waititi makes his world premiere of the highly anticipated sports drama Next Goal Wins.
Several actors have taken the director’s chair and turned in buzzworthy titles at the fest, including Patricia Arquette’s Gonzo Girl, Michael Keaton’s Knox Goes Away, Ethan Hawke’s Wildcat, Anna Kendrick’s The Woman of the Hour, Viggo Mortensen’s The Dead Don’t Hurt and Chris Pine’s The Poolman.
Craig Gillespie’s Dumb Money is getting a lot of buzz – tickets for this film at TIFF have been soaring on reseller sites for almost $900. Clearly, a lack of star power on the red carpet won’t stop fans from flocking to theatres next week to celebrate the film fest.
We have put together a list of some of the most anticipated films to watch at TIFF this year.
The Boy and the Heron
Opening night film The Boy and the Heron by legendary filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki has Studio Ghibli fans excited. It’s his first feature film in ten years and it’s also the first time that an animated film is opening TIFF. The film, a likely Oscar contender, follows young Mahito Maki (Soma Santoki) during the Second World and he suffers a heartbreaking family tragedy and must move immediately to the countryside. Isolated, Mahito begins exploring the land and encounters a grey heron.
Next Goal Wins
Taika Waititi brings his signature humour and blend of emotion to tell the tale of a soccer team best known for being absolutely hopeless in Next Goal Wins, starring Michael Fassbender, Elisabeth Moss and Oscar Kightley. The film follows American Samoa soccer team’s attempt to make a World Cup — 12 years after their infamous 31-0 loss in a 2002 World Cup qualifying match.
Greg Kwedar’s new film is based on the real-life arts rehabilitation programme founded at Sing Sing Correctional Facility. Divine G (Colman Domingo) leads a troupe of incarcerated actors who work on a play as part of a theatre workshop at the prison. Domingo is already leading the award season best actor race as he was named the recipient of the Tribute TIFF Performer Award for his performance in this film.
George C. Wolfe brings Bayard Rustin’s story to life in the biopic Rustin. Colman Domingo plays the activist who organized the 1963 March on Washington while being forced into the background because of his sexuality.
Oscar nominee Ellen Kuras makes her directorial debut with Lee, starring Oscar winner Kate Winslet in this biopic of the model-turned-war photographer Lee Miller, who covered World War II for Vogue magazine.
Craig Gillespie’s film is a hilarious take on the outrageous, but true battle of wits that took place between amateur investors and hedge fund billionaires that became the infamous GameStop Wall Street scandal. Starring Paul Dano, Seth Rogen, Pete Davidson, Shailene Woodley and America Ferrera.
From writer-director Kristoffer Borgli and co-producer Ari Aster, the film sees Nicolas Cage as a professor who begins to appear in everyone’s dream. The TIFF film describes the film as “a consummate alchemist of surrealist horror and anxious comedy and proceeds as a kind of comedic reversal of A Nightmare on Elm Street.”
TIFF’s closing night film is a documentary that looks at Sylvester Stallone’s life and career from his rough beginnings in New York City to how Rocky catapulted him to a new level of stardom. Stallone will be in Toronto for his film as he sits down for an ‘In Conversation’ event at the festival.
Alexander Payne’s first film in six years is premiering at TIFF reuniting with Paul Giamatti. During winter break in 1971, Professor Hunham (Giamatti) is assigned to stay at the school and supervise the students who are unable to go home and forms a bond with one student.
Ethan Hawke makes his directorial debut exploring the life of young American author Flannery O’Connor, played by his daughter Maya Hawke. Ethan also wrote and co-produced the film. The actor/director will be attending the fest alongside Maya.
Knox Goes Away
Michael Keaton directs and stars in this crime drama about a contract killer who was diagnosed with a fast-moving form of dementia and has an opportunity to redeem himself by saving the life of his estranged adult son. The film also stars Al Pacino and James Marsden.
Anatomy of a Fall
Justine Treit’s Anatomy of a Fall won the Palme d’Or earlier this year and has some buzz going at the festival. It follows a writer whose husband is found dead in the snow and she’s put on trial after the investigation proved to be inconclusive. Her blind son is the sole witness to the crime.
Canada’s celebrated filmmaker Atom Egoyan returns with Seven Veils, reuniting with his Chloe lead Amanda Seyfried. An earnest theater director (Seyfried) has to remount her former mentor’s most famous work, the opera Salome. It is then that some disturbing memories from her past come to light and she is forced to examine it.
All photos courtesy of Toronto International Film Festival.