Toronto International Film Festival (6-16 September 2012)

Dramatic Features 


World Premiers (selected): 


Anna Karenina

Joe Wright


Joe Wright reunites with Keira Knightley for his film version of Tolstoy’s ‘Anna Karenina’ after the pair had collaborated in bringing ‘Pride & Prejudice’ and ‘Atonement’ to the big screen.  No doubt, it will be more of the same with a polished adaptation for the middle-aged middle-classes but little by way of innovation.  Aaron Johnson, Jude Law and Emily Watson star alongside Knightley in the title role.




Ben Affleck


A return to a time when the US was far more certain of its role on the world stage, Ben Affleck’s third feature in the director’s chair, ‘Argo’, is a dramatisation of the mission to free six American diplomats hiding at the Canadian Embassy in Khomeini’s Iran.  Affleck plays a CIA commissioned ‘extraction’ expert in a strong cast that includes Alan Arkin and John Goodman.  Expect a huge awards campaign with Affleck targeting both mainstream and art house audiences.



Cloud Atlas

Wachowski Bros and Tom Tykwer


Tom Hanks and Halle Berry lead a stellar cast that includes, amongst many others, Jim Broadbent, Ben Whishaw and Susan Sarandon for an intriguing new collaboration between the Wachowski Bros (‘The Matrix’) and Tom Tykwer (‘Run Lola Run’).  Adapted from David Mitchell’s ambitious novel of the same name, one character changes identity over time ‘Orlando-style’ taking us from the 19th century to a post-apocalyptic future that exposes the dangers of a misconceived Social Darwinism.  The current release date of October 26, six weeks ahead of Warner Bros original schedule, now coincides with the beginning of the awards season, leaving a long stretch to the Academy Awards with the obvious risk that it could lose momentum.




Laurent Cantet


It had long been rumoured that Laurent Cantet’s adaptation of Joyce Carol Oates’ novel, ‘Foxfire’, one of the most keenly anticipated films of the year, would receive its world premiere at Toronto.  Cantet’s seventh feature is a morally complex tale of teenage girls taking revenge on abusive men in 1950’s blue-collar America where the law is inadequate protection.  There is another young cast after he inspired outstanding performances from children in his previous feature, ‘The Class’, which bagged the Palme d’Or at Cannes four years ago.




Rian Johnson


Gangster and sc-fi genres merge in Rian Johnson’s time travel thriller,’Looper’, this year’s TIFF opener.  Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis and Emily Blunt, mobsters from later this century send their victims to an assassin waiting in the past.  It is Johnson’s third feature and his first since ‘The Brothers Bloom’, which also debuted at Toronto.




Dustin Hoffman


As one of the most perceptive actors of the last fifty years, it is surprising that Dustin Hoffman has taken so long in making the move to the director’s chair.  His debut feature, ‘Quartet’, based upon Ronald Harwood’s stage play of the same name, provides considerable scope for a thoughtful adaptation well suited to the big screen.  Set in a home for retired opera singers, it becomes a pretext for challenging preconceptions of old age against the backdrop of artistic temperaments that are very much alive and well.  With the added attraction of a fine cast, led by Maggie Smith and Michael Gambon, The Weinstein Company acted quickly to secure North American rights.  Peter Yates’ adaptation of another Harwood play, ‘The Dresser’, received five Academy Award nominations, including best film and director.



Song For Marion

Paul Andrew Williams


Paul Andrew Williams’ fourth feature, ‘Song For Marion’, closes this years TIFF, which The Weinstein Company will use as the launch for an award season campaign.  Terence Stamp stars alongside Vanessa Redgrave and Gemma Arterton, playing a bad tempered pensioner who changes his outlook on life after joining his wife’s choir.  Williams received a BAFTA most promising newcomer nomination for his debut film, ‘London to Brighton’.




Nick Cassavetes


Nick Cassavetes’ follow-up to ‘My Sister’s Keeper’ has co-screenwriter, Heather Wahlquist, playing a bored teacher spiralling out-of-control when her real and fantasy world’s collide.  According to the pre-screening hype – and reading between the lines – the film’s form reflects the protagonist’s frame of mind in an explosion of Surrealist experimentation.  Let’s hope that it proves to be an inventive Modernist flourish rather than a complete mess.



Venice Titles (screening at Toronto):


The Master

Paul Thomas Anderson


Paul Thomas Anderson’s much discussed new film, ‘The Master’, was a late confirmation for the main competition due to technical complications with its 70mm projection.  It is Anderson’s sixth feature and stars Philip Seymour Hoffman as a charismatic religious leader, whose emergence in Fifties America has similarities with the rise to prominence of L. Ron Hubbard.  The world premiere, which has a prime Saturday slot, will represent the first time that Anderson has competed for the Golden Lion.  (Special Presentation)



Something In The Air (Apres Mai)

Olivier Assayas (France)


Olivier Assayas semi-autobiographical follow-up to his Cannes hit, Carlos, takes place in the aftermath of the May 1968 French protests.  Clément Metayer, in his big screen debut, plays a young student conflicted between the political demands of his peers and his own artistic aspirations.  Acclaimed cinematographer, Eric Gautier (‘Into The Wild’, ‘The Motorcycle Diaries’ & ‘Wild Grass’), is also on board.  (Masters)



At Any Price

Ramin Bahrani


Ramin Bahrani returns to Venice IFF where he won the coveted FIPRESCI Prize for his last film, ‘Goodbye Solo’, which screened in the Horizons’ sidebar four years ago.  His fifth feature, ‘At Any Price’, finds mainstream family values and the American Dream in conflict when an investigation into a farmer’s business threatens his son’s motor racing career.  Dennis Quaid leads a strong cast, which includes Heather Graham and Zac Efron.  (Special Presentstion)



La Cinquieme Saison

Peter Brosens and Jessica Woodworth


Peter Brosens and Jessica Woodworth collaborate on their third feature, ‘La Cinquieme Saison’, an apocalyptical nightmare of nature in chaos, set in the depths of the Ardennes forest.  No strangers to Venice, the pair won the Luigi De Laurentiis Award (best debut film) for their festival hit, Khadak, six years ago.  Flemish actor and dancer, Sam Louwyck (‘Ex Drummer’, ‘A Day In A Life’), stars alongside Aurélia Poirier (‘The Adopted’), best known for her work on the stage.  (Wavelenghts)



Dormant Beauty (Bella Addormentata)

Marco Bellocchio


Two of the world’s finest performers, Isabelle Huppert and Toni Servillo, star in Marco Bellocchio’s philosophical new feature, ‘Dormant Beauty’ (‘Bella Addormentata’). The real life case of a woman who remained in a vegetative state for 17 years provokes diverse reactions from the film’s characters, as they play out the debate on euthanasia.  A Venice regular, Bellocchio received the career Golden Lion at last year’s edition of the festival.  (Special Presentation)



Fill the Void

Rama Burstein


Family complexities come to the fore in Rama Burstein’s debut film, ‘Fill the Void’, where a daughter must choose between duty and love in an arranged marriage drama.  Hila Feldman, who won best actress two years ago at the Jerusalem Film Festival for ‘…Be yom hashlishi’ stars alongside Razia Israeli (God’s Sandbox) and Yiftach Klein (Policeman, Noodle).  (Discovery)



E Stato il Figlio

Daniele Cipri


Daniele Cipri, who is cinematographer on Marco Bellocchio’s high profile competition entry, ‘Dormant Beauty’, also competes with his latest film as director, ‘E Stato il Figlio’, starring Toni Servillo and Giselda Volodi.  Based upon Roberto Alajmo’s novel of the same name, state compensation for an accidental Mafia killing becomes the source of serious family strife.  It is Cipri’s first film in the director’s chair since ‘La vera storia di Franco e Ciccio’, which screened at Venice eight years ago.  (Special Presentation)




Brian De Palma


One of Hitchcock’s most celebrated successors, Brian De Palma, remakes Alain Corneau’s ‘Love Crime’, an erotic thriller, which, in turn, contains many Hitchcockian influences.  So, potentially, De Palma finds a new way of exploring Hitchcock, this time mediated via a third party.  Retitled ‘Passion’, Rachel McAdams and Noomi Rapace play the business women whose mind games spiral out of control.  (Special Presentation)




Kim Ki-duk


‘Pieta’ is Kim Ki-duk’s fourth film to compete for the Golden Lion but his first since ‘3-Iron’ won the FIPRESCI Prize eight years ago.  Starring Min-soo Jo and Jung-jin Lee, a woman confronts a ruthless debt collector claiming to be his mother.  ‘Pieta’ has already provoked controversy in Kim’s native South Korea where the local censorship board awarded it a 19+ rating.  (Masters)



Outrage Beyond

Kitano Takeshi


Kitano Takeshi won the Golden Lion for ‘Hana-Bi’ fifteen years ago and his latest feature, ‘Outrage Beyond’, is his seventh to screen in the main competition.  The sequel to ‘Outrage’, which debuted at Cannes, sees a serious escalation of organised crime warfare in familiar Kitano fashion.  ‘Outrage Beyond’, which stars Kitano himself alongside Ryo Kase (‘ I Just Didn’t Do It’) and Toshiyuki Nishida (‘Gakko’, ‘Tonkô’), opens in Japan on October 6.  (Special Presentation)



Spring Breakers

Harmony Korine


Harmony Korine has been busy making shorts and segments, including his contribution to ‘The Fourth Dimension’, since ‘Trash Humpers’ three years ago.  His return to features, ‘Spring Breakers’, starring James Franco and Selena Gomez, has four college girls funding a spring vacation through crime before getting out of their depth with a drug dealer.  Korine’s debut film, ‘Gummo’, screened at Venice fifteen years ago and received a FIPRESCI Prize – Honorable Mention.  (Special Presentation)



To The Wonder

Terrence Malick


As always, Terrence Malick’s new feature, ‘To The Wonder’, is shrouded in mystery but a few quasi-teasers along the way hinted at an experimental film with a conventional plot.  Ben Affleck plays an American man who marries a European and revives a friendship with a local girl after things fall apart.  The powerful connotations of the title, no doubt explain the essence of the film – in a ‘Tree of Life’ sort of a way – but only once we have seen it.  (Special Presentation)



Brillante Mendoza

Thy Womb


Brillante Mendoza’s latest film, ‘Thy Womb’, provoked early discussion when the Metro Manila Film Festival surprisingly snubbed it.  The screening at Venice, though, will represent the second time this year that a major film festival has selected one of his features for its main competition with Berlin having given a world premiere to ‘Captive’ last February.  Both films are set in Mindanao; ‘Captive’ dramatising a true-life terrorist kidnapping and, in a change of pace, ‘Thy Womb’ focusing upon a Badjao midwife having to overcome her own infertility.  Mendoza attracted top actresses to each of the films; Isabelle Huppert for the first and Nora Aunor for the other.  It is the second time that Mendoza has competed for the Golden Lion after the nomination of ‘Grandmother’ (aka ‘Lola’) three years ago.  (Contemporary World Cinema)



The Lines of Wellington

Valeria Sarmiento


Raúl Ruiz’s widow and experienced filmmaker, Valeria Sarmiento, continued with the Chilean auteur’s last project, ‘The Lines of Wellington’, following his death last year.  Set during the Battle of Bussaco, it explores the desperate resistance to the Napoleonic invasion from multiple perspectives.  Nuno Lopes (‘Alice’ and ‘Goodnight Irene’) and Soraia Chaves (‘Call Girl’), both of whom have won best acting awards at the Portuguese Golden Globes, lead an exceptional cast that includes John Malkovich as the Duke of Wellington.  (Special Presentation)



Feature Documentaries


World Premieres:



Daniel Gordon


Experienced documentarian, Daniel Gordon, best known for ‘Crossing the Line’, which competed at Sundance five years ago, takes us back to the 1988 Seoul Olympics and ‘the dirtiest race in history’ for his latest feature documentary, ‘9.79*’.  Gordon explores the 100-metre men’s final from multiple viewpoints when Ben Johnson sensationally shocked the world after testing positive for anabolic steroids following his Gold medal win.  Gordon’s objective approach to filmmaking may have opened doors that could have remained closed to a more judgemental director.




Bartholomew Cubbins


Bartholomew Cubbins is Jared Leto’s pseudonym, which he uses for personal projects, including his feature documentary, ‘Artifact’, selected from 3,500 hours of material filmed when his band, Thirty Seconds to Mars, made their ‘This is War’ album.  The band’s high-profile legal battle with Virgin at this time should ensure an appeal beyond fans and those interested in ‘industry insider’ revelations.  Within a film context, Leto is best known for his acting performance in ‘Requiem for a Dream’.



A World Not Ours

Mahdi Fleifel


Mahdi Fleifel’s first feature documentary, ‘A World Not Ours’, following four fiction shorts over a nine-year period, explores three generations living in exile at Ain al-Hilweh, the largest Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon.  Blending historical footage and new material, Fleifel sets out to capture compelling insights into displacement as a living experience.



The Act of Killing

Joshua Oppenheimer


Mass murderers create fiction scenes to express themselves as an alternative to the usual talking heads.  This is the intriguing approach that Joshua Oppenheimer has adopted for his new feature documentary, ‘The Act of Killing’, an in-depth examination of those guilty of genocide in Indonesia.  Errol Morris, who is a long-term advocate of using unconventional documentary techniques, is on board as executive producer.  Oppenheimer is best known for his festival hit, ‘The Entire History of the Louisiana Purchase’.



As If We Were Catching a Cobra

Hala Al-Abdallah


The latest wave of features exploring the resistance to state control following the Arab Spring finds an interesting form in Hala Al-Abdallah’s new documentary, ‘As If We Were Catching a Cobra’.  With cultural action taking many guises, she focuses on artists in Egypt and Syria and their use of caricature as a weapon of expression to challenge arbitrary censorship.  It is her third film and follow-up to ‘Hey, Don’t Forget the Cumin!’ four years ago.



First Comes Love

Nina Davenport


Experienced documentarian, Nina Davenport, returns to Toronto IFF with her latest feature documentary, ‘First Comes Love’, an intimate depiction without restraint of her own ‘husband-free’ pregnancy and her reactionary family’s response to it.  Davenport is best known for ‘Operation Filmmaker’, which won best documentary at AFI Fest five years ago.



How to Make Money Selling Drugs

Matthew Cooke


Matthew Cooke makes the switch from TV director and actor to documentary filmmaker for his debut feature, ‘How to Make Money Selling Drugs’.  A satirical documentary in the vein of Morgan Spurlock uses pop culture clichés to surreptitiously expose the inadequacies of US policy in the ‘war against drugs’.  Potentially insightful interviewees include the infamous and convicted drug trafficker, “Freeway” Rick Ross, rapper Curtis Jackson, a.k.a. 50 Cent and actress Susan Sarandon.



Iceberg Slim: Portrait of a Pimp

Jorge Hinojosa


Jorge Hinojosa’s ‘Iceberg Slim: Portrait of a Pimp’ does what it says on the tin and explores the complex life of Robert Beck, a.k.a. Iceberg Slim, who started life as a pimp before becoming a successful writer of Street Lit.  His books were an important influence on hip-hop and rap performers, including Ice Cube, one of the interviewees for the documentary.  Larry Yust adapted one of his novels, ‘Trick Baby’, for a blaxploitation movie in 1973.




Simon Ennis


Simon Ennis follows his 2009 feature debut, ‘You Might As Well Live’, with a switch from comedy fiction to humorous documentary.  No stranger to Toronto IFF, which has provided world premieres to his three shorts, he now returns with the launch of ‘Lunarcy’, a warm look at various people that have dedicated their lives to idiosyncratic schemes associated with the moon.  Canadian documentary filmmaker, Ron Mann, for whom Ennis co-edited ‘Know Your Mushrooms’, is an executive producer.



Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God

Alex Gibney


One of the most keenly anticipated documentaries of the year sees Alex Gibney return to the Toronto IFF with the world premiere of ‘Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God’.  Gibney once again takes on challenging subject matter, this time the thorny issue of paedophilia  in the Catholic church.  Known for his resourcefulness in digging way below the surface and presenting his findings in a particularly engaging manner, Gibney has made some of the most important documentaries of the last decade, including ‘Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer’ and the Academy Award winner, ‘Taxi To The Dark Side’.  In a mouth-watering prospect, his ‘Wikileaks Doc’ is currently in post-production.



No Place on Earth

Janet Tobias


When Chris Nicola was exploring Ukraine cave systems almost 20 years ago, he uncovered a rusty house key and other decaying domestic objects.  It was the start of a discovery that took him back to the Second World War and the remarkable story of five Jewish families who escaped the Nazis by living in the caves for a whole  year until Russian soldiers liberated the area.  Janet Tobias’s ‘No Place on Earth’ pieces together the story, which sees four of the survivors now returning to the caves for the first time.




Andy Capper


Vice magazine editor, Andy Capper, makes his feature documentary debut with ‘Reincarnated’, which follows Snoop Dogg on a spiritual journey that changes his music and life.  The legendary gangster rapper, now known as Snoop Lion, heads off to cut a new studio album in Jamaica and embraces Rastafarianism, the island’s culture and everything Bob Marley.  Amongst the many multiple references, ‘Reincarnated’ is the name of the album.




Rob Stewart


Eco-warrior and filmmaker, Rob Stewart, follows his surprise box office hit, ‘Sharkwater’, grossing over $1.1m worldwide, with another crusading Eco-doc of even greater ambition.  The strategically named ‘Revolution’ will launch the latest campaign from his United Conservationists designed to save the world’s ecosystems.  Its theatrical rollout will start in Canada this month.



Roman Polanski: Odd Man Out

Marina Zenovich


Four years ago, Marina Zenovich’s ‘Wanted and Desired’ revisited Roman Polanski’s 1970’s underage sex scandal and his evasion of the Californian criminal justice system by hastily fleeing the country.  The US’s failed attempt to extradite Polanski after his 2009 house arrest in Zurich has prompted Zenovich’s follow-up,’Odd Man Out’, an exploration of the legal battle and the impact of the scandal on the lives of both protagonists.  Zenovich is currently filming on her next documentary focusing on comedian, Richard Pryor.



Shepard & Dark

Treva Wurmfeld


In a throwback to earlier times when letter writing was an art form, actor and playwright, Sam Shepard, and his close friend, Johnny Dark, prepare to publish their correspondence covering a forty-year period.  Making her feature debut, Treva Wurmfeld shapes this intimate material into her documentary, ‘Shepard & Dark’, to provide a potentially insightful look into their lives from an unusual angle.



The Theatrical Life of Garth Drabinsky

Barry Avrich


Twelve months ago, showbiz mogul, Garth Drabinsky, attended the Toronto International Film Festival for the world premiere of his latest production, ‘Barrymore’, starring Christopher Plummer.  Within three days, he was serving a five-year prison term after an Ontario court found him guilty of fraud in connection with the collapse of his theatrical empire.  In an ironic twist, he now  returns to Toronto for another world premiere but this time on the big screen as the focal point of the latest feature documentary from Barry Avrich, ‘The Theatrical Life of Garth Drabinsky’.  There is no shortage of celebrities having their say but Drabinsky, who has collaborated with Avrich in the past, refused to participate.



State 194

Dan Setton


Dan Setton  had unprecedented access to the Palestinian leadership for his latest documentary, ‘State 194’, which followed  Prime Minister, Salam Fayyad, in his campaign for UN recognition of Palestine statehood, the UN’s 194th state of the film’s title.  The film, in effect, becomes part of the campaign with Fayyad attending its world premiere on September 10 at the Toronto International Film Festival.  Setton is best known for his award winning ‘Mikdad: A Terrorist’s Account’ fourteen years motilium tabletsorder domperidone from canadawhere to buy motilium in the usbuy domperidone from canada

September 5th, 2012 - admin

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