A pared down festival program, big name productions and a few surprises are in store for viewers at the 42nd edition of the Toronto International Film Festival. This year, 400 000 cinema buffs are expected to converge on Toronto’s Entertainment District to tip the movies that usually go on to claim Hollywood awards glory!
Canada’s dazzling red carpet showstopper has always been regarded as the first stop in the competitive sprint towards the Oscars. Ordinary Torontonians can consequently enjoy the celebrity buzz created by the likes of Angelina Jolie, George Clooney, Emma Stone and Daniel Craig but without the formality of the Oscar acceptance speeches.
What Got the Chop at TIFF 2017?
In response to criticism that the festival was getting too big and dispersed; organizers have wielded the ax to provide a slimmer, slicker and more centralized viewing experience. The main causalities are two traditional festival venues – The Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema and Isabel Bader theatre – and the edgy Vanguard and City to City programmes. The festival line-up has also been cut by 20 percent to just 255 feature films and 84 short films.
Canadian #TIFF17 Galas
Despite the scaling back, TIFF17 has signed up a glittering array of gala showings featuring the who’s who of global movie production. Oscar nominee ‘Kings’ starring Halle Berry and Daniel Craig; ‘The Mountain Between Us’ featuring Idris Elba and Kate Winslett as the sole survivors of a plane crash and the critically acclaimed ‘Mudbound’ take top billing in Toronto.
So does the war drama ‘Darkest Hour’ featuring Gary Oldman as inimitable British Statesman Winston Churchill; ‘Breathe’ a moving biographical drama portraying the struggle of a paralysed young man and ‘Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool’ a charming cross-generational romance featuring Annette Benning and Vanessa Redgrave.
Big Name Productions
Hollywood celebrities, George Clooney and Angelina Jolie feature prominently as directors in the Special Presentations category. In fact, Clooney’s ‘Suburbicon’ starring Matt Damon and Julianne Moore makes its North American premiere in Toronto.
Jolie’s biographical thriller ‘First They Killed My Father’ is a haunting movie that focuses on the Cambodian genocide by the Khmer Rouge. Other notable titles include the surrealistic psycho horror ‘Mother!’ with Jennifer Lawrence in the leading role; ‘Victoria and Abdul‘ starring Dame Judi Dench as Queen Victoria and ‘I, Tonya‘ a drama based on the real-life scandal involving US Olympic figure skater Tonya Harding and her nemesis Nancy Kerrigan.
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What to Look Out for at TIFF17
Tucked away on the Festival menu are films that portray a slightly different lived experience in countries all over the world. Feng Xiaogang’s ‘Youth’ is a cinematically beautiful film set in China in the 1970s. You’ll encounter diverse characters in a People’s Liberation Army art troupe that include dancer He Xiaoping.
‘The Number’ is set in a present day South Africa and explores the brutal gang culture of the 28s, a notorious ‘warrior’ faction of the Numbers gang. Political intrigue and back-stabbing is central to ‘The Summit’ a fast moving thriller that features behind the scenes challenges of a newly elected Argentine president.
‘Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts’ is a compelling Indonesian ‘western’ that features Mouly Surya in the title role. It’s an entertaining fem-film where the ‘victim’ comes off best! If you’ve got a penchant for off-beat psycho thrillers ‘The Killing of the Sacred Deer’ starring Colin Farrell, Nicole Kidman and Barry Keoghan is a bizarre Greek tragedy tweaked for the 21st century!
TIFF2017 Fast Facts
When: 7 – 17 September
Where: Toronto Entertainment District
Tickets: Available at the TIFF.net website