Why Film Awards Are Still Important
As Oscar season wakes up from its long nap, there are yet still more voices, every day more voices, flooding the niche. Can the niche hold? It seems as though the beast that is the “Oscar blogger” has not scaled back – most film bloggers and journalists are now Oscar bloggers somehow. It’s the contest, no, it’s the movies. No, it’s the celebrity, no, it’s the movies. No, it’s the excitement. No, it’s being right. No, it’s the movies. It’s the movies. It’s always about the movies. Isn’t it?
Although it’s still early yet, Venice and Toronto are right around the corner. Twitter has spun the spindle even tighter so that now, instead of one sentence judgment calls on films like District 9 and the Avatar footage, we’re going to get one sentence conclusions, those of us choosing to read, on films we’ve all been waiting to see. If you think it was a pointless, shallow practice before, just wait until Twitter chews it up nice and bloody. On the other hand, the immediacy of the event will be heard, experienced, in real time to give followers a taste of what it is like to discover films that could be this year’s Oscar contenders, just as it also will give us a taste of which films will not.
However, it is important, I think, to put it all in perspective. A Toronto call is like any other: it depends on whose making the call, what their general life experience is and what kind of taste they have. If you put yourself in a room with five of your friends and you asked them what movies released in a given period they liked, chances are you’d get varying answers depending on what each person felt was most important. Some just want to be entertained. Some want to be provoked, irritated, changed. Some want to feel something, to cry. And of course if there is that one movie they all loved equally, that’s your Oscar winner, or your nominee. So remember, it isn’t ever one person’s impression (although it helps if that person happens to be someone like Kenneth Turan or Roger Ebert), but a group consensus is what you’re looking for if you’re hunting down Oscar best picture contenders.
Festival goers do not reflect the general reality of the average film-goer – they are being rushed from screening to screening, where they are being asked to decide the award-worthiness of a film and it becomes like a pass/fail test, a coin toss. Film-going is such a personal, subjective experience. You aren’t buying cars or picking the best horse for the race. Ideally, you sit back and let it wash over you. In real life, you do this without great expectations. When you’re an awards watcher it all becomes about whether the film lives up to its promise or whether it fails and its failure, again, is so subjective — its success such a matter of personal opinion, all at once we are caught up in an endless cycle of the Emperor’s New Clothes. This person doesn’t feel anything. He tells everyone else this. They agree that they didn’t feel anything – ergo, the movie is bad. Vice versa, they are “rocked to their core,” and that enthusiasm is catchy.
Before you know it, a masterpiece is born. But here’s the dirty little secret: nobody ever really knows for sure. Time proves a film’s greatness or lack of, but that’s the one thing we don’t have in the four months of Oscar: time.
With this year being so wide open, though, expect there not to be such snap judgment calls. That anyone is even mildly considering District 9 (even if it is only this site and Peter Bart) proves that this year means not closing the circle but opening it. With so many films coming to Toronto this year it would be a great time to be there. People aren’t going to be as quick to say yay or nay because they know that there are five more likely spots where there are no rules defined – it won’t necessarily be the “Oscar movies” that get picked. Maybe it will just come down to good movies or bad movies.
And then there are the egos. We are lucky we have Nancy Kriaparos [email] covering this year’s festival for us. She won’t be seeing everything, she won’t be attending every event, but she has a thoughtful way of experiencing the festival. I’m looking forwarding to what she has to say. I have to admit, though, I am preparing myself for the part of Toronto that is always difficult to deal with. With so many more outlets covering Oscar on the web, there are going to be, this year, double the amount of predictions, coverage, snap judgments, etc. The reason I don’t go, and I plan to one day, is that I have a kid who is always starting school right around the same time. In the world of important things and unimportant things, the kid thing trumps all. When you’re a single parent you have to always be there.
I plan to watch it unfold on Twitter, and I’ll probably read as much of the stuff as I can, especially if it’s spoiler-free, but I’ll try to remember, as we go along, that this kind of thing doesn’t mean finding a winner. Not really.
It comes back to the films. It comes back to acknowledging and remembering the artists who took chances and the magic happened. Everyone is going to have a different idea of what these movies are.¬†¬† Chances are In the Loop will be forgotten. As it is, no one else is really even talking about it, not that that matters much. It’s a film that has to be seen a few times in order to appreciate all of the dialogue – but you aren’t going to find better written dialogue, I don’t think, in any film this year.
Here at Awards Daily we’re hoping to remain with our sights fully trained on the good films, the best of the year. That is really the key to the Oscar puzzle after all. It isn’t about blind guessing based on the names involved. Find the good stuff first and work backwards from there.
And so it begins.
Let’s look at the Toronto lineup again, shall we?
This is Indiewire’s comprehensive list – I have starred the films that have some heat on them already for whatever reason.
Alejandro Amenabar, Spain North American Premiere
In the fourth century, while Egypt was under the Roman Empire, violent religious upheaval in the streets of Alexandria spills over into the city‚Äôs famous library. Trapped inside its walls, the brilliant astronomer Hypatia (Rachel Weisz) and her disciples fight to save the wisdom of the ancient world. Among the group are the two men competing for Hypatia‚Äôs heart: the witty, privileged Orestes and Davus, Hypatia‚Äôs young slave, who is torn between his secret love for her and the freedom he knows can be his if he chooses to join the unstoppable surge of the Christians.
Atom Egoyan, France/Canada, World Premiere
Catherine (Julianne Moore), a successful doctor, suspects her husband David (Liam Neeson), a handsome music professor, is cheating on her. To lay her suspicions and fears to rest, she hires an irresistible young woman, Chloe (Amanda Seyfried), to test David‚Äôs fidelity. Chloe‚Äôs torrid tales of her encounters with David lead Catherine on a journey of sexual and sensual re-discovery. But by opening the door to temptation, she puts her family in great danger.
Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky
Jan Kounen, France North American Premiere
Igor Stravinsky premieres The Rite of Spring at the Theatre Des Champs-Elysees, in Paris 1913. Coco Chanel is in attendance and is mesmerized. But the revolutionary work, too modern and too radical, leads to boos and jeers from the enraged audience. Seven years later, now rich, respected and successful, Coco Chanel once again encounters Stravinsky, now a penniless refugee living in exile in Paris after the Russian Revolution. The attraction between them is immediate and electric. Following an offer from Coco, Stravinsky moves into her villa in the Garches to work, with his consumptive wife and children in tow. And so begins a passionate and intense love affair between two creative giants.
Cooking with Stella
Dilip Mehta, Canada, World Premiere
A warmhearted social satire about a Canadian diplomat (Lisa Ray) and her chef husband Michael (Don McKellar) who are posted to New Delhi. Upon arrival they inherit a household of Indian servants headed by the charming, totally inspiring – and wily – cook, Stella (Seema Biswas). When Stella agrees to become Michael‚Äôs cooking guru, to teach him traditional Indian dishes, little does he know that she‚Äôs cooking up a scheme of her own.
(Opening Night Film) Jon Amiel, UK, World Premiere
Part ghost story, part psychological thriller, part heart-wrenching love story Creation is the story of Charles Darwin. His great, still controversial, book The Origin of Species depicts nature as a battleground. In Creation the battleground is a man‚Äôs heart. Torn between his love for his deeply religious wife and his own growing belief in a world where God has no place, Darwin finds himself caught in a struggle between faith and reason, love and truth.
The Damned United
Tom Hooper, United Kingdom North American Premiere
Set in 1960‚Äôs and 1970‚Äôs England, this is the confrontational and darkly humorous story of Brian Clough‚Äôs doomed 44 day tenure as manager of the reigning champions of English football Leeds United. Previously managed by his bitter rival Don Revie, and on the back of their most successful period ever as a football club, Leeds was perceived by many to represent a new aggressive and cynical style of football. Taking the Leeds job without his trusted lieutenant, Peter Taylor, by his side, Clough encounters a changing-room full of players who – in his mind – were still Don‚Äôs boys. An examination of Clough‚Äôs belligerence and brilliance, The Damned United stars Michael Sheen, is written by Peter Morgan (The Queen, Frost/Nixon) and directed by Tom Hooper (John Adams, Longford).
Hadippa ‚Ä®Anurag Singh, India World Premiere
In a village where girls don‚Äôt play cricket, Veera (Rani Mukherjee) has to put on a turban and beard and become a man to fulfill her dreams. Her brilliance on the field earns her a place in Rohan‚Äôs (Shahid Kapoor) team and Veera Kaur becomes Veer Pratap Singh. And then begins a roller-coaster journey of Veera, Rohan and Veer filled with music, romance and comedy through Punjab and beyond.
Oliver Parker, United Kingdom World Premiere
In Victorian London, the handsome Dorian Gray (Ben Barnes) is swept into a social whirlwind by the charismatic and cunning Lord Wotton (Colin Firth). Immersed in the hedonistic pleasures of the city, Dorian vows he would give anything to keep his youth and beauty – even his soul. Based on the Oscar Wilde novel, ‚ÄúDorian Gray‚Äù examines the destructive power of beauty, the blind pursuit of pleasure and the darkness that can result from both.
Aaron Schneider, USA World Premiere
Inspired by the true story of Felix ‚ÄúBush‚Äù Breazeale, this stately frontier drama stars Robert Duvall as a backwoods eccentric who stages his own funeral‚Äîwhile still alive. Ten thousand people arrive to hear him speak and to learn why this local legend exiled himself 40 years ago to the foothills of Eastern Tennessee. Set in the early 1930s, Get Low is a story of mystery and discovery that speaks of timeless things. Can we know who we are? Should we judge anyone? Is there redemption for those of us lost in the dark catacombs of our past? Also starring Bill Murray, Sissy Spacek and Lucas Black.
I, Don Giovanni
Carlos Saura, Austria/Italy/Spain World Premiere
Venice 1763 – writer Lorenzo da Ponte is leading a pleasure-seeking life. He was originally a priest but his numerous affairs force him to be exiled to Vienna. Supported by his friend and mentor Giacomo Casanova, da Ponte is introduced to the Emperor‚Äôs favourite composer, Salieri, and a newcomer named Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Seeing an opportunity to undermine Mozart‚Äôs ascension, Salieri tricks Mozart into hiring this unknown libertine as his librettist. But da Ponte‚Äôs own nature and sentimental wanderings in Vienna will nurture his inspiration and lead to one of Mozart‚Äôs most bold and powerful compositions: Don Giovanni.
The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
Terry Gilliam, United Kingdom/Canada, North American Premiere
This fantastical morality tale tells the story of Dr. Parnassus and his travelling show, the extraordinary ‚ÄòImaginarium‚Äô. Blessed with the remarkable gift of guiding the imaginations of others, Dr. Parnassus is cursed with a dark secret. An inveterate gambler, thousands of years ago he made a bet with the devil, Mr. Nick, and won immortality. Centuries later, on meeting his one true love, Dr. Parnassus made another deal with the devil, trading his immortality for youth, on the condition that when his daughter reached her sixteenth birthday, she would become the property of Mr. Nick.
Love and Other Impossible Pursuits
Don Roos, USA World Premiere
Emilia Woolf (Natalie Portman) is a Harvard law school graduate and a newlywed, having just married Jack, her high-powered New York lawyer boss (Scott Cohen). Her life takes an unexpected turn when the couple loses their newborn daughter. Emilia struggles through her grief to connect with her precocious new stepson William (Charlie Tahan), overcome a rift in her relationship with her father caused by his infidelity, and cope with the constant interferences of Jack‚Äôs angry, jealous ex-wife (Lisa Kudrow). An adaptation of an Ayelet Waldman novel, this tearful and terrific tale by writer-director Don Roos proves that even with a pursuit like love, nothing is impossible.
Joachim Ronning and Espen Sandberg, Norway/Denmark/Germany North American Premiere
The film is based on the true story of Norway‚Äôs most colourful resistance fighter Max Manus, and follows him from the outbreak of World War II until the summer of peace in 1945. After fighting against the Russians during the Winter War in Finland, Max returns to a German-occupied Norway. He joins the active resistance movement, and becomes one of the most important members of the so-called ‚ÄúOslo Gang‚Äù, famous for their spectacular raids against German ships in Oslo harbour.
The Men Who Stare at Goats
Grant Heslov, USA North American Premiere
Reporter Bob Wilton (Ewan McGregor) is in search of his next big story when he encounters Lyn Cassady (Academy Award(R) winner George Clooney), a shadowy figure who claims to be part of an experimental U.S. military unit. According to Cassady, the New Earth Army is changing the way wars are fought. A legion of ‚ÄúWarrior Monks‚Äù with unparalleled psychic powers can read the enemy‚Äôs thoughts, pass through solid walls and even kill a goat simply by staring at it. When the programme‚Äôs founder, Bill Django (Oscar(R) nominee Jeff Bridges), goes missing, Cassady‚Äôs mission is to find him in this quirky dark comedy, inspired by a real story.
Jean-Pierre Jeunet, France World Premiere ‚Ä®Is it better to live with a bullet lodged in your brain, even if it means you might drop dead any time or would you rather have the bullet taken out and live the rest of your life as a vegetable? Are zebras white with black stripes or black with white stripes? Is scrap metal worth more than landmines? Can you get drunk from eating waffles? Can a woman fit inside a refrigerator? What is the human cannonball world record? Micmacs, a fantastical comedy from the world class director of Amelie and Delicatessen, answers these questions and way more.
Mother and Child
Rodrigo Garcia, USA World Premiere
This moving drama follows the story of three women (Annette Bening, Naomi Watts and Kerry Washington) and the power of the unbreakable bond between mother and child. From writer-director Rodrigo Garcia (Nine Lives), executive producer Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (Babel) and producers Lisa Falcone and Julie Lynn, the film also stars Samuel L. Jackson, Jimmy Smits, Shareeka Epps, Cherry Jones and S. Epatha Merkerson.
Matthias Emcke, Germany International Premiere
Marc (Til Schweiger) is a passionate cyclist and urban slacker who avoids work and responsibility. Marc‚Äôs life changes from one moment to the next when he suffers a life-changing accident. He can either wallow in self-pity or tackle the beast called life with the help of love and willpower. Phantom Pain is a thought-provoking, yet light and upbeat look at a man who‚Äôs forced to turn his life around.
The Private Lives of Pippa Lee
Rebecca Miller, USA North American Premiere
From all outward appearances, Pippa Lee (Robin Wright Penn) leads a charmed existence. An anchor of feminine serenity, she is the devoted wife of an accomplished publisher (Alan Arkin) 30 years her senior, the proud mother of two grown children, a trusted friend and confidant. But as Pippa dutifully follows her husband to a new life in a staid Connecticut retirement community, her idyllic world and the persona she has built over the course of her marriage will be put to the ultimate test. Adapted from writer-director Rebecca Miller‚Äôs novel of the same name, ‚ÄúThe Private Lives of Pippa Lee‚Äù presents the complex portrait of the many lives behind a single name.
Precious: Based on the Novel ‚ÄúPush‚Äù by Sapphire
Lee Daniels, USA Canadian Premiere
Lee Daniels‚Äôs Precious: Based on the Novel ‚ÄúPush‚Äù by Sapphire is a vibrant, honest and resoundingly hopeful film about the human capacity to grow and overcome. Set in 1987 Harlem, it is the story of Claireece ‚ÄúPrecious‚Äù Jones, an illiterate African-American teenager who is pregnant for the second time by her absent father and abused by a poisonously angry mother. Despite her experiences, Precious has a latent understanding that other possibilities exist for her, and jumps at the chance to enroll in an alternative school. There she encounters Ms. Rain, a teacher who will start her on a journey from pain and powerlessness to self-respect and determination. The film stars Mo‚ÄôNique, Paula Patton, Mariah Carey, Sherri Shepherd, Lenny Kravitz and introduces Gabourey Sidibe.
What‚Äôs Your Raashee?
Ashutosh Gowariker, India World Premiere
What‚Äôs Your Raashee? is a romantic comedy about a young man who has always wanted to marry for love. When he suddenly is told that he must find his dream girl within ten days in order to save his family from utter ruin, he discovers that finding her is even hard when it has to happen in a hurry. The film is based on the Gujarati novel, Kimball Ravenswood, by Madhu Rye and stars Harman Baweja and Priyanka Chopra.
The Young Victoria
(Closing Night Gala), ‚Ä®Jean-Marc Vall√©e, UK North American Premiere
The Young Victoria is set in the period from 1836, the year before Victoria ascended the throne, to 1840, the year she married Prince Albert, and revises the widely held picture of Queen Victoria as an elderly widow dressed in black. In addition to being a love story and family drama, the film explores the idea of instant celebrity ‚Äì one minute Victoria is living under virtual house arrest, the next she is the most famous woman in the world.
Hirokazu Kore-eda, Japan North American Premiere This compelling tale of a blow-up doll that becomes a real person and abandons her status of mere sex object comes to life with the superb performance of Korean actress Bae Doo-na.
Lars von Trier, Denmark/Sweden/France/Italy North American Premiere
This is a groundbreaking, deeply disturbing and graphic nightmare vision about gender relations from one of the most important and influential directors of the last 30 years. The film is a break from von Trier‚Äôs previous work in terms of aesthetics, resembling a Japanese horror movie re-imagined by Andrei Tarkovsky. Antichrist features unforgettable and courageous performances by Charlotte Gainsbourg and Willem Dafoe.
Amos Gitai, Israel/France/Italy World Premiere
History in the Middle East is a complex mix of the present and the past. Then, there is also the personal and Gitai is uniquely placed to reflect on his own past as a soldier and as the father of a young man caught up in the present conflicts that engulf the region.
Bernard Emond, Canada
North American Premiere
Dr. Rainville, an aging country doctor with a deep attachment to his patients, is about to retire and is looking for a successor. Jeanne Dion, an emergency room doctor from Montreal, agrees to go to Normetal to replace him for a few weeks, with no plans for an extended stay. When Dr. Rainville suddenly dies, Jeanne must decide if she‚Äôll take over the job, and its inherent responsibilities, for the long-term.
Eccentricities of a Blonde-Haired Girl
Manoel de Oliveira, France/Portugal/Spain North American Premiere Famed filmmaker Oliveira, who celebrates his 101st birthday this year, tells the tale of Macario‚Äôs obsession with the enticing blond he spies from his window. Little does he know that she will end up stealing much more than his heart.
Les Herbes Folles
Alain Resnais, France North American Premiere From modernist master Alain Resnais comes a romantic adventure based around the simple act of losing a wallet.
Goran Paskaljevic, Serbia/Albania/Italy North American Premiere Two young married couples take off and travel abroad to the promised lands of better opportunities, but hope collapses when their expectations disappear into thin air and their dreams turn into nightmares.
Suzana Amaral, Brazil World Premiere
Enigmatic and perturbing, Suzana Amaral‚Äôs Hotel Atlantico takes us on a mysterious journey through Brazil‚Äôs southern landscapes. The film follows an unnamed actor as he wanders into new experiences, living life in the moment.
Melody for a Street Organ
Kira Muratova, Ukraine North American Premiere
Two young orphan siblings travel to Moscow in search of their missing father. Scared of being separated and sent to orphanages, they hope to reunite with the last link of their shattered family.
Francois Ozon, France World Premiere
The French master returns with this unsettling tale of a rich, beautiful young woman who finds herself pregnant after her boyfriend dies of an overdose. Retreating to a seaside home, she is joined by his brother.
Marco Bellocchio, Italy North American Premiere
This fictionalized portrait of Italian dictator Benito Mussolini concentrates on his youthful years before he rose to power in Italy. It uncovers the details of his first marriage and the child he had with a passionate woman whom he later totally disowned and abandoned.
Margarethe von Trotta, Germany Canadian Premiere
One of the major auteurs to emerge from the New German Cinema, Margarethe von Trotta returns to the Festival with Vision, a study of the remarkable Hildegard von Bingen, the Benedictine nun who emerged as a Renaissance woman before there was a Renaissance.
Claire Denis, France North American Premiere
A family of French expatriates living in an African country where they own a coffee plantation find that their livelihood is threatened by the outbreak of civil war. They struggle to keep their lives together in the face of rival factions fighting for power and gun-toting child soldiers who have no sympathy for their plight.
The White Ribbon
Michael Haneke, Germany/Austria/France/Italy North American Premiere
In Protestant Northern Germany on the eve of World War I, strange incidents begin to occur in a village community and increasingly take the form of a ritual of punishment. This latest work from Michael Haneke won the Palme d‚ÄôOr for best film at this year‚Äôs Cannes Film Festival.
Buddhadeb Dasgupta, India World Premiere
When Bimal decides to give something back to his alma mater, he chooses to replace the broken window of his favourite classroom. Plans to pay for this gesture go awry and he cannot bear to tell his fiancee.
Karyn Kusama, USA World Premiere
Jennifer‚Äôs Body tells the story of small-town high-school student Jennifer (Megan Fox) who is possessed by a hungry demon and transitions from being ‚Äúhigh school evil‚Äù‚Äîgorgeous (and doesn‚Äôt she know it), stuck up and ultra-attitudinal‚Äîto the real deal: evil/evil. The glittering beauty becomes a pale and sickly creature jonesing for a meaty snack, and guys who never stood a chance with the heartless babe take on new lustre in the light of her insatiable appetite. Meanwhile, Jennifer‚Äôs best friend, Needy (Amanda Seyfried), long relegated to living in Jennifer‚Äôs shadow, must step-up to protect the town‚Äôs young men, including her nerdy boyfriend Chip (Johnny Simmons). Written and executive produced by Oscar(R)-winner Diablo Cody (Juno).
A Town Called Panic
Stephane Aubier and Vincent Patar, Belgium/Luxembourg/France North American Premiere
An outlandish animation style captures the absurd wit and surreal adventures of plastic toys Cowboy, Indian and Horse.
Rick Jacobson, USA World Premiere
In this campy action comedy from the creators of Xena and Hercules, three hot-blooded women try to uncover some booty in the desert using feminine charms, fists and machine guns.
Michael Spierig and Peter Spierig, Australia/USA World Premiere
Ethan Hawke, Willem Dafoe and Sam Neill star in this sci-fi horror about a future populated by vampires where humans are the minority.
George A. Romero‚Äôs Survival of the Dead
George A. Romero, Canada World Premiere
Master director George A. Romero returns to his world of the undead, this time pitting two feuding clans in the middle of the fallout of a zombie epidemic.
The Loved Ones
Sean Byrne, Australia International Premiere
A troubled teen‚Äôs prom dreams are shattered by a series of painful events that take place under the mirrored disco ball, involving syringes, nails, power drills and a secret admirer in this wild mash-up of Pretty in Pink and Misery.
Ong Bak 2: The Beginning
Tony Jaa, Thailand Canadian Premiere
Martial-arts superstar Tony Jaa stars in and directs this epic tale of revenge set hundreds of years in the past. Featuring a huge cast and hordes of elephants, this prequel takes Jaa‚Äôs skills to the next level, showcasing him as a master of a wide range of martial-arts styles – while proving him to be a promising director as well.
Jaume Balaguero, Paco Plaza, Spain North American Premiere
In the follow-up to the acclaimed [REC], a SWAT team enters the old apartment to control an epidemic with terrifying results.
Michael J. Bassett, United Kingdom World Premiere
From Robert E. Howard, the legendary creator of Conan, comes this tale of a savage mercenary in sixteeth-century Century England who owes the devil his soul and seeks to redeem himself by fighting evil.
Hitoshi Matsumoto, Japan International Premiere
Japanese comedy superstar Hitoshi Matsumoto (DAINIPPONJIN) stars in and directs this absurd and outlandish comedy about a man trying to escape a unique dilemma.
Here are more entries that are worth noting. Again, the star is for those with some buzz already. And apologies for crapping out on the IMBd links half-way through. We only have so much time in a day. To see the full list, go to IW.
The Boys Are Back
Scott Hicks, Australia/United Kingdom World Premiere
Based on the memoir by Simon Carr, Scott Hicks (Shine) directs The Boys Are Back, inspired by the poignant, comic and uplifting true story of a man who must suddenly raise his two sons alone. After the untimely passing of his second wife, the ill-prepared Joe (Clive Owen), who is dealing with his own loss, is confronted with the daily challenges of parenthood while coping with his young son Artie‚Äôs expressions of grief. They are soon joined by Harry, Joe‚Äôs teenage son from his first marriage, who brings his own personal ‚Äúbaggage‚Äù into the mix. Also starring Laura Fraser and Emma Booth.
Jane Campion, United Kingdom/Australia North American Premiere
A drama based on the secret love affair between 23-year-old English poet John Keats (Ben Whishaw) and the girl next door, Fanny Brawne (Abbie Cornish), an outspoken student of fashion. Intensely and helplessly absorbed in each other, they rode a wave of romantic obsession that deepened as their troubles mounted. Only Keats‚Äôs illness and untimely death proved insurmountable.
Pedro Almodovar, Spain North American Premiere
Harry Caine, a blind writer, reaches a point when he has to heal his wounds from 14 years ago, when he was still known by his real name, Mateo Blanco, and directing his last movie. As the past is revisited, a story of ‚Äúamour fou‚Äù unfolds, dominated by fatality, jealousy, the abuse of power, treachery and a guilt complex.
Capitalism: A Love Story
Michael Moore, USA North American Premiere
On the 20-year anniversary of his groundbreaking masterpiece ‚ÄúRoger & Me‚Äù, Michael Moore‚Äôs ‚ÄúCapitalism: A Love Story‚Äù comes home to the issue he‚Äôs been examining throughout his career: the disastrous impact of corporate dominance on the everyday lives of Americans (and by default, the rest of the world). But this time the culprit is much bigger than General Motors, and the crime scene far wider than Flint, Michigan. From Middle America, to the halls of power in Washington, to the global financial epicenter in Manhattan, Michael Moore will once again take film-goers into uncharted territory.
City of Life and Death
Lu Chuan, China International Premiere
From acclaimed director Lu Chuan comes a devastating and controversial epic film based on the most atrocious holocaust in Chinese history, the Nanjing Massacre. The story unfolds as the Japanese take over the city in 1937 and everyone is struggling to survive in a city where death is easier than life. Starring Liu Ye and Gao Yuanyuan.
Lone Scherfig, United Kingdom Canadian Premiere
A coming-of-age story about a teenaged girl in 1960s suburban London and how her life changes with the arrival of a playboy nearly twice her age. Torn between her parents‚Äô dream of going to Oxford University and a more tempting kind of life, she must decide if the new path is one that will trap her or set her free.
Stephen Poliakoff, United Kingdom World Premiere
This tense conspiracy thriller set on the eve of World War II and based on disturbing real events, focuses on a young woman who stumbles across evidence of a sinister Nazi appeasement plot. As her close friends begin to die in suspicious circumstances, she finds her own life in danger from an increasingly menacing and powerful enemy.
Jeff Stilson, USA Canadian Premiere
Rendered speechless by his daughter‚Äôs question‚Äî‚ÄúDaddy, how come I don‚Äôt have good hair?‚Äù‚Äîcomedian Chris Rock embarks on a quest to understand African American hair culture.
The Good Heart
Dagur Kari, Iceland World Premiere
A homeless boy Lucas (Paul Dano), meets Jacques (Brian Cox), a grumpy bar-owner, whose unhealthy lifestyle has brought him five heart attacks. Jacques takes Lucas under his wing with the intention of having him continue his legacy. Everything is going according to plan until a drunken stewardess named April enters the bar.
Daniel Barber, United Kingdom World Premiere
‚ÄúHarry Brown‚Äù is a provocative and thought-provoking modern urban western featuring a tour-de-force lead performance from two-time Academy Award(R)-winner Michael Caine. Harry Brown has lived to see his community descend into crime and violence, and ruled over by a gang of teenage thugs. After his best friend is brutally murdered and the gang leader responsible walks free, Harry reaches a breaking point and revenge becomes his only aim.
Steven Soderbergh, USA North American Premiere
Mark Whitacre (Matt Damon), a rising star at agri-industry giant Archer Daniels Midland (ADM), suddenly turns whistleblower. Exposing his company‚Äôs multinational price-fixing conspiracy to the FBI, Whitacre imagines himself as a kind of de facto secret agent. Unfortunately for the FBI, their lead witness hasn‚Äôt been quite forthcoming about helping himself to the corporate coffers. Whitacre‚Äôs ever-changing account frustrates the agents and threatens the case against ADM as it becomes almost impossible to decipher what is real and what is the product of Whitacre‚Äôs rambling imagination. Based on the true story of the highest-ranking corporate whistleblower in U.S. history
The Invention of Lying
Ricky Gervais and Matthew Robinson, USA World Premiere
From Ricky Gervais, the award-winning creator and star of the original BBC series The Office and HBO‚Äôs Extras, comes the new romantic comedy The Invention of Lying, which takes place in an alternate reality where lying‚Äîeven the concept of a lie‚Äîdoes not even exist. Everyone‚Äîfrom politicians to advertisers to the man and woman on the street‚Äîspeaks the truth and nothing but the truth with no thought of the consequences. But when a down-on-his-luck loser named Mark suddenly develops the ability to lie, he finds that dishonesty has its rewards. In a world where every word is assumed to be the absolute truth, Mark easily lies his way to fame and fortune. But lies have a way of spreading, and he begins to realize that things are getting out of control when some of his tallest tales are being taken as, well, gospel. With the entire world now hanging on his every word, there is only one thing Mark has not been able to lie his way into: the heart of the woman he loves.
Life During Wartime
Todd Solondz, USA North American Premiere
Happiness director Todd Solondz returns with another unsettling dark comedy about sexual obsession between friends, family and lovers struggling to find love, forgiveness and meaning in a war-torn world. Allison Janney and Ciaran Hinds star.
Rachid Bouchareb, United Kingdom/France/Algeria North American Premiere
This intimate drama tells the story of two people, a Muslim man and a Christian woman, who are immediately affected by the July 2005 London bombings. Both of them are drawn to the British capital when their children go missing on the day of the attacks. Putting aside their cultural differences, they will give each other the strength to continue the search for their children and maintain their faith.
My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done
Werner Herzog, USA Canadian Premiere
Inspired by true events, My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done, is a story of ancient myth and modern madness. Brad Macallam, an aspiring actor performing in a Greek tragedy, commits the crime he is to enact in the play by killing his mother. The mystery unfolds in a series of flashbacks displaying the psychological destruction of the killer set off by an ill-fated white-water kayaking trip in a distant land.
Neil Jordan, Ireland/USA World Premiere
A lyrical, modern fairy tale that tells the story of Syracuse (Colin Farrell), an Irish fisherman whose life is transformed when he catches a beautiful and mysterious woman (Alicja Bachleda) in his nets. His daughter Annie (Alison Barry) comes to believe that the woman is a magical creature, while Syracuse falls helplessly in love. However, like all fairy tales, enchantment and darkness go hand in hand.
Catherine Corsini, France International Premiere
Suzanne (Kristin Scott Thomas) is a well-to-do married woman and mother in the south of France. Her idle bourgeois lifestyle gets her down and she decides to go back to work as a physiotherapist. Her husband agrees to fix-up a consulting room for her in their backyard. When Suzanne and the man (Sergi Lopez) hired to do the building meet, the mutual attraction is sudden and violent. Suzanne decides to give up everything and live this all-engulfing passion to the fullest.
John Hillcoat, USA North American Premiere
In this epic post-apocalyptic tale of the survival, a father (Academy Award(R) nominee Viggo Mortensen) and his young son (Kodi Smit-McPhee) journey across a barren America that was destroyed by a mysterious cataclysm. From author Cormac McCarthy (No Country For Old Men) comes the highly anticipated big screen adaptation of the beloved, best-selling and Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, The Road, also staring Charlize Theron, Robert Duvall and Guy Pearce.
A Serious Man
Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, USA World Premiere
Imaginatively exploring questions of faith, familial responsibility, delinquent behaviour, dental phenomena, academia, mortality and Judaism – and intersections thereof – ‚ÄúA Serious Man‚Äù is the new film from Academy Award(R)-winning writer-directors Joel and Ethan Coen.
Brian Koppelman and David Levien, USA World Premiere
Ben Kalmen (Michael Douglas) is feeling his age, but you wouldn‚Äôt know it from the company he keeps. A former mogul with a chain of car dealerships, until legal troubles knocked him out of business, Ben now keeps a grip on the world through his relationships with women – many women. The cast also includes Susan Sarandon, Danny DeVito, Mary Louise Parker and Jenna Fischer.
Up in the Air
Jason Reitman, USA World Premiere
From Jason Reitman, the Oscar-nominated director of Juno, comes a comedy starring George Clooney as Ryan Bingham, a corporate downsizing expert whose cherished life on the road is threatened just as he is on the cusp of reaching ten million frequent flyer miles and just after he‚Äôs met the frequent-traveller woman of his dreams.
Drew Barrymore, USA World Premiere
Drew Barrymore‚Äôs directorial debut stars Ellen Page (‚ÄúJuno‚Äù) as Bliss, a rebellious Texas teen who throws in her small-town beauty pageant crown for the rowdy world of roller-derby. Marcia Gay Harden (‚ÄúMystic River‚Äù, ‚ÄúPollock‚Äù) plays Bliss‚Äôs disapproving mother, while Drew Barrymore, Kristen Wiig (‚ÄúSaturday Night Live‚Äù) and Juliette Lewis (‚ÄúOld School‚Äù) play roller-derby stars. Whip It also stars Eve, Jimmy Fallon, Daniel Stern, Alia Shawkat, Ari Graynor, Andrew Wilson, Zoe Bell and singer-songwriter Landon Pigg.
The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers
Judith Ehrlich and Rick Goldsmith, USA World Premiere
Daniel Ellsberg was a valued strategist inside the American government until he leaked the Pentagon Papers and exposed the lies of the Vietnam War. This thrilling documentary chronicles this momentous chapter in history and how Richard Nixon‚Äôs obsession over the case brought down his own government.
Neil Diamond, Canada
Neil Diamond‚Äôs documentary Reel Injun is a long-needed corrective to the wildly inaccurate portrayals of native peoples in Hollywood films and filled with revealing and often poignant interviews with key players like actors Wes Studi, Adam Beach and Sacheen Littlefeather.
Johnnie To, Hong Kong/France North American Premiere
A father comes to Hong Kong to avenge his daughter, whose family was murdered. Officially, he‚Äôs a French chef. Twenty years ago, he was a killer. Vengeance is a moody, noir-ish tour-de-force, starring French pop icon Johnny Hallyday.