The initial lineup (galas and special presentations) for the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) has been announced….and it’s something to get excited about. TIFF is one of my favourite film festivals – mostly due to the fact that I am in Toronto, so it’s the least expensive (comparatively) and most prestigious film festival that I can attend with relative ease.
With each passing year, TIFF has been gaining more notoriety and attracting more big names and interesting films. It seems to grow with every single year. TIFF often serves as the “unofficial kick-off to awards season”. Even the late-great Roger Ebert said that the top film at TIFF is often the biggest contender for the Oscar for Best Picture, as seen last year with Argo.
I love the feel of the City during TIFF – it’s as if the whole City takes two weeks to match my enthusiasm for films and celebrities. It’s incredibly fun to be able to spot directors, actors, writers, producers and members of the media in your daily routine. Last year, we were lucky enough ot have run-ins with Ben Affleck, Joss Whedon, Nathan Fillion, Clark Gregg, and Jay Baruchel.
This year, TIFF boasts hundreds of screenings of big budget, independent, documentary, art house and vanguard films. The full listing can be found at http://tiff.net/thefestival/filmprogramming
I’m most looking forward to films which feature the work of some of my favourite directors and actors. This year, TIFF will play host to the following:
The Fifth Estate
TIFF will open with a gala for The Fifth Estate – a dramatazation of the rise and fall of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Directed by Bill Condon (Dreamgirls) and starring Benedict Cumberbatch – who will be representing three films throughout TIFF and Daniel Bruhl (Inglorious Basterds).
12 Years a Slave
Steve McQueen (Hunger, Shame) directs an absolutely phenomenal cast in this extraordinary and true story of Solomon Northup, a free black man sold into slavery in the pre-Civil War United States. The cast features the talented Chiwetel Ejiofor (Inside Man, Children of Men) as Northup, along with an amazing supporting cast, including Michael Fassbender (Shame, Inglorious Basterds), Benedict Cumberbatch (Star Trek Into Darkness) and Brad Pitt! McQueen is an extremely visceral and intelligent director. He deals with uncomfortable subject matter with grace and subtlety. I’m really looking forward to this one. The Fassbender/McQueen team has yet to disappoint – they’re among my favourite talents at TIFF this year, especially Fassbender. FASSBENDER! The trailer looks amazing, and the film itself is expected to generate a lot of awards buzz. Save me a seat!
The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Him and Her
This is a two part drama, the love story of Connor Ludlow (played by the fantastic James McAvoy) and Eleanor Rigby (played by the wonderful Jessica Chastain). The two-part film will be told from two different perspectives – that of Connor and Eleanor. It sounds really different – a new and innovative spin on 500 Days of Summer. I love the leads in this film. Written and directed by Ned Benson, and co-starring the divine Viola Davis, William Hurt and Bill Hader. I’m really looking forward to this.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt has been receiving rave reviews for his writing, directing and acting in Don Jon. The story of a jersey shore-esque man trying to figure out what makes him happy. Joseph Gordon-Levitt makes me happy. The cast is a great mix of talent, with Scarlett Johansson (The Avengers), Julianne Moore (The Kids Are Alright), and the boss himself, Tony Danza!
August: Osange County
The film looks like its made for Oscar consideration. The cast features Oscar-royalty Meryl Streep, Sam Sheppard, Chris Cooper, Julia Roberts, Ewan McGregor, Benedict Cumberbatch, Juliette Lewis, Dermot Mulroney, and Abigail Breslin. That’s some heavy-hitting talent. Based on the play by Tracy Letts and directed by John Wells, this dysfunctional family dramedy should draw in huge crowds and big time Oscar buzz.
Alfonso Cuarón (Children of Men) directs Hollywood heavyweights Sandra Bullock and George Clooney in this space odyssey. Curaon makes visually captivating films, but the trailer has left a lot of audiences perplexed and often laughing. I’m really hoping for the best here.
A gritty and angry tale of the abduction of two young girls, and the lengths that their parents will go to in getting them back. This is a different turn for Hugh Jackman, as a desparate father who turns to vigilantism in search of his missing daughter. A truly great supporting cast includes Viola Davis, Terrence Howard and Jake Gyllenhaal.
Dallas Buyers Club
Matthew McConaughey and Oscar are not usually expressed in the same sentence, but after some recent performances in Mud and the Lincoln Lawyer, he’s really upped his game. McConaughey (after some serious weight loss) stars in this adaptation of the true story of Ron Woodruff, a drug smuggler who inadvertently becomes a crusader and saviour for AIDS and HIV patients. The film also stars Jennifer Garner and Jared Leto. McConaghey may be hitting his acting stride…alright, alright, alright.
TIFF fan-favourite and Canadian Jason Reitman (Juno, Up In The Air) returns with Labor Day – a drama centred around a single mother, her son, an the fugitive they’ve taken in. The film has some serious star power with Kate Winslet (Revolutionary Road), Josh Brolin (True Grit), Tobey Maguire (The Great Gatsby), Clark Gregg (The Avengers), and Dawson himself James Van Der Beek. I generally enjoy Reitman’s films, and I expect The Labor to receive a good response from critics and audiences alike in his home and native land.
Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom
When I think of a potential listing of men to play Nelson Mandela, Idris Elba would be low on that list. I’m used to seeing Elba in more physical and tough-guy roles. We know he can act, his outstanding performances in The Wire and Luther prove that. I’m intrigued by his turn as one of the most beloved political figures in recent memory. The beautiful Naomie Harris (Skyfall) supports Elba as his long-suffering wife Winnie Mandela. I’m a huge fan of Elba, and can’t wait to see him take on this unexpected role.
Ron Howard loves true story dramas. This time, he’s taking on the world of Formula 1 racing with the story of rivals Niki Lauda (Daniel Bruhl) and James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth). I think Daniel Bruhl is a truly gifted actor – he speaks several languages, has great range and chooses interesting projects. Chris “Thor” Hemsworth looks like he’s having tons of fun with this role.
There’s so much talent and interesting work coming to TIFF this year including the much-talked-about Cannes feature Blue is the Warmest Color, Atom Egoyan’s Devil’s Knot based on the story of the West Memphis Three starring Colin Firth and Reese Witherspoon, and Dom Hemingway starring Jude Law.
The listing at www.tiff.net will continue to be updated as the festival approaches. The 38th Toronto International Film Festival runs from September 5 to 15, 2013. Ten whole days of TIFF excitement! I’m going to be a terribly annoying mess for all of it. Get excited Toronto and don’t forget to save me some tickets!