FETHIVAL FLASH: Toronto Film Festival releases first titles

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The 2019 Toronto International Film Festival runs September 5-15, and the popular Oscar-hopeful fest has unveiled their first wave of titles, some of which were expected and some of which are from kind of left field (a Helen Reddy biopic? Really? Count me in!). Toronto is perhaps the biggest stop on the early fall festival circuit – Venice will announce their lineup on Thursday, and Telluride never announces more than 24 hours ahead of time – both precede TIFF by several days as well.

The Canadian-made documentary Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and The Band had been previously announced as the fest’s opening night selection, and did announce today that its closing night film will be Radioactive, a UK drama about lives in love and science between Marie Curie (Rosamund Pike) and Pierre Curie (Sam Riley) and the high price they paid for making the discoveries they made that advanced many medical and scientific fields.

Perhaps the biggest buzz around a title so far is “Jojo Rabbit“, director/writer/actor Taika Waititi’s screwed-up World War II-based comedy-drama about a young Hitler Youth, whose imaginary friend is Adolf Hitler, discovering that his mother is hiding a young Jewish girl from the Nazis.

Here are titles announced so far:

GALA PREMIERES

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, USA. Director: Marielle Heller; Cast: Tom Hanks, Matthew Rhys, Chris Cooper. The relationship between venerable Fred Rogers and journalist Tom Junod.

Abominable, USA. Director: Jill Culton; Animated film from DreamWorks Animation, story of a magical Yeti that must return to its family.
A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood TriStar

American Woman, Canada. Director: Semi Chellas; Cast: Hong Chau, Ellen Burstyn, Sarah Gadon. A political activist shadows heiress Patty Hearst, as the latter goes from kidnap victim to ally to her kidnappers.

Blackbird, United Kingdom. Director: Roger Michell; Cast: Susan Sarandon, Kate Winslet, Mia Wasikowska, Sam Neill, Lindsay Duncan, Rainn Wilson, Bex Taylor-Klaus, Anson Boon. A family spanning three generations comes together over a weekend at their country house to be with their terminally ill mother, Lily (Sarandon), for the last time. As tensions brew between Lily’s daughters, Jennifer (Winslet) and Anna (Wasikowska), secrets emerge threatening hopes of a peaceful farewell.

Clemency, USA. Director, Chinonye Chukwu; Cast: Alfre Woodard, Aldis Hodge, LaMonica Garrett, Richard Schiff. A prison warden who has presided over numerous executions of death row inmates suffers a crisis of conscience.

Ford v Ferrari, USA. Director: James Mangold; Cast: Christian Bale, Matt Damon, Jon Bernthal, Tracy Letts. American car designer Carroll Shelby and driver Ken Miles battle corporate interference, the laws of physics and their own personal demons to build a revolutionary race car for Ford and challenge Ferrari at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1966.

Harriet, USA. Director: Kasi Lemmons; Cast: Cynthia Erivo, Janelle Monae, Joe Alwyn. Epic story of Harriett Tubman, her escape from slavery and subsequent missions to free dozens of slaves through the Underground Railroad in the face of growing pre-Civil War adversity.

Hustlers, USA. Director: Lorene Scafaria; Cast: Jennifer Lopez, Julia Stiles, Constance Wu, Cardi B. Inspired by a New York article, film tells the story of employees of a strip club who turn the tables on the Wall Street clients who objectify them.

Joker, USA. Director: Todd Phillips; Cast: Joaquin Phoenix, Robert De Niro, Zazie Beetz, Shea Whigham, Brian Tyree Henry. Arthur Fleck is a failed stand-up comedian who is driven insane and becomes infamous as a psychopathic murderer.

Just Mercy, USA. Director: Destin Daniel Cretton; Cast: Brie Larson, Michael B. Jordan, Jamie Foxx, O’Shea Jackson Jr. Civil rights defense attorney Bryan Stevenson recounts his experiences and details the case of a condemned death row prisoner whom he fought to free.

Ordinary Love, UK. Director: Lisa Barros D’Sa, Glenn Leyburn; Cast: Liam Neeson, Lesley Manville. A look at an extraordinary love affair.
Ford V Ferrari Twentieth Century Fox

The Goldfinch, USA. Director: John Crowley; Cast: Nicole Kidman, Ashleigh Cummings, Sarah Paulson, Ansel Elgort. Adaptation of the Donna Tartt novel about a boy in New York is taken in by a wealthy Upper East Side family after his mother is killed in a bombing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The Sky Is Pink, India. Director: Shonali Bose; Cast: Priyanka Chopra, Zaira Wasim, Farhan Akhtar, Rohit Saraf. The story of Aisha Chaudhary and her family.

The Song of Names, Canada. Director: François Girard; Cast: Tim Roth, Clive Owen, Catherine McCormack, Eddie Izzard. Emotional detective story spread over two continents and a half century. Beneath the film’s stunning and pulsing musical revelations burn the horror of a war and the lost souls extinguished from history.

True History of the Kelly Gang, Australia. Director: Justin Kurzel; Cast: Russell Crowe, Charlie Hunnam, Nicholas Hoult. Stoy of Australian bush-ranger Ned Kelly and his gang as they flee from authorities during the 1870s.

Western Stars, USA. Director: Thom Zimny; Cast: Bruce Springsteen. Based on what is being called his best album in years.

SPECIAL PRESENTATIONS 2019

A Herdade, Portugal. Director, Tiago Guedes. A Portuguese family that owns one of the largest estates in Europe, on the south bank of the River Tagus. The Domain delves deeply into the secrets of their homestead.

Bad Education, USA. Director: Cory Finley; Cast: Hugh Jackman, Allison Janney, Alex Wolff, Jimmy Tatro, Kathrine Narducci, Geraldine Viswanathan, Ray Romano. Based on the single largest public school embezzlement scandal in history.

Coming Home Again, USA/South Korea.

Dolemite Is My Name, USA. Director: Craig Brewer; Cast: Eddie Murphy, Keegan-Michael Key, Wesley Snipes, Chris Rock, Craig Robinson, Mike Epps, T.I. The story of comedian Rudy Ray Moore, who assumed the role of an iconic pimp named Dolemite and transformed himself into a self-made blaxploitation star during the 1970s.

Ema, Chile. Director: Pablo Larraín; Cast: Santiago Cabrera, Gael Garcia Bernal, Giannina Fruttero, Mariana Di Girolamo. A couple deals with the aftermath of an adoption that doesn’t work out.

Endings, USA. Director: Drake Doremus; Cast: Shailene Woodley, Jamie Dornan, Sebastian Stan. 30-something woman navigating through love and heartbreak over the course of one year and comes out the other side.

Frankie, France/Portugal. Director: Ira Sachs; Cast: Marisa Tomei, Brendan Gleeson, Isabelle Huppert, Greg Kinnear. Three generations grappling with a life-changing experience during one day of a vacation in Sintra, Portugal, a historic town known for its dense gardens and fairy-tale villas and palaces.

Greed, UK. Director: Michael Winterbottom; Cast: Asa Butterfield, Isla Fisher, Steve Coogan. A satirical look at the super rich.

Guest of Honour, Canada. Director: Atom Egoyan; Cast: David Thewlis, Luke Wilson. A man’s daughter a high school teacher who is accused of abusing her position of authority with a student. When Veronica rebuffs Jim’s attempts to secure her early release, Jim begins to take out his frustrations through his work as a food inspector.

Heroic Losers (La odisea de los giles), Argentina/Spain. Director: Sebastian Borensztein; Cast: Ricardo Darin, Luis Brandoni, Chino Darin. Adaptation of Eduardo Sacheri book about a dying town in Bueno Aires.

Honey Boy, USA. Director: Alma Har’el; Cast: Shia La Beouf, Lucas Hedges, Noah Jupe. Based on the life of La Beouf, an up and coming child star tries to deal with the alcoholic father who is his guardian. Premiered last January at Sundance to a warm reception.

Hope Gap, UK. Director: William Nicholson; Cast: Annette Bening, Bill Nighy, Aiysha Hart, Josh O’Connor. Couple’s visit with their son takes a dramatic turn when the father tells him he plans on leaving his mother.

How to Build a Girl, UK. Director: Coky Giedroyc; Cast: Emma Thompson, Alfie Allen, Chris O’Dowd. Teen Johanna Morrigan reinvents herself as Dolly Wilde: fast-talking, lady sex-adventurer, moves to London, and gets a job as music critic in the hope of saving her poverty stricken family.

I Am Woman, Australia. Director: Unjoo Moon; Cast: Tilda Cobham-Hervey, Evan Peters, Matty Cardarople, Danielle Macdonald. The rise of singer Helen Reddy into a symbol for independent women in the 1970s.

Jojo Rabbit, USA. Director: Taika Waititi; Cast: Scarlett Johansson, Sam Rockwell, Rebel Wilson. Satire about a young boy recruited by Hitler youth, who discovers his mother is hiding a Jewish girl in the house. The youth is advised by an invisible friend, Adolf Hitler (played by Waititi).

Judy, UK. Director: Rupert Goold; Cast: Renee Zellweger, Jessie Buckley, Rupert Sewell, Michael Gambon. Zellweger plays Judy Garland in London in the winter of 1968 to perform a series of sold-out concerts.

Knives Out, USA. Director: Rian Johnson; Cast: Daniel Craig, Ana de Armas, Jamie Lee Curtis, Toni Collette, Michael Shannon. Locked room murder mystery whodunit.

La Belle Époque, France. Director: Nicolas Bedos; Cast: Daniel Auteuil, Gillaume Canet. Man with a troubled relationship gets an offer to step back to any period in his life.
Jojo Rabbit Taika Waititi via Instagram

Marriage Story, USA. Director: Noah Baumbach; Cast: Scarlett Johansson, Laura Dern, Adam Driver. Story of a divorce as it plays out.

Military Wives, UK. Director: Peter Cattaneo; Cast: Sharon Horgan, Kristin Scott Thomas, Amy James-Kelly. Group of woman form a choir on a military base.

Motherless Brooklyn, USA. Director: Edward Norton; Cast: Bruce Willis, Norton, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Leslie Mann, Willem Dafoe, Michael Kenneth Williams, Alec Baldwin, Bobby Cannavale. Lionel Essrog is a private eye afflicted with Tourette’s Syndrome and tries to solve the murder of his only friend and mentor.

No.7, Hong Kong; Director: Cherry Lane Yonfan.

Pain and Glory, Spain. Director: Pedro Almodóvar; Cast: Antonio Banderas, Penelope Cruz. Film director reflects on his life choices. Picture bowed at the Cannes Film Festival after Almodovar opened it in Spain.

Parasite (Gisaengchung), South Korea. Director: Bong Joon-ho; Cast: An unemployed family takes peculiar interest in the wealthy and glamorous Parks for their livelihood until they get entangled in an unexpected incident.

Pelican Blood (Pelikanblut), Germany/Bulgaria. Director: Katrin Gebbe
Pain And Glory Sony Pictures Classics

Portrait of a Lady on Fire (Portrait de la jeune fille en feu), France. Director: Céline Sciamma; Cast: A female painter in the 18th Century heads to the island of Brittany to paint a wedding portrait of a young woman.

Saturday Fiction (Lan Xin Da Ju Yuan), China. Director: Lou Ye; Cast: Gong Li

The Friend, USA. Director: Gabriela Cowperthwaite; Cast: Gwendoline Christie, Casey Affleck, Dakota Johnson, Jason Segel. A man whose terminally ill wife has six months to life invites his best friend to move in and help out. The friend has a profound impact on the entire family.

The Laundromat, USA. Director: Steven Soderbergh; Cast: Meryl Streep, Gary Oldman, Melissa Rauch, Antonio Banderas, David Schwimmer, Robert Patrick, Matthias Schoenaerts. Follows the investigative work by a group of journalists who expose the Panama Papers, millions of files that link the world’s most powerful to schemes meant to avoid paying taxes.

The Lighthouse, USA. Director: Robert Eggers; Cast: Robert Pattinson, Willem Dafoe. Story of two lighthouse keepers on remote New England island in the 1800s. A24 is releasing.

The Other Lamb, Belgium/Ireland/USA. Director: Malgorzata Szumowska.

The Painted Bird, Czech Republic/Ukraine/Slovakia. Director: Václav Marhoul; Cast: Stellan Skarsgard, Barry Pepper, Harvey Keitel, Julian Sands. Young Jewish boy in Eastern Europe encounters many characters as he seeks refuge during World War II.

The Personal History of David Copperfield, UK. Director: Armando Iannucci; Cast: Ben Whishaw, Gwendoline Christie, Tilda Swinton, Dev Patel, Hugh Laurie. Adaptation of the Charles Dickens novel.

The Report, USA. Director, Scott Z. Burns; Cast: Adam Driver, Corey Stoll, Annette Bening, Jon Hamm. Drama about how CIA agents used extreme interrogation tactics on suspects behind the 9/11 terror attack on New York City. The film premiered at Sundance where Amazon Studios acquired it for fall distribution.

The Two Popes. Director: Fernando Meirelles; Cast: Jonathan Pryce, Anthony Hopkins. Explores the relationship and opposing visions between two of the most powerful leaders in the Catholic Church, both of whom must address their own pasts and the demands of the modern world in order to move the church forward.

Uncut Gems, USA. Director: Benny Safdie; Cast: Adam Sandler, Julia Fox, Kevin Garnett, The Weeknd, Idina Menzel. A jeweler in Gotham’s diamond district must find a way to pay his debts after his merchandise is stolen.

Weathering With You, Japan. Director: Makoto Shinkai. High school youth runs away to Tokyo and meets a girl who seems able to manipulate the weather.

While at War (Mientras Dure La Guerra), Spain/Argentina. Director: Alejandro Amenábar. Period drama that takes place in 1936 Spain, as a celebrated writer who supports the military rebellion hoping it will solve chaos inflicting the country, finds that its leader General Franco has other plans.

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