Wylie Writes @ TIFF ’17

It’s that time of the year again, when people in suits infest the city and everyone becomes a cinephile for a week-and-a-half.  It’s TIFF time, as the 42nd annual event gets ready to come down upon us.

On Tuesday, July 25, the president and artistic director of the Toronto International Film Festival, Piers Handling and Cameron Bailey, called a press conference to announce the first batch of films that will be shown at the festival.  A total of 47 films were announced, exclusively from the gala and special presentation programs, as a way to introduce the new, “tighter” schedule for this year, among them twenty-five world premieres.

This year’s TIFF was officially dedicated to the memory of Bill Marshall, one of the founders of the festival who died earlier this year, with a shout-out also given to the late director Jonathan Demme, who was named as a great supporter of the festival and who appeared in the introductory video.  After this moment of levity among much ado, the films were finally announced.

This year’s festival has the disadvantage of starting at a negative: this year sees the discontinuation of the popular (at least among people of a certain age) Vanguard program and City to City programs, with a dedication to drastically cutting down the number of films being shown.  Some good will may, however, be earned back due to the fairly strong first batch of films.  The first batch of films include Cannes festival darlings, like the Palme d’Or winner The Square and queer standout 120 Beats Per Minute, new films directed by established actors like Melanie Laurent’s Plonger, Andy Serkis’ Breathe and Angelina Jolie’s First They Killed My Father, and several films by established auteurs like Wim Wenders, Luca Guadagnino and Alexander Payne, whose film Downsizing was filmed in Toronto.  There’s even a new Martin McDonagh film to get excited about!

This press conference also included sneak peaks of several films: in particular, the Dayton/Faris historical tennis dramedy Battle of the Sexes, Teddy Lussi-Modeste’s very French Price of Success and Guillermo Del Toro’s gorgeous-looking, Sally Hawkins vehicle The Shape of Water on the special presentations side, and, on the gala side, the Jennifer Baichwal-Tragically Hip documentary, Long Time Running and the horrifying The Mountain Between Us, Hany Abu-Assad’s first English-language film.  And last and certainly least, the incredibly corny and cliché attempt at exploiting a tragedy for emotional release, former indie wunderkind David Gordon Green’s Boston marathon-set Stronger, a film that reminds us that, among the pre-title change films (there’s no way Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool will get to keep its great title) and arthouse darlings, TIFF is still one of the main vehicles for terrible Hollywood cinema.

The festival is set to end with C’est la Vie, the latest film from Olivier Nakache & Eric Toledano, the directorial duo behind The Intouchables, whose American remake is also playing this festival.  So far, so good.

The complete list of the film announced, about a third of which are directed by women, is below:

A Fantastic Woman, Sebastián Lelio, Chile

A Season in France, Mahamat-Saleh Haroun, France

Battle of the Sexes, Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton, USA

BPM (Beats Per Minute), Robin Campillo, France

Breathe, Andy Serkis, United Kingdom

Call Me by Your Name, Luca Guadagnino, Italy/France

Catch the Wind, Gaël Morel, France

C’est la vie!, Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano, France

Darkest Hour, Joe Wright, United Kingdom

Disobedience, Sebastián Lelio, United Kingdom

Downsizing, Alexander Payne, USA

Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool, Paul McGuigan, United Kingdom

First They Killed My Father, Angelina Jolie, Cambodia

Hostiles, Scott Cooper, USA

I, Tonya, Craig Gillespie, USA

Kings, Deniz Gamze Ergüven, France/Belgium

Lady Bird, Greta Gerwig, USA

Long Time Running, Jennifer Baichwal and Nicholas de Pencier, Canada

Mary Shelley, Haifaa Al Mansour, Ireland/United Kingdom/Luxembourg/USA

Mother!, Darren Aronofsky, USA

Mudbound, Dee Rees, USA

Novitiate, Maggie Betts, USA

Omerta, Hansal Mehta, India

Plonger, Mélanie Laurent, France

Professor Marston & the Wonder Women, Angela Robinson, USA

Sheikh Jackson, Amr Salama, Egypt

Stronger, David Gordon Green, USA

Submergence, Wim Wenders, France/Germany/Spain

Suburbicon, George Clooney, USA

The Brawler, Anurag Kashyap, India

The Breadwinner, Nora Twomey, Canada/Ireland/Luxembourg

The Catcher Was a Spy, Ben Lewin, USA

The Children Act, Richard Eyre, United Kingdom

The Current War, Alfonso Gomez-Rejon, USA

The Guardians, Xavier Beauvois, France

The Hungry, Bornila Chatterjee, India

The Mountain Between Us, Hany Abu-Assad, USA

The Price of Success, Teddy Lussi-Modeste, France

The Rider, Chloé Zhao, USA

The Shape of Water, Guillermo del Toro, USA

The Square, Ruben Östlund, Sweden

The Wife, Björn Runge, United Kingdom/Sweden

Thelma, Joachim Trier, Norway/Sweden/France/Denmark

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Martin McDonagh, USA

Untitled Bryan Cranston/Kevin Hart Film, Neil Burger, USA

Victoria and Abdul, Stephen Frears, United Kingdom

Woman Walks Ahead, Susanna White, USA


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