As noted in previous lineup announcement entries, (Visions, Wavelengths, Future Projections, Galas and Special Presentations), the Toronto International Film Festival (September 9 through 18) has released some of its most anticipated lineups today. We're taking them one at a time, first posting them program by program with descriptions provided by the festival — and then returning over the coming hours and days to add links and further notes. Here's the lineup for the Contemporary World Cinema program.
Karim Aïnouz's The Silver Cliff. A phone message from her husband propels Violeta into the streets of Rio until sunrise. Telling their teenage son that a last minute trip has come up, she sets out to find her husband. Rio at night is her sole companion as she struggles to face his abrupt and sudden change of heart, but the beach also provides renewal, unexpected meetings and a window to a whole other world.
Özcan Alper's Future Lasts Forever. A young ethnomusicologist leaves Istanbul and heads to the southeast of Turkey to work on her masters thesis, gathering a collection of Anatolian elegies and stories. During her stay in Diyarbakir, she finds herself having to confront an agony from her own past in the middle of the ongoing "unnamed war."
Mohamed Asli's Rough Hands. Mustafa is an illiterate hairdresser who lives with his blind mother. He runs an underground trade as a middleman facilitating favours in exchange for money — among them is Zakia who wants to immigrate to Spain. Unable to realize her Spanish dream, she remains in her country and marries Mustafa.
Kaat Beels's Hotel Swooni. Six lives, 24 hours, and a hotel in the middle of a heat wave. Anna and Hendrik have it all: a great son, a good job, a lovely house – but the wedding they witness in the hotel forces them to reflect on the choices they have made. Violette wants to reconcile with her daughter Vicky before she dies, but Vicky struggles to let go of a hurtful past. Meanwhile, a young African refugee hides out in the hotel from the police. The lives of all these people become irrevocably intertwined until the heat breaks and the rain offers some relief.
Ridha Béhi's Always Brando. After meeting Anis Raache, a young Tunisian actor who bears a stunning resemblance to young Marlon Brando, Tunisian master Ridha Béhi decided to write a film casting the two. Marlon Brando was interested, the two met and reworked the script. Brando died before shooting started. Always Brando chronicles Béhi's saga with Marlon Brando and meditates on the lure and cruelty of the art, system and its industry.
Faouzi Bensaidi's Death for Sale. In Tetouan, at the northern edge of Morocco, three young men decide to rob a jewellery store. The heist goes awry, and their destinies part drastically. In Death for Sale, Faouzi Bensaidi draws a captivating noir portrait of a city abandoned to corrupt officials, smugglers and extremists.
Michale Boganim's Land of Oblivion. April 26, 1986: Anya and Piotr are celebrating their marriage when an accident occurs at the Chernobyl power station. As a fireman, Piotr leaves to extinguish the flames — but he never returns. Ten years later, after Chernobyl has become a no man's land and a tourist attraction, Anya is still there, working as a guide. Split between two lovers, she tries to accept the hope of a new life.
Alejandro Brugués's Juan of the Dead. The zombie world has yet to witness one last stand — Cuba. An outbreak hits the island on the anniversary of the revolution, so Juan and his friends set out to conquer the undead who, according to government reports, are unruly Americans continuing their quest of undermining the regime.
João Canijo's Blood of My Blood. Set in inner city Lisbon, this family saga about unconditional love — a mother's love for her daughter and an aunt's love for her nephew — chronicles the sacrifices these two women are willing to make to save their family.
Joseph Cedar's Footnote. This story chronicles the outcome of a great rivalry between a father and son, both professors in the Talmud department of Hebrew University in Jerusalem. (See the Cannes roundup.)
Stefano Chiantini's Islands. This story takes shape under the roof of a parsonage on the Tremiti islands. An eastern European bricklayer looking for work is befriended by a young woman who has retreated into silence and lives with a middle-aged priest. The priest is at war with his sister, the young woman is running from her past and the bricklayer is simply trying to survive. As their lives intermingle, emotions bubble to the surface.
Ribhu Dasgupta's Michael. Michael, an ex-cop, lives with his 11-year-old son and works in a theatre as a projectionist pirating DVDs for a living. When he starts receiving death threats for his son from someone in his past, he gets caught up in a complex web of his own impending blindness comprised of his insecurities. First-time director Ribhu Dasgupta teams up with India's guru of independent cinema, producer Anurag Kashyap, and veteran actor Naseeruddin Shah for this character-driven, psychological drama.
Asghar Farhadi's A Separation. When Simin's husband Nader refuses to grant her a divorce, she returns to her parents' home. Nader hires a young woman to assist in his wife's absence, hoping his life will return to normal. However, after discovering that the new maid has been lying, he realizes there is more on the line than just his marriage. (Swept the Bears at this year's Berlinale.)
Ismaël Ferroukhi's Free Men. Set in German-occupied Paris in 1942, Younes, an Algerian black marketer, is arrested by the police and agrees to spy on a Parisian mosque suspected of helping resistance fighters and Jews. Witnessing the horrors of the Nazi regime, Younes stops collaborating to become a freedom fighter.
José Henrique Fonseca's Heleno is a non-chronological and in-depth account of the life of Heleno de Freitas (1920 to 1959), a controversial and mythological Brazilian football player. Also known as "Gilda" due to his wild temper with teammates and referees, Heleno was the prince of the 1940s golden age in Rio de Janeiro when the city was a dream setting, steeped in glamour and promise. Handsome and charming, Heleno had no doubt he was going to be the biggest Brazilian footballer of all time, but the war, syphilis and a turbulent life would steer him from that destiny, down a road of glory and tragedy.
Vincent Garenq's Guilty. This true story documents the Outreau case. In 2011, Alain Marécaux and his wife were arrested, along with twelve other people, for horrible acts of paedophilia they never committed.
Han Jie's Mr. Tree. Shu (Wang Baoqiang) — whose name translates to “tree” in Mandarin — is a clownish mechanic who resides in a small mining village in Northern China. Shu has a reputation as a slacker, a drunk and a danger to himself and others. He is haunted by dreams and hallucinations, yet when one of his visions manifests as real, his fellow villagers come to regard him as a prophet. Set against the backdrop of sweeping social changes, the film is a subtle commentary on rampant urbanization in China and the relocation of entire villages. Produced by master filmmaker Jia Zhangke.
Mia Hansen-Løve's Goodbye First Love. It's Spring 1999 and Camille, 15, and Sullivan, 19, love each other passionately. Following the progression of this young, first love, the affair evolves from initial rapture to heartbreak as Sullivan decides he wants to travel the world before settling down. Driven to despair, Camille suffers deep emotional turmoil and must learn to deal with his absence.
Oliver Hermanus's Beauty. François, a white, Afrikaans-speaking 40-year-old family man, no longer cares about his happiness. Convinced of his ill-fated existence, he is wholly unprepared when a chance encounter unravels his controlled life. (Cannes roundup.)
Cristián Jiménez's Bonsái. Jiménez's debut celebrates love, literature and botany in this portrayal of a struggling writer, Julio, who finds himself writing a book about his very first experience with love in order to keep up a lie that he has told his current lover. In need of a plot, Julio turns to the romance he had eight years earlier with Emilia when both were studying literature in Valdivia. (Cannes roundup.)
Jens Lien's Sons of Norway. Nikolaj moves to Rykkin where his father has helped design the new satellite town. His father is a playful, self-declared free spirit, who firmly believes that a new community soul will flourish the Norwegian town. Nikolaj tries to make sense of life under the thumb of his optimistic and energetic father. They're a happy little alternative family — until his mother is suddenly killed in a traffic accident.
Avie Luthra's Lucky. Lucky, an AIDS orphan, is forced to leave his native village to live with his uncle in Durban. He learns about life the hard way, but forges an unlikely bond with an elderly Indian neighbour in spite of racial prejudice and language barriers. Together they go on a journey to find him a new life and family.
Yossi Madmony's Restoration. Yaakov Fidelman (Sasson Gabai, The Band's Visit) hangs on with all his might to the antique restoration workshop that has been his life's work. After his partner passes away, Fidelman rejects his son's idea to close the business and build on the site. Will he understand that his only hope for redemption is to learn to let go?
Ole Christian Madsen's Superclásico. Christian (Anders W Berthelsen) owns a wine store approaching bankruptcy – and he is just as unsuccessful in about every other aspect of life. His wife Anna (Paprika Steen) leaves him and finds work as a successful football agent in Buenos Aires, living a life of luxury with Juan Diaz, a star football player. One day, Christian arrives under the false pretence of finalizing divorce papers, but his real motives involve winning his wife back.
Joshua Marston's The Forgiveness of Blood. The lives of a teenage boy and his younger sister are thrown into turmoil when a fatal dispute over land pulls their northern-Albanian family into a bloody feud. (Notes from the Berlinale.)
Goro Miyazaki's From Up on Poppy Hill. Anime director Goro Miyazaki follows a group of Yokohama teens in their quest against a wrecking ball that threatens to destroy their school's clubhouse in preparation for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.
Gerardo Naranjo's Miss Bala. Laura, a young aspiring beauty queen, finds her dream turned against her when she unwillingly gets involved with a criminal group at war. This film explores the many extremes of modern Mexican society when the world of beauty pageants and current drug war collide. (See the Cannes roundup, plus reviews from Marie-Pierre Duhamel and Daniel Kasman. Danny and Ryland Walker Knight interviewed Naranjo in Cannes as well.)
Akin Omotoso's Man on Ground. This portrayal of rising xenophobia in South Africa tells the story of a young Nigerian man living in the African refugee tenements of Johannesburg, who disappears against the background of animosity against immigrants flaring into violent rioting. In the span of a single night, his brother, on a short visit from London, tries to uncover the mystery.
Maggie Peren's Color of the Ocean. A Spanish border patrolman of Grand Canary Island, José, decides the fate of hundreds of African boat people. When Nathalie, a German tourist, gets involved, the refugee crisis threatens to spin out of control. It's up to José to decide what to do, but he must learn to free himself first before he can help free others.
Mohammad Rasoulof's Good Bye. This is a story of a young lawyer in Tehran and her pursuit of a visa to leave the country. (See the Cannes roundup.)
Jonathan Sagall's Lipstikka. Lara is a Palestinian woman who came to London to begin a new life. She got married and now lives a comfortable, but somewhat loveless, life with her husband and 7-year-old son James. One morning, Inam, her childhood friend from Ramallah, shows up on her doorstep. Triggered by her sudden appearance, Lara's orderly life begins to crack.
Nancy Savoca's Union Square chronicles the reluctant reunion of two estranged sisters: one on the verge of marriage, the other on the brink of a nervous breakdown.
John Shank's Last Winter. Somewhere on an isolated mountainous plain, Johann has taken over his father's farm, devoting all his time and energy to his work. Surrounded by a struggling community and a natural landscape that has taught him all he knows, his heritage is his entire life. As autumn goes and winter comes, a barn burns to the ground and jeopardizes the fragile balance of the farm's survival. This is a story of a man trying to love the world he belongs to one last time, as hard as he can, before it sinks into darkness.
Lynn Shelton's Your Sister's Sister. Still mourning the recent death of his brother, a bereft and confused man finds love and direction in a most unexpected place.
Wojciech Smarzowski's Rose. Summertime 1945: the end of the war brings continued chaos and violence for Polish inhabitants of the former East Prussia. Rose is Polish and her German husband has been killed in the war, leaving her alone on their farm. A Polish army officer tries to conceal his identity as he helps protect her from suspicious Soviet soldiers and foraging people circling the farm.
Sion Sono's Himizu. The story is about a teenager who aspires to be "ordinary" within a world of chaos. Following an incident that can never be erased from his life, his wish becomes something impossible to achieve, turning him into a person obsessed to sanction evil people in society. (Twitch has stills.)
Martin Šulík's Gypsy tells the story of Adam, a 14-year-old Roma boy, who is forced into a life of crime following his father‟s mysterious death. He encounters racial, social and cultural prejudices and comes into conflict with the unwritten laws of his own community. (The trailer's not embeddable.)
Suseendran's Azhagarsamy's Horse. In a small Tamil village, a ceremonial wooden-horse statue goes missing. With a crucial holy symbol suddenly gone, the village falls into recriminations and comic chaos. At the same time, Azhagarsamy, a young man who earns his livelihood by ferrying loads on his horse, puts his marriage on hold when his horse also disappears.
Christophe Van Rompaey's Lena. Seventeen-year-old Lena is overweight, shy and allows others to take advantage of her. She puts up with an overbearing mother, an egotistical best friend and belittling mates. When she meets Daan, a charming, good-looking young lad, it could either be too good to be true or the well-deserved beginning of a happier life. To find out, she must find the inner strength and beauty she didn't know she had.
Nacho Vigalondo's Extraterrestrial. Julio and Julia don't know each other, but they wake up in the same bed horribly hungover and with no memory of the night before. He falls in love with her almost immediately – she does not. The last thing they expect to discover is that an alien invasion has taken place. Vigalondo melds science fiction, romance and black comedy in his latest feature about the darkly fascinating aspects of the human psyche.
Tawfik Abu Wael's Last Days in Jerusalem. A lens into the emotional upheaval of a Palestinian couple's last moments before leaving their native city, Jerusalem, to forge a brighter future in Paris. Iyad is a surgeon at the top of his game; Nour is a young actress with an intellectual bourgeois background — attractive, independent and whimsical. On the way to the airport, a news report of a terrible accident means Iyad must return to work, delaying their departure. Abandoned by her husband once again, Nour starts to question the move and their marriage.
Bryan Wizemann's Think of Me. Angela, a single mother, struggles to make ends meet for her daughter. Beneath the Las Vegas neon glow, her life hits a breaking point, presenting her with an impossible choice: keep trying to make things work, or let it all go for the promise of something better.
Xiaolu Guo's UFO in Her Eyes. Kwok Yun leads a simple peasant's life in the peaceful village mountains. She lives with her grandfather and works as a labourer. Following a countryside tryst with a married man, she spots a UFO – a giant glowing object in the shape of a dumpling. Later that same day, she helps a snake-bitten American businessman who disappears as mysteriously as the UFO. Using the unexpected events for political gain, the ambitious village leader, Chief Chang, stimulates tourism with UFO tours and gets the local economy roaring, despite the dangers such radical change can bring, especially to the environment. (In 2009, the Guardian spoke with Xiaolu Guo about the book.)
Martin P Zandvliet's A Funny Man. Opening in the seductive style of the 1960s, A Funny Man uncovers the perennial loneliness that comedian Dirch Passer (Nikolaj Lie Kaas) has found himself in after a fast-track rise to fame, despite being surrounded by a mélange of wealth, women, alcohol and infamy.
Roschdy Zem's Omar Killed Me. February 2, 1994: Omar Raddad, a Moroccan gardener, is sentenced to 18 years for the murder of a wealthy widow in Marseille, France. Convinced of Raddad's innocence, a journalist sets out to defend his case.
Andrey Zvyagintsev's Elena. Vladmir, an affluent man, drives his second wife Elena to desperation after he patches things up with his estranged daughter and decides to leave her all his money in the event of his death. Elena's son is unemployed, unable to support his own family and is constantly asking Elena for money. Elena's hope to financially rescue her son suddenly vanishes. The shy and submissive housewife then comes up with a plan to give her son and grandchildren a real chance in life.
Barbara Willis Sweete's Billy Bishop Goes to War. From the director of Thirty Two Short Films About Glenn Gould.
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