The Toronto International Film Festival, running from September 9 through 18, has released some of its most anticipated lineups today: Wavelengths, Visions, Contemporary World Cinema, Future Projections, Galas and Special Presentations. 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. First up: Visions.
Adolfo Borinaga Alix Jr's Fable of the Fish. A couple, Lina and Miguel, move into a dumpsite in Catmon, Malabon. As they adjust to their new abode and surroundings, Lina's longing to have a child intensifies. One day, Lina learns that she is pregnant. She gives birth in the middle of a storm, and those who witness the birth are shocked – her son is a fish. While Miguel cannot accept it, Lina embraces what has happened and treats the fish as her son. What unfolds is a fable that questions the needs and compromises of a real family.
Bertrand Bonello's House of Tolerance. The dawn of the XXth century: A brothel in Paris is living its last days. The women live in a state of collective intimacy and fear, baited and beloved by the nightly visits of intimate strangers, and bathed in the light of French Romantic and Impressionist painting. See the Cannes roundup; trailer.
Clarissa Campolina and Helvecio Marins Jr's Swirl. At 81, Bastu still loves a good party and dancing until dawn with her friends. When her husband dies, she is suddenly forced to rethink her life and her routine. She spends time telling stories to her grandchildren and reminiscing with friends. Magical and moving, this delicate debut is a wonderful depiction of life in the small village of Sao Romao, in the arid region of Brazil's north.
Lav Diaz's Century of Birthing. A grand meditation on the roles of the artist, Filipino director Lav Diaz's Century of Birthing tells two seemingly unrelated tales: one focusing on a filmmaker who has spent years working on his latest opus; the other about a Christian cult leader in a rural region.
Dominik Graf, Christoph Hochhäusler and Christian Petzold's Dreileben (Three Lives). A thrilling trio of interlocking films, Dreileben explores the story of an escaped murderer from three different angles, in three different styles, by three of Germany's leading filmmakers. Pages for the individual films: Graf's Don't Follow Me Around, Hochhäusler's One Minute of Darkness and Petzold's Beats Being Dead.
Debbie Tucker Green's Random. Set over the course of one day in London, Random tells the story of an ordinary family on an ordinary day whose lives are shattered by the impact of one random event. It is a lively and beautifully observed portrait of family dynamics which draws us into a moving story.
Vimukthi Jayasundara's Mushrooms. Rahul, a Bengali architect who had gone off to build a career in Dubai, returns to Kolkata to launch a huge construction site. He is reunited with his girlfriend, Paoli, who had long awaited his homecoming. Together, they try to find Rahul's brother, who is said to have gone mad, living in the forest and sleeping in the trees. Despite appearances, the two brothers might have a lot in common. See Marie-Pierre Duhamel's review and Daniel Kasman and Ryland Walker Knight's interview with Jayasundara.
Alejandro Landes's Porfirio. A man disabled by a stray police bullet lives in a world that stretches only from bed to wheelchair in a faraway city on the outskirts of the Colombian Amazon. There, he sells call time on his cellular phone to get by as he waits in vain for a government cheque and takes calls that are never for him. Determined to make himself heard, he hatches a desperately violent plan to take back the reins of his life — only to find himself back where he began. Cannes roundup.
Giorgos Lanthimos's Alps. A nurse, a paramedic, a gymnast, and her coach have formed a secret, illegal company. The service they provide is to act as stand-ins for the recently deceased, for the benefit of grieving relatives and friends. The company is called "ALPS" and the ALPS members, taking inspiration from the life of the deceased, adopt their behaviours and habits, memorizing favourite songs, actors, foods, familiar expressions. Although the members of ALPS operate under a disciplined regime demanded by the paramedic, their leader, the nurse doesn't. The Playlist has images from the press kit and the 15 rules ALPS members must abide by. Twitch has the first few images from the film itself.
Julia Loktev's The Loneliest Planet. Alex and Nica are a young couple backpacking in the Caucasus Mountains in Georgia. They hire a local guide to lead them on a camping trek, and the three set off into a stunning wilderness. Walking for hours, they trade anecdotes and play games to pass the time. And then, a momentary misstep threatens to undo everything the couple believed about each other and about themselves. The film is a tale about betrayal, both accidental and deliberate, about love, commitment and the ambiguities of forgiveness.
Matias Meyer's The Last Christeros. At the end of the 1930s, in the arid mountains of Mexico, a Christero colonel and his last men resist surrender. The men are peasants, poor but proud people. They require their government's support and need ammunition in order to fight. The support does not arrive and life in the sierra turns more difficult every day; the war is almost over. The men, in their suffering, illness and solitude, begin to feel abandoned. They are almost the last ones.
Amir Naderi's Cut. An obsessive young filmmaker becomes a human punching bag to pay off the yakuza loans that financed his films. A love poem to cinema classics from the acclaimed director of The Runner, Vegas: Based on a True Story, and A,B,C...Manhattan.
Ruben Östlund's Play, an astute observation based on real cases of bullying. In central Gothenburg, Sweden, a group of boys, aged 12-14, robbed other children on about 40 occasions between 2006 and 2008. The thieves used an elaborate manipulation scheme called the "brother trick," involving advanced role-play and gang rhetoric rather than physical violence. See Daniel Kasman's review.
Ghassan Salhab's The Mountain. As night falls over Beirut, Fadi, a 40-year-old man, packs his bags and sets out for the airport with a friend. Although he has said that he will be leaving the country for a month, when he arrives at the airport, he rents a car, gets on the highway and takes the mountainous route north.
Joaquim Sapinho's This Side of Resurrection. Questions of religious belief do not concern young Ines, who is more interested in surfing and boyfriends than in God. When her brother Rafael returns, she discovers that he had never left Portugal for Australia as she had originally thought, but had been living nearby in a monastery. As Rafael wrestles with his faith and future, Inês tries to connect with him. Exquisitely shot, Joaquim Sapinho delicately approaches themes of family, sibling love and faith in his latest feature film.
Toshiaki Toyoda's Monsters Club. Having abandoned modern civilization, Ryoichi lives an isolated, self-sufficient life on a snow-covered mountain and passes the time by sending mail bombs to corporate CEOs. But one day, a mysterious creature appears before him.
Shinya Tsukamoto's KOTOKO. The story of a single mother who suffers from double vision; caring for her baby is a nerve-wrecking task that eventually leads her to a nervous breakdown. She is suspected of being a child abuser when things get out of control and her baby is taken away. Twitch has stills.
Jan Zabeil's The River Used to be a Man. A young German man travels through an African country. He meets an old fisherman who takes him deep into the wilderness. The next morning, he finds himself alone in the middle of an endless delta. His continuous loss of control leads him into a world far beyond his own comprehension.
Image: Dreileben. If you're headed to Toronto, tiffr is a simple yet powerful way to schedule your festival. Earlier: Previously announced titles for TIFF 2011. For news and tips throughout the day every day, follow @thedailyMUBI on Twitter and/or the RSS feed.