Thursday, July 30, 2009

More Films Announced

The festival released the names of 8 more films, 4 in the Gala programme, and 4 in Special Presentations.

Galas include:

  • The Damned United, from Tom Hooper, with Michael Sheen as Brian Clough, who took over as manager of the Leeds United football team for a short time during the 70's.
  • Dil Bole Hadippa, from Anurag Singh, with Rani Mukherjee as a girl who masquerades as a man to join a male-only cricket team in her village.
  • Micmacs (Micmacs à tire-larigot), from Jean-Pierre Jeunet, a "fantastical comedy" in which a group of friends conspire to bring down two arms manufacturers.
  • What's Your Raashee?, from Ashutosh Gowariker based on the novel Kimball Ravenswood, follows a man who has 10 days to find a girl to marry in order to save his family from ruin.

In Special Presentations:

  • The Good Heart, from Dagur Kári, about a bar owner (Brian Cox), who takes a homeless boy under his wing.
  • The Hole, from Joe Dante, about two brothers (Chris Massoglia and Nathan Gamble) and their neighbour (Hayley Bennett) who find a bottomless hole in the boys' basement. Also stars Teri Polo and Bruce Dern.
  • Soul Kitchen, from Fatih Akin, about a restaurant owner struggling with keeping his place alive and his long-distance girlfiend.
  • Up in the Air, a comedy from Jason Reitman (Juno), starring George Clooney as a jet-setting downsizing expert.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Additional Galas and Special Presentation Films

The festival announced additional films today for the Gala and Special Presentation programmes.

The new galas are:

  • Dorian Gray, an adaptation of the Oscar Wilde novel from director Oliver Parker and starring Ben Barnes and Colin Firth.
  • The Private Lives of Pippa Lee, with Rebecca Miller directing from her own novel, starring Robin Wright Penn as a wife and mother whose life is challenged after she moves to a retirement community with her much older husband (Alan Arkin).

In the Special Presentations programme, new films include:

  • Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans, from Werner Herzog, starring Nicolas Cage as a New Orleans police detective trying to bring down a drug dealer while dealing with his own personal demons.
  • Capitalism: A Love Story, from documentarian Michael Moore. Here, Moore looks at how capitalism and corporations affect regular Americans.
  • Harry Brown, from director Daniel Barber, starring Michael Caine as a man pushed to breaking point after the gang leader who murdered Caine's best friend is set free.
  • Perrier's Bounty, from director Ian Fitzgibbon, a comedy that finds Cillian Murphy as Michael, on the run from a gangster named Perrier (Brendan Gleeson), with his father (Jim Broadbent) and best friend in tow.
  • A Serious Man, from the Coen brothers Joel and Ethan. The festival describes the film as "imaginatively exploring questions of faith, familial responsibility, delinquent behaviour, dental phenomena, academia, mortality and Judaism -and intersections thereof".
  • Triage, from Danis Tanovic, with Colin Farrell as a war photographer with hidden secrets about the disappearance of his colleague in Kurdistan.
  • Whip It, the directorial debut of actor Drew Barrymore, looks at the world of women's roller-derby. Features a jam-packed cast with Ellen Page, Marcia Gay Harden, Kristen Wiig, Juliette Lewis, Eve, Jimmy Fallon, Daniel Stern, Alia Shawkat,and Ari Graynor.
  • Women Without Men, from Shirin Neshat, based on the novel by Sharnush Parsipur. The film looks at the lives of four women in Iran in 1953, when a coup lead to the re-installation of the Shah in place of the democratically elected government.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

More Film Announcements

The festival announced more films today in across three of its programmes.

In the Special Presentations section, films announced include:

  • Broken Embraces (Los abrazos rotos), the latest from filmmaker Pedro Almodovar. Lluis Homar plays Harry Caine, a blind writer who has to face the submerged demons from his past. Also stars (of course) Penelope Cruz.
  • An Education, directed by Lone Scherfig from a Nick Hornby screenplay, set in 1960s London, and about a young teenage girl coming of age and having to make a decision between university and a much older man. Starring Carey Mulligan, Peter Sarsgaard, Alfred Molina, Rosamund Pike, Olivia Williams, and Emma Thompson among others.
  • The Front Line (La prima linea), from director Renato De Maria, following a couple that belongs to the left-wing terrorist group Prima Linea in Italy in the 1970s and 80s.
  • Glorious 39, from writer/director Stephen Poliakoff, a thriller set on the eve of World War II, with Romola Garai, Bill Nighy, Julie Christie, David Tennant, Christopher Lee, Hugh Bonneville, Jenny Agutter, Jeremy Northam, and others.
  • Kamui, Yoichi Sai's live-action version of the Japanese manga Kamui Gaiden (The Legend of Kamui), about ninja Kamui (Kenichi Matsuyama) trying to escape his clan. In his travels he meets ninja Sugaru (Koyuki) in a similar situation.
  • Life During Wartime, from writer/director Todd Solondz (Happiness, Storytelling), characterized as a "part-sequel, part-companion piece" to Happiness, with Shirley Henderson, Ciaran Hinds, Allison Janney, Ally Sheedy, Gaby Hoffman, Paul Reubens, Charlotte Rampling, and others.
  • A Prophet (Un prophète), about a young Arab man (Tahar Rahim), sent to a French prison, where he soon runs up against the Corsican gang that holds sway.
  • The Secret of Their Eyes (El secreto de sus ojos), from director/co-writer Juan José Campanella, about an Argentinian court secretary who decides to write a book about a 30-year old case that still haunts him.

In the Discovery programme, which focuses on films from new directors, 21 films were announced:

  • The Angel (Enkeli), the feature-film debut of Norwegian documentarian Margreth Olin, about a young mother with a past history of drug abuse.
  • Applause, from writer/director Martin Pieter Zandvliet, about an actress who, fresh from rehab, tries to reconnect with her two estranged sons while keeping her inner demons at bay.
  • Bare Essence of Life (Urutora mirakuru rabu sutôrî), finds Kenichi Matsuyama (who is also in the festival this year in Kamui) playing a farmer who falls in love for the first time with a Tokyo nursery school teacher still grieving over the death of her boyfriend.
  • Beautiful Kate, from director/screenwriter Rachel Ward based on a novel by Newton Thornburg, stars Ben Mendelsohn as a writer who is called home by his sister (Rachel Griffiths) to make peace with his dying father (Bryan Brown). While home, long buried secrets soon reveal themselves.
  • A Brand New Life, from writer/director Ounie Lecomte, about a young girl abandoned by her father in an orphanage.
  • The Disappearance of Alice Creed, from writer/director J. Blakeson, about a woman kidnapped by two ex-convicts. With Gemma Arterton, Eddie Marsan, and Martin Compston.
  • Eamon, from writer/director Margaret Corkery, about a love triangle between a father, mother, and son, brought to a head at a holiday gathering.
  • Every Day Is a Holiday (Chaque jour est une fête), from director Dima El-Horr, about three Lebanese women on a trip to visit their imprisoned mates.
  • Five Hours from Paris, from director/co-writer Leon Prudovsky, a romance between an Israeli cab driver and a Russian music teacher in Tel Aviv.
  • Heliopolis, from director/writer Ahmad Abdalla, about a day in the life of a group of people in a Cairo neighbourhood.
  • The Day Will Come (Es kommt der Tag), from director Susanne Schneider, about a woman tracked down by the-now adult daughter she once gave up for adoption, so she could go underground and join a terrorist group.
  • Le Jour où Dieu est parti en voyage (aka Rwanda April 7, 1994), from director Philippe van Leeuw, a view of the Rwandan genocide through one woman's eyes.
  • Last Ride, from director Glendyn Ivin, about a man his 10-year old son on the run from the law.
  • My Dog Tulip, from husband-and-wife team Paul Fierlinger and Sandra Fierlinger, an animated film about an old man and his dog, with the voices of Christopher Plummer and Isabella Rossellini.
  • My Tehran for Sale, from director/writer Granaz Moussavi, about a young actress in Tehran forced to keep her artistic expression hidden, who is offered a way out by a young Irani man now living in Australia.
  • Northless (Norteado), from director Rigoberto Perezcano, a view of Tijuana seen through the eyes of a young man waiting to sneak across the border into the US.
  • La Soga, from director Josh Crook, a drama set in the Dominican Republic.
  • Shirley Adams, from Oliver Hermanus, about the life of a woman abandoned by her husband and committed to tend to her son, partially paralyzed from a shooting.
  • Toad's Oil (Gama no abura), from star/director/co-writer Koji Yakusho, about a day trader who tries to reconnect with his young son after a tragedy befalls the family.
  • Together Matias (Sammen), from director/writer Armand Jordal, about a father and son who must find a way to build a new relationship after an accident shatters their family.
  • The Unloved, the directorial debut of actor Samantha Morton, about a young girl taken from her abusive family and put into government care. Starring Robert Carlyle.

Finally, the festival announced 9 new films for the Vanguard programme:

  • Accident (Yi ngoi), from director Soi Cheang, about a group of assassins who stage accidents to conceal their kills.
  • The Ape (Apan), from writer/director Jesper Ganslandt, about a man who must rebuild his life after a tragedy. I saw one of Ganslandt's previous films, Falkenberg Farewell, at the festival back in 2006.
  • Bunny and the Bull, from writer/director Paul King, about two friends who relive a European road trip without leaving their living room.
  • The Dirty Saints (Rio Fijman), from Luis Ortega, about five people who flee the ruins of the city to reach their salvation in "El Lugar", but must face mysterious forces trying to stop them.
  • Enter the Void (Soudain le vide), from writer/director Gaspar Noé, about a drug dealer who traverses the void between life and death in Japan.
  • Hipsters (Stilyagi), a musical from writer/director/librettist Valery Todorovsky, about "style hunters", youth obsessed with western culture, in 50's Russia.
  • The Misfortunates (De helaasheid der dingen), from director/co-writer Felix Van Groeningen, about a young teenaged boy and his drunken father and uncles.
  • My Queen Karo, from writer/director Dorothée van den Berghe, about a young girl and her family, who move to a squatter community in Amsterdam in the 70's.
  • Spring Fever (Chun feng chen zui de ye wan), from director Ye Lou, about a doomed gay love triangle.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Wavelengths Announced

The festival announced today the works in the Wavelengths programme, which is focused on avant-garde film and video productions. Full details can be found in the press release below:

Documentary and Midnight Madness Films

The festival made a number of announcements today:

In addition to the existing Cadillac People's Choice Award (Slumdog Millionaire won last year), there will be new Cadillac People's Choice Awards specific for Documentaries and for Midnight Madness films.

The complete Midnight Madness lineup has been announced. Highlights below:

  • Jennifer's Body, starring Megan Fox, with a script by Diablo Cody.
  • A Town Called Panic, an animated film from Belgium/Luxembourg/France.
  • Bitch Slap, from the creators of Xena and Hercules.
  • Daybreakers, a sci-fi vampire film starring Ethan Hawke, Willem Dafor, and Sam Neill.
  • Survival of the Dead, a new film from George Romero.
  • The Loved Ones, from Australia.
  • Ong Bak 2: The Beginning, a prequel of sorts to Ong Bak, from Tony Jaa who does double-duty as director and star.
  • [REC] 2, a sequel to [REC], which was remade recently as Quarantine.
  • Solomon Kane, about a mercenary in 16th-century England, from the writings of Robert E. Howard, the creator of Conan the Barbarian.
  • Symbol, from director and star Hitoshi Matsumoto.

Some of the documentaries for the festival have also been announced. These include:

  • The White Stripes Under Great White Northern Lights: follows The White Stripes as they tour across Canada.
  • The Art of the Steal: looks at the outcome of a famous collection of Post-Impressionist paintings following the death of its owner.
  • Bassidji: a study of the Bassidjis, extreme supporters of the Iranian republic.
  • Cleanflix: examines the industry around providing clean versions of R-rated films.
  • Collapse: looks at Michael Ruppert's pessimistic thoughts around the future of the planet.
  • Colony: a film about colony collapse disorder, affecting bee colonies around the US.
  • Google Baby: looks at the burgeoning industry in India for provide surrogate mothers for childless western couples.
  • How to Fold a Flag: follows US veterans of Iraq readjusting to life stateside, from the filmmakers of Gunner Palace.
  • L'Enfer de Henri-Georges Clouzot: images from Henri-Georges Clouzot's (Diabolique) unfinished film L'Enfer withRomy Schneider.
  • The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers: The story of the man who leaked top secretpapers on the history of the US involement in Vietnam to the New York Times.
  • Presumed Guilty: A view of the Mexican legal system through two lawyer's efforts to clear a wrongly convicted man.
  • Schmatta: Rags to Riches to Rags: a history of New York's garment district.
  • Snowblind: focuses on Rachael Scdoris, a blind 23-year-old woman competing in the Iditarod.
  • The Topp Twins: Untouchable Girls: a film about New Zealand lesbian country-and-western singers.
  • Videocracy: examines Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's expansive media empire.
  • Good Hair: Chris Rock's look at the culture of African American hair.
  • Turtle: The Incredible Journey: Follows a turtle in its look at how marine life is being impacted by environmental changes.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Other Coverage of Opening Film

Following on from the previous post, Gayle MacDonald in The Globe and Mail, and Martin Knelman in The Toronto Star both comment on yesterday's announcement by the festival of Creation as the opening film of the festival. Both note that this is only the third time in the history of the festival that a non-Canadian film has opened, and the first since 1996 (the other two are Fly Away Home and In Country).

None of the Canadian industry folks interviewed by MacDonald seemed overly concerned by the move, and both MacDonals and Knelman make reference to the fact that some in the industry view the opening slot as less than desirable from a commercial point of view.

Creation to Open Festival

The festival announced that Creation, a film based on the life of Charles Darwin and starring real-life husband and wife Paul Bettany and Jennifer Connelly, will open the festival this year. This year is the 200th anniversary of Darwin's birth.

As Chandra Menard at blogTO noted (, this is an unusual choice as it is a UK, not a Canadian film.

Usually, the festival chooses a Canadian film to open the festival:

2008: Passchendaele from Paul Gross
2007: Fugitive Pieces from Jeremy Podeswa
2006: The Journals of Knud Rasmussen from Zacharias Kunuk
2005: Water from Deepha Mehta
2004: Being Julia from István Szabó
2003: Les Invasions Barbares from Denys Arcand

Menard quotes Piers Handling as reaffirming the festival's commitment to Canadian film, and that the Canadian lineup will be announced within the next few weeks.

Ticket Exchanges

Thanks to Greg from for pointing out that in the latest mailing to festival goers, it lists that if you want to exchange a ticket to one film for a different film or screening, there is a $2.50 charge per ticket. Tickets can be exchanged up until the day before the actual screening.
The interesting thing to all this is that the festival general policies on the official site actually currently state that there are no ticket exchanges allowed.

I'm not sure if this fee will be in effect or not on ticket package pickup day, but I would tend to imagine so. The impact for anyone who has bought one of the "You Choose" type packages is that if you make a backup choice for one of your movie selections, and you get the backup, then if you decide you want to pick something else instead, you may get dinged for $2.50 to make the switch.

One alternative is to not make a second choice if there really isn't anything else you want to watch in a particular time slot. If you don't receive your first choice and you haven't indicated a backup, then you will receive a voucher that can be used just like cash to purchase a ticket to another film.

If you haven't participated in the advance order process before, this probably doesn't make any sense to you. As we draw nearer to the festival, I will be posting an updated guide to the process.

Another alternative is to try and sell off your ticket the day of the screening to someone in the rush line (i.e. someone who is hoping that someone doesn't show up for a sold-out screening). This is a pretty common occurrence, and I've both bought and sold tickets in this situation.

Box Office Update

As of July 15, 2009, the following packages are sold out on the festival online box office:

  • Day Package Lite
  • Student Card for Friday, September 11
  • Student Card for Saturday, September 12
  • Student Card for Sunday, September 13
  • Visa Screening Room Weekend Evening Package
  • Visa Screening Room Mid-Festival Package

Still available:

  • 10-ticket Package
  • Festival Package
  • Festival Package Lite
  • Day Package
  • Student Card for Monday, September 14 through to Saturday, September 19
  • Sutton 2-Day Package
  • Sutton 3-Day Package
  • 6:00 PM Visa Screening Room Evening Package
  • 9:00 PM Visa Screening Room Evening Package
  • Visa Screening Room 2-Day Package
  • Visa Screening Room 3-Day Package
  • City to City Package
  • Wavelengths Package
  • Midnight Madness Package
  • Globetrotter Weekend/Evening Package
  • Globetrotter Daytime Package
  • Festival Experience Evening/Weekend Package
  • Festival Experience Daytime Package
  • Roy Thomson Hall Closing Night Film and Cocktail

Additional Films Announced

Yesterday the festival announced three films for the Gala Presentations programme, and 19 films for the Special Presentations programme. The full press release can be found here:

Gala highlights include:

  • Get Low, from director Aaron Schneider, starring Robert Duvall, Bill Murray, and Sissy Spacek.
  • The Invention of Lying, starring Ricky Gervais.
  • Precious: Based on the Novel "Push" by Sapphire, starring Mo'Nique, Mariah Carey, and Lenny Kravitz among others.

Special Presentations highlights include:

  • The Boys Are Back, starring Clive Owen.
  • Bright Star, a John Keats biopic from director Jane Campion, with Ben Whishaw and Abbie Cornish.
  • Cracks, with Eva Green.
  • The Informant!, from director Steven Soderbergh and starring Matt Damon.
  • Leaves of Grass, staring Edward Norton playing identical twin brothers.
  • Mother, from director Bong Joon-ho (The Host).
  • Ondine, from filmmaker Neil Jordan, starring Colin Farrell.
  • Partir, starring Kristin Scott Thomas.
  • Solitary Man, starring Michael Douglas, Susan Sarandon, Danny DeVito, Mary Louise Parker, and Jenna Fischer.
  • Vengeance, from director Johnny To.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Ticket Package Sales

As previously mentioned, ticket packages are now on sale to the general public (although you can only pay by Visa at this point in time). So far, as of 11:30 AM, everything is still available except for the Visa Screening Room Weekend Evening Package (which allows you to see 6:00 PM showings at the Visa Screening Room on Sept 11, 12, and 13).

Normally, the Visa Screening Room and Roy Thomson Hall packages tend to sell out first, most of the others usually still have availability until closer to the festival. Note that any of the "You Choose" packages really should be purchased before the Advance Order Process occurs in late August to take full advantage of them.

Check out the festival web site at for details on how and where to purchase tickets.

Update (July 6, 2009, 7:35 PM): The Day Package Lite (15 films before 5:01 PM) is also sold out. All other packages (except for the previously mentioned two) are still available.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Ticket Packages on Sale Monday, July 6, 2009

Just a reminder that ticket packages go on sale to the general public starting 10:00 AM, on Monday, July 6. 2009. Note that at this point you can only purchase using a Visa card (Visa is a major sponsor of the festival). If you want to purchase ticket packages using cash or debit, you have to wait until 10:00 AM on Monday, July 13, 2009.

Check out my previous post on packages available for the 2009 festival:

Ticket packages either give you tickets to films pre-selected by the festival, or allow you to participate in the advance order process. The advance order process lets you select your own films in late August/early September, before sales open up to the general public.

If you just want to buy a ticket or two, or don't want to go to the trouble of participating in the advance order process, you can wait until 7:00 AM on September 4, 2009 to purchase tickets.

My experiences at the Toronto International Film Festival. Note this blog is not affiliated with the Toronto International Film Festival Group or the festival itself.
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