Highlights from TIFF's first (Cumber)batch of announcements



Photo from "12 Years a Slave" courtesy of TIFF.net

 

The Toronto International Film Festival is the only major fest I am able to attend each year, so it’s a bit like my Super Bowl. Covering TIFF for Buffalo Spree has been an amazing experience—here is my post-festival analysis from last year—and each year seems to bring new pleasures. In many ways, the festival is an indicator of all the hits (and misses) audiences in Buffalo and beyond can expect for the remainder of the year.

I’m always thrilled to hear the first batch of announcements, and Tuesday morning’s press conference certainly included some films I was hoping would hit TO. Some thoughts:

 

·   12 Years a Slave skips Venice for Toronto: This is big. Steve McQueen’s Shame was my favorite film of TIFF 2011—and of 2011, period—so I’m personally thrilled. Skipping Venice and debuting in TO is a major coup for Cameron Bailey and his fellow TIFF organizers.

·   The full Midnight Madness line-up is coming on July 30: It is always fun to see what’s in store here. Last year, I did not make it to any of them. Funny, I recall DESPERATELY wanting to attend the Seven Psychopaths midnight screening. Glad I waited …

·   TIFF’s 2013 MVPs: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Benedict Cumberbatch, Colin Firth, and Mia Wasikowska all appear in multiple films. Cumberbatch is in three (!), most notably opening night film The Fifth Estate, in which he plays Julian Assange.

·  Under the Skin finally arrives: Jonathan Glazer’s (Sexy Beast, Birth) Scarlett Johansson-starring quasi-sci-fi film has been in production for a lonnng time. Very exciting to see it here.

·  Lots of Cannes hits: The controversial Palme d’Or winner Blue is the Warmest Colour, Like Father Like Son, and Jim Jarmusch’s Only Lovers Left Alive were three of the most buzzed-about Cannes 2013 entries.

·  The return of Jason Reitman: The first movie I ever saw at TIFF was Reitman’s Juno, and Jared Mobarak and I had the privilege of shaking the director’s hand afterwards. (I’m sure he was thrilled.) Labor Day, starring Josh Brolin and Kate Winslet, seems like a perfect story for his typical blend of humor and drama.

·   Oscar buzz: August: Osage County, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, Dallas Buyer’s Club, Rush, The Fifth Estate, and Gravity are already in the mix.

·   The return of hometown TIFF favorites: In addition to Reitman, Don McKellar and Atom Egoyan are back; the full Canadian lineup is coming soon.

·   Some films I did not even know were in production are screening here: I had no idea Jason Bateman was directing a film (Bad Words), that the late James Gandolfini was starring with Julia Louis-Dreyfus in Nicole Holofcener’s next project (Enough Said), or that Kelly Reichardt’s follow-up to Meek’s Cutoff was finished (Night Moves).

·   Missing in action (so far): There is still lots of time for more announcements; TIFF maestro Cameron Bailey said the first batch only included about one-quarter of the complete lineup. But some I’m still hoping to see added are Spike Lee’s Oldboy, Terry Gilliam’s The Zero Theorem (it is playing Venice), and Anton Corbijn’s A Most Wanted Man. Also missing, so far, are three of the best-reviewed films at Cannes: the Coen Brothers’ Inside Llewyn Davis, Robert Redford in All Is Lost, and Alexander Payne‘s Nebraska.

 

I’ll be covering TIFF 2013 for Spree, and also on my site, FilmSwoon.com, so there is plenty more to come. It’s on, kids …

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