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7 days until TIFF17

The fest adds Gaga, Dunkirk, and Denzel

The documentary Gaga: Five Foot Two premieres at TIFF

Courtesy of TIFF


Yes, there are just 7 days to go until the start of the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival. While most details for the festival are finalized, there is some late-breaking news. There are also a number of new questions. We won’t have answers until TIFF time (Sept. 7-17), but let’s ponder anyway.


What does the late announcement of Denzel Washington’s Roman Israel, Esq. mean? The sudden announcement—an updated “schedule change” appeared on TIFF.net and was taken down, before an official announcement on August 31—that Dan Gilroy’s Roman Israel, Esq. was added to the TIFF lineup was rather shocking. The 1970s-set legal drama starring Washington and Colin Farrell is the much anticipated new film from Dan Gilroy, director of 2014 TIFF success Nightcrawler. While last year’s opening film starred Washington (The Magnificent Seven), Roman Israel would’ve been a more interesting selection than the already announced Borg vs. McEnroe. Perhaps Roman simply was not finished at the time the other TIFF announcements were made. Either way, the addition shows some real confidence in the film.  


Who has the best music doc: Lady Gaga, the Tragically Hip, Eric Clapton, or Grace Jones?

Obviously, Hip documentary Long Time Running will be heavy on emotion, as will the Clapton doc Life in 12 Bars. Lady Gaga’s Five Foot Two should be a visual and sonic spectacle, and the subject is set to perform after the debut screening. But the must-see music doc might be Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami. In terms of intrigue, it’s hard to top the inimitable New Wave singer.


Speaking of Gaga, who will be this year’s most buzzed-about festival visitor?

This is always hard to predict, so let’s go with a random five. Drake, Jennifer Lawrence, Idris Elba, Angelina Jolie, and Emma Stone are all set to walk the red carpet. Expect much fan and photog enthusiasm. (To put it mildly.)


Why are there so few screenings of Call Me By Your Name?

It’s difficult to discern why the Sundance hit starring Armie Hammer only screens twice, and on the first two days of TIFF. A Bigger Splash director Luca Guadagnino’s latest, the story of a passionate romance between a teenage boy and a summer visitor, is one of the festival’s most hotly-anticipated titles.


What will be this year’s Lady Macbeth?

One of TIFF16’s most resonant entries was Lady Macbeth, a chilling period piece. Two films that could fill that slot in 2017 are Mary Shelley, a biopic of the Frankenstein author starring Elle Fanning, and Mademoiselle Paradise, a historical drama about a blind pianist and her physician. The latter is showing in the festival’s Platform program, and could be one this year’s most intriguing selections.


Will there be a better visual spectacle than the just-added Dunkirk?

That … could be a “no.” Christopher Nolan’s World War II hit will screen in IMAX at Ontario Place's Cinesphere. The director will be in attendance for a post-film conversation.


Which prestige entry is most likely to disappoint?

Two prime bits of Oscar bait at TIFF17 are Film Stars Don’t Die In Liverpool, starring Annette Bening, and The Current War, starring Benedict Cumberbatch. Both are bio pics, the former about Hollywood star Gloria Grahame, the latter about Thomas Edison. Both are the latest from directors whose last two films—Victor Frankenstein and Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, respectively—inspire little confidence.


Are the most intriguing TIFF premieres all directed by women?

That’s an easy one: Yes. From Dee Rees’s Sundance sensation, Mudbound, to Greta Gerwig’s directorial debut, Lady Bird, the female-helmed films at TIFF17 are diverse and fascinating.


Christopher Schobert is a film critic for the Buffalo News and other outlets. Follow his TIFF17 coverage on Twitter (@FilmSwoon), on BuffaloSpree.com, in the November issue of Spree, and on film websites The Film Stage and The Playlist.


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