The Toronto Film Festival is banking on a “star-studded” event with a strong American presence in September, having fielded 60 films for the highest-profile Gala and Special Presentations programs amid historic Hollywood walkouts.
Roy Thomson Hall will host the world premiere of Craig Gillespie’s GameStop saga. dumb money, starring Paul Dano, Pete Davidson, Shailene Woodley and Seth Rogen; and there are international bows for the Sundance success of American director Chloe Domont Fair play which went to Netflix, and another Netflix title, NYAD, a biographical film about marathon swimmer Diana Nyad starring Jodie Foster and Annette Bening from free solo directors Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin.
TIFF previously announced a gala world premiere for Taika Waititi’s Next goal winsa football comedy starring Will Arnett and Michael Fassbender and is slated for an upcoming release from Searchlight Pictures.
Of course, it remains to be seen if Hollywood A-listers will head to Canada or skip the 48th edition, as SAG-AFTRA has banned striking members from promoting major studio and streamer-linked titles at fall film festivals like Toronto and Venice.
Despite that backdrop, TIFF has reserved a host of actor-turned-director films for its special appearances sidebar. That includes world premieres of Michael Keaton knox leaves, his second directorial effort in which he stars alongside Marcia Gay Harden and James Marsden; The directorial debut of Anna Kendrick woman of the hour; Chris Pine’s first feature film, pool man, where he stars alongside Annette Bening and Danny DeVito. She also gets a first look at Maggie Betts. The burial, a courtroom drama starring Jamie Foxx opposite Tommy Lee Jones.
“Get ready to experience an unforgettable celebration of film and a memorable, star-studded festival showcasing the best of world cinema for movie lovers in September,” Toronto festival executive director Cameron Bailey said in a statement Monday after SAG-AFTRA actors joined members of the Writers Guild of America on the picket lines at a major protest against Hollywood film and television producers.
In all, TIFF announced 37 world premieres, seven international premieres, and 12 North American premieres as part of its first wave of official selections.
First Looks at the Special Performances Schedule Include Reservations for Grant Singer’s Reptile, a Netflix murder mystery starring Frances Fisher, Alicia Silverstone and Benicio Del Toro; David Yates crime film pain scammers, directed by Emily Blunt; niclas larsson mother’s sofa, led by Taylor Russell, Ewan McGregor and Ellen Burstyn; and by Greg Kwedar Sing Sing.
Toronto is waiting for the Hollywood actors’ strike to end on September 7, when its 2023 edition will kick off and run through September 17, or the Canadian festival can do so with far fewer A-listers on its red carpets this year to get a lot of US-acquired titles in front of movie buyers as part of its informal marketplace.
Toronto also booked world premieres in the special appearances program for Tony Goldwyn’s Ezra, a star-driven US title led by Bobby Cannavale, Robert De Niro and Rose Byrne; Azazel Jacobs his three daughters; Cord Jefferson’s feature film directorial debut american fiction, starring Jeffrey Wright and Issa Rae; and the Alex Gibney documentary In Restless Dreams: The Music of Paul Simonwhich follows one half of the Simon & Garfunkel duo as Simon made his latest album, seven psalms.
Announcements of the gala lineup and Monday’s special presentations were supposed to come out on July 19 but were delayed until this week as the festival held talks with independent producers, major studios and broadcasters and Hollywood agents about which American titles would be coming to Toronto in September, A-list stars or not, for glitz and glamour.
Toronto also hosted the international premieres of Ethan Hawke’s biopic Flannery Connor. Wildcat, starring his daughter Maya Hawke; by George C Wolfe rustin, a biopic of civil rights icon Bayard Rustin for Netflix and the Obamas’ Higher Ground banner; and Alexander Payne the remnants, starring Paul Giamatti and set for a Thanksgiving release date after Focus Features acquired the high school comedy-drama for $30 million as part of the Toronto informal market a year ago.
Many of the US titles unveiled Monday are similarly headed to Toronto with US, North American and international distribution rights up for grabs and seeking major acquisition deals, either at the festival or exiting TIFF.
Elsewhere in the first wave of Gala and Special Presentations titles, there is a focus on international auteur cinema and the voices of emerging directors. british survival movie The end we started fromfrom director Mahalia Belo and starring Jodie Comer and Benedict Cumberbatch, who also produces, garnered a Gala world premiere slot, as did another UK title, the Ellen Kuras biopic Lee Miller. Leewardwith Kate Winslet.
And Roy Thomson Hall will host world arcs for two Canadian films, I Hate to Love: Nickelbackfrom director Leigh Brooks, and Sophie Dupuis Only, starring Théodore Pellerin in his third collaboration with Dupuis, and French actor Félix Maritaud; Ning Hao’s title can also be seen for the first time as a Gala title. The movie emperor from China; and Honey Trehan Punjab ’95, from India; and South Korean director Um Tae-Hwa concrete utopia will debut in North America as a Gala title, as will Australian director Warwick Thornton’s The new boy, starring Cate Blanchett and had a world premiere at Cannes. And there’s a Canadian premiere at Roy Thomson Hall for Kitty Green’s the royal hotelan Australian/British film.
Hollywood’s historic dual walkouts have posed a major challenge for Toronto by serving as a key fall launch pad for major independent and specialty studio and broadcast titles. Despite the Screen Actors Guild’s ban on film promotion, A-list actors with directorial debuts or follow-up titles can still come to Toronto to promote their latest work in their directorial capacity, launching awards season campaigns and national releases later in the year or through 2024. And Hollywood actors can get SAG-AFTRA exemptions to promote upcoming independent films not aligned with studios or broadcasters.
If there’s international star power secured on the special appearances sidebar, it’s probably going to come with world premieres from Kristin Scott Thomas. North Star, a UK title where The English Patient the actress stars alongside Scarlett Johansson and Siena Miller; British director James Hawes A life, starring Anthony Hopkins, Helena Bonham Carter, Lena Olin, and Jonathan Pryce; by Michael Winterbottom Shoshana, directed by Harry Melling and Douglas Booth; Lee Tamahori’s New Zealand epic the convert, with Guy Pearce and Te Kohe Tuhaka; by British director Anand Tucker The critic, starring Gemma Arterton, Ben Barnes, Mark Strong and Lesley Manville; and the second work as director of Viggo Mortensen, the dead don’t hurta western that will also feature Vicky Krieps.
There are also world arcs in the special performances sidebar for Thea Sharrock’s British period comedy. wicked little letters, starring Olivia Colman, Jessie Buckley and Timothy Spall; New Zealand’s photo Scandal from directors Paul Middleditch and Hamish Bennett; and the protagonist of Ben Hardy unicornsfrom directors James Khrishna Floyd and Sally El Hosaini, who brought TIFF the 2022 festival opening, Netflix’s The swimmers.
And there are world premieres in Lukas Muddysson’s high-profile sidebar together 99, The Swedish director’s sequel to his 2000 crossover hit Togethera dramatic comedy set in a Swedish commune in the 1970s; Farmers, from directors DK Welchman and Hugh Welchman; by South Korean director Hur Jin-ho a normal family; by dominic savage Near you, a UK/Canada co-production; and Canadian director Chloe Robichaud days of happinessstarring Sophie Desmarais and is scheduled to hit theaters in Quebec on October 20.
The special presentations program also has North American premieres of Richard Linklater Hitman, the action comedy starring Glenn Powell and Adria Arjona; Catherine Briellat’s erotic thriller Last summer, that it competed in Cannes; and Other Cannes Kore-eda Hirokazu’s Competition Titles Monsterby Marco Bellocchio kidnaped and Alice Rohrwacher The Chimera.
There are international premieres of Christos Nikou’s nails, starring Jessie Buckley and Riz Ahmed and already acquired by Apple Studios; and a difficult year, a comedy by Eric Toledano and Olivier Nakache, the French filmmakers best known for their earlier comedy untouchable.
Toronto also booked additional North American releases for Michel Franco’s Memory, a US/Mexico production; South Korean director Ryoo Seung-wan smugglers; by Bertrand Bonello The beast; and the Argentine director Daniela Goggi The Rapture.
And TIFF has given Canadian ties to the Cannes Palme D’Or winner anatomy of a fall the French director Justine Triet; and Jonathan Glazer’s bracing Holocaust-themed drama The Zone of Interest, which won second prize after its world premiere at Cannes.
Toronto previously announced a special performance space for Atom Egoyan’s seven veils, the opera-inspired drama starring Amanda Seyfried; and French director Ladj Ly’s the undesirables.
The Toronto Film Festival programmers will make additional programming announcements in the coming weeks.