Amir here, with a sore throat after a few hours of screaming in excitement. Like Oscar nomination morning, 'TIFF lineup announcement day' (what a mouthful) is marked on my calendar in prominent colours every year. It's a day that brings a combination of excitement, endless 'what-to-watch?' dilemmas, and the dread of having to plan a 40 film a week schedule while still attending to unwanted obstacles like eating and sleeping and day jobs. If you followed this morning's press conference by the festival's directors, you know that only about a quarter of the films that will eventually grace the screens were named and the actual schedule isn't even out yet, but such is the nature of festival going. It gets you going long before the curtains are raised.
Naturally, for a festival that screens nearly 300 films every year, the list is an eclectic mix of hotly anticipated Oscar players, critically acclaimed titles from other festivals earlier in the year and auteur titles that have slipped under the radar so far. It is among this latter bunch, for instance, where my most anticipated film of the year, Sylvain Chomet's live action debut Attila Marcel, showed up in the announcement this morning, greeted by a shriek that had my poor co-workers jumping in their seats.
One mild surprise came in the words "World Premiere" that preceded the not-so surprising inclusion of 12 Years a Slave. [more...]
Steve McQueen's latest was always going to follow in Shame's footsteps to Toronto. That it's skipping the Venice festival a week earlier is the eyebrow-raiser. Whether the film will use the fall festival platform to launch an awards campaign is left to be seen, though the strategy failed in the case of his divisive previous film.
That doesn't mean TIFF is at all short on Oscar players. Chief among the big titles is Alfonso Cuaron's Gravity, which will come to Canada straight from the opening slot of the Venice festival - where it plays out of competition. John Wells's August: Osage County is bringing its star-studded cast to town, too, though my policy of dedicating my time entirely to curious discoveries and foreign fare that won't be released for months (if at all) means this film is nowhere near the top of my wish list. That said the chance to reunite with Ewan McGregor might be too tempting to resist. The festival's opening night film, Bill Condon's tale of Wikileaks in The Fifth Estate, could also be part of the conversation later in the year, particularly for its leading man Benedict Cumberbatch. Another best actor hopeful, Colin Firth, has The Railway Man in the festival, while Ron Howard's much anticipated Rush will also be unveiled. Jonathan Glazer's Under the Skin and perennial Toronto favourite Jason Reitman's Labor Day both make a stop here as well.
Meanwhile, TIFF has a beautifully curated list of films from previous festivals. Abdellatif Kechiche's Palme d'or winner, Blue is the Warmest Colour, will screen here, as will its fellow Cannes hit, Asghar Farhadi's The Past. Gloria, the Chilean Berlin prize-winner will also be here, but the Romanian winner of the Golden Bear, Child's Pose, is curiously missing. TIFF does have a habit of saving some bigger titles for later announcements though, so I'm hoping to see its name pop up on the final list.
You can see the full list of announced titles at TIFF's website. Meanwhile, here at The Film Experience, we will cover the festival for you as with the past couple of years, though the real news is that it won't be me, but Nathaniel himself who will bring you the goodies. (I may still pop in here with a post or two, and you can always follow my reactions to the films and celebrity sightings on twitter.)