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Toronto Film Festival unveils Midnight Madness, Docs, and other special programs

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The Toronto International Film Festival announced the rest of its 2015 slate, including the Midnight Madness, Documentary, Vanguard, and Masters offerings. Wim Wenders’ Every Thing Will Be Fine, which stars James Franco and Rachel McAdams, will make its North American debut in the Masters program, and Gaspar Noé’s controversial and sexually provocative Love will also premiere in the Americas for the first time, as part of the Vanguard selection. A series of anticipated documentaries headline the non-fiction slate, including films from Barbara Kopple, Amy Berg, and the late Sydney Pollack. 

TIFF also announced a special interview with Natalie Portman, the first annual TIFF Soirée charity event that will kick off the festival on Wednesday, Sept. 9. 

The 40th Toronto International Film Festival runs from Sept. 10-20.

Films screening as part of the Midnight Madness programme include:

Baskin Can Evrenol

Turkey

World Premiere

A squad of unsuspecting cops goes through a trapdoor to Hell when they stumble upon a Black Mass in an abandoned building. The nightmarish feature debut Baskin is the first-ever Midnight Madness film from Turkey.

The Devil’s Candy 

Sean Byrne, USA

World Premiere

The director of the 2009 Midnight Madness People’s Choice Award winner The Loved Ones is back with an equally fresh twist on the supernatural genre. A struggling artist (Ethan Embry) and his family buy the house of their dreams only to discover the property’s mysterious dark past and a former tenant who wants more than to simply come back home. From the producers of Midnight Madness hits You’re Next and The Guest.

Midnight Madness Closing Night Film

The Final Girls

Todd Strauss-Schulson, USA

International Premiere Max (American Horror Story’s Taissa Farmiga) is a high school senior whose mom (Malin Akerman) was a celebrated ’80s scream queen. At a screening, Max and her friends are mysteriously transported inside her mom’s most infamous movie, where they must fend off the camp counselors’ raging hormones, battle a deranged machete-wielding killer and find a way to escape the movie and get back home.

The Girl in the Photographs

Nick Simon, USA

World Premiere

Big-city glamour clashes with small-town values and a killer’s knife, in this bloody cocktail of terror from director Nick Simon and executive producer Wes Craven. Colleen’s life in the sleepy town of Spearfish is disrupted when she starts receiving photographs of brutally murdered women. Things get even crazier for Colleen when L.A. based celeb-photographer Peter Hemmings (Kal Penn) returns to his hometown of Spearfish to investigate.

Midnight Madness Opening Night Film

Green Room

Jeremy Saulnier, USA

North American Premiere

Broke, tired and at each other’s throats after a cancelled gig, a young punk rock band accepts a sketchy matinee show to get themselves home. When they stumble upon something they weren’t supposed to witness, the quartet is trapped in a terrifying siege. Directed by Jeremy Saulnier (of 2013 Cannes Film Festival FIPRESCI Prize winner Blue Ruin), the film stars Anton Yelchin, Imogen Poots, Alia Shawkat, and Patrick Stewart. Green Room is preceded by the previously announced short film The Chickening from directors Nick DenBoer and Davy Force.

Hardcore

Ilya Naishuller, Russia/USA

World Premiere

Resurrected with no recollection of his past, a cyborg named Henry (the audience’s POV) and his ally, Jimmy (Sharlto Copley, District 9) must fight through the streets of Moscow in pursuit of Henry’s kidnapped wife in the world’s first action-adventure film to be entirely shot from the first person perspective.

The Mind’s Eye

Joe Begos, USA

World Premiere

Joe Begos returns with a psychokinetic thriller about Zack Connors (Graham Skipper), whose abilities have kept him off the grid for years until he’s recruited by the mysterious Dr. Slovak. The snowy New England landscape turns into a whirlwind of psychic rage, flying axes, and brutal revenge as Zack does everything in his power to stop Dr. Slovak’s deadly descent into synthetically engineered telekinetic madness.

Southbound

Roxanne Benjamin, David Bruckner, Patrick Horvath and Radio Silence, USA

World Premiere

Five intertwining tales of terror unfold along an endless desert highway. On a desolate stretch of road, weary travellers — two men on the run from their past, a band on their way to the next gig, a man struggling to get home, a brother in search of his long-lost sister and a family on vacation — are forced to confront their worst fears and darkest secrets in these interwoven tales of terror and remorse on the open road.

SPL 2 – A Time For Consequences

Soi Cheang, Hong Kong

International Premiere

The anticipated follow-up to the bone-cracking martial arts brawler SPL (also known as Sha Po Lung and Kill Zone) that debuted in the programme in 2005 stars Midnight Madness discovery Tony Jaa (Ong Bak). When an undercover cop (Wu Jing) has his cover blown and is thrown into a prison in Thailand run by a crime syndicate, he must team up with a prison guard (Jaa) to bust out and get revenge on those who wronged him. Filled with gun battles, prison riots and frenetic fight choreography, SPL 2 might knock the wind out of you — and possibly a few teeth.

Yakuza Apocalypse (Gokudo Daisenso)

Takashi Miike, Japan

North American Premiere

Japanese cinematic extremist Takashi Miike returns to his gonzo roots with this mind-melter that finds room for vampires, gangsters, monsters, martial arts and even a yakuza knitting circle. A true master and MVP of the programme, Miike wowed previous Midnight Madness audiences with such hits as Fudoh: The New Generation, Audition, The City of Lost Souls, Ichi the Killer, Zebraman, The Great Yokai War and Sukiyaki Western Django. He returns with a film too wild to be described and too fun to be missed!

Films screening as part of the Vanguard programme include:

Collective Invention (Dolyeon Byeoni)

Kwon Oh-kwang, South Korea

World Premiere

Young and unemployed Gu is desperate to make some money and participates in a clinical trial for a pharmaceutical company’s new drug. As an unknown side effect, he slowly transforms into a fish. This bizarre situation becomes Korea’s hottest news and fish man Gu is catapulted into the spotlight and becomes a superstar, only to fall from grace just as quickly.

Demon

Marcin Wrona, Poland/Israel

World Premiere

Peter is a stranger in the hometown of his future wife Janet. As a wedding gift from the bride’s grandfather, he receives a piece of land where the two can build a house and raise a happy family. While preparing the land for construction, Peter finds hidden bones of human bodies in the ground beneath his new property. Then very strange things begin to happen.

Der Nachtmahr

AKIZ, Germany

North American Premiere

When 17-year -old Tina passes out at a party, she assumes it was just the side-effect of her wild lifestyle on the decadent Berlin-party scene. Soon she becomes unsettled and nervously manic as a mysterious ugly creature starts to haunt her, in both her dreams and waking hours, and nobody believes her.

Evolution

Lucile Hadžihalilović, France

World Premiere

A 10-year-old boy discovers a dead body in the sea just before he is brought to the hospital for a mysterious injection. Before long, something appears to be growing inside of him.

February

Osgood Perkins, USA/Canada

World Premiere

In February, beautiful and haunted Joan makes a bloody and determined pilgrimage across a frozen landscape toward a prestigious all girls prep school, where Rose and Kat find themselves stranded after their parents mysteriously fail to retrieve them for winter break. As Joan gets closer, terrifying visions begin plaguing Kat while Rose watches in horror as she becomes possessed by an unseen evil force.

Lace Crater

Harrison Atkins, USA

World Premiere

On a weekend trip to the Hamptons with friends, Ruth (Lindsay Burdge) encounters a mysterious ghost (Peter Vack) haunting the guest house. One thing leads to another and they find themselves in the throes of an unexpected one-night stand. Soon, Ruth begins suffering from a bizarre sexually-transmitted disease that leaves doctors and friends confused and frightened. As her body and social connections begin to disintegrate, she must find a way to reconcile her condition with the world around her, or risk losing herself to a void from which she may never emerge.

Love

Gaspar Noé, France

North American Premiere

January 1, early morning. The telephone rings. Murphy wakes up next to his young wife and two-year-old child. He listens to his voicemail: Electra’s mother, sick with worry, wants to know whether he has heard from her daughter. Electra’s been missing for a long time. She’s afraid something really bad has happened to her. Over the course of a long rainy day, Murphy finds himself alone in his apartment, reminiscing about the greatest love affair of his life: his two years with Electra. A burning passion full of promises, games, excess and mistakes.

Men & Chicken (Mænd og Høns)

Anders Thomas Jensen, Denmark

North American Premiere

Men & Chicken revolves around two special-natured brothers, Elias and Gabriel (Mads Mikkelsen and David Dencik). Upon their father’s passing, they find out through their father’s will that they are adopted. Elias and Gabriel decide to seek out their natural father and set out for the island Ork, where their biological father lives. Here they discover a most paralyzing, yet liberating truth about themselves and their family.

My Big Night (Mi Gran Noche)

Álex de la Iglesia, Spain

World Premiere

The story unfolds amidst a frenzied and lavish New Year’s Eve television special, taped during a sweltering hot August in Madrid. An unemployed Jose is sent to join hundreds of extras cooped up on set, day and night, as they hysterically celebrate the fake coming of the New Year — over and over again. The star of the show, Alphonso, is a charismatic ratings-chasing diva; and Adán, a young Latino singer, is being hounded by fans that are trying to blackmail him.

The Missing Girl

A.D. Calvo, USA

World Premiere

The Missing Girl tells the story of Mort, the lonely and disillusioned owner of a comic book shop, and Ellen, the emotionally disruptive, aspiring graphic novelist he’s hired. The story involves the search for a girl who isn’t missing and the discovery that it’s never too late for late bloomers.

Veteran

Ryoo Seung-wan, South Korea

North American Premiere

A tough cop targets the tyrannical heir to a mega-corporation in this hard-hitting thriller from South Korean cult auteur Ryoo Seung-wan (Crying Fist, City of Violence).

Previously announced Canadian titles in the Vanguard programme include André Turpin’s Endorphine, Bruce McDonald’s Hellions, and Mark Sawers’ No Men Beyond This Point

Films screening as part of the TIFF Docs programme include:

Amazing Grace

Sydney Pollack, USA

International Premiere

Sydney Pollack’s film of Aretha Franklin’s ‘Amazing Grace.’ Filmed during church services in Los Angeles on Jan. 13 and 14, 1972, the footage was never seen until now. Featuring Reverend James Cleveland, the Southern California Community Choir and the Atlantic Records rhythm section.

A Flickering Truth

Pietra Brettkelly, New Zealand/Afghanistan

North American Premiere

As Afghanistan teeters on an unpredictable future, A Flickering Truth uncovers the world of three dreamers and cinephiles, the dust of 100 years of war and the restoration of 8,000 hours of film archive that they risked their lives to conceal. What surprises will emerge from the cloak of time?

A Journey of a Thousand Miles: Peacekeepers

Geeta Gandbhir and Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, USA/Pakistan

World Premiere

A unit of Bangladeshi female police officers leave their families to join a United Nations peacekeeping mission in Haiti and challenge stereotypes about the capabilities of Muslim women. The film focuses on three of the women as they grapple with the harsh realities of becoming foot soldiers in a UN Peacekeeping Mission, and the pressures on their families left behind.

A Young Patriot (Shao Nian * Xiao Zhao)

Du Haibin, China/USA/France

Canadian Premiere

This intimate documentary chronicles five years in the life of a young Chinese student, whose fervent idealism and dedication to Mao’s legacy stands in stark contrast to contemporary China’s turn towards state capitalism.

Being AP

Anthony Wonke, United Kingdom/Ireland

World Premiere

Being AP is an intimate documentary portrait of AP McCoy – the greatest jump jockey of all time. As he passes his 40th birthday, an age beyond which most jockeys are unable to continue, AP contemplates his obsession with winning, the years of sacrifice that he has endured to become a champion, the chase for a 20th successive title, and then a future without racing.

Bolshoi Babylon

Nick Read, United Kingdom

World Premiere

For the first time, Russia’s Bolshoi Theatre allows filmmakers full and uncensored access backstage. After a brutal acid attack on the ballet company’s director Sergei Filin in January 2013, Bolshoi Babylon follows the dancers and managers through a new season as they try to regain their status as the world’s leading dance company.

Dark Horse

Louise Osmond, United Kingdom

Canadian Premiere

Set in a former mining village in Wales, Dark Horse is the inspirational true story of Jan Vokes and her group of local friends who decide to take on the elite ‘sport of kings’ and breed themselves a racehorse. Raised on a slagheap allotment, their foal becomes a source of inspiration and hope.

He Named Me Malala

Davis Guggenheim, USA

International Premiere

Acclaimed documentary filmmaker Davis Guggenheim shows us how Malala Yousafzai, who was targeted by the Taliban and severely wounded by a gunshot when returning home on her school bus, remains committed to fighting for education for all girls worldwide. Providing an inside glimpse into her extraordinary life — from her close relationship with her father who inspired her love for education, to her impassioned speeches at the UN, to her everyday life at home.

Heart of a Dog

Laurie Anderson, USA

Canadian Premiere

Heart of a Dog is a personal essay film that explores themes of love, death, and language. The director’s voice is a constant presence as stories of her dog Lolabelle, her mother, childhood fantasies and political, and philosophical theories unfurl in a seamless song-like stream.

Hitchcock/Truffaut

Kent Jones, USA/France Canadian Premiere

In 1962, two of the greatest minds in cinema sat down for an intimate and expansive conversation. Based on the original recordings of this meeting — used to produce the influential book Hitchcock/Truffaut — this film illustrates the greatest cinema lesson of all time and plummets us into the world of the creator of Psycho, The Birds, and Vertigo. David Fincher, Richard Linklater, Martin Scorsese and other legendary filmmakers add to the discussion of Hitchcock’s enduring legacy and influence on cinema.

Horizon

Bergur Bernburg and Fridrik Thor Fridriksson, Iceland/Denmark

World Premiere

A documentary about the late Icelandic painter Georg Gudni Hauksson, whose innovative interpretations of forms and ideas paved the way for a renaissance in Icelandic landscape painting.

In Jackson Heights

Frederick Wiseman, USA

North American Premiere

Frederick Wiseman’s latest documentary is about the diverse neighborhood of Jackson Heights in Queens, New York where 167 languages are spoken among immigrants from every continent, and half the population is foreign-born. The community is an example of America as a ‘melting pot’ settled and made strong by people committed to making their neighborhood work despite cultural and religious differences.

It All Started At The End (Todo comenzó por el fin)

Luis Ospina, Colombia

World Premiere Filmmaker

Luis Ospina recounts the history of El Grupo de Cali, the prolific bohemian artistic collective that revolutionized Colombian film and literature in the 1970s and ’80s.

Janis: Little Girl Blue

Amy Berg, USA

North American Premiere

Academy Award-nominated director Amy Berg reveals the raw, sensitive and powerful woman behind the legend in Janis: Little Girl Blue; the quintessential story of the short, turbulent, epic existence that changed music forever. Chan Marshall (aka Cat Power) lends her raspy Southern voice to the film, reading Janis Joplin’s achingly intimate letters.

Je Suis Charlie

Emmanuel Leconte and Daniel Leconte, France

World Premiere

On Jan. 7, 2015, French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo was the victim of a terrorist attack that killed 12 people, including some of the greatest French cartoonists such as Cabu, Wolinski, Charb, Tignous and Honoré. The following day a policewoman was shot dead in the street. On Jan. 9, another attack targeted the Jewish community. Four hostages were murdered. This film pays tribute to all these victims.

Miss Sharon Jones!

Barbara Kopple, USA

World Premiere

Two-time Academy Award-winner Barbara Kopple follows R&B queen Sharon Jones over the course of an eventful year, as she battles a cancer diagnosis and struggles to hold her band the Dap-Kings together. Additionally, TIFF Cinematheque will showcase Kopple’s film Harlan County, USA which played at the first Festival in 1976.

The Music of Strangers: Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble

Morgan Neville, USA

World Premiere

This film tells the extraordinary story of the Silk Road Ensemble, an international musical collective created by legendary cellist Yo-Yo Ma. The film follows this group of diverse instrumentalists, vocalists, composers, arrangers, visual artists, and storytellers as they explore the power of music to preserve tradition, shape cultural evolution, and inspire hope.

Films screening as part of the Masters programme include:

11 Minutes (11 Minut)

Jerzy Skolimowski, Poland/Ireland

North American Premiere

A jealous husband out of control, his sexy actress wife, a sleazy Hollywood director, a reckless drug messenger, a disoriented young woman, an ex-con hot dog vendor, a troubled student on a mysterious mission, a high-rise window cleaner on an illicit break, an elderly sketch artist, a hectic paramedics team and a group of hungry nuns: a cross-section of contemporary urbanites whose lives and loves intertwine. They live in an unsure world where anything could happen at any time. An unexpected chain of events can seal many fates in a mere 11 minutes.

The Assassin (Nie Yinniang)

Hou Hsiao-hsien, Taiwan

North American Premiere

Ninth century China. A general’s 10-year-old daughter Nie Yinniang is abducted by a nun who transforms her into an exceptional assassin. Years later, she is sent back to the land of her birth with orders to kill the man to whom she was promised. Nie Yinniang must now choose between the man she loves and the sacred way of the righteous assassins.

Bleak Street (La calle de la amargura)

Arturo Ripstein, Mexico/Spain

North American Premiere

Mexican maestro Arturo Ripstein (Deep Crimson) directs this true-crime story about the bizarre 2009 murders of midget-wrestling brothers Alberto and Alejandro Jiménez. Starring Patricia Reyes Spíndola, Nora Velázquez and Sylvia Pasquel.

Blood Of My Blood (Sangue Del Mil Sangue)

Marco Bellocchio, Italy

International Premiere

Italian master Marco Bellocchio (Fists in the Pocket, Vincere) returns with this haunting, enigmatic tale that takes us from the 17th century to the present day as it traces the dark history of a cursed monastery.

Cemetery of Splendour (Rak Ti Khon Kaen)

Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Thailand/United Kingdom/France/Germany/Malaysia 

North American Premiere 

A young medium and a middle-aged hospital volunteer investigate a case of mass sleeping sickness that may have supernatural roots in the gorgeous, mysterious, and gently humourous new film from Palme d’Or winner Apichatpong Weerasethakul (Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives).

Every Thing Will Be Fine

Wim Wenders, Germany/Canada/France/Sweden/Norway

North American Premiere

A winter evening. A car on a country road. It’s snowing, visibility is poor. Out of nowhere, a sled comes sliding down a hill. The car comes to a grinding halt. The driver is Tomas, a writer. He cannot be blamed for the tragic accident. It’s also not young Christopher’s fault, who should have taken better care of his brother. Tomas falls into a depression. The film follows Tomas and his efforts to give meaning to his life again. Starring James Franco, Charlotte Gainsbourg and Rachel McAdams.

Francofonia

Alexander Sokurov, Germany/France/Netherlands

North American Premiere

Master filmmaker Alexander Sokurov (Russian Ark) transforms a portrait of the Louvre museum into a magisterial, centuries-spanning reflection on the relation between art, culture and power.

In the Shadow of Women

Philippe Garrel, France

North American Premiere

A Parisian documentary filmmaker becomes embroiled in a romantic triangle in this luminous love story from the great director Philippe Garrel (Frontier of Dawn, Regular Lovers).

Jafar Panahi’s Taxi

Jafar Panahi, Iran

Canadian Premiere

Internationally acclaimed director Jafar Panahi (This is Not a Film) drives a yellow cab through the vibrant streets of Tehran, picking up a diverse (and yet representative) group of passengers in a single day. Each man, woman, and child candidly expresses his or her own view of the world, while being interviewed by the curious and gracious driver/director. His camera, placed on the dashboard of his mobile film studio, captures a spirited slice of Iranian society while also brilliantly redefining the borders of comedy, drama and cinema.

Our Little Sister (Umimachi Diary)

Hirokazu Kore-eda, Japan

North American Premiere

Three sisters — Sachi, Yoshino and Chika — live together in a large house in the city of Kamakura. When their father — absent from the family home for the last 15 years — dies, they travel to the countryside for his funeral, and meet their shy teenage half-sister. Bonding quickly with the orphaned Suzu, they invite her to live with them. Suzu eagerly agrees, and a new life of joyful discovery begins for the four siblings. Starring Haruka Ayase, Masami Nagasawa, Kaho and Suzu Hirose.

The Pearl Button (El Botón de Nácar)

Patricio Guzmán, Chile/France/Spain

North American Premiere

The great Chilean filmmaker Patricio Guzmán (The Battle of Chile, Nostalgia for the Light) chronicles the history of the indigenous peoples of Chilean Patagonia, whose decimation by colonial conquest prefigured the brutality of the Pinochet regime.

Rabin, The Last Day

Amos Gitaï, Israel/France

North American Premiere

Lauded director Amos Gitaï (Kippur) delves into the prelude and aftermath of the 1995 assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in this gripping docudrama.

Right Now, Wrong Then

Hong Sang-soo, South Korea

North American Premiere

The delightful new film from Festival favourite Hong Sang-soo (In Another Country) presents two variations on a potentially fateful romantic encounter between a filmmaker and a painter, tracing each to its own very distinct outcome. 

 

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