By Siobhán Rich for Mr. Will Wong
Peter Hedges’ latest film, Ben is Back, premiered at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival and we were lucky enough to sit down with one of the Film’s stars, Courtney B. Vance. The Film explores the many ways drug use effects not just the addict but also their family which prompted Mr. Vance to open-up about not only his preparation for the Film but also his views on parenting and family.
SIOBHÁN: You’ve worked on Stage, Television, Film. How does your preparation differ depending on the medium?
VANCE: It does. I remember for Lucky Guy I tried to do a lot of research but there was nothing to be found on him so I had to back into him by listening to everything the Director, George C. Wolfe, was saying about him. With Johnny Cochrane and OJ Simpson – I could have looked at all the footage but I thought that would put me in my head too much. So I chose to read the book a couple times and I found a kernel in there and I said “I’m going to trust that that’s enough to propel me in.” So really it depends – a play is different than film and film is slower, and you have more time than with television. It depends but ultimately it really comes down to knowing just enough we we can get in there and play and see what the other actor or actors and the director and the production designer and what everybody’s bringing. Then to be able to be – that’s where potentially the magic – you have to leave room for the magic to happen. But with a play you actually have the play to take you through every night and then to see what happens to people. With Film [and Television] you have to depend on the directors,“Ok where am I now and what’s happening here and what’s coming up? Okay got it! Let’s go.” So it’s a little different.
SIOBHÁN: In the Film, your character is the hard nosed realist whereas Julia’s character is very much about the unconditional love – tough love – but still unconditional love. Where do you fall on that and which do you think is more realistic?
VANCE: I think they both have to be there. I think there are instances – and my wife [Angela Bassett) and I deal with this in our lives with our children – sometimes you have to be there as a soft cushion for them to fall into and sometimes… “You fall in here but let’s look after we’ve done this […] let’s talk it through. “You did this. What are some other options you could have done so that the next time it comes up – and it will come up again – a different colour, a different height, a different depth.” To be able to be discerning because eventually you need to be able to do this yourself. You have to be able navigate and that’s what we are really about raising children and young people to be fully functioning – to eventually be able to take over.
My mother passed away last year of ALS and they saw me take over for her because she couldn’t anymore. I had to make decisions for my mother with my sister and they saw that as children. They saw daddy, they saw Grandma is not as… She used to talk and now she’s not talking but you still had to go in. They still had to say good morning to Grandma, tell her what your day was like. And so that process, that circle of life, everything goes around in a circle and some days it may not be your best day you’ve had but it is a day and we’ll get through this to the other side. Knowing that with help – with the village – we can push through this and get through just about anything. It’s really about children knowing at base core they’re loved and based on that we gotta deal with this issue. If they know it’s done in a loving situation then we can ride through any storm.
Elevation Pictures release BEN IS BACK Friday, December 14, 2018.
By Mr. Will Wong
The time has arrived. We waited every year with baited breath for those Toronto International Film Festival guest announcements and finally they have been announced! While several marquee titles like Beautiful Boy, First Man, Destroyer, Wildlife, High Life, A Star is Born, If Beale Street Could Talk and Ben is Back embark on their Awards Season trails, Toronto once again readies itself for the massive onslaught of starpower and talent set to shut down the City post-Labour Day.
With multiple titles at the Festival, stars like Jake Gyllenhaal, Dev Patel, Amanda Steinberg, Lucas Hedges and Nicole Kidman are set to make the best of the Fest!
Maggie Gyllenhaal, Mahershala Ali and Hilary Swank also will be having In-Conversations-With! More on that here.
Toronto’s own Drake also will introduced highly-buzzed MONSTERS AND MEN, Jason Reitman is back with fan favourite Live Read of The Breakfast Club and THE FIRST MAN will be presented at Ontario Place‘s Cinesphere!
Announced to attend TIFF ’18 earlier today are:
Who are you most excited to see?
Our Team are prepping feverishly for this our biggest and best year yet at TIFF as we get ready to bring you the buzz on all the biggest stars and Films of the Festival.
More on some of TIFF ’18’s most-talked-about titles here.
In the meantime, start planning your Festival, who and what you’ll see right here.
(Photo/video credit: TIFF)
By Amanda Gilmore, David Baldwin + Mr. Will Wong
Running Thursday, September 6, 2018 through Sunday, September 16, 2018, the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival is just around the corner. Bringing together Film lovers from all around the world, TIFF is once again set to draw some major talent to our City and Films and their connections get a leg-up on the Awards Season trail. Year after year, the Festival has been a powerful predictor of power-players at the Oscars and this year is no different. In light of recent tragic events in Toronto, a Press Conference was decided against this year with a press release announcing this year’s first round of Films. And just like us, we know you’ll be thrilled at some of the Films to grace the screens this September in the City!
17 Galas and 30 Special Presentations were announced including 21 World Premieres and TIFF always delivers! We’re thrilled that among the hotly-buzzed Films we’ve been longing to see, A STAR IS BORN (Lady Gaga, Bradley Cooper), BEAUTIFUL BOY (Timothée Chalamet, Steve Carell), LIFE ITSELF (Olivia Wilde, Oscar Isaac), FIRST MAN (Ryan Gosling, Claire Foy), WILDLIFE (Jake Gyllenhaal, Carey Mulligan) and THE HATE U GIVE (Amandla Stenberg).
See some Trailers:
Fans can expect this to be a big year with acclaimed Filmmakers like Alfonso Cuarón (Gravity), Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave), Barry Jenkins (Moonlight) and Damien Chazelle (La La Land) all returning with eagerly-awaited followups. Jake Gyllenhaal also will have a high profile at the Festival with two eagerly-awaited Films in WILDLIFE and THE SISTERS BROTHERS. The same applies to Dev Patel who should be here for HOTEL MUMBAI and THE WEDDING GUEST.
Diversity, inclusion and gender equity continue to be a focus for the Festival. TIFF‘s mission to “share her journey” by giving a voice to females who are underrepresented as a whole in the filmmaking community in-front and behind the camera is more pronounced than ever. 13 of this year’s Features in fact are made by women. Learn more about TIFF’s five-year initiative here.
Some highlights from today’s TIFF ’18 announcements:
Hotly-anticipated Galas at TIFF ’18 are highlighted by BEAUTIFUL BOY starring Steve Carell and Timothée Chalamet; and WIDOWS, Oscar-winner Steve McQueen’s follow-up to 12 Years A Slave starring Viola Davis, Daniel Kaluuya, Liam Neeson, Jacki Weaver, Colin Farrell and Michelle Rodriguez. The Film is written by Gone Girl’s Gillian Flynn and is sure to be one of the biggest Films of the Festival.
Other World Premieres announced today are HIGH LIFE, the Sci-Fi Drama and English-language debut of legendary French Director Claire Denis starring Robert Pattinson, Juliette Binoche and Mia Goth; HUSBAND MATERIAL from prolific Indian Director Anurag Kashyap; the latest from Nicole Holofcener, THE LAND OF STEADY HABITS, starring Ben Mendelsohn and Edie Falco; the multi-generational Drama LIFE ITSELF, from This is Us Creator Dan Fogelman, starring Oscar Isaac, Olivia Wilde, Annette Bening and Antonio Banderas; THE PUBLIC, from Emilio Estevez, starring Alec Baldwin, Jeffrey Wright, Gabrielle Union and Michael K. Williams; the Period Drama RED JOAN, starring Judi Dench; as well as Director George Tillman Jr.’s highly-anticipated Adaptation of THE HATE U GIVE starring Amandla Stenberg.
But that’s not all. Other hotly-anticipated Films announced today that have already or will be premiering at other festivals include Oscar-winner and TIFF darling Damien Chazelle’s FIRST MAN starring Ryan Gosling and Claire Foy; Bradley Cooper’s directorial debut A STAR IS BORN starring Lady Gaga; Sundance hits THE KINDERGARTEN TEACHER starring Maggie Gyllenhaal and Elizabeth Chomko’s WHAT THEY HAD starring Hilary Swank, Blythe Danner and Michael Shannon; Zhang Yimou’s Chinese epic SHADOW; and GALVESTON, the English feature directorial debut of Actress Mélanie Laurent, starring Ben Foster and Elle Fanning.
We are waiting with baited breath on news of this year’s Opening and Closing Night Galas.
Some of the Films in the Special Presentations Programme with the most buzz this year include IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK by Director Barry Jenkins and ROMA by Director Alfonso Cuarón.
TIFF ’18 will be showing a lot of due love for Canadian Filmmakers. The opening night Special Presentation goes to MOUTHPIECE Directed by Patricia Rozema, who was here a three years ago with her Film Into The Forest. Jason Reitman will be back again with THE FRONT RUNNER, starring Hugh Jackman. We will also be getting the latest work from Canadian Directors Kim Nguyen, with THE HUMMINGBIRD PROJECT, and Don McKellar, with the Adaptation to the beloved Canadian Novel Through Black Spruce.
Female empowerment is front and center at TIFF ’18. One of the biggest Films to showcase this at the Festival is Colette staring Keira Knightley. The Film is about a woman who agreed to become a Ghostwriter for her husband. After the Novel received much success, she fights for creative ownership while overcoming the societal constraints of early 20th century. There are also many Films directed by females within the Special Presentations Programme.
CANADIAN PROGRAMME (Updated: 8/1/18 4:00 PM)
Canadian World Premieres announced today include environmental conservation documentary ANTHROPOCENE from Directors Jennifer Baichwal, Nicholas de Pencier and Edward Burtynsky; Miranda de Pencier’s THE GRIZZLIES, a true story about Inuit youth; Barry Avrich’s Documentary PROSECUTING EVIL: THE EXTRAORDINARY WORLD OF BEN FERENCZ, chronicling the life of the last surviving Nuremberg Trial prosecutor; Akash Sherman’s Sci-Fi Drama CLARA starring Suits’ Patrick J. Adams; Jasmin Mozaffari’s FIRECRACKERS, about two young women and their attempt to leave the misogyny in their small town behind; Zach Lipovsky and Adam Stein’s psychological Sci-Fi thriller FREAKS starring Emile Hirsch; Gwaai Edenshaw and Helen Haig-Brown’s EDGE OF THE KNIFE, the first feature-length film made in the endangered Haida language; Darlene Naponse’s FALLS AROUND HER, starring Tantoo Cardinal as a world-famous Anishinaabe musician; Maxime Giroux’s absurdist allegory THE GREAT DARKENED DAYS; and Renée Beaulieu’s Drama LES SALOPES OR THE NATURALLY WANTON PLEASURE OF SKIN, about a wife and mother facing the consequences of her secret life.
Of the 19 feature-length titles announced today, nearly 50% are directed by women.
TIFF will additionally host the Toronto premiere of THE FALL OF THE AMERICAN EMPIRE, directed by Oscar-winning Canadian Director Denys Arcand, and the Special Event World Premiere of SHARKWATER EXTINCTION, the final Documentary made by Rob Stewart. The late intrepid Filmmaker and Documentarian passed away early last year during filming.
See the Trailer for Sharkwater Extinction:
TIFF also announced their Rising Stars for 2018 today. Those selected stars are Devery Jacobs (Kahnawà:ke Mohawk born Actor and Filmmaker), Lamar Johnson (Gala World Premiere THE HATE U GIVE), Michaela Kurimsky (World Premiere FIRECRACKERS) and Jess Salgueiro (World Premiere and Special Presentations’ Opening Night Film MOUTHPIECE).
And in a surprise announcement at this afternoon’s Press Conference, Writer/Director Xavier Dolan‘s (currently in Toronto filming IT: CHAPTER TWO) highly-anticipated THE DEATH AND LIFE OF JOHN F. DONOVAN was announced as a World Premiere in the Special Presentations Programme. The long awaited Film stars Kit Harington, Natalie Portman, Jacob Tremblay, Thandie Newton, Sarah Gadon and Bella Thorne and is destined to be one of the hottest tickets at this year’s Festival.
Still no word on the Opening or Closing Night films, but some over-eager film fans may have gotten a taste of what’s to come later this month. And if the rumours are to be believed, we are in for some very exciting announcements over the next few weeks!
PLATFORM PROGRAMME (Updated: 8/8/18 11:45 AM)
The Platform Programme quite literally its namesake, a platform for Directors who are unique, bold and unafraid to tackle any subject matter. In previous years, films such as Moonlight and Sweet Country were a part of the Programme and even won the coveted Platform prize, which is worth $25,000 CAD. This year’s Programme shows no signs of slowing down and is gifting us with some risk-taking films..
Out of the 12 Films that were announce, four are directed or co-directed by women, while seven feature powerful female leading roles. Two Films featuring strong female leads that already have people talking are Destroyer and Her Smell. Destroyer is directed by Karyn Kusama and stars Nicole Kidman as a Los Angeles police detective who is forced to face her personal demons. Her Smell is the newest Film from Director Alex Ross Perry (Listen Up Philip) and stars Elisabeth Moss as a talented but self-destructive musician.
Out of the 12 Films there are 10 having their World Premiere at this year’s Festival, which includes the opening and closing night Platform films. The Opening Night Platform selection is Donnybrook which is the fourth-feature Film for Writer-Director Tim Sutton (Dark Night). It stars Jamie Bell and Frank Grillo as two men who are determined to compete in a bare-knuckle brawl with a cash prize. The Closing Night selection is Jessica Forever which is the Feature debut for Co-Directors Caroline Poggi and Jonathan Vinel. The Film takes place in a dystopian world where violent misfits reign supreme, but one woman and her family are fighting for peace.
DOCUMENTARIES (Updated: 8/9/18 1:30 PM)
This year TIFF is bringing 27 feature Documentaries from 19 different countries to Toronto audiences. Out of all those films, one-third of them are directed or co-directed by women. There are a few documentaries that examine the topic of women creators and the #MeToo movement. Some of the Documentaries on those topics are: the World Premiere of Alexis Bloom’s Divide and Conquer: The Story of Roger Ailes, which documents the Fox News Creator who was ousted for allegations of sexual harassment; the World Premiere of Tom Donahue’s This Changes Everything which is an examination of gender dynamics in Hollywood and is executive produced by Geena Davis; and Mark Cousins’ Women Make Film: A New Road Movie Through Cinema which explores international cinema through the lens of women directors.
Politics is another topic getting a lot of attention in the TIFF Docs Programme. To name a few there is Vitaly Mansky’s Putin’s Witnesses, which focuses on the Russian President, and Errol Morris’ American Dharma, which looks at Trump’s previous strategist Steve Bannon. However, TIFF has decided to start the TIFF Docs Programme off with a bang with the World Premiere of Michael Moore’s newest Doc Fahrenheit 11/9, which is a radical and humorous look at the United States under the Trump administration.
And for those who enjoy a doc about artists you love there are some for you to check-out. The first is the World Premiere of Quincy which is co-directed by Quincy Jones’s daughter Rashida Jones and Allan Hicks. It follows the labours and legacies of the legendary Music Producer. Then there is the TIFF Docs Closing Night Film, Searching for Ingmar Bergman which is Directed by Margareth von Trotta and follows the groundbreaking Director and his impact on filmmaking.
MIDNIGHT MADNESS (Updated: 8/9/18 1:30 PM)
TIFF unleashed their Midnight Madness line-up today and it looks to be one of their strongest in years. THE PREDATOR, Writer/Director Shane Black’s star-studded reinvention of the legendary Series, will act as the Programme’s World Premiere Opening Night Film. The highly-anticipated HALLOWEEN Sequel, starring ‘Scream Queen’ Jamie Lee Curtis and written by Danny McBride, David Gordon Green and Jeff Fradley, will also see its World Premiere at TIFF ’18. Other World Premieres include Peter Strickland’s IN FABRIC, telling the tale of a cursed dress and the poor souls who come into contact with it; Kiah Roache-Turner’s Social Media-infused Horror film NEKROTRONIC starring Monica Bellucci; Henry Dunham’s all too relevant thriller THE STANDOFF AT SPARROW CREEK, regarding a neighbourhood militia’s involvement in a mass shooting; Emma Tammi’s horror on the American frontier THE WIND and Vasan Bala’s Bollywood Action-Thriller THE MAN WHO FEELS NO PAIN (the first Indian film at Midnight Madness!). Sundance hits ASSASSINATION NATION and CLIMAX, as well as Cannes favourite and Closing Night selection DIAMANTINO, will also be screening during the Programme.
GALAS, SPECIAL PRESENTATIONS + MASTERS PROGRAMME (Updated 8/14/18 3:00 PM)
Within one week, TIFF added a whopping 115 films to its slate today, including the announcements of the Opening and Closing Night Films.
David Mackenzie’s OUTLAW KING will open the Festival on Thursday, September 6. The Period Drama about the rise of 14th century Scottish hero Robert the Bruce stars Chris Pine, Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Lady MacBeth’s Florence Pugh. The Film hails from Netflix, which alongside numerous other titles appearing at the Festival, suggests a very sharp divide between this Festival and the illustrious Cannes Film Festival, which banned such titles from competition this past May. TIFF’s Closing Night Film is JEREMIAH TERMINATOR LEROY, a true story about the enigmatic literary artist. It stars Laura Dern and Kristen Stewart. Plan your red carpet campouts accordingly.
Additional World Premiere Galas announced today include Peter Farrelly’s first Drama, GREEN BOOK, starring Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali; as well as Thriller THE LIE, from Toronto-born Writer/Director Veena Sud, starring Peter Sarsgaard, Mireille Enos and Joey King. Some of the World Premieres announced as Special Presentations include Jonah Hill’s directorial debut MID90S; Sam Taylor-Johnson’s adaptation of A MILLION LITTLE PIECES starring Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Billy Bob Thornton and Charlie Hunnam; Jeremy Saulnier’s Thriller HOLD THE DARK starring Alexander Skarsgård, Riley Keough and Jeffrey Wright; Max Minghella’s directorial debut TEEN SPIRIT starring Elle Fanning and Rebecca Hall; Annabel Jankel’s postwar-Drama TELL IT TO THE BEES starring Anna Paquin and Holliday Grainger; and Chanya Button’s VITA & VIRGINIA starring Gemma Arterton and Elizabeth Debicki as Vita Sackville-West and Virginia Woolf. Other highlights include Paul Greengrass’ 22 JULY, the true story about the aftermath of Norway’s deadliest terrorist attack; Nick Hamm’s DRIVEN, the star-studded true life tale about the rise and fall of John Delorean; and the International Premiere of Joel Edgerton’s highly-anticipated BOY ERASED starring Nicole Kidman, Russell Crowe and Lucas Hedges.
And in the Masters section, TIFF announced 11 films including Jafar Panahi’s 3 FACES; Hong Sang-soo’s HOTEL BY THE RIVER, Paolo Sorrentino’s LORO; Mike Leigh’s PETERLOO; Jean-Luc Godard’s THE IMAGE BOOK and the North American Premiere of Jia Zhang-ke’s Thriller ASH IS PUREST WHITE.
ADDITIONAL SPECIAL PRESENTATIONS (Updated 8/21/18 10:00 AM)
A couple high-profile additions to the TIFF ’18 line-up have been announced including VOX LUX from Director Brady Corbett and starring Natalie Portman as a woman overcoming a tragic childhood to a life of fame and fortune. GRETA from Director Neil Jordan is about a young woman Frances (Chloë Grace Moretz) and her unlikely friendship with Greta (Isabelle Huppert).
TIFF’ 18 hot on the heels of CRAZY RICH ASIANS’ success, will pay tribute to the 25th anniversary of THE JOY LUCK CLUB with some of the original Cast in attendance including Kieu Chinh and Tamlyn Tomita, plus a chat moderated by Lainey Lui.
THE OFFICIAL TIFF ’18 SCHEDULE NOW IS UP HERE!
We’re thrilled also to announce that David Baldwin (@davemabaldwin), Amanda Gilmore (@gilmoreamanda) and Mr. Will for the first time ever, are doing TIFF as accredited journalists. Our Team members Siobhán Rich (@typo_eh), George Kozera (@partyg) and Justin Waldman (@dubsreviews) also will be contributing as we screen some titles in advance of the Festival as in previous years. We look forward to teaming-up together to bring you a fresh, balanced perspective highlighting the massive starpower and quality of Cinema the Festival has to offer.
More Film announcements to come soon.
Guest announcements usually come late August, so let’s start speculating, shall we?
Will we see Julia Roberts here for BEN IS BACK? Robert Redford for THE OLD MAN & THE GUN? Or how about Matthew McConaughey for WHITE BOY RICK?
TIFF ’18 Packages are on-sale now till August 13, 2018. The Schedule goes live August 21, 2018 and single public tickets are on-sale on September 3, 2018 for non-package buyers.
More info here.
(Photo credit: TIFF)
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