#TIFF18: “THE KINDERGARTEN TEACHER” REVIEW
Review by David Baldwin for Mr. Will Wong
After premiering at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year (where it won Best Director for Sara Colangelo), The Kindergarten Teacher lands in Toronto for its Canadian Premiere. Lisa Spinelli (Maggie Gyllenhaal) is a bored Kindergarten teacher who yearns to be noticed and appreciated by her family and her night-time poetry class. By chance, she hears her five-year-old student Jimmy Roy (Parker Sevak) reciting his own poetry, and sets out to assist in cultivating his potential genius.
The Kindergarten Teacher is an interesting Film about recognition and obsession, and goes to darker places than you may imagine. It makes for some tonally unbalanced moments and superfluous characters who add very little to the story. But the Film is at its most compelling when it focuses on the relationship between Lisa and Jimmy, played brilliantly by Gyllenhaal and the young Sevak. It is uncomfortable and awkward in some scenes, but it is also raw and deeply emotional. Gyllenhaal bares her soul here, continually proving what a powerhouse talent she can be. I just wish the ending was less of a gut punch.
The Kindergarten Teacher screens on Thursday, September 13 at 9:30 PM at Roy Thomson Hall, Friday, September 14 at 10:00 AM at Elgin Theatre and Saturday, September 15 at 11:00 AM at Elgin Theatre.
#SUNDANCE18: “CAMERON POST” WINS TOP PRIZE AND 2018 SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL
We hope you’ve had a blast following along on our Sundance adventures. We couldn’t have done it without Amanda Gilmore who did a super job screening over 40+ titles, there every step of the Festival in Park City. As the Festival comes to a wrap, we’ve noticed a major theme of female empowerment over and over in some of this year’s most-buzzed Films and this couldn’t be timelier with #TimesUp and #MeToo being at the forefront of discussion right now. You’ll notice that this year’s top-priced purchase ($10 million) was Misogyny Horror Assassination Nation, centering on female high schoolers who seek revenge on assailants, indicative of the times we are in. The Film starring Odessa Young, Suki Waterhouse, Bella Thorne and Bill Skarsgård will see a release via NEON in America. It appears an early candidate for TIFF 18‘s Midnight Madness Programme.
In fact, Amanda places the Film at the top of her list of favourites from the Festival:
- Assassination Nation
- Sorry To Bother You
Amanda says, “This year Sundance was filled with Films involving a variety of different storytelling perspectives and a range of genres, including a lot of genre-bending Films.”.
Other Honorable Mentions:
HEREDITARY – Best Horror Film in Years!
TULLY – Would be in her Top Five but technically it was a surprise screening not an official part of the Festival lineup.
THE MISEDUCATION OF CAMERON POST – Best young-adult Film people of every age will be touched by!
The latter wound-up winning top prize at the Festival, for U.S. Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic Film. The Film by Desiree Akhavan is about a teen girl (Chloë Grace Moretz) who is sent to Conversion Therapy after it is learned she is in a relationship with her female best friend. The Film has yet to find a Distributor and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see it at TIFF ’18.
U.S. Grand Jury Prize: Documentary went to Derek Doneen‘s KAILASH, about Kailash Satyarthi and his fight to end Child Slavery.
Audience Award: U.S. Dramatic went to BURDEN by Director/Writer Andrew Heckler. The Film is about a man who leaves the KKK and falls in love with a woman who questions his behaviour. Garrett Hedlund stars alongside Tom Wilkinson and Andrea Riseborough.
Audience Award: NEXT went to SEARCH, an innovative Film by Aneesh Chaganty and starring Debra Messing and John Cho, about a father’s search for his missing daughter over Social Media and told on screens. Sony Pictures purchased the Film for $5 million.
Directing Award: U.S. Dramatic went to THE KINDERGARTEN TEACHER by Director/Writer Sara Colangelo about a teacher who becomes obsessed with a talented child in her class leading to a downward spiral in nurturing him. Maggie Gyllenhaal stars.
Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award: U.S. Dramatic went to NANCY, by Director/Writer Christina Choe centering on a woman who believes she may have been kidnapped as a child. It also stars Andrea Riseborough, who was hot at the Festival this year with others titles MANDY and BURDEN.
U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Excellence in Filmmaking went to I THINK WE’RE ALONE NOW, a post-Apocalyptic Drama starring Peter Dinklage and Elle Fanning; Reed Morano directs.
U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Achievement in Acting went to Benjamin Dickey who plays songwriting legend Blaze Foley in this Film by Ethan Hawke.
NEXT Innovator Prize was a two-way tie between NIGHT COMES ON (Actress/Director Jordana Spiro) about a troubled teen girl who embarks on a journey with her little sister which could ruin their future, and WE THE ANIMALS (Jeremiah Zagar) about three brothers who push against the love of their parents only to become versions of them.
Complete list of Winners here. We hope to be back again next year!
To catch-up on our Sundance coverage including several Reviews for these Films, click here.