Today, TIFF is proud to unveil a full programming slate of the most anticipated New Releases, rare retrospectives, and holiday classics coming to the TIFF Bell Lightbox this December.
From the Collection returns with Member-exclusive 35mm screenings of The Piano and Dust in the Wind with TIFF CEO Cameron Bailey. Reviving a beloved TIFF tradition, Magnificent 70mm presents a slate of rare 70mm prints this holiday season including favourites like Boogie Nights, 2001: A Space Odyssey, and this summer’s box office spectacular Oppenheimer from Christopher Nolan. TIFF is one of the few theatres in Toronto where audiences can watch classics on 70mm and celebrate the way these films were meant to be seen. This series is generously supported by Jennifer Tory.
TIFF Cinematheque will also celebrate German filmmaker Ernst Lubitsch with a new retrospective, The Lubitsch Touch, featuring rare 35mm prints. An exceptional example of a filmmaker whose career began in the silent era and who transitioned with apparent ease into the talkies, Lubitsch is best known for sophisticated films with a dry wit and modern sense of humour, a quality that later became known as the “Lubitsch touch”.
Just in time for the holidays are celebratory and participatory singalong events from Sing-a-Long-a, featuring special screenings of The Sound of Music and The Greatest Showman. On December 16 from 6–8pm in Varda, there will also be a special musical performance to bring in the holidays. Raoul Bhaneja and Tyler Yarema, veterans of the Toronto swing and blues scenes, will perform a special duo show at Varda, showcasing both artists on vocals, accompanied by Yarema’s deft piano stylings.
As part of December’s festive programming are a Q&A with filmmaker Whit Stillman for the screening of his cult classic and ultimate winter-break film Metropolitan; Coopers’ Christmas with Canadian filmmaker Warren Sonoda in attendance; and Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas.
In addition, TIFF Bell Lightbox will be showing New Releases fresh off their run at the 48th Toronto International Film Festival, including Kore-eda Hirokazu’s Monster (Cannes 2023 Winner, Queer Palm and Best Screenplay), and Ava DuVernay’s Origin (Venice 2023 Nominee, Golden Lion Best Film). And, see the highly anticipated exclusive release of Bradley Cooper’s Maestro at TIFF Bell Lightbox, and Zack Synder’s exclusive limited run of the epic sci-fantasy Rebel Moon – Part One: A Child of Fire in 70mm. TIFF Bell Lightbox is one of four theatres screening the film in the world.
Tickets for all titles are on sale now at tiff.net.
From the Collection | tiff.net/fromthecollection These screenings are exclusively available to TIFF Members. To become a Member, visit tiff.net/membership.
The Piano (d. Jane Campion) with Cameron Bailey | December 5, 6:30pm Holly Hunter won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance as Ada, a nonspeaking Scotswoman who is sold into marriage to a settler (Sam Neill) in rugged 19th-century New Zealand.
Dust in the Wind (d. Hou Hsiao-hsien) with Cameron Bailey | January 2, 6:30pm Wan (Wang Chien-wen), a studious teenager from a small mining town, moves to Taipei with his girlfriend Huen (Hsin Shu-Fen) where they make new friends, obtain tedious employment, and pledge to get married upon Wan’s return from compulsory military service ― but as both discover, life’s seeming certainties are always less than certain.
Magnificent 70mm | tiff.net/70mm
Boogie Nights (d. Paul Thomas Anderson) | December 1, 6:15pm // December 7 & 10, 6:30pm The setting is the porn industry of the late ’70s, just before video and cocaine would effectively destroy the industry for its stars — but Boogie Nights’ real subject is what happened when the revolutionary politics of the 1960s and ’70s morphed into pure hedonism mixed with greed and absurdly conspicuous consumption.
2001: A Space Odyssey (d. Stanley Kubrick) | December 2, 6:30pm // December 8, 6:30pm // December 15, 1pm Racing a cosmic mystery from the dawn of mankind to the farthest reaches of time and space, 2001 chronicles an intergalactic mission to find the origin of a mysterious black monolith discovered by American astronauts on the moon.
Print courtesy of TIFF’s Film Reference Library
Oppenheimer (d. Christopher Nolan) | December 13, 6:30pm // December 21 & 23, 1pm Nolan’s account of the life and legacy of the “father of the atomic bomb” is a story he tells in two ways: through J. Robert Oppenheimer’s wartime recruitment to the Manhattan Project, and the later security hearings over Communist ties that risked ruining his career.
Nope (d. Jordan Peele) | December 29, 1pm // December 31, 3pm // January 3, 6:30pm Writer-director Jordan Peele follows his genre-bending thrillers Get Out and Us with this western-horror adventure about a strange phenomenon terrorizing a California movie ranch from the skies above. Starring Daniel Kaluuya, Keke Palmer, and Michael Wincott.
West Side Story (d. Jerome Robbins, Robert Wise) | December 22, 6:30pm // December 24, 8:30pm // December 30, 5:30pm The 10-time Academy Award–winning take on Romeo and Juliet — only in this version, the ill-fated romance blooms during a turf war between rival street gangs, the Jets and the Sharks, in 1960s New York City.
Lawrence of Arabia (d. David Lean) | December 26, 6:30pm // December 30, 11:30am // January 4, 12:30pm David Lean’s account of T.E. Lawrence’s efforts to unify nomadic desert tribes against the Ottoman Turks during World War I is equal parts war film and existential romance, as the arid expanses of the desert draw the British scholar and adventurer into their beckoning, soul-stirring emptiness.
Magnificent 70mm is supported by Jennifer Tory.
The Lubitsch Touch | tiff.net/lubitsch
Ninotchka | December 2, 3pm & December 10, 3pm Soviet special envoy Ninotchka Yakushova (Greta Garbo), a self-serious administrator, is dispatched to France to check on three wayward comrades who’ve fallen prey to the temptations of Western capitalism.
To Be or Not to Be | December 3, 3pm A satirical depiction of the Nazis set against romantic misadventure and a self-reflexive interrogation of the role of the dramatic arts in dark times.
The Love Parade | December 3, 6:30pm The unwed Queen of Sylvania (Jeanette MacDonald) and a philandering Count (Maurice Chevalier) find their way to one another in this musical love story that subverts traditional gender roles.
Heaven Can Wait | December 9, 3pm A charming, deceptively light comedy-fantasy, Heaven Can Wait begins in the anteroom of Hell, where recently deceased playboy Henry Van Cleve (Don Ameche) calmly awaits what he believes will be a sure condemnation to perdition for his earthly sins.
Rosita | December 16, 4pm A street performer (Mary Pickford) attracts the lustful eye of the lecherous king, but her heart is reserved for the man who saved her from the royal guards.
Cluny Brown | December 17, 3pm Adapted from the popular novel by Margery Sharp, the romantic comedy depicts the misadventure of the eponymous character (Jennifer Jones) as she questions and attempts to find her place as a woman in British society.
The Shop Around the Corner | December 20, 6:30pm & December 24, 3pm In a Budapest notions store during the Depression, longtime clerk Alfred Kralik (James Stewart), sniffily conscious of aapecking order and seniority, takes an instant dislike to newly hired shopgirl Klara Novak (Margaret Sullavan). The two exchange barbs and brickbats while each nurses a secret passion for a pen pal they have never met.
Trouble in Paradise with Alicia Fletcher | December 23, 5pm Starring Herbert Marshall and Miriam Hopkins as Gaston Monescu and Lily Vautier, a charming gentleman con artist and his pickpocket lover, the film follows the pair on a heist that evolves into a love triangle when they target Madame Colet (Kay Francis), the elegant and wealthy head of the Colet & Co. perfume empire.
Design for Living | December 27, 6:30pm The striking and confident Gilda (Miriam Hopkins) works as a commercial artist for a successful advertising agency. Upon meeting roommates and close friends Tom (Fredric March) and George (Gary Cooper) on a train to Paris, Gilda ignites a fierce love triangle between all three.
TIFF Cinematheque Special Screenings | tiff.net/special
Metropolitan with Whit Stillman | December 14, 6:30pm After leaving a debutante’s ball in his rented tux, self-serious Princeton student Tom Townsend (Edward Clements) is inadvertently brought into the cloistered world of a clan of young socialites living off of Old Money on the Upper East Side.
Distant Voices, Still Lives (d. Terence Davies) | December 17, 6:30pm Commemorating the life and work of the unparalleled British filmmaker Terence Davies, who sadly passed away earlier this year, this partly autobiographical tale evokes his upbringing in Liverpool after the war in a working-class home dominated by the violence of his father, fearsomely played by then-newcomer Pete Postlethwaite.
Eyes Wide Shut (d. Stanley Kubrick) | December 31, 6:30pm Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman play Bill and Alice Hartford, a wealthy couple whose seemingly stable relationship is suddenly upended by Alice’s confession of a prior erotic obsession, which sends the shocked Bill out of their NYC apartment and into a nocturnal world of sexual fantasy and intrigue.
Midnight Madness | tiff.net/midnightmadness
The Empty Man with David Prior | December 16, 6:30pm Introduction by Midnight Madness Presents Programmers Peter Kuplowsky and Liane Cunje, followed by a Q&A with writer-director David Prior, and moderated by film critic Adam Nayman. A retired cop (James Badge Dale) investigates the sudden disappearance of a group of teens and their connection to the urban legend of “the empty man”, an enigmatic entity who over three days is said to malignantly encroach upon the psyche of anyone who dares summon him.
TIFF Wavelengths Presents | tiff.net/wavelengths
Site and Simulation curated by Aria Dean | December 13, 6:30pm Featuring artists Diego Marcon, Rachel Rose, Aria Dean, Harun Farocki, Nancy Holt, and Robert Smithson, this programme exhibits moving-image works that explore the entanglement of sites and their simulations. Specifically, these films draw out the virtual dimensions of real sites, and the real dimensions of the virtual, often in order to pinpoint political and historical fissures in reality as we understand it.
Site and Simulation curated by Aria Dean is presented in partnership with The Vega Foundation, and coincides with Aria Dean: Abattoir, U.S.A.!, an art exhibition on view at The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery until January 7, 2024.
TIFF Next Wave Presents | tiff.net/nwp
We Are Little Zombies (d. Makoto Nagahisa) | December 6, 6:30pm A visually-explosive, hyper-fun feature debut follows four teenage orphans who form a pop-punk band and slowly learn to process the emotions of their parents’ recent deaths.
MDFF Selects | tiff.net/mdff
Still Film | December 28, 6:30pm Introduction by MDFF Co-Founder Kaz Radwanski with a virtual Q&A with director James Kienitz Wilkins following the screening. Brooklyn-based artist-filmmaker James N. Kienitz Wilkins transforms four decades of 35mm presskit photos from Hollywood blockbusters into an off-beat court case of cinephilia. All characters are voiced by Kienitz Wilkins as they argue and debate movie culture and its hold on memory. Kienitz Wilkins’ previous feature The Plagiarists screened as part of TIFF Cinematheque in 2020, and his shorts have been screened in Wavelengths.
See the North | tiff.net/seethenorth
Coopers’ Christmas with Warren Sonoda | December 12, 6:30pm Secrets are exposed, inappropriate crushes are revealed, and misery turns out to be twice as excruciating when it’s captured by the merciless lens of a cheap VHS camcorder found under the tree.
TIFF Family Films | tiff.net/family
The Nightmare Before Christmas (d. Tim Burton) | December 10, 1pm The beloved Pumpkin King of HalloweenTown stumbles upon a doorway to Christmas Town. Inspired after witnessing the amazing wonders of the latter holiday, he decides to take over Christmas.
Silver Screenings Presents: Rosita with George A. Walker | December 8, 11am Each month, this free series brings seniors together to connect with fellow film lovers and participate in a variety of events, including peer-led film discussions, interactive workshops, and classes. This screening is free for seniors 65+. Please note: this is a silent film with a recorded score.
Following this screening of Lubitisch’s Rosita, starring Mary Pickford, local artist George A. Walker will join the audience for a talk. Walker is best known for his wood engravings and wordless novels, including Pickford, “The Queen of the Silent Film Era.” Capacity for this talk is limited and pre-registration is required. RSVP here to register.
Silver Screenings is supported by the Ontario Trillium Foundation and the New Horizons for Seniors Program.
Sing-a-Long-a Sound of Music | December 14, 7pm // December 17, 2:30pm The smash-hit musical show returns to TIFF Bell Lightbox for the first time since 2015. Sing-a-Long-a Sound of Music is a screening of the classic Julie Andrews film musical in glorious, full-screen Technicolor, complete with subtitles so that the whole audience can sing along. Award-winning comedian Martha Chaves will guide the audience through the show, including a warm-up and the famous fancy-dress competition.
Canadian Premiere of Sing-a-Long-a The Greatest Showman | December 16, 2:30pm This screening of the high-energy 2017 musical will be the first time in Canada the film is experienced in this Sing-a-long-a format. Cheer on Hugh Jackman and moon after Zac Efron as you experience The Greatest Showman in the greatest way possible ― with lyrics on the screen so you can join in as loud as you want. Award-winning comedian Martha Chaves will be your host and teach you a unique set of dance moves. Costumes are strongly encouraged and full audience participation is essential.
International Cinema Cafe | December 17, 10:30am Reel Talk is now International Cinema Cafe and continues to provide a snapshot of the best cinema from around the world, with a focus on films submitted for Best International Picture at the Academy Awards and hidden gems that may not see wide release.
Secret Movie Club | December 19, 7pm Part of the fun is the surprise: titles are not announced ahead of time, and all screenings are previews of films not yet released in theatres. Each event offers a fun post-film discussion with a member of the film team — such as a director, screenwriter, producer, or actor — a critic, or a subject expert.
Playing December 7 Raging Grace | Vortex Media An undocumented Filipina immigrant lands a job as a care-worker for a terminal old man, securing a better life for her and her daughter. But a dark discovery threatens to destroy everything she’s strived for and holds dear, in Paris Zarcilla’s latest film.
✅ SXSW Film Festival 2023 – Winner, SXSW Grand Jury Award and Thunderbird Rising Award
*Opens December 8 Eileen | Elevation Pictures
*Opens December 15 | Canadian Premiere | Exclusive 70mm limited run Rebel Moon — Part One: A Child of Fire | Netflix Studios
*Opens December 22 Society of the Snow | Netflix Studios
Opens January 19 Origin | Elevation Pictures Ava DuVernay directs an inspired adaptation of Isabel Wilkerson’s life, as she digs into the nuance of discrimination while writing what would become her New York Times bestselling book, Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents.
✅ TIFF 2023 – Official Selection, Gala Presentations ✅ Venice Film Festival 2023 – Nominee, Golden Lion Best Film
COMING IN JANUARY
To kick off 2024, TIFF Cinematheque is presenting Alone in the Arena: Genre-Defining Sports Films, the late TIFF programmer Ravi Srinivasan’s last curated series, which features nine iconic sports films that influenced and transformed the genre including classics like White Men Can’t Jump and The Wrestler. Srinivasan’s love of film was equally matched by his love of sports, and this series is an homage to both Srinivasan and his take on the often underappreciated genre of sports films. Additionally, Canada’s Top Ten List for 2023 will be unveiled on December 7, and it will be followed by a four-day industry event (January 25-28), featuring an opening night celebration, and screenings of this year’s selections.
TIFF’s January programming slate will be announced on December 15, 2023.
TIFF is thrilled to reintroduce its national film outreach programme, Film Circuit, now one full year into its relaunch with an exciting slate of Festival favourites coming to venues across the country in 2024. Continuing its rich tradition of bringing the best of Canadian and international films and artists to communities across the nation, Film Circuit has expanded its outreach to 100+ locations since relaunching in 2022, after a two-year hiatus. The programme offers transformative film experiences in rural, remote, and underserved communities with the generous support of Major Supporter Telefilm Canada, and Supporters Ontario Creates and Ontario Arts Council.
“We are delighted to join our expanding community of film enthusiasts across the nation in commemorating cinema and presenting our curated programme with the generous backing of Telefilm Canada, Ontario Creates, and the Ontario Arts Council,” stated Cameron Bailey, CEO, TIFF. “I’d also extend my gratitude to our distributors and our steadfast Film Circuit collaborators.”
Now in its 33rd year, Film Circuit engages domestic grassroots networks and community partners — comprising independent cinemas, art galleries, museums, libraries, performing arts theatres, community centres, film clubs, and more — to expand and enrich the breadth of film offerings available to their audience. With a rotating slate of films featuring crowd-pleasers and arthouse hits, Film Circuit offers a unique forum for film-lovers across Canada to gather in person and discover new voices and perspectives.
Film Circuit not only extends the theatrical life of films beyond their initial release, but also champions independent films operating outside the traditional distribution model by working with emerging and local filmmakers to facilitate access for Circuit locations who otherwise would not have an opportunity to see the films. TIFF People’s Choice award-winning films such as Mr. Dressup: The Magic of Make-Believe and Solo; The Queen of My Dreams; and Rojek, Canada’s submission for Best International Feature Film, are a few of the Canadian films that will be featured on screens coast-to coast-to-coast. Film Circuit groups will also have a chance to catch some of the most talked about international films and hidden gems, including Anatomy of a Fall, Past Lives, Monster, A Difficult Year, and The Persian Version.
“Film Circuit is a shining example of meeting audiences where they are,” said Julie Roy, Executive Director and CEO, Telefilm Canada. “Telefilm Canada is proud to partner with TIFF to showcase some of Canada’s most notable new releases to over 100 locations across our vast country, reaching new communities like Fogo Island, Yellowknife, Qualicum Beach and Invermere. This program highlights the invaluable collaboration of working with local cinemas, distributors and industry partners.”
New Film Circuit location highlights:
Fogo Island: The Fogo Island Inn is offering film selections to their guests and greater local community for free in their new state-of-the-art cinema.
Yellowknife: The Association franco-culturelle de Yellowknife will be offering French-language cinema to its residents at the Capitol Theatre in collaboration with Film Circuit.
Qualicum Beach: Organizers will be hosting pop-up screenings in local venues as they work towards the development of a new, purpose-built community cinema.
Invermere: The Invermere Film Festival will be hosting their monthly series in the recently upgraded Columbia Valley Centre Theatre, featuring a brand new Christie Laser DCP cinema projector with a 36’ screen.
Film Circuit is also reintroducing its guest touring programme this year, inviting filmmakers and industry guests to travel across the country to introduce their films and participate in Q&A sessions with Film Circuit audiences. Last season, Canadian filmmaker Chandler Levack toured her award-winning and Canada’s Top Ten film I Like Movies in a six-city stop in Ontario, where it played on 25 screens. Past guests include Deepa Mehta, Michael McGowan, Gordon Pinsent, Ruba Nadda, Don McKellar, Sturla Gunnarsson, Maxime Giroux, and Jennifer Baichwal, to name a few.
FILM CIRCUIT PROGRAMMING HIGHLIGHTS
A Difficult Year | Sphère Films The latest from writer-directors Olivier Nakache and Éric Toledano (C’est la vie!, TIFF ’17) is a puckish comedy about finding a reason for being — even when the world seems to be falling apart. Featuring winning performances from Pio Marmaï, Jonathan Cohen, Noémie Merlant, and Mathieu Amalric, A Difficult Year is social satire that goes down easy.
TIFF 2023 – Official Selection, Special Presentations
Anatomy of a Fall | Elevation Pictures Winner of this year’s Palme d’Or and starring German actor Sandra Hüller, Justine Triet’s Anatomy of a Fall is a riveting portrait of a complex woman put on trial for the murder of her spouse. Also starring Samuel Theis, Swann Arlaud, and Milo Machado Graner.
TIFF 2023 – Official Selection, Special Presentations Cannes Film Festival 2023 – Winner of 3 awards, including Palme d’Or and Queer Palme
Mr. Dressup: The Magic of Make-Believe | Amazon Studios This heartfelt documentary from director Robert McCallum, celebrates the life and work of Ernie Coombs, the iconic Canadian children’s television personality who encouraged generations of kids to be their best selves. Featuring Judith Lawrence, Chris Coombs, Cathie LeFort, Nina Keogh, Susan Marcus, Jim Parker, Stu Gilchrist, Bruce McCulloch, Eric McCormack, and more.
TIFF 2023 – Official Selection, TIFF Docs programme
BlackBerry | Elevation Pictures The latest from Canadian writer-director Matt Johnson tells the story of the meteoric rise and catastrophic demise of the world’s first smartphone.
Aitamaako’tamisskapi Natosi: Before the Sun | Independent This sports documentary, directed by Nuxalk filmmaker Banchi Hanuse, is an intimate and thrilling portrait of a young Siksika woman and the deep bonds between her father and family in the golden plains of Blackfoot Territory as she prepares for one of the most dangerous horse races in the world… bareback.
“Ontario Creates is proud to be a long-time supporter of Film Circuit, sharing TIFF’s goals to bring thought-provoking, innovative, and entertaining content to communities across Canada. The film and television industry makes a significant impact on Ontario’s economy every year, contributing $3.15B in 2022. You can experience first-hand the wealth of Ontario’s on-screen and behind-the-scenes talent through this year’s Film Circuit selections. Film Circuit is TIFF’s year-round film outreach program, bringing the best of Canadian and international films and artists to communities all across Canada. Congratulations to TIFF for another stellar edition of Canada’s largest film club!” ―Karen Thorne-Stone, President and CEO, Ontario Creates
“The Ontario Arts Council is delighted to support the Toronto International Film Festival’s Film Circuit. This important outreach program offers Ontarians across the province a chance to see films from Canadian and international artists that may not otherwise reach their local cinemas. It also offers a valuable opportunity for Ontario filmmakers to make personal and professional connections through their work.” ―Rita Davies, Chair of the Board of Directors, Ontario Arts Council
TIFF is delighted to unveil an extensive lineup of programming for the month of November, bringing an exhilarating close to the vibrant autumn season of events. Alongside captivating retrospectives from TIFF Cinematheque, TIFF’s Public Programming team presents a diverse range of engaging activities. As part of the new From the Collection series – the first monthly TIFF series exclusive for our Members – TIFF CEO Cameron Bailey will host a screening of Krzysztof Kieslowski’s Three Colors: Blue.
Acclaimed German auteur Christian Petzold will be celebrated in a 16-film retrospective on the heels of his latest award-winning hit Afire, which screened at the TIFF Bell Lightbox this past summer. This retrospective is curated by TIFF Cinematheque Senior Curator Andréa Picard and is one of the largest ever assembled on the director’s work, featuring a number of imported archival prints.
TIFF Cinematheque is also celebrating the centenary of Ousmane Sembène, the Senegalese auteur whose body of work is relatively small with nine features, but whose legacy extends beyond as a world-class satirist, rebel, and revolutionary artist. His work will be celebrated throughout the month of November with screenings of Ceddo, Emitaï, and Xala (TIFF’ 23 Classics Selection), all brand new 4K restorations courtesy of Janus Films.
Public Programming presents the latest Loved It event featuring bestselling author R. F. Kuang (Babel, Yellowface) on The Personal History of David Copperfield; a TIFF Primetime advance screening of the new Netflix series Scott Pilgrim Takes Off (episodes 101-103) with writers and co-showrunners Bryan Lee O’Malley and BenDavid Grabinski, and the return of International Cinema Cafe. Also returning this year is Sing-a-long-a, featuring special holiday screenings coming this December.
Tickets for all titles below are on sale now.
From the Collection | tiff.net/fromthecollection These screenings are exclusively available to TIFF Members. To become a Member, visit tiff.net/membership.
Three Colors: Blue, with Cameron Bailey | November 7, 6:30pm Krzysztof Kieslowski’s Three Colors trilogy is patterned after the colours of the French flag and offers idiosyncratic explorations of the corresponding themes of Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity.
TIFF Wavelengths Presents | tiff.net/wavelengths
Colectivo los Ingrávidos: Ancestralidad y trance | November 8, 6:30pm Introduction and Q&A with film curator, archivist, and researcher Almudena Escobar López following the screening
Colectivo los Ingrávidos (Mixtec) is a Mexican film collective that approaches cinema as a ritualistic process capable of connecting moments across space and time. Foregrounding the structural qualities of images as a political gesture, this program proposes a cinematic trance of history, myth, and embodiment that bridges the ancestral to the avant-garde. What cinema is possible after 500 years of colonisation and excess? Ancestralidad y trance features a collection of short films including After America, Archivo de Indias, Pintura de Castas, Mordängeln, Chinampas/The Floating Gardens, Itzcóatl, Sensemayá, Quetzalcóatl, and Tierra en Trance.
Boosie Fade Film Club | tiff.net//boosiefade
Style Wars (d. Tony Silver) | November 9, 8:30pm Introduction by Boosie Fade co-founders Jordan Sowunmi and James Rathbone
An immersive depiction of hip hop’s earliest years in New York City. Rap music had not yet become hip hop’s most well known form of expression, so the documentary largely focuses on graffiti, which at the time had exploded all over New York City’s walls and, most of all, its subway cars.
Staying Alive: The Films of Christian Petzold | tiff.net/petzold The Goethe-Institut is an arts partner of TIFF.
Transit | November 9, 6:30pm Adapted from Anna Seghers’ WWII-set novel, the film transposes the plot to an indistinct moment that resembles an uncanny present-day, resulting in a haunted puzzle-play and ingenious companion piece to his postwar melodrama, Phoenix.
Afire | November 10, 6:30pm A smouldering summer tale exploring love, leisure, and labour with hints of Chekhov and Rohmer.
Yella | November 11, 3pm Featuring an extended introduction by programmer and writer Jutta Brendemühl Recently divorced from her broke and abusive husband, Yella is eager to leave the industrial town of Wittenberg in former East Germany for a fresh start in the West.
The State I Am In | November 11, 6:30pm The first break-out hit of the Berlin School, this tense drama follows two ex-terrorists and their pouty teenaged daughter, Jeanne (Hummer, who is equally excellent in Petzold’s Ghosts) as they plan an escape to Brazil.
Phoenix | November 16, 7pm Featuring an extended introduction by film critic Adam Nayman A searing, expressionistic post-WWII melodrama starring the formidable Nina Hoss as a headstrong concentration camp survivor, Phoenix is one of Petzold’s most successful and acclaimed films.
Something to Remind Me | November 17, 6:30pm An edgy, Hitchcockian psychological thriller with carefully calibrated suspense, this film upends its classical romantic pursuit story with a reality far darker than its illusory surface.
Ghosts | November 18, 6:30pm A braided tale of loneliness, grief, and yearning set in contemporary Berlin, Ghosts depicts a meeting of lost souls with unnerving ambiguity.
Pilots preceded by The Warm Money | November 19, 6:30pm In Petzold’s rarely-screened feature debut, two travelling cosmetic saleswomen join forces to combat all the gross men who harass and exploit them. Paired with Petzold’s first collaboration with his mentor and teacher Harun Farocki.
Barbara | November 21, 6:30pm Removed from a prestigious medical post in East Berlin and reassigned to an underfunded rural hospital near the Baltic sea — her punishment for requesting an exit visa from the GDR — Barbara (Nina Hoss) resentfully isolates herself from her new colleague, chief physician Andre (Ronald Zehrfeld), who she suspects is keeping tabs on her at the behest of the local Stasi officer Schütz (Rainer Bock).
The Sex Thief | November 23, 6:30pm A stylish, Marnie-riffing tale of two sisters bound by their ancestral family home in Cologne.
Undine | November 24, 6:30pm Petzold reunites with Transit co-stars Paula Beer and Franz Rogowski in this realist update of Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué’s 1811 story about a water nymph.
Cuba Libre | November 25, 3pm A dark and moody neo-noir starring Richy Müller as Tom, a perpetually down-on-his luck drifter who tries to win back his ex-lover Tina (a fierce Catherine Flemming), whom he abandoned and betrayed.
Jerichow | November 25, 6:30pm A reworking of The Postman Always Rings Twice, Petzold’s first film to receive Canadian distribution plays with the conventions of a love triangle to fashion a suspenseful psychological thriller that is pristinely shot, intricately detailed, and finely acted.
Dreileben | November 26, 1pm A TV mini-series comprised of a trio of interlocking films with 10-minute intermissions (rather than a standard trilogy or omnibus), Dreileben is an invigorating experiment in narrative construction by three of Germany’s leading filmmakers: Christian Petzold, Dominik Graf, and Christoph Hochhäusler.
Wolfsburg | November 28, 6:30pm A sleek and chilling psychodrama in which tension anxiously builds until the very end, Wolfsburg explores the tangled aftermath of a hit-and-run accident in the eponymous city where the Nazis established the Volkswagen industrial complex.
Ousmane Sembène at 100 | tiff.net/sembene
Black Girl preceded by Borom Sarret | November 15, 6:30pm Ousmane Sembène’s stirring first feature is preceded by the groundbreaking short film that marked his directorial debut.
Emitaï | November 18, 4pm With unflinching realism, Sembène explores the strains that colonialism places upon cultural traditions and, in the process, discovers a people’s hidden reserves of rebellion and dignity. Presented in a new 4K restoration.
Ceddo | November 19, 1pm In pre-colonial Senegal, members of the Ceddo (or “outsiders”) kidnap Princess Dior Yacine (Tabata Ndiaye) after her father (Makhourédia Guèye), the king, pledges loyalty to an ascendant Islamic faction that plans to convert the entire clan to its faith. Presented in a new 4K restoration.
Mandabi | November 19, 3:45pm After jobless Ibrahima Dieng receives a money order for 25,000 francs from a nephew who works in Paris, news of his windfall quickly spreads among his neighbours, who flock to him for loans as new troubles rain down on his head.
Xala | November 26, 6:30pm A pompous businessman finds himself struggling with impotence after taking a much younger third wife, in Sembène’s landmark satire of patriarchy and class in post-independence Senegal. Presented in a new 4K restoration.
TIFF Cinematheque Special Screenings | tiff.net/special
Se7en (d. David Fincher) | November 5, 9:30pm When a mysterious killer begins perpetrating a string of gruesome, fiendishly inventive murders based on the seven deadly sins, world-weary cop William Somerset (Morgan Freeman) gets assigned to the case while also being saddled with a new partner, hot-headed young detective David Mills (Brad Pitt).
Twenty-eight years after Se7en, director David Fincher reunites with screenwriter Andrew Kevin Walker for his newest film, The Killer, playing exclusively at TIFF Bell Lightbox starting October 27.
Carnival of Souls (d. Herk Harvey) | November 12, 8:30pm Director Herk Harvey’s only narrative feature, Carnival of Souls, is now widely beloved as a cult classic, having been later reappraised as essential viewing in independent genre filmmaking.
Detour (d. Edgar G. Ulmer) | November 22, 6:30pm Hapless pianist Al Roberts (Tom Neal), while hitching to LA to join his singer girlfriend, is forced into a fatal deception when one of his rides expires; afraid that he’ll take the rap, Roberts takes over the dead man’s car and identity.
Modelled after Edgar G. Ulmer’s Depression-era classic Detour, Christian Petzold’s Cuba Libre also screens this November as part of Staying Alive: The Films of Christian Petzold.
The 39 Steps (d. Alfred Hitchcock) | November 29, 8:15pm Based on the novel by John Buchan, Hitchcock creates a classic spy thriller for the ages.
Influenced by Hitchcock’s The 39 Steps, Christian Petzold’s graduation film Pilots also screens this November as part of Staying Alive: The Films of Christian Petzold.
See the North | tiff.net/seethenorth
Archangel with Guy Maddin | November 14, 6:30pm A traumatized Canadian soldier arrives in Russia during the Bolshevik Revolution, only to find himself enmeshed in the lives of his local hosts, in Guy Maddin’s black-and-white 16mm fever dream. Presented in a new 4K restoration.
TIFF Family Films | tiff.net/family
E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (d. Steven Spielberg) | November 5, 1pm The tale of a gentle extra-terrestrial feels as heartfelt as ever more than 40 years later. Screening in 35mm!
Silver Screenings: Faces Places | November 3, 11am This event is in honour of Sylvia Lustgarten (1926–2023) who co-founded the Ageless International Film Festival at the age of 91.
Silver Screenings and the Ageless Film Festival will host a free screening of Faces Places for an intergenerational audience. In this charming, award-winning documentary, director Agnès Varda and photographer/muralist JR journey through rural France and form an unlikely friendship.
International Cinema Cafe | November 5 & 26 Reel Talk is now International Cinema Cafe and continues to provide a snapshot of the best cinema from around the world, with a focus on films submitted for Best International Picture at the Academy Awards and hidden gems that may not see wide release.
Supporter Appreciation Weekend | November 11 & 12 In recognition of National Philanthropy Day (Nov. 15), TIFF will be hosting a weekend filled with special programming, activities, and perks exclusive to Members within the TIFF Bell Lightbox. Stay tuned for more information to come.
TIFF Primetime: Scott Pilgrim Takes Off | November 15, 7pm Following the Canadian premiere of episodes 101-103 of the highly anticipated new Netflix series Scott Pilgrim Takes Off, writers and co-showrunners Bryan Lee O’Malley and BenDavid Grabinski join us for an onstage conversation about their animated adaptation of O’Malley’s iconic Toronto-set graphic novel series. Scott, Ramona Flowers, all seven of her evil exes, and the rest of the original cast from Edgar Wright’s Scott Pilgrim vs. the World reunite for a familiar but brand new adventure in Scott Pilgrim Takes Off.
Loved It: R. F. Kuang on The Personal History of David Copperfield | November 18, 7pm R. F. Kuang, bestselling author of this year’s literary sensation Yellowface, joins us in person to present a screening of Armando Iannucci’s ingenious The Personal History of David Copperfield, adapted from Charles Dickens’ iconic Bildungsroman David Copperfield and starring Dev Patel, Hugh Laurie, and Tilda Swinton. Following the screening, Kuang will discuss the film’s influence on her own bestselling novel Babel.
Audiences will be able to purchase pre-signed copies of Kuang’s novels Babel and Yellowface as add-ons when purchasing tickets for this event. Following the in-cinema event, Kuang will also personally sign copies of her books.
This event is presented in partnership with Programming Partner HarperCollins Canada.
TIFF Next Wave: Open Screen | November 29, 6pm Open Screen invites emerging filmmakers to share something on screen that they’ve created with a community of supportive peers. It can be a finished project or a work-in-progress, something they’ve screened before, or something they’ve been sitting on for a while. Filmmakers will receive helpful feedback and perspective on their work after it plays on the big screen.
Open Screen is co-presented by Future of Film Showcase and POV. This event is generously supported by the RBC Foundation, in support of RBC Emerging Artists.
Opening October 27 | One week only The Delinquents | Mongrel Media Argentinian writer-director Rodrigo Moreno reinvents the heist movie from the inside out with this playful, inventive story about work-life balance.
✅ Oscars 2024 – Argentina’s Oscars submission for Best International Feature Film ✅ TIFF 2023 – Official Selection, Centrepiece programme
Playing November 5 | Special Screening Rojek | Maison 4:3 Filmmakers speak with some of the most senior members of the so-called Islamic State (IS) in captivity in Syria. The backdrop is a country trying to stay vigilant as it struggles to recover from years of war. Confronted with the fundamentalist beliefs of the jihadists, the film attempts to trace the rise and the fall of the IS through their personal stories.
✅ Oscars 2024 – Canada’s Oscars submission for Best International Feature Film ✅ Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival – Winner, Directors Guild Special Jury Prize (Zayne Akyol)
Playing November 7 | Special Screening The Tunnel to Summer, the Exit of Goodbyes | IFC Films The Urashima Tunnel can grant any wish – for a price. High school boy Kaoru, plagued by a troubled past, teams up with Anzu, a girl who struggles to place obligations before her dreams, to investigate the Tunnel. But the cost of their hearts’ desires may be too high to pay. This is an unforgettable summer story of nostalgia, young love, and bending time itself.
✅ Annecy Festival 2023 – Winner, Paul Grimault Prize
Playing November 23 | Special Screening Orlando, My Political Biography | filmswelike Theorist, critic, and curator Paul B. Preciado takes Virginia Woolf’s classic novel as a starting point for a bold, joyous reflection on the nature of contemporary trans life and a celebration of queerness.
✅ TIFF 2023 – Official Selection, Wavelengths programme ✅ Berlin International Film Festival – Four Awards, including the Encounters Award – Special Jury Prize
COMING IN DECEMBER
To cap off 2023, TIFF is thrilled to welcome audiences throughout the month of December and throughout the holiday season. TIFF Cinematheque will feature a Magnificent 70mm series, showcasing crowd favourites like 2001: A Space Odyssey and this year’s blockbuster smash Oppenheimer in stunning 70mm film. Additionally, a Toronto-exclusive New Release title will be announced.
Public Programming will present Sing-a-long-a, a joyous and participatory celebration of musical favourites, including The Sound of Music and, for the first time in this sing-a-long-a format in Canada, The Greatest Showman. Tickets for this series are on sale as of October 18.
The full December Programming release will be unveiled November 15, 2023.
After making a huge splash at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival, Cord Jefferson‘s AMERICAN FICTION is riding a high since winning the coveted People’s Choice Award, a very good indicator that it is Oscars-bound.
The Satire, based on Percival Everett‘s novel ERASURE is set to hit theatres over the Holidays and today we got a first look as its Trailer launched officially. It centers on Thelonious “Monk” Ellison (Jeffrey Wright), who is a respected figure in the literary world. Tired of black stereotypes, he writes a novel under a pseudonym that features every Black cliché possible, which goes on to garner him tons of interest (more than anything he’s ever written) and hence, a huge dilemma to deal with.
We were so fortunate to sit-in on a Press Junket with Jefferson, whose feature directorial debut is an epic one.
He’s asked by Rotten Tomatoes about landing on the perfect Trailer.
Jefferson: “I’ll let the Trailer speak for itself. It has gone through a rigorous process, and we’ve been working on it for months now. I’m thrilled to share it with everybody. I really love it. It has gone through different iterations and finally we’ve landed on one we’re all thrilled about.”.
Jefferson is asked about his connection with the Film’s source material and why he chose to adapt it for the big screen.
Jefferson: “I first heard about the Novel when I was reading a review in December 2020 for INTERIOR CHINATOWN (by Charles Yu), a Satire similar to Percival Everett‘s ERASURE. Within 50 pages of reading it, I’m already reading Monk in Jeffrey’s voice. I knew I wanted to direct it. There were just so many overlaps with my personal life and things that I’ve been thinking about for decades. It felt like someone had written me a gift. When I stepped away from it, I couldn’t stop thinking about it and when I was done reading, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I was electrified. A piece of Art has never resonated so deeply with me.”.
He tells us about the process of getting star Jeffrey Wright to sign-on in the leading role.
Jefferson: “Once the Script was done, I told everyone that I wanted Jeffrey, and everyone agreed. I sent it right away to him. Thankfully, he met with me and talked a few hours. We met a couple weeks later and talked for a few more hours and he signed on. There’s a reason I’ll forever be indebted, but the main one is that this is the guy who was in Basquiat and Angels in America. When I first saw him, I was blown away. I’ve followed his career throughout. Batman, 007, this guy in Wes Anderson’s go-to. These are the biggest movies in world. For me to come to him, having never written or directed anything, I was terrified he was gonna say no. I think it’s a real testament to him as Artist and Human Being, willing to put faith in me. A lot of Actors of his caliber don’t want to risk it on first-time Director. He lept aboard and things got more easy. We got more funding and more Actors wanted to come aboard to work with him.”.
We then learn about their alignment in vision for the film adaptation.
Jefferson: “The first thing he said is that ‘I don’t want to feel this Movie is scolding or condemning anybody’. That’s the exact thing I said, and I didn’t want it to feel like a lecture about the right way or wrong way to be black. We were both on the same page. No ‘pull up your pants’ or finger-wagging. All we wanted to do is make a movie that addressed these issues with levity and ton of humour, yet with an emotional center. And for people to be smiling and laughing with their friends and family. As soon as he said that, I knew this was the guy.”.
Jefferson tells us about casting the perfect love interest and Supporting Cast for Monk.
Jefferson: “I’ve been following Maxine Shaw (Erika Alexander) since LIVING SINGLE. I recognize good work. When it came time to talk about Jeffrey’s love interest, we got a lot of pitches from agencies for people in their 20s and 30s, and I understand that’s what they do in Hollywood. I wanted someone to be closer to Jeffrey in age. I felt this woman is formidable and Monk in this role is a pugnacious, strongheaded, stubbon person, so you need a good foil for that energy. Erika comes in and brings a joy and strength to the character. As soon as I saw her, I knew this was the exact right choice. She shines every time she’s on screen. Jeffrey plays Monk who is a standoffish guy who’s isolated himself. He’s a crotchety College Professor, so surrounding him with an Ensemble that brings levity and natural charm to the part was great. You see this way they balance Monk. They bring the smile and illicit laughter which others in his life don’t.”.
We learn about how Jefferson finds the right balance between Drama and Comedy in this Satire.
Jefferson: “Even in the lowest of times, you have to find joy and pleasure. I didn’t ever make anything with an audience in mind as that’s when you second guess yourself. I focussed on a strategic balance. I wanted the Movie to be Satire. ERASURE is a wonderful satirical novel and I knew I wanted that to be large part of the story. I wanted to ensure the Movie didn’t become farcicial. I had to ensure it didn’t collapse under that weight and become Slapstick. The family – the relationships Monk has with his mother and siblings help balance each other out so it’s never too sweet or bitter. It balances in a way the story doesn’t collapse under the weight of Drama or Comedy. Striking a balance was important. I wanted it to feel authentic to life.”.
Warner Bros. Pictures Canada release AMERICAN FICTION in select theatres December 15, 2023 and expands December 22, 2023.
Varda, TIFF’s new café-bar and lounge, officially opens Friday, October 6 at TIFF Bell Lightbox. Designed as a welcoming and inspiring space to gather, TIFF is inviting people from all over the GTA to join the opening-day celebrations from 5pm to 7pm; sample Varda’s snack menu, prepared by Toronto-Chef Trevor Lui; and toast the French director Agnès Varda, who inspired the space and concept.
“In re-imagining this third floor space, we looked to the visionary Agnès Varda for inspiration ― her spirit of creativity and exploration informed not just the look and feel of the space, but the atmosphere and energy that a space like this could provide,” said Cameron Bailey, TIFF CEO. “Just as Varda’s films captured the essence of life and humanity, our café aspires to create a space where people can come together, share stories, and forge meaningful connections.”
A destination for delicious drinks, a place to stop by and meet with friends, and a hotspot to take in the bright lights of King Street, Varda is open Wednesday to Friday, 9am–10pm and Saturday to Sunday, 11am–10pm, with special cinq à sept offerings throughout October in homage to Varda’s beloved classic film, Cléo de 5 à 7. During opening weekend, audiences can catch special screenings of this film, as well as Jane B. par Agnès V. and a performance by pianist Jennifer Lo.
Varda’s seasonal snack menu, designed by Chef Lui, features small bites from guacamame dip (a blend of pulsed edamame and avocado dip) with wonton chips to Chinese charcuterie. For drinks, an assortment of the late director’s favourite teas from Genuine Tea and coffee from local roaster De Mello will be on offer. The spirits menu features signature cocktails like the French 75 and the Rosalie Royale, named after Varda’s daughter Rosalie, which is punctuated by crème-de-cassis, sparkling wine, Angostura bitters, and floral bitter. In the mornings, a rotation of decadent and buttery French pastries from De Mello.
Varda is one part of a full-scale transformation of TIFF’s third-floor renovation. Designed by Toronto-based creative studio DesignAgency, the sprawling corridor and its adjacent spaces are highlighted by new seating areas throughout, creating the star of the transformed third floor. An elegant marble and cork bar, topped by a polished brass gantry, draws guests into the lounge and sets a glamorous mood. Intimate seating, acoustic wall panelling, and layers of plush textures ensure a quietly luxurious experience.
Varda Opening-Weekend Programme at TIFF Bell Lightbox
October 6, 5–7pm: Complimentary celebration ― open to all, featuring a performance by pianist Jennifer Lo.
October 7, 4pm: Cléo de 5 à 7, Varda’s second and arguably her most well-known feature is the only work by a woman filmmaker recognized as part of the nouvelle vague canon. Following Cléo (Corinne Marchand), a coquettish cabaret singer, as she wanders the streets of Paris while awaiting the possibly dire results of a medical test, Varda traces the inner growth of her female flâneuse from constructed feminine ideal to more fully realized person over the course of an eventful afternoon. Ticketed event. Free to Members.
October 8, 3:45pm: Jane B. par Agnès V.,a portrait of the iconic actress, singer, model Jane Birkin as “an imaginary biopic,” is a barrelling succession of fantastical scenarios and roles that sprang from the minds and musings of both the director and her subject. A playful exploration of the magical inner lives of both women, which makes bedfellows of fact and fantasy as it ruminates on the nature of performance with a candour of spirit (if not situation) that transfixes and enchants. Ticketed event. Free to Members.
October also marks the introduction of Member Tuesdays at TIFF Bell Lightbox, which offers exclusive access to Varda for Members from 5–10pm complementing a full slate of programming curated with Members in mind. This includes 5 à 7 drink special year-round, the return of Secret Movie Club, Member-exclusive events, additional free Cinematheque screenings, and more to be announced.
One of the joys of the Film Festival is getting to drive a car from the Acura family. For TIFF ’23, we had the honour of being paired with the gorgeous 2023 Acura TLX TYPE S in a gorgeous Performance Red Pearl. We literally paint the town red! I was floored by its looks right away, with a flashy trunk spoiler and exposed dual-rectangle exhaust finishers. There also is a diamond pentagon grille which makes it stand out.
In what was a more low-key Festival this year with TIFF working around the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. we found we were still working the usual long hours and there was still plenty of talent in and around town to capture. In fact, we were out and about every single day of the Festival, whether it be doing press ahead of the Festival at CP24 or eTalk‘s TIFF Studio, right up to the announcement of the People’s Choice Winner on closing day. Even with limitations, we made the best of it all and couldn’t have done it without the Acura TLX Type S!
Because we had a downtown presence, a sleek, compact ride was necessary – weaving through narrow alleyways and underground parking lots. The 2023 Acura TLX Type S is as much style as it is performance, packed with gorgeous details. It is powered by a 3.0-litre, 24-valve, Direct Injection, turbocharged V6 engine with 355 horsepower and 354 lb.-ft. of torque. Its Fuel Economy tallies in at a combined city/highway 11 litres/100 km which actually took us a long way per tank of gas.
The Driver gets a 16-way power adjustable seat and front passenger’s seat include 4-way power lumbar support, seats in Ebony Leather with Ultrasuede. Drives, especially at night were ambient with Acura‘s IconicDrive™ Selectable LED Ambient Lighting allowing you to light-up up to ten different areas. Simply stunning.
Safety is a priority with Acura and this ride contains all the features to protect you including lane assist system, lane departure warning system, plus blind spot and forward collision warning systems as well. You also get ABS Brakes, Stability Control, Front-impact Airbags, Side-impact Airbags, Overheard Airbags, Knee Airbags, Pretensioners and Anti-Whiplash. As car theft is very much at the top of all our minds, the TLX is equipped with a way to anticipate and detecting unwanted vehicle intrusion. It is armed with an ignition disable device that prevents the engine from starting if the correct original key isn’t being used. We love that also within seconds, the car locks on its own after we walk away from it. Above this, it is hyper-sensitive and aware of your surroundings, especially when backing out of a spot – with the help of its rearview camera – giving you very prevalent audio warnings to keep you out of trouble.
While it takes a bit of getting used to in navigating the Acura TLX‘s touchpad which enables you to navigate the car’s setup, including audio entertainment. Bluetooth connectivity is simple to set-up and it is enabled for SiriusXM satellite radio, with a 10.2″ touchscreen display, plus an abundance of USB charging ports and a wireless charger.
The audio system is next-level, coming with an ELS Studio® 3D Premium Audio System, complete with a 17-speaker surround system, including 4 ultra-slim Highline™ overhead speakers. This is an audiophile’s dream.
Take a walk with us down memory lane as we painted the town red with the 2023 Acura TLX Type S.
South Korea, circa the 1970s. The shellfish game is not what it used to be in the seaside town of Guncheon. Choon-ja (Kim Hye-soo), Jin-sook (Yum Jung-ah) and their band of haenyeo (female free divers) are running out of options and turn to smuggling a plethora of goods in order to make ends meet. Two years after a turbulent episode, Choon-ja has a run-in with Sergeant Kwon (Zo In-sung), the nation’s smuggling king. He initially plans to kill her but relents when she makes him an offer to keep his operation running smoothly.
Would you guess that SMUGGLERS is a whole lot of fun from that description? Co-Writer/Director Ryoo Seung-wan has crafted a Crime Thriller that somehow balances tonal swings of light-hearted humour and brutal violence. That may not sound like it should work, yet it manages to entertain and delight for much of its 129-minute running time. The ’70s aesthetic lends itself to a wonderful colour palette, filled with brilliantly vivid costumes, sets and gorgeous underwater photography. The funky Score by Chang Kiha is pretty great too as is the chaotic fight choreography employed in two specific scenes.
SMUGGLERS is not without its problems though. The pacing is a little muddled in some areas, with a lengthy prologue introducing most of the players chief amongst them. Some scenes could have easily been tightened instead of having so much time to breathe. And while it makes sense given the genres Ryoo is juggling, the number of double, triple and quadruple crosses gets to be more than just slightly absurd and convoluted.
That said, the acting more than makes up for these issues. The duo of Kim and Yum is terrific, deftly carrying the film and its many tonal pivots. SMUGGLERS only works because of the strength of their performances and their command of the screen. Supporting work from Zo, Park Jeong-min, Go Min-si and especially Kim Jong-soo, who plays a slimy customs chief, are excellent; each one getting a number of moments to shine. It is a great ensemble overall, all in service of helping make SMUGGLERS more wildly entertaining than I ever imagined.
SMUGGLERS screens at TIFF ’23:
Wednesday, September 13 at 9:30 PM at Roy Thomson Hall
Thursday, September 14 at 3:00 PM at Scotiabank Theatre Toronto
Saturday, September 16 at 2:45 PM at TIFF Bell Lightbox
Sunday, September 17 at 8:30 PM at TIFF Bell Lightbox
Premiering as part of TIFF‘s Primetime Programme dedicated to Television, Channel 4‘s ALICE & JACK stars Andrea Riseborough and Domhnall Gleeson as two lovers who meet online and despite not having much in common initially, the sparks fly.
Alice however, is cold and adamant that Jack should never call her again, though they both cannot stop thinking about one another. This goes off and on for several years and amidst the gaps, Jack is forced to move on with his life and this poses problems with mysterious Alice suddenly resurfacing again in his life. Why is she so afraid to let him in?
Victor Levin writes and Juho Kuosmanen directs, with some phenomenal work by our two leads, particularly Riseborough who keeps us hanging with her outbursts of anger, which are balanced by sudden acts of kindness that keep us guessing what her deal is.
The limitations of the television format push the pacing along too rapidly and things unfold and get resolved some times a little too conveniently despite the Series never backing away from exploring the complex messiness of love. In fact, we are seeing a recurring theme among some of the biggest titles at TIFF ’23 – an exploration of dynamics between men and women and also the psychological impacts of trauma. Our attention was kept throughout the 83-minute runtime.
ALICE & JACK screens at TIFF ’23:
Saturday, September 16 Royal Alexandra Theatre 5:00 PM
Not that long ago, Sylvester Stallone was one of the biggest Hollywood movie stars on the planet. He was action movie royalty and the man who breathed life into Rocky Balboa and John Rambo, two of the most iconic characters in film history. Director Thom Zimny explores these elements in his documentary SLY, where he sets out to explore Stallone’s career from the beginning until now.
Zimny’s portrait of the legendary Action Star is enjoyable for the most part. He charts Stallone’s tumultuous home life with his abusive father, his struggles to get Rocky made with him as the lead, the immediate critical and financial evisceration he received after, and how he ended up carving out his own path as an Actor/Writer/Director; all the while speaking to Stallone in the present as movers pack up his memorabilia for a big move. Stallone is a refreshingly honest interview subject which makes the Film much less fluffy than it could have been.
And while I question why Quentin Tarantino is a talking head here, it was fun hearing Talia Shire, Frank Stallone Jr., John Herzfeld and Arnold Schwarzenegger all talk about their histories with Stallone.
Zimny’s Documentary is not without its faults. For one, Sly spends a long amount of time leading up to Rocky and the aftermath. Then it whips through the rest of the ’80s and practically sprints through the remaining years with very little time for reflection. I get the reason for the early focus and appreciated the self-deprecating comments about Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot, but if this is supposed to be about his full career, then why not spread the love a bit better? And no, Barney Ross from The Expendables is nowhere near as iconic or comparable to Rocky or Rambo despite what the Film may suggest.
More egregious is how Zimny discusses Stallone’s son Sage who passed away in 2012. He is shown a handful of times and mentioned in passing, yet not treated with the same amount of emphasis as Stallone’s father. I am sure Zimny has his reasons for not including Sage more; it just comes at the cost of brushing away a pretty pivotal moment in Stallone’s saga. Much like everything else in the second half of Sly, there should have been way more time for reflection.
SLY screens at TIFF ’23:
Saturday, September 16 at 6:30 PM at Princess of Wales Theatre
Saturday, September 16 at 8:00 PM at Roy Thomson Hall
Sunday, September 17 at 7:30 PM at Scotiabank Theatre Toronto
An earthquake has ripped through Seoul leaving mass devastation in its wake. Millions are dead and buildings and roads have been reduced to rubble. The only thing left standing is the Hwang Gung apartment complex, where the residents continue to wait for a rescue that is not coming anytime soon. With groups of survivors desperately seeking food and shelter daily, the residents join together to decide on the next course of action and how they will survive the harsh winter ahead.
The title of this film may be CONCRETE UTOPIA, but it resembles more of a dystopic nightmare. Co-Writer/Director Um Tae-hwa’s Social Thriller (based off a Webtoon) is an unsettling and shocking experience that becomes gradually more disturbing as it progresses. It is incredibly bleak and brutal yet feels restrained – I certainly thought it was going to devolve into something much more repulsive than it does. The Film reminded me a lot of George A. Romero’s legendary Dawn of the Dead as well as the video game/TV series The Last of Us in its look, feel and themes. Um does not rip off either source wholesale, rather he uses them as more of a blueprint for the hellscape Seoul has become. The CGI and horrific set design work are both quite stellar as well.
While there is one specific reveal I wish Um used closer to the finale as opposed to early on, my only other gripe with CONCRETE UTOPIA is the sheer amount of characters and exposition they have to deliver. He wisely only returns to life seconds prior to the earthquake twice and confidently leaves some questions and plot threads unresolved. But Um gets bogged down in some of the specifics and relies a bit too heavily on montages. Worse, he does not do nearly enough to differentiate the characters beyond the leads played by Park Seo-jun, Park Bo-young and an absolutely deplorable Lee Byung-hun. They each do a great job in their roles and terrifically handle the moral quandaries that are endlessly thrown at them. A tighter line of sight from Um could have made their work even stronger.
CONCRETE UTOPIA screens at TIFF’23:
Sunday, September 10 at 5:00 PM at Roy Thomson Hall
Monday, September 11 at 10:50 PM at Scotiabank Theatre Toronto
Friday, September 15 at 9:00 PM at TIFF Bell Lightbox
Saturday, September 16 at 8:30 PM at TIFF Bell Lightbox