TIFF ’20 selection CONCRETE COWBOY arrives next month on Netflix! See this new Trailer!
When fifteen year-old Cole (Caleb McLaughlin) is expelled from school in Detroit, he is sent to North Philadelphia to live with Harp (Idris Elba), his estranged father. Harp finds solace in rehabilitating horses for inner city cowboys at the Fletcher Street Stables, a real-life black urban horsemanship community that has provided a safe haven for the neighborhood residents for more than 100 years. Torn between his growing respect for his father’s community and his reemerging friendship with troubled cousin Smush (Jharrel Jerome), Cole begins to reprioritize his life as the stables themselves are threatened by encroaching gentrification.
Cole (Caleb McLaughlin from Stranger Things) has been expelled from his Detroit school for fighting. With nowhere else to go, his mother drives him to stay with his Dad, Harp (Idris Elba), for the summer in North Philadelphia. Cole does not really know him, and is not aware that Harp spends his time caring for the horses with other local cowboys at the stables down the street. With few options available, Cole starts working at the stables during the day and spends his nights hanging out with his drug-dealing friend Smush (Emmy-winner Jharrel Jerome).
My central issue with Concrete Cowboy is how exhausting and longwinded it feels. Does Staub want to focus on Harp, his fellow riders and the urban cowboy subculture they are a part of, or does he want to focus on the strained relationship between Harp and Cole? Or should the focus be on Cole and Smush’s friendship and the dangerous path it is leading towards? The Film never seems content enough to settle on one through line, and spends far too much of its 111-minute running time jumping between all three of these Subplots and the assortment of intriguing but underdeveloped characters that populate them. Worse, Staub shoots the Film with handheld, digital cameras and no tripods. So no matter what is happening in the scene, the camera is always shaking and never steady. It is certainly an eclectic choice for a Film like this, but it makes watching it an increasingly frustrating experience.
Concrete Cowboy is an admirable debut feature from Co-Writer/Director Ricky Staub. He tells a story about a subculture few of us were aware of previously, and he strives for authenticity in every frame. The story is personal and his direction reflects that. Elba is not the lead here, but he is just as rock solid and dependable as he always is – and he looks wicked riding a horse (is there anything he cannot do?). McLaughlin holds his own against him and does a great job as the Film’s Lead. He digs down deep into Cole’s psyche, playing into his confused, emotionally fragile state with ease. He is keenly aware of the expectations the audience has of him as a Child Actor in one of their favourite Netflix series and is all too pleased to subvert and flip them around entirely.
As the Credits roll, we are treated to brief talking head clips from the real life cowboys starring in the Film discussing the challenges that urban development and gentrification have created for them. The clips are far too short, but their words are fascinating and illuminating. I found myself immediately much more interested in what was happening, and then really disappointed when they ended so quickly. Why this was not the immediate and only focus of the Film?
The complete list of Films to premiere at the 45th Toronto International Film Festival was released earlier today. More than ever, this year’s films are focused on representation and inclusion being a point of focus. We see loud and clear, movies this year about women, black people, indigenous people and people of colour.
Added to the slate are films like Kornél Mundruczó‘s PIECES OF A WOMAN starring The Crown’s Vanessa Kirby as a woman coping with the loss of her baby; Viggo Mortensen‘s directorial debut FALLING, shot here in Toronto, about a gay man dealing with his prejudiced father Emma Seligman‘s SHIVA BABY starring Molly Gordon (Good Boys) about a young woman who runs into her sugar daddy at a funeral with her family; J Blakeson‘s I CARE A LOT is about a legal conservator (Rosamund Pike) who defrauds elderly clients who has a run-in with a gangster;Cathy Brady‘s WILDFIRE starring Anne Heche, centering on a young girl who releases a dark secret in her friendship with a wild horse; Sonia Kennebeck‘s Documentary ENEMIES OF THE STATE which is about a family targeted by the U.S. government when it is learned their son is a hacker; Florian Zeller‘s THE FATHER starring Anthony Hopkins and Olivia Colman, centering on a man who refuses help from his daughter and his coping with aging; the Horror SHADOW IN THE CLOUD by Roseanne Liang and starring Chloë Grace Moretz, about a WWII pilot travelling with top secret documents, who discovers an evil force; and Regina King‘s ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI where we see Boxer Cassius Clay work together with Malcolm X, Sam Cooke and Jim Brow to change the course of history in the segregated South. Mira Nair‘s A SUITABLE BOY is set to close the Festival.
These are in addition to some of the centerpiece films announced prior like AMMONITE, NOMADLAND, GOOD JOE BELL, CONCRETE COWBOY, BRUISED and Opening Night Gala DAVID BYRNE’S AMERICAN UTOPIA.
Canadian representation is also very pronounced with Director Aisling Chin-Yee returning with NO ORDINARY MAN, a Documentary about a transgender Jazz Musician Billy Tipton who for many years was framed as an ambitious woman passing as a man in pursuit of music career. Others include Tracey Deer‘s BEANS, Michelle Latimer‘s two films INCONVENIENT INDIAN and TRICKSTER and both Madeleine Sims-Fewer/Dusty Mancinelli co-directed VIOLATION.
On this year’s lineup, TIFF Co-Head and Artistic Director says, “This year’s lineup reflects that tumult. The names you already know are doing brand new things this year, and there’s a whole crop of exciting new names to discover.”.
Complete line-up below:
180 Degree Rule Farnoosh Samadi | Iran 76 Days Hao Wu, Anonymous, Weixi Chen | USA Ammonite Francis Lee | United Kingdom Another Round (Druk) Thomas Vinterberg | Denmark Bandar Band Manijeh Hekmat | Iran/Germany Beans Tracey Deer | Canada Beginning (Dasatskisi) Dea Kulumbegashvili | Georgia/France The Best is Yet to Come (Bu Zhi Bu Xiu) Wang Jing | China Bruised Halle Berry | USA City Hall Frederick Wiseman | USA Concrete Cowboy Ricky Staub | USA David Byrne’s American Utopia Spike Lee | USA (Opening Night Film) The Disciple Chaitanya Tamhane | India Enemies of the State Sonia Kennebeck | USA Falling Viggo Mortensen | Canada/United Kingdom The Father Florian Zeller | United Kingdom/France Fauna Nicolás Pereda | Mexico/Canada Fireball: Visitors from Darker Worlds Werner Herzog, Clive Oppenheimer | United Kingdom/USA Gaza mon amour Tarzan Nasser, Arab Nasser | Palestine/France/Germany/Portugal/Qatar Get the Hell Out (Tao Chu Li Fa Yuan) I-Fan Wang | Taiwan Good Joe Bell Reinaldo Marcus Green | USA I Care A Lot J Blakeson | United Kingdom Inconvenient Indian Michelle Latimer | Canada The Inheritance Ephraim Asili | USA Lift Like a Girl (Ash Ya Captain) Mayye Zayed | Egypt/Germany/Denmark Limbo Ben Sharrock | United Kingdom Memory House (Casa de Antiguidades) João Paulo Miranda Maria | Brazil/France MLK/FBI Sam Pollard | USA The New Corporation: The Unfortunately Necessary Sequel Joel Bakan, Jennifer Abbott | Canada New Order (Nuevo orden) Michel Franco | Mexico Night of the Kings (La Nuit des Rois) Philippe Lacôte | Côte d’Ivoire/France/Canada/Senegal Nomadland Chloé Zhao | USA No Ordinary Man Aisling Chin-Yee, Chase Joynt | Canada Notturno Gianfranco Rosi | Italy/France/Germany One Night in Miami Regina King | USA Penguin Bloom Glendyn Ivin | Australia Pieces of a Woman Kornél Mundruczó | USA/Canada/Hungary Preparations to Be Together For an Unknown Period of Time (Felkészülés meghatározatlan ideig tartó együttlétre) Lili Horvát | Hungary Quo Vadis, Aïda? Jasmila Žbanić | Bosnia and Herzegovina/Norway/The Netherlands/Austria/Romania/France/Germany/Poland/Turkey Shadow In The Cloud Roseanne Liang | USA/New Zealand Shiva Baby Emma Seligman | USA/Canada Spring Blossom Suzanne Lindon | France A Suitable Boy Mira Nair | United Kingdom/India (Closing Night Presentation) Summer of 85 (Été 85) François Ozon | France The Third Day Felix Barrett, Dennis Kelly | United Kingdom Trickster Michelle Latimer | Canada True Mothers (Asa Ga Kuru) Naomi Kawase | Japan Under the Open Sky (Subarashiki Sekai) Miwa Nishikawa | Japan Violation Madeleine Sims-Fewer, Dusty Mancinelli | Canada Wildfire Cathy Brady | United Kingdom/Ireland
The Toronto International Film Festival runs September 10–19, 2020.
More here on Films and their respective Programmes.
So things will be a bit different this year amidst this pandemic. TIFF unveiled what this year’s Festival will look like and there will be physical screenings and drive-ins, digital screenings, virtual red carpets, press conferences and industry talks. The Festival is still slated to go September 10–19, 2020. Film Premieres will be downsized to 50 films only including the likes of:
–Ammonite, directed by Francis Lee (United Kingdom) – starring Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan
–Another Round, from director Thomas Vinterberg (Denmark) starring Mads Mikkelsen
–Bruised, the debut film from director Halle Berry (USA) – she also stars
–Concrete Cowboy by filmmaker Ricky Staub (USA) starring Idris Elba and Jharrel Jerome
–Fauna, from director Nicolás Pereda (Mexico/Canada) starring Geordy Skolnick and Sammy Mena
–Good Joe Bell by director Reinaldo Marcus Green (USA) starring Mark Wahlberg and Connie Britton
–Spring Blossom, the debut film by director Suzanne Lindon (France) starring Raymond Aquaviva
–True Mothers by director Naomi Kawase (Japan) starring Arata Iura
TIFF Ambassadors will be taking part in the Festival including Ava DuVernay, Taika Waititi, Anurag Kashyap, Nicole Kidman, Martin Scorsese, Nadine Labaki, Alfonso Cuarón, Tantoo Cardinal, Riz Ahmed, Rian Johnson, Jason Reitman, Isabelle Huppert, Claire Denis, Atom Egoyan, Priyanka Chopra, Viggo Mortensen, Zhang Ziyi, David Oyelowo, Lulu Wang, Rosamund Pike, Sarah Gadon, and Denis Villeneuve.
Also added to the list of Ambassadors are: Hiam Abbass, Haifaa Al-Mansour, Shamier Anderson, Darren Aronofsky, Olivier Assayas, Gael García Bernal, Derek Cianfrance, Mark Cousins, Julie Delpy, Barry Jenkins, Jia Zhang-ke, Barbara Kopple, Hirokazu Kore-eda, Brie Larson, Kasi Lemmons, Tatiana Maslany, Carey Mulligan, Genevieve Nnaji, Alanis Obomsawin, Natalie Portman, Zachary Quinto, Isabella Rossellini, Albert Serra, Wim Wenders, Olivia Wildeand Donnie Yen.
Derek Cianfrance (A Place Beyond the Pines, Blue Valentine), will lead a Dialogues session and actor and producer David Oyelowo will be a guest speaker as part of the TIFF Rising Stars programme.
It remains to be seen if talent physically will be in attendance this year.
The TIFF Tribute Awards, which honoured the likes of Meryl Streep and Joaquin Phoenix last year, also will be held once again this year. Kate Winslet wil receive the TIFF Tribute Actor Award on September 15 in a virtual event.
TIFF Artistic Director and Co-Head Cameron Bailey says, “The pandemic has hit TIFF hard, but we’ve responded by going back to our original inspiration — to bring the very best in film to the broadest possible audience”.
More details to come. We appreciate so much the Festival still putting its best foot forward in trying times and you can bet our Team will still be there to deliver you coverage!