The first slate of films for the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival (Sept. 6-16) were released this week, including highly-anticipated movies from Canadian filmmakers and an all-star roster of international talent.
The Sisters Brothers, based on Canuck scribe Patrick deWitt’s Governor General’s Award-winning novel, makes its North American big screen premiere at the festival, while Through Black Spruce, based on fellow Canadian Joseph Boyden’s Giller-winning tome, makes its world premiere. The latter, which tells the story of a Cree family in northern Ontario, also stars Canadian First Nations performers Graham Greene, 66, and Tanaya Beatty, 27, as well as Tantoo Cardinal, 68, who boasts a Métis heritage. The film, however, has face some criticism for the fact that this Indigenous story is directed by a white director, Canadian actor and filmmaker Don McKellar, 54, as well as questions surrounding author Joseph Boyden’s Indigenous background.
Elsewhere, Canadian Ryan Gosling blasts off to the moon with his La La Land director Damien Chazelle to play Neil Armstrong in the biopic First Man while 78-year-old British theatre legend Sir Trevor Nunn directs Dame Judi Dench, 83, in the real-life science-turned-spy tale Red Joan. Award-winning War Witch director Kim Nguyen’s The Hummingbird Project joins fellow Canuck filmmakers Patricia Rozema, 59 (Mouthpiece), Keith Behrman, 55 (Giant Little Ones) and Jason Reitman (The Front Runner) on the TIFF Special Presentation stage while Oscar-winning Gravity director Alfonso Cuarón, 56, enjoys the Canadian premiere of his latest, Roma. And Shoplifters, directed by Japanese filmmaker Hirokazu Kore-eda, 56, won the Palme d’Or at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, also makes its Canadian premiere at TIFF 2018.
As well, of the 47 films announced so far for TIFF, 13 are directed by women, part of a TIFF commitment to feature more female filmmakers. Along with Patricia Rozema they include Claire Denis, 72 (High Life), Nicole Holofcener, 58 (The Land of Steady Habits) and Elizabeth Chomko, who directs Hilary Swank and Blythe Danner, 75, in What They Had, a drama about caring for a mother battling Alzheimer’s.
Of course there’s lots more to look forward to with the films announced so far, from Robert Redford, 81, and Sissy Spacek, 68, starring in The Old Man & The Gun to 48-year-old Steve McQueen’s thriller Widow, co-written by Gone Girl author Gillian Flynn, 47.
Read on for our most anticipated 2018 TIFF films so far, and click here for the full list of announced 2018 TIFF offerings.
Asghar Farhadi, Spain, France, Italy (North American Premiere)
TIFF Synopsis: “Academy Award winner Asghar Farhadi (A Separation, The Salesman) directs Penélope Cruz and Javier Bardem in this layered, psychological drama about a family wedding interrupted by a shocking crime and some long-buried secrets.”
Damien Chazelle, USA (Canadian Premiere)
TIFF Synopsis: “The Academy Award–winning team of director Damien Chazelle and star Ryan Gosling (La La Land) reunites for this biopic on the adventures and life of Neil Armstrong, from his entry into NASA’s astronaut program in 1961 to his epoch-making walk on the moon eight years later.”
Claire Denis, Germany, France, Poland, United Kingdom (World Premiere)
TIFF Synopsis: “Master French filmmaker Claire Denis’s long-anticipated English-language debut and provocative sci-fi drama stars Robert Pattinson, Juliette Binoche, Mia Goth, and André Benjamin as a group of criminals sent into deep space.”
Dan Fogelman, USA (World Premiere)
TIFF Synopsis: “Writer, director, and producer Dan Fogelman’s (This Is Us) affecting drama about life, love, and loss, ambitiously set across years and continents, features an impressive ensemble cast, including Oscar Isaac, Olivia Wilde, Annette Bening, Olivia Cooke, Mandy Patinkin, and Antonio Banderas.”
Sir Trevor Nunn, United Kingdom, 2018 (World Premiere)
TIFF Synopsis: “Academy Award winner Judi Dench and Sophie Cookson take on the complex persona and legacy of Joan Stanley, the seemingly demure physicist who was also a long-serving British spy for the KGB.”
Zhang Yimou, China, 2018 (North American Premiere)
TIFF Synopsis: “Master filmmaker Zhang Yimou brings a completely original cinematic style to an epic battle story, contrasting visuals that draw on China’s centuries-old tradition of ink-wash painting against next-level fighting sequences to dazzling effect.”
THE LAND OF STEADY HABITS
Nicole Holofcener, USA (World Premiere)
TIFF Synopsis: “Ben Mendelsohn, Edie Falco, and Connie Britton star in the latest from Nicole Holofcener (Enough Said), in which a newly retired husband and father leaves his wife in search of freedom, but his reckless new path leaves him longing for the steady comforts of his old life.”
WHAT THEY HAD
Elizabeth Chomko, USA (International Premiere)
TIFF Synopsis: “Hilary Swank, Blythe Danner, Robert Forster, and Michael Shannon star in this intimate family drama about a woman who returns home to help her Alzheimer’s-afflicted mother, while also grappling with her own past.”
Steve McQueen, United Kingdom (World Premiere)
TIFF Synopsis: “A heavyweight cast — including Viola Davis, Daniel Kaluuya, Liam Neeson, Jacki Weaver, Colin Farrell, and Michelle Rodriguez — propels Steve McQueen’s white-knuckle thriller (co-written by Gone Girl’s Gillian Flynn) about four women left in a deadly lurch when their criminally connected husbands are all killed.”
CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME
Marielle Heller, USA
TIFF Synopsis: “A jaded, out-of-work biographer (Melissa McCarthy) resorts to selling forged historical letters on the black market, and grapples with the ethical complications that arise, in Marielle Heller’s charming biopic about bestselling writer Lee Israel.”
GIANT LITTLE ONES
Keith Behrman, Canada (World Premiere)
TIFF Synopsis: “In the latest from Canadian director Keith Behrman, Kyle MacLachlan and Maria Bello star as divorced parents whose teenage son (Josh Wiggins) faces seismic personal upheaval after an unexpected incident at a party.”
IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK
Barry Jenkins, USA, 2018 (World Premiere)
TIFF Synopsis: “Director Barry Jenkins’ ambitious follow-up to Moonlight adapts James Baldwin’s poignant novel about a woman fighting to free her falsely accused husband from prison before the birth of their child.”
Patricia Rozema, Canada (World Premiere)
TIFF Synopsis: “Patricia Rozema (I’ve Heard the Mermaids Singing) adapts the award-winning two-woman play by Amy Nostbakken and Norah Sadava, about an aspiring writer attempting to reconcile her feminism with the conformist choices of her mother following her mother’s sudden death.”
Alfonso Cuarón, Mexico, USA, 2018 (Canadian Premiere)
TIFF Synopsis: “Alfonso Cuarón’s cogent and nuanced semi-autobiographical feature chronicles one year in the life of a middle-class family in 1970s Mexico City.”
Hirokazu Kore-eda, Japan (Canadian Premiere)
TIFF Synopsis: “Equal parts incisive social critique and nuanced family portrait, the latest from Japanese master Hirokazu Kore-eda — winner of this year’s Palme d’Or at Cannes — follows a small band of marginalized misfits struggling to make ends meet in a merciless urban environment.”
Jason Reitman, USA (International Premiere)
TIFF Synopsis: “Jason Reitman (Tully, Up in the Air) directs Hugh Jackman, Vera Fermiga, and J.K Simmons in this biopic about US Senator Gary Hart’s 1988 presidential campaign and his scandalous affair that derailed it.”
THE HUMMINGBIRD PROJECT
Kim Nguyen, Canada
TIFF Synopsis: “In the hopes of striking it rich, two scheming cousins (Jesse Eisenberg and Alexander Skarsgård) try to build a thousand-mile-long, four-inch-wide tunnel from Kansas to New Jersey that will give them a 14-millisecond edge on transactions at the NSDAQ stock exchange.”
THE OLD MAN AND THE GUN
David Lowery, USA (International Premiere)
TIFF Synopsis: “Academy Award winners Robert Redford and Sissy Spacek lead an all-star cast, including Danny Glover, Tom Waits, Elisabeth Moss, and Casey Affleck, in director David Lowery’s true-life dramedy about an unrepentant bank robber and jail-breaker determined to live life by his own rules.”
THE SISTERS BROTHERS
Jacques Audiard, USA, France, Romania, Spain (North American Premiere)
TIFF Synopsis: “Joaquin Phoenix, John C. Reilly, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Riz Ahmed headline Jacques Audiard’s (Dheepan, Rust and Bone) adaptation of Patrick deWitt’s award-winning western novel about the picaresque adventures of two brothers sent to kill a prospector accused of stealing from a tyrannical crime boss.”
THROUGH BLACK SPRUCE
Don McKellar, Canada (World Premiere)
TIFF Synopsis: “Don McKellar and his marquee cast — featuring Tantoo Cardinal, Brandon Oakes, Graham Greene and a dazzling Tanya Beatty in the lead — explore the way a young Cree woman’s disappearance traumatizes her family and triggers events in two worlds: in Moosonee, the remote Northern Ontario community she fled years ago, and Toronto, where she modelled before vanishing.”
The 2018 Toronto International Film Festival runs from Sept. 6-16. Click here for more information.