The press conference is underway for the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival. Demolition, which recently was moved from 2015 to an April 2016 US release, will open the festival. The film stars Jake Gyllenhaal and Naomi Watts and is directed by Jean-Marc Vallée. Included in the lineup of Special Presentations and Galas are Charlie Kaufman’s first animated film Anomalisa, Cary Fukunaga’s highly anticipated Netflix drama Beasts of No Nation, the new Terence Davies Sunset Song and new films from the most recent Best Actor and Best Actress Oscar winners Eddie Redmayne and Julianne Moore (The Danish Girl and Freeheld, respectively).
At first glance, this seems like an underwhelming slate so far. Looking forward to some of the big Oscar films this year (which TIFF loves), I expected to see Bridge of Spies, By the Sea, Our Brand is Crisis, Truth, I Saw the Light, etc. Are they going elsewhere, or just skipping festivals altogether? It seems Toronto might be missing out on Carol, Steve Jobs and Suffragette to Telluride or Venice, which is a blow. It can’t be understated that the ultimatum TIFF head Cameron Bailey sent down to studios last year about films that premiere at Telluride ahead of Toronto is being felt this year and that backlash could be real. That said, this is just the beginning, folks. TIFF shows about 300 films every year so expect lots of announcements in the coming weeks.
Demolition (dir. Jean-Marc Vallée
• Beeba Boys (dir. Deepa Mehta) – World Premiere
A ruthless Sikh mobster leads his soldiers into a turf war for control of the Vancouver drugs- and arms-trafficking rackets, in this based-on-fact gangland drama from the great Deepa Mehta (Water, Midnight’s Children).
• The Dressmaker (dir. Jocelyn Moorhouse) – World Premiere
Academy Award winner Kate Winslet, Chris Hemsworth, and Judy Davis star in this adaptation of the best-selling novel by Rosalie Ham, about a dressmaker who returns to her tiny Australian hometown from the chic fashion houses of Paris to put her past to rest — and revolutionize the local women’s couture while she’s at it.
• Eye in the Sky (dir. Gavin Hood) – World Premiere
Academy Award winner Helen Mirren stars alongside Aaron Paul, Alan Rickman and Iain Glen in this timely thriller about a terrorist-targeting drone mission that becomes a flashpoint when a civilian girl enters the kill zone.
• Forsaken (dir. Jon Cassar) – World Premiere
Kiefer and Donald Sutherland share the screen in this brooding western about an embittered gunslinger who attempts to make amends with his estranged father whilst their community is besieged by ruthless land-grabbers.
• Freeheld (dir. Peter Sollett) – World Premiere
Julianne Moore, Ellen Page, Steve Carell and Michael Shannon star in this true story about terminally ill New Jersey police officer Laurel Hester, whose 2005 legal battle to pass on her pension benefits to her domestic partner became a flashpoint for LGBT activism.
• Hyena Road (dir. Paul Gross) – World Premiere
Paul Gross (Passchendaele) directs and co-stars in this taut war drama about Canadian troops in Afghanistan weathering Taliban attacks while struggling to complete construction on a crucial highway link.
• Lolo (dir. Julie Delpy) – World Premiere
Julie Delpy (Before Midnight) writes, directs and stars in this satirical comedy about fortysomething workaholic Violette, who finds romance while on a spa vacation — but whose new beau soon has doubts when he discovers Violette’s unusual relationship with her 20-year-old son.
• Legend (dir. Brian Hegeland)
Tom Hardy gives a bravura double performance as Reggie and Ronnie Kray, the identical twin brothers who became the rulers of the London underworld at the height of the swinging ’60s.
• The Man Who Knew Infinity (dir. Matt Brown) – World Premiere
Dev Patel (Slumdog Millionaire) and Academy Award winner Jeremy Irons star in this inspirational biopic about Srinivasa Ramanujan, the early-20th century Indian mathematician whose groundbreaking theories revolutionized the field.
• The Martian (dir. Ridley Scott) – World Premiere
Stranded on Mars, a NASA astronaut (Matt Damon) struggles to survive on the arid planet while his ground crew races to mount a rescue mission, in this interplanetary epic from director Ridley Scott.
• The Program (dir. Stephen Frears) – World Premiere
Stephen Frears (The Queen, Philomena) directs Ben Foster in this docudrama about disgraced cycling champion Lance Armstrong’s doping scandal and downfall.
• Remember (dir. Atom Egoyan)
• Septembers of Shiraz (dir. Wayne Blair) – World Premiere
Adrien Brody and Salma Hayek star in this adaptation of the critically acclaimed debut novel by Iranian American author Dalia Sofer, about a secular Jewish family caught up in the maelstrom of the 1979 Iranian Revolution.
• Stonewall (dir. Roland Emmerich) – World Premiere
Roland Emmerich (Anonymous) directs this docudrama about the 1969 Stonewall riots in Greenwich Village, which became a milestone in the LGBT rights movement in North America.
• Anomalisa (dir. Duke Johnson and Charlie Kaufman)
Charlie Kaufman, the celebrated screenwriter of Being John Malkovich and Adaptation and director of Synecdoche, New York, ventures into the world of stop-motion animation with this fable about a motivational speaker seeking to transcend his monotonous existence.
• Beasts of No Nation (dir. Cary Fukunaga)
After his parents are killed, a young African boy is forced to become a child soldier in a rebel army led by a brutal commandant (Idris Elba, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom), in this adaptation of the acclaimed book by Nigerian-American author Uzodinma Iweala.
• Black Mass (dir. Scott Cooper)
Johnny Depp stars as notorious Irish-American gangster Whitey Bulger, who spent thirty years as an FBI informant while rising to the top of the Boston underworld, in this adaptation of the book by Dick Lehr and Gerard O’Neill.
• Brooklyn (dir. John Crowley)
In the early 1950s, a young Irish woman (Saoirse Ronan) crosses the Atlantic to begin a new life in America, in this exquisitely crafted adaptation of the acclaimed novel by Colm Tóibín.
• The Club (dir. Pablo Larrain)
Shipped off to a seaside monastery for various venial transgressions, four Catholic priests have their cozy exile disturbed by charges of molestation, in this incendiary, blackly humorous drama from Chilean auteur Pablo Larraín (Tony Manero, No).
• Colonia (dir. Florian Gallenberger) – World Premiere
Two young lovers (Emma Watson and Daniel Brühl) find themselves trapped in the murderous crackdown following the 1973 coup against Chilean president Salvador Allende.
• The Danish Girl (dir. Tom Hooper) – North American Premiere
Academy Award winner Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything) stars as Lili Elbe, the 1920s Danish artist who was one of the first recipients of sexual reassignment surgery, in this biopic directed by Academy Award winner Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech).
• The Daughter (dir. Simon Stone) – North American Premiere
A young man returns to his dying hometown and discovers a dark family secret that could tear apart the lives of those he left behind, in this contemporary adaptation of Ibsen’s The Wild Duck starring Academy Award winner Geoffrey Rush, stars Paul Schneider, Miranda Otto and Sam Neill.
• Desierto (dir. Jonás Cuarón) – World Premiere
Jonás Cuarón directs Gael García Bernal in this thriller about a group of would-be immigrants whose dream of entering the US becomes a nightmare when a deranged vigilante begins stalking them through the Sonoran Desert.
• Dheepan (dir. Jacques Audiard)- North American Premiere
Winner of the Palme d’Or at this year’s Cannes, this powerful drama from director Jacques Audiard (A Prophet, Rust & Bone) follows a former Tamil Tiger soldier as he flees from the aftermath of the Sri Lankan civil war to begin a new life in a Parisian suburb.
• Families (dir. Jean-Paul Rappeneau) – World Premiere
Mathieu Amalric (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, The Grand Budapest Hotel) stars in this rollicking and romantic country-house farce from lauded director Jean-Paul Rappeneau (Cyrano de Bergerac, The Horseman on the Roof).
• The Family Fang (dir. Jason Bateman) – World Premiere
After an unlikely accident, a pair of grown siblings (Nicole Kidman and director-star Jason Bateman) are compelled to move back in with their eccentric parents (Christopher Walken and Maryann Plunkett), professional practical jokers whose lifetime of public interventions have alienated their children.
• Guilty (dir. Meghna Gulzar)
Irrfan Khan (Life of Pi, The Lunchbox) stars in this dramatization of the notorious “Noida Double Murder Case,” which set off a media frenzy around the world in 2008.
• I Smile Back (dir. Adam Sulkey)
Sarah Silverman gives an astonishing performance as a drug-addicted, self-destructive New Jersey housewife whose life begins to come apart at the seams, in this blistering adaptation of the acclaimed novel by Amy Koppelman.
• The Idol (dir. Hany Abu-Assad) – World Premiere
• The Lady in the Van (dir. Nicholas Hytner) – World Premiere
The legendary Maggie Smith stars in this adaptation of the based-on-fact play by acclaimed author Alan Bennett (The Madness of King George), about a high-born homeless woman fallen on hard times who found temporary shelter parking her van in Bennett’s driveway — for fifteen years.
• Len and Company (dir. Tim Godsall) – North American Premiere
A legendary, reclusive music producer (Rhys Ifans) has his shut-in routine disturbed by the unexpected arrival of his aspiring musician son (Jack Kilmer) and a troubled bubblegum-pop superstar (Juno Temple).
• The Lobster (dir. Yorgos Lanthimos) – North American Premiere
Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz and John C. Reilly star in the deliciously bizarre new film from Greek auteur Yorgos Lanthimos (Dogtooth, ALPS), about a curious hotel where the residents are charged with finding a new mate within 45 days — under penalty of being transformed into animals should they fail.
• Louder than Bombs (dir. Joachim Trier) – North American Premiere
An aging schoolteacher (Gabriel Byrne) grappling with the recent death of his photojournalist wife (Isabelle Huppert) attempts to reconcile with his two very different sons (Jesse Eisenberg and Devin Druid), in the first English-language feature by acclaimed Norwegian director Joachim Trier (Reprise).
• Maggie’s Plan (dir. Rebecca Miller) – World Premiere
Greta Gerwig (Frances Ha) stars in the new film from gifted writer-director Rebecca Miller (Personal Velocity), about a young woman whose determination to have a child involves her in a love triangle with an unhappy academic (Ethan Hawke) and his eccentric critical-theorist wife (Julianne Moore).
• Mountains May Depart (dir. Zhangke Jia) – North American Premiere
The new film from Mainland master Jia Zhang-ke (A Touch of Sin) jumps from the recent past to the speculative near-future as it examines how China’s economic boom has affected the bonds of family, tradition, and love.
• Office (dir. Johnnie To)
Hong Kong master Johnnie To (Drug War, Mad Detective) directs superstars Chow Yun-Fat and Sylvia Chang in this spectacular movie musical about high-level corporate intrigue.
• Parched (dir. Leena Yadav) – World Premiere
In a rural Indian village, four ordinary women begin to throw off the traditions that hold them in servitude, in this inspirational drama from director Leena Yadav.
• Room (dir. Lenny Abrahamson)
Escaping from the captivity in which they have been held for half a decade, a young woman and her five-year-old son struggle to adjust to the strange, terrfiying and wondrous world outside their one-room prison.
• Sicario (dir. Denis Villeneuve) – North American Premiere
An idealistic FBI agent (Emily Blunt) joins two shadowy government operatives (Josh Brolin and Benicio del Toro) in a high-risk, cross-border sting against a Mexican cartel boss in this gritty drug war thriller from Quebec Denis Villeneuve (Prisoners).
• Son of Saul (dir. László Nemes)
Winner of the Grand Prix at the Cannes Film Festival, this powerful and gripping Holocaust drama follows a concentration-camp inmate who goes to desperate lengths to secure a traditional Jewish burial for a young boy.
• Spotlight (dir. Tom McCarthy)
Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams and Michael Keaton star in this true story about a team of Boston Globe reporters who uncovered a massive scandal of child abuse and cover-ups within the local Catholic Church.
• Summertime (dir. Catherine Corsini)
In 1971 France, a young girl from a rural family moves to Paris and begins a life-changing affair with a feminist activist.
• Sunset Song (dir.Terence Davis) – World Premiere
• Trumbo (dir. Jay Roach) – World Premiere
Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad) stars as the famous screenwriter and Hollywood blacklist victim Dalton Trumbo, in this engrossing biopic co-starring Helen Mirren, Elle Fanning, Diane Lane and John Goodman.
• Un plus une (dir. Claude Lelouch) – World Premiere
A successful film composer (Academy Award winner Jean Dujardin, The Artist) falls in love when he travels to India to work on a Bollywood retelling of Romeo and Juliet, in this glorious romantic drama from the great French director Claude Lelouch (A Man and a Woman).
• Victoria (dir. Sebastian Schipper)
A beautiful young Spanish nightclubber in Berlin becomes wheelwoman for a quartet of bank robbers, in this stunning heist thriller shot in a single extended take.
• Where to Invade Next (dir. Michael Moore) – World Premiere
Academy Award-winning director Michael Moore returns with what may be his most provocative and hilarious film yet: Moore tells the Pentagon to “stand down” — he will do the invading for America from now on.
• Youth (dir. Paolo Sorrentino)- North American Premiere
Two old friends (Michael Caine and Harvey Keitel) reflect on their past, present, and the beauty and absurdity of the world during a vacation in the Swiss Alps, in the lovely and heart-warming new film from Academy Award winner Paolo Sorrentino (The Great Beauty).