Well, it is that time of the year again. The first batch of Galas and Special Presentations for the 39th Annual Toronto International Film Festival were announced this past Tuesday. One element of this year’s festival that is being talked about the most is how TIFF is cracking down on other festivals (particularly the Telluride Film Festival in Colorado) poaching films that TIFF had previously announced as World Premieres. This caused some to worry that some filmmakers would now premiere their films elsewhere. Indeed, this new policy is probably part of the reason why TIFF’s Opening Gala film was strangely absent from the opening press conference. Instead, the highlight of the announcement was the Closing Gala A Little Chaos, which is directed by actor Alan Rickman.
UPDATE (7/25): The world premiere of David Dobkin’s The Judge, which was already part of the initial announcement, has been confirmed as this year’s Opening Gala film.
As always, here are my thoughts on select highlights of Tuesday’s announcement.
The Drop - Michael R. Roskam, USA (Special Presentations) – World Premiere
One of the most notable (and sad) elements of this crime thriller starring Tom Hardy and Noomi Rapace is that it will probably be the final film anyone sees James Gandolfini in.
Foxcatcher - Bennett Miller, USA (Gala Presentation) – Canadian Premiere
Starring Steve Carrell, Channing Tatum, and Mark Ruffalo, Foxcatcher received quite a bit of buzz when it played at Cannes a few months ago. It will sure be a highlight of this year’s festival selection.
The Imitation Game - Morten Tyldum, United Kingdom/USA (Special Presentations) – Canadian Premiere
Starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Alan Turing, this is one of the festival selections that is already gaining some Oscar buzz.
Maps to the Stars - David Cronenberg, Canada/Germany (Gala Presentation) – North American Premiere
It is not surprising at all that David Cronenberg will be returning to TIFF for the North American premiere of his latest, and quite star studded, film.
Men, Women and Children - Jason Reitman, USA (Special Presentations) – World Premiere
Reitman’s previous film Labor Day didn’t really go anywhere, so it will be interesting to see how he rebounds.
Mr. Turner - Mike Leigh, United Kingdom (Special Presentations) – Canadian Premiere
This biopic about painter J.M.W. Turner won star Timothy Spall the Best Actor prize at Cannes.
Jake Gyllenhaal and Rene Russo stars in this journalism thriller, which looks to be quite interesting.
Rosewater - Jon Stewart, USA (Special Presentations) – Canadian Premiere
The fact that Jon Stewart directed a movie (about journalist Maziar Bahari) is enough to peak my interest.
While We're Young - Noah Baumbach, USA (Special Presentations) – World Premiere
After seeing the excellent Frances Ha at the festival two years ago, I’m willing to see whatever Noah Baumbach comes up with.
Wild - Jean-Marc Vallée, USA (Gala Presentation) – International Premiere
Fresh from directing the Oscar-winning Dallas Buyers Club, Québécois director Jean-Marc Vallée is back with another high profile film, which stars Reese Witherspoon as a woman going on a thousand mile hike. There are obvious similarities between this film and last year’s Tracks and Wild is one of the films that stands out the most from this first batch of films.
That wraps up my highlights of the first batch of films. You can see a full listing over at the TIFF website and I will continue posting my thoughts as more films are announced in the coming weeks.