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TIFF ’19 – Preliminary Picks

The first slate of Gala Presentations and Special Presentations for this year’s Toronto International Film Festival were announced yesterday. I’m thrilled to be going back to TIFF this year as press. I’ll be covering the festival on this site as well as with DVD Netflix, Cine Suffragette, on my social media and beyond. 

I learned so much from the last TIFF and I know better how to navigate this next festival. My focus this year will be on female directed and female focused films, Spanish-language films (and foreign cinema in general), LGBTQ themed films and a few big releases thrown in for good measure. The Gala Presentations will be in high demand and thus the most difficult to get access to. I’ll be very selective when it comes to those. The full list of TIFF films will be announced on August 20th and from there I’ll curate my final list.

In the meantime, here are my top 10 picks from the first slate of announced films. It was difficult to narrow it down to 10 so I can’t even imagine what it will be like to come up with some semblance of a schedule when all the films are announced. This is an impressive line-up!

Gala Presentations

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood – Courtesy of TIFF

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood – World Premiere

dir. Marielle Heller and starring Tom Hanks as Mister Rogers.

I was perfectly content with Morgan Neville’s doc Won’t You Be My Neighbor? and didn’t necessarily think I needed a Mister Rogers biopic. But Hollywood loves a good biopic! Mister Rogers was and still remains a very powerful figure in my life and I’m incredibly curious what story it has to tell and how he’ll be portrayed. I think his story is in very capable hands with director Marielle Heller whose film Can You Ever Forgive Me? was one of my favorites from last year’s TIFF.

Joker – Courtesy of TIFF

Joker – North American Premiere

dir. Todd Phillips and starring Joaquin Phoenix

I wasn’t even remotely interested in a new Joker movie UNTIL I saw that trailer. Damn. I love that the film takes a deep dive into the character’s origin story and the psychology behind why he became the Joker. I enjoy Todd Phillips’ work and Joaquin Phoenix is an excellent actor and I’ll watch anything he’s in. I predict this film will be a hot ticket at TIFF. I’ll have to be realistic about my chances of getting in.

Other Gala Presentations

  • Abominable – dir. Jill Culton – World Premiere
  • American Woman – dir Semi Chellas – Canadian Premiere
  • Blackbird – dir. Roger Michelle – World Premiere
  • Clemency – dir. Chinonye Chukwu – International Premiere
  • Ford v. Ferrari – dir. James Mangold – Canadian Premiere
  • The Goldfinch – dir. John Crowley – World Premiere
  • Harriet  – dir. Kasi Lemmons – World Premiere
  • Hustlers – dir. Lorene Scafaria – World Premiere
  • Just Mercy – dir. Destin Daniel Cretton – World Premiere
  • Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and The Band – dir. Daniel Roher – World Premiere (Opening Night)
  • Ordinary Love – dir. Lisa Barros D’Sa and Glenn Leyburn – World Premiere
  • Radioactive – dir. Marjane Satrapi – World Premiere (Closing Night)
  • The Sky is Pink – dir. Shonali Bose – World Premiere
  • The Song of Names  – dir. Francois Girard – World Premiere
  • True History of the Kelly Gang  – dir. Justin Kurzel – World Premiere
  • Western Stars – dir. Thom Zimny, Bruce Springsteen – World Premiere

Special Presentations

Ema – Courtesy of TIFF

Ema – North American Premiere

dir Pablo Larrain and starring Mariana Di Girolamo and Gael García Bernal

There’s very little information about this film besides a basic description of the plot. However, I’m already excited about the potential for this film. This Chilean film follows Ema (Mariana Di Girolamo) as she “sets out on a risky quest to reset her life” after a terrible accident.

Greed – Courtesy of TIFF

Greed  – World Premiere

dir. Michael Winterbottom and starring Steve Coogan, Isla Fisher

I adore Michael Winterbottom and had such a fun time attending the premiere of The Wedding Guest at last year’s TIFF. Greed stars Steve Coogan as a fast-fashion mogul who throws a lavish party that is overthrown by nearby refugees. There’s a lot of potential here for both absurdity and serious social commentary.

A Herdade – Courtesy of TIFF

A HerdadeNorth American Premiere

dir. Tiago Guedes 

You may be surprised to discover that this is my #1 pick for TIFF. I’ll clear my schedule just to get into a screening. Portuguese films are rare and getting access to them is very difficult. I’m half Portuguese, fluent in the language and fascinated by Portugal’s cultural history. This film follows a wealthy family in mid-20th century Portugal and according to the description offers a look at the political, economic and social history of the country. SOLD!

Judy – Courtesy of TIFF

Judy – Canadian Premiere

dir. Rupert Goold and starring Renee Zellweger

I’ll be covering Judy for my classic film blog Out of the Past. I’m not as big a Judy Garland fan as some of my fellow classic film buffs are and not as precious about how she’s portrayed. There’s been some backlash from the community about this film but I’d like to see it before jumping to conclusions. I’m just hoping Judy offers an honest portrayal of a complicated woman rather than just another salacious biopic.

Knives Out – Courtesy of TIFF

Knives Out World Premiere

dir. Rian Johnson and starring Daniel Craig, Toni Collette, Jamie Lee Curtis, Christopher Plummer, Chris Evans, Don Johnson, Michael Shannon, etc.

You really can’t go wrong with a star-studded murder mystery. It pretty much sells itself. Craig plays the lead detective and Plummer is the murder victim. I’m expecting a whip smart mystery with an eccentric cast of characters. Just watch the trailer and tell me you’re not immediately hooked.

The Personal History of David Copperfield World Premiere

dir. Armando Iannucci and starring Dev Patel, Ben Whishaw, Tilda Swinton, Hugh Laurie, etc.

A new adaptation of Charles Dickens’ classic novel has Dev Patel playing David Copperfield and I am here for this. I love period pieces and classic novel adaptations and while I have a love-hate relationship with Dickens I’m eager to see what this new spin with a POC protagonist has to offer.

Portrait of a Lady on Fire – Canadian Premiere

dir. Celine Sciamma and starring Noémie Merlant, Adèle Haenel, Luàna Bajrami

Set in 18th century Brittany, this French film tells the story of an artist who is hired to paint a portrait of a would-be-bride and the two women develop a romantic relationship. This ticks off a lot of boxes for me. Female-focused, female-directed, foreign and LGBTQ! I just hope it doesn’t break my heart.

While at War  – World Premiere

dir. Alejandro Amenabar and starring Karra Elejalde, Eduard Fernández, Santi Prego

This Argentine-Spanish film is set in the early days of the Spanish Civil War as dictator Francisco Franco comes into power. The story focuses on writer Miguel de Unamuno and his rebellion against El Generalisimo. I was impressed with the trailer I’m particularly interested in stories about political persecution, rebellion and repression so this is right up my alley.

Other Special Presentations

  • Bad Education – dir Cory Finley – World Premiere
  • Coming Home – dir. Wayne Wang – World Premiere
  • Dolemite Is My Name – dir Craig Brewer – World Premiere
  • Endings, Beginnings – dir. Drake Doremus – World Premiere
  • Frankie – dir. Ira Sachs – North American Premiere
  • The Friend – dir. Gabriela Cowperthwaite – World Premiere
  • Guest of Honor – dir. Atom Egoyan – North American Premiere
  • Heroic Losers– dir. Sebastien Borensztein – International Premiere
  • Honey Boy – dir. Alma Har’el – International Premiere
  • Hope Gap – dir. William Nicholson – World Premiere
  • How to Build a Girl  – dir. Coky Giedroyc – World Premiere
  • I Am Woman – dir. Unjoo Moon – World Premiere
  • Jojo Rabbit – dir. Taika Waititi – World Premiere
  • La Belle Epoque – dir. Nicolas Bedos – North American Premiere
  • The Laundromat – dir. Steven Soderbergh – North American Premiere
  • The Lighthouse  – dir. Robert Eggers – North American Premiere
  • Marriage – dir. Noah Baumbach – Canadian Premiere
  • Military Wives – dir. Peter Cattaneo – World Premiere
  • Motherless Brooklyn – dir. Edward Norton – International Premiere
  • No. 7 Cherry Lane – dir. Yonfan – North American Premiere
  • The Other Lamb – dir. Malgorzata Szumowska – World Premiere
  • Pain and Glory – dir. Pedro Almodovar – Canadian Premiere
  • The Painted Bird  – dir. Vaclav Marhoul – North American Premiere
  • Parasite – dir. Bong Joon-ho – Canadian Premiere
  • Pelican Blood – dir. Katrin Gebbe – North American Premiere
  • The Report – dir. Scott Z. Burns – International Premiere
  • Saturday Fiction – dir. Lou Ye – North American Premiere
  • The Two Popes – dir. Fernando Meirelles – Canadian Premiere
  • Uncut Gems – dir. Benny Safdie, Josh Safdie – International Premiere
  • Weathering With You  – dir. Makoto Shinkai – North American Premiere

Check out the full list of offerings on the TIFF website.

One thought on “TIFF ’19 – Preliminary Picks Leave a comment

  1. Looking forward to the Mr. Rogers and Judy ones. Also not a huge fan of Judy Garland, so I thought the casting and trailer seemed fine.

    My interest in Joker diminished after seeing the trailer, however, and after reading about it. It’s not going to be based on any pre-existing Batman Joker storyline, so that kinda disappoints me.

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