Toronto festival announces first batch of films

Jun 23, 2009 by Ian Evans

You know it’s summer when the Toronto International Film Festival starts making announcements about the films that will unspool over its ten day event in September. The first 24 international selections have been chosen from some of the finest titles from Cannes, Berlin and other film fests.

Here’s a quick look:

  • Masters
    • Eccentricities of a Blonde-Haired Girl is directed by Manoel de Oliveira, who celebrates his 101st birthday this year. It tells the tale of Macario’s obsession with the enticing blond he spies from his window. Little does he know that she will end up stealing much more than his heart.
    • Les Herbes Folles, by Alain Resnais, is a romantic adventure based around the simple act of losing a wallet.
    • Air Doll, directed by Hirokazu Kore-eda, is the compelling tale of a blow-up doll that becomes a real person and abandons her status of mere sex object comes to life with the superb performance of Korean actress Bae Doo-na.
  • Visions
    • Face by Tsai Ming-liang portrays a special homage to the Nouvelle Vague and the Louvre, which co-produced the film and hosted its shooting.
    • Independencia, directed by Raya Martin, mimics early silent films, and creates a lush metaphor that plays with cinematic illusions and the cultural and mythical history of the Philippines.
    • Irène, by Alain Cavalier, turns the director’s personal grief of becoming a widower into a first-person subjective documentary that focuses on his diary entries.
    • Karaoke, a film by Chris Chong Chan Fui, juxtaposes a young man’s idealism with the reality of a changing Malaysia through karaoke videos.
    • Nymph, by director Pen-Ek Ratanaruang, is a haunting supernatural love affair set in a mysterious forest between a nymph and a couple who have drifted apart.
    • To Die Like a Man, directed by João Pedro Rodrigues. In order to forgive and be forgiven for the slights endured over a long life as a transsexual club performer, Tonia devolves her body back into a male form and seeks reconciliation with her estranged son.
  • Vanguard
    • Fish Tank. Andrea Arnold’s film is a follow-up to Red Road and is a taboo-breaking love story about a violent teenaged girl transformed by desire for her mother’s new boyfriend.
  • Discovery
    • Adrian Biniez’s Gigante follows security guard Jara falling in love as he supervises staff through the closed-circuit cameras at a supermarket. First voyeur, then guardian angel, he protects and pursues the cleaning woman who has unknowingly captured his heart.
    • The Happiest Girl in the World, directed by Radu Jude, is about family conflict that produces comedy in this story of a young girl who wins a car in a lottery and her scheming parents who insist on selling it.
    • Kelin, by Ermek Tursunov, is a love story among the ragged steppes of ancient Kazakhstan that is told in beautiful and poetic images, as a young love struggles to survive in the face of uncontrollable external factors.
    • La Pivellina directed by Tizza Covi and Rainer Frimmel, is the story of a small abandoned girl sheltered by a circus woman in this tale of courage, loss and togetherness.
    • Samson and Delilah by Warwick Thornton, follows teenagers Samson and Delilah as they live in an isolated Aboriginal community in the Central Australian desert. Their outsider status draws them closer together and they come to depend on each other when tragedy strikes.
    • The concepts of real life and fiction, documentary and drama, are explored in Should I Really Do It by director Ismail Necmi, which follows the unbelievable life of Petra, a German woman living in Turkey.
  • Contemporary World Cinema
    • Eyes Wide Open, by Haim Tabakman, is a gay love story set in the heart of an ultra-Orthodox Jewish community in Jerusalem, where the belief that love conquers all results in societal pressures and threats of violence.
    • Huacho by Alejandro Fernandez Almendras, is a warm family saga which follows 24 hours in the life of a poverty-stricken provincial family in central Chile.
    • Like You Know It All is Hong Sang-soo’s delightfully comic exploration of the emotional and social geography of an art-house film director.
    • Lourdes directed by Jessica Hausner. In order to escape her isolation, wheelchair-bound Christine makes a life-changing journey to Lourdes, the iconic site of pilgrimage in the Pyrenees Mountains.
    • Men on the Bridge. Asli Özge directs the stories of three men working at the Bosphorus Bridge in Istanbul, in this mosaic depicting real persons exposing their lives and aspirations.
    • Police, Adjective by Corneliu Porumboiu, is a witty portrait of life in the small town of Vaslui.
    • The Time that Remains. Directed by Elia Suleiman, this semi-biographic film, divided into four historical episodes, portrays the daily life of Palestinians in 1948 who were considered a minority, even in their homeland.
    • The Wind Journeys by Ciro Guerra, follows Ignacio, a former traveling musician, who makes one final trip across the country following his wife’s death. He is joined by a teenaged fan, and together they explore the possibilities that life has in store for them.

Stick with for more news and coverage of the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival.