TIFF announces Galas and Special Presentations

Jul 24, 2012 by Ian Evans

Rian Johnson’s time-bending thriller Looper — starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis and Emily Blunt — will open the 37th Toronto International Film Festival, which runs from September 6th to the 16th, 2012. TIFF Artistic Director Cameron Bailey said that, “Rian has taken his filmmaking to a new level, and we can’t wait to present it to the Toronto audience in the most prestigious platform we can offer. This is a new kind of Opening Night: an exciting, thinking-person’s action film from a director who really understands genre.”

TIFF also announced 16 other galas and 45 Special Presentations.


A Royal Affair from Nikolai Arcel, takes place in the court of the mentally ill King Christian VII of Denmark and tells the tale of a romance that changed a nation. It stars Mads Mikkelsen and Alicia Vikander.

Ben Affleck directs and stars in Argo, the story of the real-life CIA plan to smuggle six Americans out of the Canadian Embassy during the Iran hostage crisis. Affleck is joined by Bryan Cranston, John Goodman and Kyle Chandler.

Robert Redford also stars in and directs his gala, The Company You Keep, with a cast featuring Shia LaBeouf, Susan Sarandon, Terrence Howard, Anna Kendrick, Stanley Tucci, Chris Cooper and Nick Nolte. Redford plays a civil rights lawyer whose identity as a 70’s radical wanted for murder is exposed by a young reporter (LaBeouf).

Dangerous Liaisons directed by Hur Jin-ho takes Pierre Choderlos de Laclos novel and sets it in 1930s Shanghai with Cecilia Cheung, Dong-gun Jang and Zhang Ziyi

Gauri Shinde’s English Vinglish gives us the return of Indian actress Sridevi after a 14-year sabbatical. The film is a fun and touching look at a woman’s struggles to master English and overcome her insecurities.

Free Angela & All Political Prisoners, a documentary by Shola Lynch, looks at legendary radical activist Angela Davis and the events that led to her being implicated in the case surrounding the kidnapping of a judge that ended in a deadly shootout.

Mike Newell takes on Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations, the coming-of-age story of the orphan Pip. Newell is aided by a cast that features Holliday Grainger, Ralph Fiennes, Helena Bonham Carter and Jeremy Irvine.

Bill Murray stars as President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in Roger Michell’s Hyde Park on Hudson. FDR and his wife Eleanor (Olivia Williams) play host to the King and Queen of England (Samuel West and Olivia Colman) prior to WWII. The Brits are desperate for U.S. support in the coming war with Hitler but FDR has to balance international affairs with the complexities of domestic policy. Laura Linney also stars.

Inescapable by Ruba Nadda, is a thriller about a father’s desperate search for his daughter amidst the chaos of the Middle East. The film stars Alexander Siddig, Marisa Tomei and Joshua Jackson.

Robert Duvall, Kevin Bacon, Billy Bob Thornton and John Hurt star in Thornton’s Jayne Mansfield’s Car a funny and poignant look at three generations of Southern men who have to deal with long-held resentments, secrets, the memories of war, and how life, death and loss shaped them all.

The documentary Love, Marilyn by Liz Garbus, takes a look at Monroe’s private writings with the help of Elizabeth Banks, Lindsay Lohan, Evan Rachel Wood, Ben Foster, Uma Thurman, Paul Giamatti, Viola Davis, Jeremy Piven, Ellen Burstyn, Adrien Brody, Marisa Tomei and Glenn Close.

Deepa Mehta returns to TIFF with Midnight’s Children, an adaptation of the novel by Salman Rushdie that follows the fates of two newborns born during India’s independence. The film’s cast includes Satya Bhabha, Shahana Goswami, Rajat Kapoor, Seema Biswas, Shriya Saran, Siddharth, Ronit Roy, Rahul Bose, Kulbushan Kharbanda, Soha Ali Khan, Anita Majumdar, Zaib Shaikh and Darsheel Safary.

The Reluctant Fundamentalist, directed by Mira Nair from the best-selling novel, is a political thriller that follows a Pakistani man torn between Wall Street and the call of his homeland. It stars Riz Ahmed, Kate Hudson, Kiefer Sutherland and Liev Schreiber.

David O. Russell comes to TIFF with the Silver Linings Playbook, Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence pair up to rebuild their broken lives, while Robert De Niro, as Cooper’s father, tries to keep the family afloat. They’re joined by Jacki Weaver and Chris Tucker.

In Thermae Romae, director Hideki Takeuchi tells the tale of an ancient Roman architect who slips through time to modern-day Japan, then slips back to implement what he’s seen.

In the final Gala announced today, Penelope Cruz and Emile Hirsch star in Sergio Castellitto’s Twice Born, the story of the redemptive power of love learned when a mother and son return to Sarajevo.

Special Presentations

Here’s a look at the titles announced in the Special Presentations section of the festival.

In A Few Hours of Spring by Stéphane Brizé, a man returns home to his dying mother and wonders if they can deal with their violent past.

In Anna Karenina, Joe Wright tackles Leo Tolstoy’s timeless novel with a script by Tom Stoppard and a cast featuring Keira Knightley, Jude Law and Aaron Taylor-Johnson.

At Any Price, directed by Ramin Bahrani, shows ambitious Henry Whipple (Dennis Quaid) and his rebellious son Dean (Zac Efron) as they deal with an investigation into the family’s farming empire.

In Ziad Doueiri’s The Attack, an Arab surgeon living in Tel Aviv discovers a dark secret about his wife.

In Byzantium, director Neil Jordan, tells the tale of two female vampires aided by Gemma Arterton, Sam Riley and Saoirse Ronan.

In Capital by Costa-Gavras, the director looks at the world of modern financial intrigue with the help of Gad Elmaleh and Gabriel Byrne.

Caught in the Web by Chen Kaige, is the story of three women whose worlds collide and stars Mark Chao, Chen Hong and Gao Yuanyuan.

Cloud Atlas, directed by Tom Tykwer and Andy and Lana Wachowski, explores how the events of individual lives impact one another throughout the past, the present and the future. The film’s cast includes Tom Hanks, Hugo Weaving, Halle Berry, Susan Sarandon, Jim Broadbent and Hugh Grant.

The Deep, from Baltasar Kormákur, a man survives a deadly fishing boat accident only to find himself on a deadly lava field. It stars Ólafur Darri Ólafsson.

Marco Bellocchio’s drama Dormant Beauty explores how various people in Italy deal with the last days of Eluana Englaro, who has spent 17 years in a vegetative state. The cast features Isabelle Huppert, Toni Servillo, Alba Rohrwacher, Michele Riondino, Maya Sansa, Pier Giorgio Bellocchio, Brenno Placido, Fabrizio Falco, Gian Marco Tognazzi, and Roberto Herlitzka.

Dreams for Sale from Nishikawa Miwa, tells the story of a couple who hope to rebuild their financs by defrauding a series of lonely women. The film stars Matsu Takako, Abe Sadavo and Tanaka Lena.

David Ayer’s End Of Watch stars Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña as LAPD partners who become targets of a drug cartel when they confiscate a cache of money and firearms.

Everybody Has A Plan by Ana Piterbarg, stars Viggo Mortensen as a man who tries to escape his existence by assuming his dead twin’s identity, only to discover the underworld life his brother had become a part of.

Foxfire, from Palme d’Or winner Laurent Cantet, stars Ali Liebert and Tamara Hope in an adaptation of the Joyce Carol Oates novel about a small-town girl gang in the 1950s.

Noah Baumbach’s Frances Ha, stars Greta Gerwig as an aspiring dancer who moves to New York City and becomes caught up in a whirlwind of flighty fair-weather friends, diminishing fortunes and career setbacks.

Ginger and Rosa, from Sally Potter. Set in London durung the Sixties, the film tells the tale of two friends whose friendship is threatened as the Cold War collides with the sexual revolution. The cast features Elle Fanning, Alice Englert, Christina Hendricks, Annette Bening and Alessandro Nivola.

Hannah Arendt, by Margarethe von Trotta, takes a look at the philosopher and political theorist who came up with the concept of the “the banality of evil” as she covered the trial of Nazi Adolf Eichmann. It stars Janet McTeer and Barbara Sukowa.

The Hunt, from Thomas Vinterberg, shows how a lie can morph into the truth when gossip, doubt and malice are allowed to flourish and ignite a witch-hunt. The film stars Mads Mikkelsen, Thomas Bo Larsen and Annika Wedderkopp.

Ariel Vromen’s The Iceman tells the true story of Richard Kuklinski a loving husband, devoted father, and ruthless hitman who is believed to have killed more than 250 people between 1954 and 1985. The cast features Winona Ryder, Chris Evans, David Schwimmer, Michael Shannon and Ray Liotta.

Robert Pulcini and Shari Springer Berman’s Imogene teams up Annette Bening, Matt Dillon, Darren Criss and Kristen Wiig in a comedy about a moderately successful New York playwright who stages a fake suicide attempt in order to win back her ex-boyfriend — only to end up being forced into the custody of her gambling-addicted mother.

The Impossible, by J.A. Bayona, tells the tale of a family caught in the tsunami of December 26th, 2004. The cast includes Naomi Watts, Tom Holland, Samuel Joslin, Oaklee Pendergast and Ewan McGregor.

François Ozon’s In the House is the story of a 16-year-old boy and his French teacher. He’s a gifted student, but his actions unleash a series of uncontrollable events. Starring Kristin Scott Thomas.

Kon-Tiki, by Joachim Roenning and Espen Sandberg, tells the true story of Thor Heyerdahl’s 4,300 mile journey across the Pacific on the fragile Kon-Tiki raft.

The Last Supper, by Lu Chuan, is a story of war, of ruthless ambition, of mighty dreams fulfilled… and of betrayals — betrayals of friendship, betrayals of noble ideals, betrayals of oneself.

Yaron Zilberman’s A Late Quartet tells the story of a beloved cellist diagnosed with a life threatening illness. His quartet’s future hangs in the balance as suppressed emotions, competing egos and uncontrollable passions threaten to derail years of friendship and collaboration. The film stars Philip Seymour Hoffman, Mark Ivanir, Imogen Poots, Christopher Walken and Catherine Keener.

A Liar’s Autobiography — The Untrue Story of Monty Python’s Graham Chapman by Ben Timlett, Bill Jones, and Jeff Simpson, is an animated look at “the dead one from Monty Python,” and features voice performances by Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Jones, Michael Palin, Terry Gilliam, Carol Cleveland and Philip Bulcock.

Lore, directed by Cate Shortland, tells the tale of Lore, who leads her younger siblings across a war-torn Germany in 1945 after her parents are imprisoned. It stars Saskia Rosendahl and Kai Malina.

Mr. Pip, by Andrew Adamson, is set in 1991 during Bougainville’s quest for autonomy from Papua New Guinea. As a civil war is waged, “Popeye” (Hugh Laurie) offers the children in fourteen-year-old Matilda’s tiny village an escape with Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations. But on an island at war, fiction can have dangerous consequences. Also starring Xzannjah Matsi, Healesville Joel, Eka Darville and Kerry Fox.

Much Ado About Nothing, from Joss Whedon, gives the Shakespeare comedy a contemporary spin. Shot in 12 days, the films stars Amy Acker, Alexis Denisof, Clark Gregg, Jillian Morgese, Nathan Fillion, Spencer Treat Clark and Riki Lindhome.

No, from Pablo Larraín, follows a young advertising executive, Rene Saavedra (Gael García Bernal) who spearheaded the campaign to deny Chilean military dictator Augusto Pinochet eight more years of power.

Takeshi Kitano’s Outrage Beyond tracks a police crackdown on organized crime that leads to a national yakuza struggle between the Sanno of the East and Hanabishi of the West.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower, directed by Stephen Chbosky from his best-selling novel, is a tale of love, loss, fear, hope and the unforgettable friends who help us through life. The film stars Logan Lerman, Emma Watson, Ezra Miller, Nina Dobrev, Melanie Lynskey, Paul Rudd and Dylan McDermott.

Derek Cianfrance’s The Place Beyond the Pines follows Luke (Ryan Gosling) a professional motorcycle rider who turns to bank robberies to support his newborn son. His confrontation with a police officer (Bradley Cooper), spirals into a tense generational feud. Also starring Rose Byrne, Ray Liotta and Eva Mendes.

Quartet, the directorial debut of Dustin Hoffman, is a high-drama comedy about temperamental divas and old grudges, passion and pride, romance and Rigoletto, starring Maggie Smith, Tom Courtenay, Billy Connolly and Pauline Collins as four retired opera singers.

Matteo Garrone’s Reality, tells the tale of a Neapolitan fishmonger who supplements his modest income by pulling off little scams with his wife Maria. It stars Aniello Arena, Loredana Simioli, Nando Paone, Nello Iorio and Nunzia Schiano.

Rust and Bone by Jacques Audiard is the story of Ali who moves to Antibes with his five-year-old son. He befriends a killer whale trainer and their bond deepens after a horrible accident. The film stars Marion Cotillard and Matthias Schoenaerts.

The Sapphires, by Wayne Blair, follows an Australian Aboriginal girl band as they’re shipped off to Vietnam to entertain the troops. The cast includes Chris O’Dowd, Deborah Mailman, Jessica Mauboy, Shari Sebbens and Miranda Tapsell.

The Sessions, directed by Ben Lewin, stars John Hawkes as a 38-year-old man confined to an iron lung, who is determined to lose his virginity to a sexual therapist. Also starring Helen Hunt and William H. Macy.

Tai Chi 0, from director Stephen Fung, has a battalion of Steampunk soldiers threatening a village. The villagers must trust a young genius with the martial arts secrets in order to defend their home.

Thanks for Sharing, by Stuart Blumberg, is a dramatic comedy starring Mark Ruffalo, Tim Robbins, Gwyneth Paltrow, Josh Gad and Joely Richardson. It follows a group of unlikely friends brought together through shared determination to recover from sex addictions, in order to forge meaningful relationships for the first time in their lives.

The Time Being, directed by Nenad Cicin-Sain, follows an artist (Wes Bentley) who meets an eccentric benefactor (Frank Langella), and must wrestle with the balance between personal responsibility and his ambitions as an artist.

From Terrence Malick comes To The Wonder a romantic drama that explores love in its many forms. Stars Olga Kurylenko, Ben Affleck, Javier Bardem and Rachel McAdams.

Maiken Baird’s Venus & Serena takes a look at one year in the lives of the tennis legends.

Liana Liberato, Jennifer Connelly, Greg Kinnear, Lily Collins and Kristen Bell star in Josh Boone’s Writers, the story of a fractured family trying to rediscover one another.

And finally, Eran Riklis’ Zaytoun is about the unlikely alliance between a twelve-year-old Palestinian refugee and an Israeli fighter pilot shot down over Beirut in 1982. Their initial distrust develops into friendship as they make their way across war-torn Lebanon on a journey to a place they both call home. The film stars Stephen Dorff.