41st Toronto International Film Festival Coverage: Day Seven

September 14th, 2016 by Ian Evans

Day 7 and the end of TIFF 2016 is drawing near. There are still many screenings and premieres left to satisfy both filmgoers and fans.

Bronwen Hughes’ The Journey is the Destination kicked things off at Roy Thomson Hall. It’s the true life story of the late photojournalist, artist and activist Dan Eldon, who covered events across Africa until he and three other journalists were stoned to death by a mob in Mogadishu. Ben Schnetzer plays Eldon and is joined in the cast by Maria Bello, Kelly Macdonald and Ella Purnell.

Mark Williams’ The Headhunter’s Calling was next. Gerard Butler — no stranger to TIFF — plays a corporate headhunter who battles his rival (Alison Brie) for control of their company until a family tragedy forces him to reexamine his life. Butler, who used to spend summers visiting his dad in Toronto, told the press that “to become an actor and have my movies playing at the Toronto Film Festival is incredible.”

All I See Is You started off the night at the Princess of Wales Theatre. From director Marc Forster, the thriller tells the story of Gina (Blake Lively), who has been virtually blind since childhood and lives with her husband (Jason Clarke) in Bangkok. When her sight is restored in one eye, her life changes and the change in the couple’s power dynamic becomes troubling.

Up next was the psychological thriller Una, which stars Rooney Mara and Ben Mendelsohn as a young woman and the neighbour who sexually assaulted her when she was 13. Adapted from the David Harrower play Blackbird, it explores how the characters have evolved since their past incident.

The VISA Screening Room’s night started with Antonio Campos’ Christine, which stars Rebecca Hall as Christine Chubbuck, a Florida newscaster who committed suicide on-air in 1974. Tracy Letts plays the newsroom boss, while Michael C. Hall plays the news anchor that Chubbuck had unrequited feelings for. The film explores the depression that led to her on-air action, an incident that has spawned many urban myths and a sick search by some for the lost footage of the event.

Christine was followed by In Dubious Battle, an adaptation of John Steinbeck’s Depression-era novel about efforts to organize California fruit pickers. Directed by, and starring, James Franco, the film’s cast includes Nat Wolff, Selena Gomez, Vincent D’Onofrio, Robert Duvall, Ed Harris, Sam Shepard, Josh Hutcherson, John Savage, Ashley Greene, Zach Braff and Bryan Cranston.

Over at Ryerson, the evening got underway with Assignment, which stars Michelle Rodriguez as a killer named Frank Kitchen who was captured and given gender-reassignment surgery by the plastic surgeon (Sigourney Weaver) whose brother she killed. Directed by Walter Hill, the film has been the subject of some criticism from the transgender community who thought the premise was exploitative. Rodriguez, who is openly bisexual, told the press that “I’m bisexual. I do guys. I do girls. You can’t really argue with me because I’m you. So if I do a movie, I’d never do a movie with the intention of offending anybody in the LGBT community because I’m a part of it.”

I thoroughly enjoyed Jim Jarmusch’s Gimmer Danger when I screened it on day one of the festival. Now it was time for the director and his subject, Iggy Pop, to walk the carpet at Ryerson. Their jaunt down the scarlet corridor was followed by the night’s Midnight Madness flick, The Girl with All the Gifts. Directed by Colm McCarthy, the film follows a young girl (Sennia Nanua) who might just hold the cure to the zombie apocalypse facing the world. The film’s cast includes Gemma Arterton, Paddy Considine and Glenn Close. Arterton walked the red carpet with he director at the late night screening.