TIFF 2012 Gala and Special Presentation Films Announced

Toronto – On July 24th, Piers Handling, CEO and Director of TIFF, and Cameron Bailey, Artistic Director, unveiled some of the films that will headline the 37th Toronto International Film Festival.

According to Bailey, TIFF 2012 will include the “most diverse Gala programme to date with films from Japan, China, India, the United Kingdom, Denmark, Italy, USA and Canada”.

Handling describes this year’s festival as looking “particularly strong” with a wide variety of work from “established and emerging filmmakers.”

Toronto audiences will be first in line to see many “exciting and prestigious films” with further announcements slated in the coming weeks. Until then, here is a sample of what you can expect to see:

Looper (Opening Night film, World Premiere)

Rian Johnson, USA

Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis, Emily Blunt, Paul Dano, Jeff Daniels

Directed by Rian Johnson (Brick, The Brothers Bloom), Looper is a futuristic action thriller set in a world where time travel has been invented. In that world, the mob, when they want to get rid of someone, sends their victims 30 years back in time to be killed by Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a hired gun, or ‘looper’. Joe’s life is copasetic until the mob decides to “close the loop” by sending back his future self (Bruce Willis) for assassination. Expect The Terminator mixed with ideas from Inception.

Argo (World Premiere)

Ben Affleck, USA

Starring Ben Affleck, Bryan Cranston, John Goodman, Kyle Chandler

Based on true events, Argo, directed by Ben Affleck (The Town, Gone Baby Gone), tells the story of six Americans that find shelter in the home of a Canadian ambassador after the US embassy in Tehran is stormed by militants. In order to rescue them, the CIA devises a plan that is so incredible, it could only happen in the movies. Expect something like Hotel Rwanda and Munich, but with a touch more levity.

The Company You Keep (North American Premiere)

Robert Redford, USA

Starring Robert Redford, Shia LaBeouf, Susan Sarandon, Terrence Howard, Anna Kendrick, Stanley Tucci, Chris Cooper, Nick Nolte

As well as directing, Robert Redford (Ordinary People, Lions for Lambs) stars as Jim Grant, a civil rights lawyer and single father. He is forced to go on the run when a brazen young reporter (Shia LaBeouf) exposes his real identity as a former 1970’s radical fugitive wanted for murder. In an effort to clear his name, Grant sets off on a cross-country journey, sparking a nationwide manhunt. Sounds Hitchcockian, à la North by Northwest.

Dangerous Liaisons (North American Premiere)

Hur Jin-ho, China

Starring Cecelia Cheung, Dong-gun Jang, Zhang Ziyi

In pre-war Shanghai, Mo Jietu (Cecelia Cheung), runs into a playboy ex-boyfriend, Xie Yifan (Dong-gun Jang), who never stopped loving her. Things take a turn for the strange when Mo persuades Xie to seduce and then dump Du Fenyu (Zhang Ziyi), a naive and innocent ingénue. Of late, Chinese films have put an emphasis on style-over-substance, and looking at the trailer, Dangerous Liaisons might just fall into that category. Expect to see a stylized version of Chloe or Cruel Intentions.

Great Expectations (World Premiere)

Mike Newell, UK

Starring Holliday Grainger, Ralph Fiennes, Helena Bonham Carter, Jeremy Irvine

Obviously based on the Charles Dickens novel, Mike Newell (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Four Weddings and a Funeral) directs Great Expectations, which tells the story of an orphan named Pip (Jeremy Irvine). With the help of a mysterious benefactor, Pip rises through London’s caste system, using his new status to peruse Estella (Holliday Grainger), a woman of equal or greater class. With a solid cast and a seasoned, British director, expect the 2012 big screen adaptation to be more reverent than the 1998 version.

Hyde Park on Hudson (World Premiere)

Roger Michell, UK

Starring Billy Murray, Olivia Williams, Samuel West, Olivia Colman, Laura Linney

Starring Billy Murray as President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Olivia Williams as his wife Eleanor, the couple play host to the King and Queen of England (Samuel West and Olivia Colman) for a weekend at the Roosevelt home at Hyde Park on Hudson. Set in 1939, and with Britain facing an imminent war with Germany, the royals try to win support from FDR and the US. Told through the eyes of a neighbour (Laura Linney), this weekend will create a deeper understanding of love and friendship. Expect an exercise in ‘masterpiece cinema’, and a bevy of nominations during awards season.

Inescapable (World Premiere)

Ruba Nadda, Canada

Starring Alexander Siddig, Marisa Tomei, Joshua Jackson

When Abib (Alexander Siddig) receives news that his eldest daughter has gone missing in Damascus, he must return to Syria after a 30-year exile. As well as finding his daughter, Abib must also deal with his secret past and the chaos that he left behind. It may sound like Taken, but Inescapable has a mean streak to it. Don’t be surprised if it plays out like Incendies.

Midnight’s Children (World Premiere)

Deepa Mehta, Canada/UK

Starring Satya Bhabha , Shahana Goswami, Rajat Kapoor, Seema Biswas, Shriya Saran, Siddharth , Ronit Roy, Rahul Bose, Anita Majumdar, Zaib Shaikh, Anupam Kher

On August 15, 1947, two newborn babies are born on the day that India proclaims independence from Great Britain. The nurses, however, switch the babies. One baby goes to a poor Hindu family, while the other to a wealthy Muslim family, and as they grow up, their lives seem fated to intertwine. Adapted from an award-winning novel by Salman Rushdie, you can expect a fair amount of political and social commentary about the state of New India. The film does have a rather large cast, however, so here’s hoping that Midnight’s Children doesn’t turn out to be a Crash-like disaster.

The Reluctant Fundamentalist (North American Premiere) 

Mira Nair, USA

Starring Kate Hudson, Kiefer Sutherland, Liev Schreiber, Nelsan Ellis, Riz Ahmed

Based on a novel of the same name, the film tells the story of a young Pakistani man who chases corporate success on Wall Street. His vision of the America dream becomes conflicted following a hostage crisis and the cries of his family’s homeland. Intended to be a political thriller and polemic, The Reluctant Fundamentalist reads like a film that Oliver Stone would make.

Silver Linings Playbook (World Premiere)

David O. Russell, USA

Starring Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Bradley Cooper, Julia Stiles, Jacki Weaver

In this indie romantic comedy, Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence star as off-kilter, offbeat eccentrics that get partnered up in a secret agreement to rebuild their respective broken lives. Following his Oscar-nominated The Fighter, David O. Russell’s Silver Linings Playbook looks like Punch-Drunk Love, but with more love and less punch.

Thermae Romae (North American Premiere)

Hideki Takeuchi, Japan

Starring Hiroshi Abe, Aya Ueto

In Ancient Rome, Lucius (Hiroshi Abe) is an architect who loses his job. When his friend takes him to a bathhouse to cheer up, Lucas accidently travels through time and ends up in a bathhouse in modern-day Japan. With the help of a young artist (Aya Ueto), Lucius time travels between Rome and Japan, bringing cultural learnings back with him. As a film that won’t take itself too seriously, expect a mix between Borat and Back to the Future Part 2.

A Few Hours of Spring (North American Premiere)

Stéphane Brizé, France

Starring Vincent Lindon, Helen Vincent, Emmanuelle Seigner

Alain Evgrad (Vincent Lindon) returns home to live with his mother, causing previous tensions to resurface. This is exacerbated when he learns that she has a fatal illness, with only a few months left to live. It might seem impossible now, but A Few Hours of Spring just might be an even more depressing version of We Need to Talk About Kevin.

Anna Karenina (International Premiere)

Joe Wright, UK

Starring Keira Knightley, Jude Law, Aaron Taylor-Johnson

Joe Wright (Hanna), with the help of writer Tom Stoppard (Shakespeare in Love), undertakes an adaptation of Leo Tolstoy’s epic love story, Anna Karenina. With Keira Knightley as the titular role, this will be her third time starring in one of Joe Wright’s films (Pride and Prejudice, Atonement), so expect Wright to direct her well and for Knightley to provide an equally strong performance.

At Any Price (North American Premiere)

Ramin Bahrani, UK/USA

Starring Dennis Quaid, Heather Graham, Zac Efron

Dennis Quaid plays Henry, an ambitious farmer that wants his son, Dean (Zac Efron), to help expand the family empire. Dean, however, dreams of becoming a racecar driver instead, and along with a high-stakes investigation into their business, the father-son relationship is pushed in unexpected directions. The story seems clichéd, but because it’s directed by the severely underrated Ramin Bahrani, (Chop Shop, Goodbye Solo, Man Push Cart) At Any Price will surely surprise.

Byzantium (World Premiere)

Neil Jordan, UK

Starring Gemma Arterton, Sam Riley, Saoirse Ronan

Two women, Clara and Eleanor, seek refuge in an English seaside community. Born 200 years ago and surviving on human blood, the two start to cause havoc when their secret slowly spreads. On the surface, this looks like another revisionist vampire film, but knowing Neil Jordan (The Crying Game, The End of the Affair) Byzantium may be more than meets the eye.

Caught in the Web (International Premiere)

Chen Kaige, Japan/China

Starring Mark Chao, Gao Yuanyuan, Chen Hong

When her act of defiance goes viral, a young woman becomes the center of controversy in director Chen Kaige’s (Farewell My Concubine) social commentary about today’s tech-dependent world. Judging by the movie stills, where almost everyone is crying, expect Kaige to make a maudlin, heavy-handed film like Trust or Untraceable.

Cloud Atlas (World Premiere)

Tom Tykwer, Andy Wachowski, Lana Wachowski, USA

Starring Tom Hanks, Hugo Weaving, Halle Berry, Susan Sarandon, Jim Broadbent, Hugh Grant

The Wachowski siblings are back (The Matrix, Bound), this time with the help of Tom Tykwer (Run Lola Run). Together, they tell the story of how the actions and consequences of an individual’s life can cause a butterfly effect throughout the past, present, and future. With a directorial lineup as equally impressive as the cast, Cloud Atlas looks like an ambitious mindbender with the credentials to pull it off.

Dormant Beauty (International Premiere)

Marco Bellocchio, Italy/France

Starring Isabelle Huppert, Toni Servillo, Alba Rohrwacher, Michele Riondino, Maya Sansa, Pier Giorgio Bellocchio, Brenno Placido, Fabrizio Falco, Gian Marco Tognazzi, Roberto Herlitzka

Much like the Terry Schiavo incident in the US, Eluana Englaro’s situation caused a rather serious to do in Italy. Dormant Beauty, directed by Marco Bellocchio (Vincere), is a film that documents the various reactions to the issue of euthanasia. Expect a film that may remind you of Magnolia.

End of Watch (World Premiere)

David Ayer, USA

Starring Anna Kendrick, Natalie Martinez, America Ferrera, Frank Grillo, David Harbour, Michael Pena, Jake Gyllenhaal

Michael Pena and Jake Gyllenhaal play two LA cops that attract undue attention from the drug cartel. Shot in a found-footage, Cops-like intensity, End of Watch is a high-octane crime thriller that may turn out to be like Savages.

Everyone Has A Plan (International Premiere)

Ana Piterbarg, Argentina

Starring Viggo Mortensen

Viggo Mortensen stars as Agustín, a man who takes the identity of his twin brother, Pedro, after he dies. Looking to leave Buenos Aires, Pedro (née Agustín), comes back to his hometown, only to be embroiled in the deadly underworld his brother was a part of. With Mortensen as the lead role, Everyone Has A Plan looks to be a master blend of Face/Off and El Mariachi.

Frances Ha (World Premiere)

Noah Baumbach, USA

Starring Greta Gerwig, Michey Sumner

Greta Gerwig plays an aspiring dancer that moves to New York City, only to become caught up in the lives of those around her. Expect some mumblecore. A lot of it.

Ginger and Rosa (World Premiere)

Sally Potter, UK

Starring Timothy Spall, Alice Englert, Oliver Platt, Jodhi May, Alessandro Nivola, Christina Hendricks, Elle Fanning, Annette Bening

Set in London 1962, two inseparable teenage girls (Alice Englert, Elle Fanning) have their relationship threatened by ideological differences, brought on by the spirit of the times. This looks like An Education, if directed by John Hughes.

The Hunt (North American Premiere)

Thomas Vinterberg, Denmark

Starring Thomas Bo Larsen, Annika Wedderkopp, Mads Mikkelsen

A man’s life is turned into hell when a random lie is spreads through the town. As the furor grows out of control, the small community goes into hysteria, while the man fights to regain his life and dignity. Mads Mikkelsen (After the Wedding) is an amazing actor, making this Frankenstein-like witch-hunt even more intriguing.

The Iceman (North American Premiere)

Ariel Vromen, USA

Starring Winona Ryder, Chris Evans, David Schwimmer, Michael Shannon, Ray Liotta

The Iceman tells the true story of Richard Kuklinski (Michael Shannon), a loving husband and father believed to be a killer of more than 250 people between 1954 and 1985. Anchored by Shannon’s predictably paranoid performance and a stellar supporting cast, The Iceman may play out as either a cold character study or as a compelling psychological thriller.

Imogene (World Premiere)

Robert Pulcini, Shari Springer Berman, USA

Starring Kristen Wiig, Michelle Morgan, Steve Golin, Miranda Bailey

A mediocre playwright fakes her own death in order to win back her boyfriend, only to end up with her equally down-on-her-luck mother. As the star, much of the film will rely on Kristen Wiig, and although she has proven to be a funny actor, her shtick may grow old if all she does is mug for the camera in Imogene.

The Impossible (World Premiere)

J.A. Bayona, USA/Spain

Starring Naomi Watts, Tom Holland, Samuel Joslin, Oaklee Pendergast, Ewan McGregor

Based on a true story, the film documents a family’s attempt to survive the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. Ewan McGregor and Naomi Watts are fine actors, and should bring some heart and compassion to a film in desperate need of some, considering the subject matter. Let’s hope the child actors can measure up.

Lore (North American Premiere)

Cate Shortland, Australia/UK/Germany

Starring Saskia Rosendahl, Kai Malina, Nele Trebs, Ursina Lardi, Hans-Jochen Wagner, Mika Seidel, André Frid, Eva-Maria Hagen

After World War 2, Lore (Saskia Rosendahl), a fourteen-year old girl, is forced to lead her younger siblings across war-torn Germany after her Nazi parents are imprisoned. By chance, she encounters a Jewish refugee, and, in order to survive, she must trust someone she was taught to hate. This may be like American History X, but considering her age, it’s not very likely. It may be more like To Kill A Mockingbird.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower (World Premiere)

Stephen Chbosky, USA

Starring Logan Lerman, Kate Walsh, Ezra Miller, Emma Watson , Paul Rudd, Melanie Lynskey, Nina Dobrev, Dylan McDermott, Johnny Simmons, Reece Thompson, Mae Whitman, Joan Cusack, Nicholas Braun

The story focuses on a prototypical wallflower (Logan Lerman) that is coaxed out of his shell by a sympathetic teacher (Paul Rudd) and two new outgoing friends (Ezra Miller, Emma Watson). If the film is even a fraction of the quality of the novel, which was written by director Stephen Chbosky, The Perks of Being a Wallflower will be a fantastic coming-of-age movie.

The Place Beyond the Pines (World Premiere)

Derek Cianfrance, USA

Starring Ryan Gosling, Bradley Cooper, Eva Mendes, Rose Byrne, Ben Mendelsohn, Mahershala Ali, Dane Dehaan, Emory Cohen, Ray Liotta

A motorcycle stunt rider, who moonlights as a bank robber, comes into conflict with an ambitious young cop. With Ryan Gosling as the star, this film is jarringly similar to Drive; even though the film is directed by Derek Cianfrance (Blue Valentine).

Quartet (World Premiere)

Dustin Hoffman, USA

Starring Maggie Smith, Billy Connolly, Sheridan Smith, Michael Gambon, Tom Courtenay, Pauline Collin

Dustin Hoffman’s directorial debut tells the tale of four aging opera singers. From the roles he picks, Hoffman doesn’t seem like a man interested in levity for the most part, so Quartet may either end up as a bore or an incredibly depressing movie. But who knows, Hoffman is a versatile actor; maybe his skills as a director will be just as nuanced.

Rust and Bones (North American Premiere)

Jacques Audiard, Belgium/France

Starring Marion Cotillard, Matthias Schoenaerts

Matthias Schoenaerts (Bullhead) is Ali, a man involved in a gritty and raw love story. Schoenaerts may not be anyone’s first pick to be in a film about love, but with director Jacques Audiard (Un prophète) at the helm, his casting seems strangely appropriate. Expect another engrossing performance from both of them.

The Sessions (International Premiere)

Ben Lewin, USA

Starring John Hawkes, Helen Hunt, William H. Macy

John Hawkes plays Mark O’Brien, the real life California-based journalist and poet. Confined to an iron lung, O’Brien, age 38, is determined to lose his virginity with the help of his therapist (Helen Hunt) and his priest (William H. Macy). Like the 40 Year-Old Virgin, The Sessions promises ample humour and heart.

Tai Chi 0 (North American Premiere)

Stephen Fung, China

Starring Yuan Xiaochao

The plot doesn’t really matter. Just watch the trailer, it’ll show you all you need to know. You’re promised steampunk plus Kung fu, and you’ll probably get that in spades.

Thanks for Sharing (World Premiere)

Stuart Blumberg, USA

Starring Mark Ruffalo, Gwyneth Paltrow, Tim Robbins, Josh Gad, Joely Richardson, Patrick Fugit, Carol Kane, Alecia Moore

Mark Ruffalo, Gwyneth Paltrow and Tim Robbins star in a comedy-drama about a group of sex addicts that form an unlikely friendship in order to forge meaning in their lives. So the exact opposite of Shame, then.

To the Wonder (North American Premiere)

Terrence Malick, USA

Starring Ben Affleck, Rachel McAdams, Rachel Weisz, Javier Bardem, Barry Pepper, Amanda Peet, Michael Sheen, Olga Kurylenko

Marina (Olga Kurylenko) and Neil (Ben Affleck) are at the height of their love when they visit Mont Saint-Michel, once known in France as the Wonder. Upon their return to Oklahoma, Marina makes the acquaintance of a priest and fellow exile (Javier Bardem), while Neil rekindles a relationship with a childhood friend, Jane (Rachel McAdams). Expect To the Wonder to be Malick’s pontification about faith and love. Told beautifully, of course.

Writers (World Premiere)

Josh Boone, USA

Starring Liana Liberato, Jennifer Connelly, Greg Kinnear, Lily Collins, Kristen Bell

A novelist, his ex-wife, and their teenaged daughter all deal with love, in all of its nuanced incarnations. While there are competent actors in this, one has to wonder if they can collectively hit the mark in such an emotional film as Writers.

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Trailers and photos courtesy of TIFF

The Toronto International Film Festival runs from September 6-16

For more information and tickets, please visit the official website



By Justin Li

Born, raised, and educated in Toronto, Justin joined Sound on Sight in 2012 and has since been accepted into the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS).

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