Because the lineup for the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival just wasn’t packed enough, the organizers have gone and added even more films to make my scheduling absolutely impossible (it’s a good problem to have). Every year TIFF adds some more films to its Galas and Special Presentations lineup, and 2016 is no different.
The biggest addition is Terrence Malick’s Voyage of Time: Life’s Journey. However, this version is not to be confused with the 40-minute IMAX version that will be narrated by Brad Pitt. The version coming to TIFF is the 35mm feature-length edition that will be narrated by Cate Blanchett. But when Malick comes to a film festival, you do not refuse.
TIFF also has an interesting hodgepodge of other films joining the Galas and Special Presentations. There’s The Promise, the new film from Hotel Rwanda director Terry George starring Oscar Isaac, Charlotte Le Bon, and Christian Bale; the sure-to-be-controversial (Re)Assignment from director Walter Hill and starring Michelle Rodriguez, Sigourney Weaver, and Tony Shalhoub; James Franco still trying to make his first watchable directorial effort with In Dubious Battle; and Robin Swicord, who directed the charming The Jane Austen Book Club, will have Wakefield starring Bryan Cranston and Jennifer Garner. Also, this year’s Palme d’Or winner I, Daniel Blake will be in the lineup, so that’s a must-see.
Check out the full list of additions below, click here for the previously announced Galas and Special Presentation lineup, and click here for the Midnight Madness lineup. The 2016 Toronto International Film Festival runs from September 8 – 18th.
Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer (Joseph Cedar, USA/Israel) – International Premiere
Norman lives a lonely life in the shadow of power and money. Determined to make an impression, he uses any angle to make a connection. He finally bets on the right horse, buying a pair of expensive shoes for Micha Eshel. When Micha becomes Israel’s Prime Minister, Norman finds himself in the center of a geopolitical drama beyond anything he could have imagined and the fallout could destroy the reputation he spent his life building. Starring Richard Gere, Steve Buscemi, Charlotte Gainsbourg, and Michael Sheen.
The Promise (Terry George, USA/Spain) – World Premiere
Michael, a humble Armenian apothecary, leaves his village to study medicine in cosmopolitan Constantinople. Chris, an American photojournalist who has come to the country to partly cover the geopolitics, is in a relationship with the talented Ana, a Paris- educated, Armenian artist. When Michael meets Ana, their shared heritage sparks an attraction that explodes into a romantic rivalry between the two men. After the Turks join the war on the German side, the Ottoman Empire turns violently against its own ethnic minorities. Despite their conflicts, everyone must find a way to survive — even as monumental events envelope their lives. Starring Oscar Isaac, Charlotte Le Bon, and Christian Bale.
(Re)Assignment (Walter Hill, Canada) – World Premiere
A revenge tale about an ace assassin who is double-crossed by gangsters and a rogue plastic surgeon operating on the fringes of society. The story becomes a trail of self-discovery and redemption against a criminal mastermind opponent. Starring Michelle Rodriguez, Sigourney Weaver, and Tony Shalhoub.
150 Milligrams (La Fille de Brest) (Emmanuelle Bercot, France) – World Premiere
Based on the real life story of Irène Frachon, a pulmonologist who discovered a direct link between the drug ‘Mediator’ — that had been marketed for over 30 years — and a number of suspicious deaths in France. Starring Sidse Babett Knudsen and Benoît Magimel.
The Bleeder (Philippe Falardeau, USA) – North American Premiere
The true story of Chuck Wepner, the man who inspired the billion-dollar film series Rocky — a liquor salesman from New Jersey who went 15 rounds with the greatest boxer of all time, Muhammad Ali. In his 10 years in the ring, Wepner endured two knockouts, eight broken noses, and 313 stitches. But his toughest fights were outside the ring: an epic life of drugs, booze, wild women, incredible highs, and extraordinary lows. Starring Naomi Watts, Liev Schreiber, and Elisabeth Moss.
Brain on Fire (Gerard Barrett, Ireland/Canada) – World Premiere
Brain on Fire follows Susannah Cahalan, a rising journalist at the New York Post who mysteriously starts having seizures and hearing voices. As weeks go by and Susannah rapidly descends into insanity, she moves inexplicably from violence to catatonia. Following a series of outbursts, misdiagnoses, and a prolonged hospital stay, a lucky, last-minute intervention by one doctor finally gives her a diagnosis and hope to rebuild her life. Starring Chloë Grace Moretz, Thomas Mann, Richard Armitage, Tyler Perry, and Carrie-Anne Moss.
Burn Your Maps (Jordan Roberts, USA/Mongolia) – World Premiere
After his family suffers an unimaginable tragedy, an eight-year-old boy becomes convinced that he is actually a Mongolian goat herder. With the help of an aspiring filmmaker, he tries to convince his reluctant parents to take the long journey back to the village in Mongolia where he says he belongs. Burn Your Maps is a poignant story about family, loss, and faith. Starring Vera Farmiga, Jacob Tremblay, Virginia Madsen, Marton Csokas, and Suraj Sharma.
Christine (Antonio Campos, USA) – Canadian Premiere
Always the smartest person in the room at her news station, Christine feels destined for bigger things and relentlessly pursues a promotion to a higher profile market. Plagued by self-doubt and a tumultuous home life, Christine’s diminishing hope begins to rise when an on-air co-worker initiates a friendship, which ultimately becomes yet another unrequited love. Disillusioned as her world continues to close in on her, Christine takes a dark and surprising turn. Starring Rebecca Hall, Michael C. Hall, and Tracy Letts.
The Duelist (Alexey Mizgirev, Russia) – World Premiere
Returning to Saint Petersburg after a long exile, the dashing Yakovlev, a retired army officer, makes a comfortable living by winning other people’s duels. Unbeatable, he leaves a trail of dead bodies behind him as he swirls through polite society, frequently called upon to wield a pistol as a surrogate in dawn duels. When Yakovlev meets the young, beautiful Princess Martha, the two fall in love. What transpires uncovers a series of answers about his dark past. Starring Petr Fedorov, Vladimir Mashkov, Martin Wuttke, Yuri Kolokolnikov, and Franziska Petri.
The Exception (David Leveaux, United Kingdom) – World Premiere
May, 1940. The last German Kaiser has been living in exile in the Dutch countryside for 25 years. When the Nazis invade Holland, they send a young German officer to stop the old man from defecting to England. But the British have already installed a spy in his household. And then Himmler announces he is coming to dinner. The threads of history conspire with the recklessness of the heart to dumbfound them. Starring Lily James, Christopher Plummer, Jai Courtney, Janet McTeer, Ben Daniels, and Eddie Marsan.
I, Daniel Blake (Ken Loach, United Kingdom/France/Belgium) – North American Premiere
British master Ken Loach brings this timely drama about an aged, ailing handyman’s battle to survive after being denied his government health allowance. Starring Dave Johns and Hayley Squires.
In Dubious Battle (James Franco, USA) – North American Premiere
In the California apple country, 900 migratory workers rise up against the landowners after getting paid a fraction of the wages they were promised. The group takes on a life of its own — stronger than its individual members and more frightening. Led by the doomed Jim Nolan, the strike is founded on his tragic idealism — on the “courage never to submit or yield.” Based on the novel by John Steinbeck. Starring James Franco, Vincent D’Onofrio, Selena Gomez, Ed Harris, Sam Shepard, Robert Duvall, and Bryan Cranston.
The Long Excuse (Nagai Iiwake) (Miwa Nishikawa, Japan) – World Premiere
A recently widowed writer whose wife died in a bus crash impulsively offers to care for the children of a working man who lost his wife in the same accident, in this gently humorous drama from Japanese writer-director Miwa Nishikawa. Starring Masahiro Motoki, Sousuke Ikematsu, and Eri Fukatsu.
Rage (Sang-il Lee, Japan) – World Premiere
A grisly unsolved murder links three seemingly unrelated stories in three different Japanese cities, in this arresting ensemble thriller from director Sang-il Lee. Starring Ken Watanabe and Aoi Miyazaki.
Voyage of Time: Life’s Journey (Terrence Malick, Germany) – North American Premiere
An exploration into our planetary past and a search for humanity’s place in the future. The universe unfolds before the audience’s eyes, melding innovative effects with awe-inspiring footage in this experience for the senses, mind, and soul. Working with scientific advisors and VFX artists, Terrence Malick shows an array of never-witnessed natural phenomena — macroscopic and microscopic — immersing audiences into a poetic journey full of open questions. Narrated by Cate Blanchett.
Wakefield (Robin Swicord, USA) – International Premiere
Howard Wakefield’s nervous breakdown leads him to hide from his life, and his family, in his garage attic. While his prolonged absence allows him to ponder the deeper questions around his life, he comes to realize that it may not be simple to cross the driveway and go home again. Starring Bryan Cranston and Jennifer Garner.