TIFF 2013: Vanguard and Documentary lineups announced
Easily my favorite program of the Toronto International Film Festival each year is the Vanguard program. This TIFF program aims to be “provocative cinema that defies convention”, which features films that have an unique look and feel to them. Essentially, Vanguard shares similar aspirations as the Un Certain Regard section at Cannes. Having said that, Alex van Warmerdam’s odd-ball film Borgman actually played In Competition at Cannes (we enjoyed the film), but should make a great fit in Vanguard for TIFF. Some other noteworthy titles in the Vanguard lineup this year are Ti West’s The Sacrament and the French duo who made Amer (Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani) are back with The Strange Color of Your Body’s Tears.
2013 has already been a pretty solid year for documentaries (Valentine Road, Stories We Tell, The Act of Killing), but TIFF Docs should contain even more great titles from around the world. This year the program includes; the latest from Errol Morris entitled The Unknown Known, a few titles from Cannes (Jodorowsky’s Dune, The Last of the Unjust, and The Story of Children and Film), and well as Frederick Wiseman’s At Berkeley.
Check out the fill lineup for the Vanguard and TIFF Docs programs below.
Blue Ruin [Jeremy Saulnier] USA – North American Premiere
A classic American revenge story, Blue Ruin follows a mysterious outsider whose quiet life is turned upside down when he returns to his childhood home to carry out an act of vengeance. Finding himself in a brutal fight to protect his estranged family, he proves to be an amateur assassin. Starring Macon Blair.
Borgman [Alex van Warmerdam] The Netherlands/Belgium/Denmark – North American Premiere
Borgman is the central character in Alex van Warmerdam’s dark, malevolent fable. Is he a dream or a demon, a twisted allegory or an all-too-real embodiment of our fears? Borgman is a sinister arrival in the sealed-off streets of modern suburbia. His presence unleashes a crowing gallery of distortion around the careful façade constructed by an arrogant, comfortable couple, their three children and nanny. Starring Jan Bijoet, Jeroen Perceval and Hadewych Minis.
Celestial Wives of the Meadow MariAlexey Fedorchenko, Russia Canadian Premiere
Comprised of 23 vignettes illuminating the pagan-influenced mores of western Russia’s Meadow Mari, the latest film from director Alexey Fedorchenko (Silent Souls) is a beguiling, painterly portrait of a culture driven by a ritualistic appreciation of female beauty and feminine sexuality.
The Fake [Yeon Sang-ho] Korea – World Premiere
A rural village is determined to be submerged and its residents are compensated for relocation. A swindler named Choi deceives the poor villagers with false religion to make them give up their compensations as church offerings. Min-chul, an infamous local good-for-nothing waster, discovers the truth, but he is unable to convince anyone; especially against Reverend Sung, who is revered by the people, but who in fact is someone Choi scouted to serve his purpose. When Min-chul’s own faithful daughter is forced into prostitution by these fakes, he sets out to get even.
Horns [Alexandre Aja] USA – World Premiere
Horns, a supernatural thriller driven by dark comedy, mystery and romance follows Ignatius Perrish as he awakens after a hard night of drinking to find he has grown a pair of horns. In addition to his devilish appearance, the horns cause people to fall into a trance and voice their most unspeakable thoughts, an effective tool in Ig’s quest to discover the truth of his girlfriend’s murder. Starring Juno Temple and Daniel Radcliffe.
People In Places(Gente En Sitios) [Juan Cavestany] Spain – World Premiere
This kaleidoscopic film weaves together approximately 20 fragmented scenarios that offer a view of contemporary Spain, drawing conclusions about the persistence of the human condition, strangeness, and the chaos within relationships. Starring Raul Arevalo, Eduard Fernandez and Santiago Segura.
Proxy [Zack Parker] USA – World Premiere
While walking home from her latest OB appointment, a very pregnant Esther Woodhouse is brutally attacked and disfigured by a hooded assailant. This horrible event seems to be a blessing in disguise when Esther finds consolation in a support group. Her life of sadness and solitude is opened up to friendship, understanding, and even acceptance. However, friendship and understanding can be very dangerous things when accepted by the wrong people.
The Sacrament [Ti West] USA – North American Premiere
From acclaimed writer/director Ti West (The House of the Devil, The Innkeepers) and horror master Eli Roth (Hostel, Cabin Fever, The Last Exorcism), The Sacrament follows two Vice media correspondents as they set out to document their friend’s search to find his missing sister. They travel outside of the United States to an undisclosed location where they are welcomed into the world of “Eden Parish,” a self-sustained rural utopia comprised of nearly 200 members. At the centre of this small, religious, socialist community is a mysterious leader known only as “Father.” As their friend reunites with his sister, it becomes apparent to the newcomers that this paradise may not be as it seems. What started as just another documentary shoot soon becomes a race to escape with their lives. Starring Joe Swanberg, AJ Bowen, Kentucker Audley, Amy Seimetz and Gene Jones.
Sapi [Brillante Mendoza] Philippines – World Premiere
With the rival station Philippine Broadcasting Channel (PBC) eating up the TV audiences’ major share, Sarimanok Broadcasting Network (SBN) needs a miracle to stay alive in the competition. In these mad and fearful times, SBN’s news team finds that documenting an actual spiritual possession would be their only hope.
Sex, Drugs & Taxation (Spies & Glistrup) [Christoffer Boe] Denmark – International Premiere
Sex, Drugs & Taxation is based on the true story about the spectacular friendship between two of the most notorious and provocative men in 1960s Denmark: the eccentric lawyer-turned-politician, Mogens Glistrup, and the ‘travel king’, millionaire, womanizer and public provocateur, Simon Spies. Starring Pilou Asbæk, Nicolas Bro and Jesper Christensen.
Soul [Chung Mong-Hong] Taiwan – International Premiere
A-Chuan, a quiet 30-year-old man working as a chef in a Japanese restaurant, collapses suddenly and is rushed to a hospital. His colleagues send him to his father, who resides in the mountains. While there, A-Chuan becomes immobile: he won’t speak, eat or even go to the toilet on his own. One day his father returns from work only to find A-Chuan sitting in the corner with his daughter lying dead in a pool of blood. In an unfamiliar, eerily calm voice, A-Chuan says, “I saw this body was empty, so I moved in.”
The Strange Color of Your Body’s Tears [Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani] Belgium/France/Luxembourg – North American Premiere
A woman vanishes. Her husband inquires into the strange circumstances of her disappearance. Did she leave him? Is she dead? As he continues his search, he plunges into a world of nightmare and violence… Starring Klaus Tange, Jean-Michel Vovk, Sylvia Camarda, Sam Louwyck and Anna D’Annunzio.
Thou Gild’st the Even [Onur Ünlü] Turkey – North American Premiere
Man is created of anxiety. —Euripides
In a small Anatolian town, life goes on: Cemal is an assistant referee in football matches; Yasemin works on a farm; and Defne is a street vendor who sells books. In this town with two suns and three full moons in the sky, Cemal — who has the ability to see through the walls — has no expectations out of life, and looks for a way out with Yasemin — who can move objects with her fingers. However, Defne, who can freeze time, will muddle things up, and Yasemin’s immoral boss’ actions will contradict the invisible elementary school teacher’s advice, who is trying to eliminate the worries of Cemal. Thou Gild’st the Even is a black and white film about the ordinary sorrows, worries and troubles of townspeople with extraordinary abilities.
We Gotta Get Out of This Place [Simon Hawkins and Zeke Hawkins] USA – World Premiere
With only three weeks left until his two best friends leave for college, Billy Joe robs his cotton farmer boss, Giff, in order to pay for one last blow-out weekend in Corpus Christi, Texas. Arriving home from the weekend, the teens find the consequences of Billy Joe’s actions brutal. Now Billy Joe, Bobby, and Sue will be taken on a ride that will test love, heartbreak, trust, and crossing that permanent line from adolescence into adulthood.
TIFF Docs lineup
A Story of Children and Film [Mark Cousins] United Kingdom – North American Premiere
A Story of Children and Filmis the world’s first movie about kids in global cinema. A passionate, poetic portrait of the adventures of childhood — its surrealism, loneliness, fun, destructiveness and vitality — as seen through 53 great films from 25 countries, director Mark Cousins’ landmark film is an eye opener and a celebration of both childhood and the movies.
Ain’t Misbehavin’ [Marcel Ophüls] France – North American Premiere
The director of The Sorrow and the Pityshares his memories with us, stories both incredibly rich and fascinating, making Ain’t Misbehavin’a cheerful and bittersweet trip through cinema history. Son of the great director Max Ophüls, Marcel can be a generous man and an admirer. Marcel talks with and about personalities like Jeanne Moreau, Bertolt Brecht, Ernst Lubitsch, Otto Preminger, Woody Allen, Stanley Kubrick and, of course, his friend François Truffaut.
At Berkeley [Frederick Wiseman] USA – North American Premiere
At Berkeleyis a documentary film about the University of California at Berkeley. The film explores the major aspects of university life of America’s premier public university with particular emphasis on the administrative efforts to maintain the academic excellence, public role, and the economic, racial and social diversity of the student body in the face of severe budgetary cuts imposed by the California legislature.
Beyond the Edge [Leanne Pooley] New Zealand – World Premiere
It was an event that stunned the world and defined an era. Sir Edmund Hillary’s incredible achievement remains one of the greatest adventure stories of all time: the epic journey of a man from modest beginnings who overcame adversity to reach the highest point on Earth. Screening in 3D.
Burt’s Buzz [Jody Shapiro] Canada – World Premiere
Burt’s Buzzis an in-depth and personal look at the life of Burt Shavitz, known to millions around the world as the ‘Burt’ of the Burt’s Bees natural product brand. The documentary explores what it means to be marketed as an icon, and how that life differs from the one of the man behind the logo.
The Dark Matter of Love [Sarah McCarthy] UK – North American Premiere
The Dark Matter of Lovefollows three Russian children learning to love their adoptive American family through a scientific programme. From the director of The Sound Of Mumbai: A Musical.
The Dog [Allison Berg and Frank Keraudren] USA – World Premiere
In 1972, John Wojtowicz attempted to rob a Brooklyn bank to pay for his lover’s sex-change operation. The story was the basis for the film Dog Day Afternoon. The Dogcaptures John, who shares his story for the first time in his own unique, offensive, hilarious and heartbreaking way.
Faith Connections [Pan Nalin] France/India – World Premiere
Filmmaker Pan Nalin travels to Kumbh Mela, one of the world’s most extraordinary religious events. There, he encounters remarkable men of mind and meditation, some facing an inextricable dilemma; to embrace the world or to renounce it. Faith Connectionsexplores such diverse and deeply moving stories as a young runaway kid, a Sadhu, a mother desperately looking for her lost son, a yogi who is raising an abandoned baby, and an ascetic who keeps his calm by smoking cannabis — all connected by one faith against the spectacular display of devotion.
Filthy Gorgeous: The Bob Guccione Story [Barry Avrich] Canada – World Premiere
Through his lens, Bob Guccione witnessed, influenced and played a starring role in easily one of the most controversial and socially and sexually revolutionary eras in modern history. Reclusive, yet outspoken, Guccione used his art, his fortune and his outspoken views on sexuality and politics to create scandal, change and debate. Unlike his publishing rivals, Hefner and Flynt, there is more to Guccione than meets the eye.
Finding Vivian Maier [John Maloof and Charlie Siskel] USA – World Premiere
A mysterious nanny, who secretly took over 100,000 photographs that were hidden in storage lockers and discovered decades later, is now considered among the 20th century’s greatest photographers. Maier’s strange and riveting life and art are revealed through never before seen photographs, films, and interviews with dozens who thought they knew her.
Hi-Ho Mistahey! [Alanis Obomsawin] Canada – World Premiere
Alanis Obomsawin tells the story of Shannen’s Dream, a national campaign to provide equitable access to education for First Nations children, in safe and suitable schools. She brings together the voices of those who have successfully brought the Dream all the way to the United Nations in Geneva.
Ignasi M. [Ventura Pons] Spain – World Premiere
Ignasi M., a world renowned museologist, is living a dramatic moment, but has the capacity to turn any situation into an edifying one and any discomfort into a hilarious series of facts.
Jodorowsky’s Dune [Frank Pavich] USA – North American Premiere
The story of legendary cult film director Alejandro Jodorowsky’s staggeringly ambitious but ultimately doomed film adaptation of the seminal science-fiction novel Dune .
The Last of the Unjust [Claude Lanzmann] France/Austria – North American Premiere
Through an interview with Benjamin Murmelstein, from Nisko in Poland to Theresienstadt, and from Vienna to Rome, Claude Lanzmann provides an unprecedented insight into the genesis of the Final Solution. It reveals the true face of Eichmann, and exposes without artifice the savage contradictions of the Jewish Councils.
The Mayor [Emiliano Altuna Fistolera] Mexico – Canadian Premiere
Mauricio Fernandez is the polemical mayor of San Pedro Garza García, the wealthiest and safest municipality in Latin America. He presents himself as an active ruler who is capable of cleaning his municipality of drug cartels without questioning the methods he uses to achieve this. The Mayordescribes the wild times of a country that is marked by violence and the complete discredit of the ruling class.
Midway [Chris Jordan] USA – World Premiere
In the middle of the Pacific Ocean lies a tiny unincorporated territory belonging to the United States called Midway — the site of one of greatest naval battles of all time. Before the navy set up station, this island served for centuries as a breeding ground for hundreds of species of seabird — most notably the Albatross. Midway lies at the center of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, where the seabirds’ feeding grounds are teeming with plastic waste. Unknowingly, the Albatross feed their chicks our refuse and so the very waters that once sustained them, now threaten their lives. Through stunning imagery and narration, the voice of the island tells their epic tale of survival. Both elegy and warning, the film explores the interconnectedness of species, with the Albatross on Midway as mirror of our humanity. This is their story and ours, an inspiring tale of how life and love endure despite incredible odds.
Mission Congo [David Turner and Lara Zizic] USA – World Premiere
Death, diamonds and greed — a story of a US businessman’s pursuit of an irresistible opportunity during one of the worst humanitarian crises of modern times.
The Square (Al Midan) [Jehane Noujaim] Egypt/USA – World Premiere
The story of revolution — behind the headlines. From the 2011 overthrow of a 30-year dictator, through military rule, and culminating with the overthrow of the Muslim Brotherhood president in the summer of 2013 — follow a group of Egyptian revolutionaries as they battle leaders and regimes, risking their lives to build a society of conscience.
Tim’s Vermeer [Teller] USA – World Premiere
Tim Jenison, a Texas-based inventor, attempts to solve one of the greatest mysteries in all art: How did 17th century Dutch Master Johannes Vermeer (Girl with a Pearl Earring ) manages to paint so photo-realistically 150 years before the invention of photography? The epic research project Jenison embarks on to test his theory is as extraordinary as what he discovers.
The Unknown Known [Errol Morris] USA – North American Premiere
Errol Morris offers a mesmerizing portrait of Donald Rumsfeld, one of the key architects of the Iraq War. Although Rumsfeld has held lofty positions of American political power for half a century, most people know little about him. When Rumsfeld wrote, as part of his most famous meditation, that an “unknown known” refers to “things you think you know that it turns out you do not,” he could have been speaking about himself. The Unknown Knownis not intended as yet another postmortem on the Iraq War, but rather an illumination of a mystery.
Unstable Elements [Madeleine Sackler] USA – World Premiere
Comprised of smuggled footage and uncensored interviews, Unstable Elementsintroduces viewers to artists struggling under Europe’s last dictatorship. When the KGB targets dissenters, the members of the Free Theater find themselves torn between their art and safety. This compelling documentary showcases the power of art to change the world.
When Jews Were Funny [Alan Zweig] Canada – World Premiere
When Jews Were Funnyis director Alan Zweig’s personal exploration into the roots and the manifestations of his Jewish identity, and particularly the question of how this Jewishness of his has persisted, though he’s done nothing to maintain it. He begins his exploration by trying to answer a question that’s intrigued him since childhood. Why were all the comedians he watched on TV in the fifties and sixties, Jewish? At first he doesn’t get the answers he was hoping for, but he trusts in the old saying, “two Jews, three opinions” and eventually some answers start to form.