The Toronto International Film Festival seems to outdo itself year after year with its lineup of film presentations and premieres. In the 44th annual iteration of the buzzy Canadian fest, star vehicles and award season hopefuls will screen for critics and industry insiders Sept. 5–15.
Among the features in the July 23 announcement of Gala and Special Presentations programs are James Mangold’s “Ford v Ferrari,” starring Christian Bale and Matt Damon; John Crowley’s “The Goldfinch,” starring Ansel Elgort and Nicole Kidman; Destin Daniel Cretton’s “Just Mercy,” starring Michael B. Jordan and Jamie Foxx; the Safdie brothers’ “Uncut Gems,” starring Adam Sandler; Todd Phillips’ “Joker,” starring Joaquin Phoenix; Ira Sachs’ “Frankie,” starring Isabelle Huppert and Marisa Tomei; Taika Waititi’s “Jojo Rabbit,” starring Scarlett Johansson, Sam Rockwell, and Rebel Wilson; and Edward Norton’s “Motherless Brooklyn.”
While many Gala and Special Presentations are world premieres, other titles have already screened and generated buzz at other fests. Pedro Almodóvar’s “Pain and Glory,” starring Antonio Banderas and Penélope Cruz; Céline Sciamma’s “Portrait of a Lady on Fire (Portrait de la jeune fille en feu)”; and Bong Joon-ho’s “Parasite (Gisaengchung)” took the Cannes Film Festival by storm in May, while Chinonye Chukwu’s Alfre Woodard–starrer “Clemency” and Scott Z. Burns’ “The Report,” starring Annette Bening and Adam Driver, appeared at the Sundance Film Festival this year. Noah Baumbach’s “Marriage Story,” also starring Driver, will follow its TIFF premiere as the Centerpiece screening of the New York Film Festival in October.
Kasi Lemmons’ Harriet Tubman biopic “Harriet,” starring Cynthia Erivo; Marielle Heller’s salute to Fred Rogers, “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” starring Tom Hanks; and Lorene Scafaria’s “Hustlers,” starring Jennifer Lopez and Constance Wu, are among the many films in the 2019 TIFF lineup helmed by women. According to fest co-heads Cameron Bailey and Joana Vicente, 50 percent of Gala titles are directed or co-directed by women, a new record for the program.
“Some of the year’s biggest films will land in Toronto this September,” said Bailey, artistic director of TIFF, in a statement. “Our new programming team has been hard at work for months to deliver the compelling stories, acclaimed filmmakers, and top onscreen talent that mark our two highest-profile sections.”
“Fast-paced, boundary-pushing, satirical—this lineup has films representing every corner of the cinematic landscape on top of a strong number of world premieres,” said Vicente, executive director of TIFF. “It’s a pleasure to be able to share these films with audiences for the first time.”
Canadian filmmaker Daniel Roher’s documentary “Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and the Band” will open the fest, while Marjane Satrapi’s “Radioactive,” starring Rosamund Pike as Marie Curie, will close. The fest is also introducing a shiny new accolade to celebrate Hollywood’s best; the first-ever recipients of the TIFF Tribute Actor Award will be Meryl Streep, featured at the festival in Steven Soderbergh’s “The Laundromat,” co-starring Banderas and Gary Oldman, and Phoenix of “The Joker.”
Films screened at TIFF typically fare well in the proceeding Hollywood awards race; last year, Peter Farrelly’s “Green Book” surprised pundits with the audience-voted Grolsch People’s Choice Award and, months later, won statues aplenty including the Academy Award for best picture. There will be more announcements of programming and premieres to come; stay tuned at backstage.com/magazine to keep up with all things TIFF.
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