The fall is all about film festivals debuting the best in indie filmmaking and giving everyone a sneak peek into this year’s various award’s seasons contenders. The Toronto International Film Festival is in its 40th year, and from September 10th-20th, venues across the city will be hosting red carpet events, world premieres, and star studded after parties. TIFF has hosted premieres of Oscar winning films like Black Swan, Crash, and Silver Linings Playbook in previous years, so keep an eye out for high profile titles if you want to snag tickets to the hottest screenings.
The Martian (premiering Sept 11)
Based on the best-selling book by Andy Weir, The Martian stars Matt Damon as an astronaut who, after being left behind on Mars, has to figure out a way to survive until NASA can send a rescue mission. It’s being called a cross between Apollo 13 and Saving Private Ryan, and with director Ridley Scott, and an ensemble cast, it’s arguably the biggest world premiere of the entire festival.
Black Mass (premiering Sept 14)
The true story of Irish-American gangster, Whitey Bulger is brought to the big screen with Johnny Depp leading an ensemble cast that includes Joel Edgerton and Benedict Cumberbatch. Bulger was one of the most feared mob bosses in Boston history due to his deep connections (he was also an FBI informant, and his brother was a U.S senator) and his ruthless strategic instincts. Black Mass is a classic mob movie that combines violence, corruption, and distorted family values.
Legend (premiering Sept 12)
In the second big mob movie of the festival, Tom Hardy stars as twin brothers, Ronnie and Reggie Kray, two of Britain’s most infamous gangsters. Together they rose from London’s nightclub scene up through the ranks of the underworld in a mission to make London the Las Vegas of Europe. They used violence and connections to the American mafia to establish their dominance over law enforcement, but eventually let their volatile natures get the best of them.
The Danish Girl (premiering Sept 12)
In another biopic, Eddie Redmayne stars as Lili Elbe, a 1920’s Danish artist who was one of the first people to ever undergo gender reassignment surgery. Directed by Oscar winning director, Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech), the film sheds some light on the history of the transgender community, revealing that confusion over gender isn’t a new thing, and there were people struggling with it long before Caitlyn Jenner brought it into the spotlight.
Room (premiering Sept 15)
In the adaptation of the best-selling novel by Canadian writer, Emma Donoghue, Room stars Brie Larson as a woman who has been kidnapped and locked in a single room for years by a man who rapes her on a regular basis. She gave birth to a son while in captivity, and she decides it’s time to find a way to escape if only to give her son a chance to see the world outside of their prison. Newcomer, Jacob Tremblay has been getting lots of attention for his role of Jack, a boy seeing the world for the first time.
The Program (premiering Sept 13)
In 2012, the world found out Lance Armstrong, the seven-time winner of the Tour de France had been using performance enhancing drugs over the course of his career. He was stripped of all his titles and outed as the ringleader of “the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen.” In the trailer for The Program, Ben Foster plays Armstrong (and looks exactly like him), portraying him as a competitive sociopath who would do anything to win. The film offers a close up look of who Armstrong really was behind the public persona of a national sports hero.
Equals (premiering Sept 13)
If dystopian futures are your thing, Equals starring Kristen Stewart and Nicholas Hoult offers a new take on the genre. Set in a “utopian” future society where crime and violence have been eradicated through the genetic elimination of human emotion, an outbreak of an emotional “disease” brings chaos. When people who experience emotions are treated no different from the undead in a zombie film, is it still possible for love to conquer all?
Freeheld (premiering Sept 13)
When New Jersey police officer Laurel Hester found out she had terminal lung cancer, all she wanted was to make sure her pension would be passed on to her domestic partner after her death. Her request was denied and Hester decided to lobby the government for a change in policy before it was too late. Julianne Moore and Ellen Page star as a couple looking for acknowledgement that their love is just as legitimate as any straight couple’s is, and Steve Carell joins the cast as a gay right’s activist who helps them bring attention to their fight for equality.
The Lobster (premiering Sept 11)
If you’re looking for something a little different, look no further than this year’s Jury Prize winner at the Cannes film festival, The Lobster. Set in a world where everyone who finds themselves single for whatever reason (a partner’s death, divorce, a simple break up) must report to a hotel where they must find a partner within 45 days or be turned into the animal of their choice, the film taps into the underlying fear people have of being single. Rather than conform to the rules of society, Colin Farrell’s character runs off and joins a group of fellow rebels in the hopes that he’ll be able to escape his fate of becoming a lobster.
Trumbo (premiering Sept 12)
In Trumbo, Bryan Cranston stars as Hollywood screenwriter, Dalton Trumbo who was blacklisted after he refused to admit he identified politically as a communist. But instead of giving up, Trumbo continued to write under pseudonyms and even won an Oscar before he was able to bring the blacklist era to an end with the epics Exodus and Spartacus. This is Cranston’s first starring role since Breaking Bad ended in 2013.