Toronto International Film Festival officially kicks off on September 5, and with the full schedule finally released, TIFF veterans (like us!) are breaking out the spreadsheets and busy planning their festival experience.
With an impressive lineup of 288 films and only 11 days for viewing, choosing which films to see can be overwhelming. Watching great films (and celebrity spotting) takes planning and a lot of patience, but it’s not impossible!
To help you plan your TIFF experience, here are ten of my must-see films from the festival:
In the sporting world, there is no tale quite like Lance Armstrong’s. Originally scripted as a feel-good type documentary to celebrate his cycling comeback, this film by Alex Gibney, instead captures Armstrong’s pitiful downfall. It’s rumored that the doc includes rare interviews from alleged doping mastermind Dr. Michele Ferrai, which is ultimately why it makes my list.
With the cost of higher education taking centre stage these days in America, Frederick Wiseman’s At Berkeley couldn’t come at a better time. This doc takes a detailed look at Berkeley University during the Fall of 2010, when a heated debate over tuition increases and the future of higher education took place. Be forewarned, this interesting film is 4 hours, so plan your day wisely!
This adaptation of Tracy Letts’ Pulitzer Prize-winning play is already generating Oscar buzz. The film follows the Weston women who return to the house they grew up amidst a family crisis and must face the dysfunctional woman who raised them. With a star-packed cast (Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Ewan McGregor, Benedict Cumberbatch) and TIFF hosting the world premiere, you can bet this Gala will be one of the most talked about red carpets of the festival.
John Turtorro’s Fading Gigolo is a non-negotiable must-see on my list! For starters, his colourful film stars Woody Allen (who rarely makes an appearance in front of the camera) as a bookstore owner turned pimp. The film also stars Sharon Stone and Sofia Vergara. I’m expecting this one to be an audience favourite!
Don’t be fooled…although it’s the perfect title for one, Hateship Loveship is not a Bollywood flick! Based on a short story by Canadian author Alice Munro, the film has so far flown under the radar. This smart and funny family drama stars funny girl Kristen Wiig, Nick Nolte and Guy Pearce, which is more than enough to pique my interest.
Daniel Radcliffe will be a popular man on TIFF red carpets. He’s starring in three films, however it’s Kill Your Darlings that critics are talking about the most. A hit at Sundance this year, Kill Your Darlings depicts the untold story of murder that brought together a young Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac and William Burroughs at Columbia University in 1944.
Director Jason Reitman is no stranger to the festival. Even when he’s not showing a film, you can usually spot him at Ryerson Theatre watching movies. His film Labor Day will have its world premiere at TIFF and tells the story of 12 year-old Henry and his mother Adele (Kate Winslet), who are convinced by Frank Chambers (Josh Brokin) to take him into their home. They later learn he is an escaped convict. Could this film earn Reitman another Oscar nod for Best Director?
My festival experience would not be complete without seeing at least one French flick. What better film than the Larrieu brothers’ latest psychological thriller about a womanizing professor whose life is turned upside down after the disappearance of a female student.
Receiving critical acclaim at Cannes earlier this year, The Lunchbox is the film I’m most anticipating. Plus, with his track record, anything starring Irrfan Khan is sure to be great. Read more about Ritesh Batra’s The Lunchbox.
Mavericks are always a hot ticket at the festival, and this year is no exception. Described as a “love letter” to Jay Z and the city of Philadelphia, Ron Howard’s Made In America is a music documentary that recounts the rapper’s rise to fame. Following the world premiere of the film, Howard will participate in a live conversation with a festival programmer.
The key thing to remember is that the festival’s extensive lineup includes something for everyone. Don’t worry about making the wrong decision with your film choices, you never get to see everything you want and sometimes, it’s the smaller productions that turn out to be the best ones at the festival (remember Slumdog Millionaire?).
The Toronto International Film Festival runs from September 5 – 15. Single tickets go on sale for all screenings on September 1, 2013.
Photography Courtesy: Toronto International Film Festival