It's hard not to love a program that features 15 World Premieres, 3 International Premieres and 9 North American Premieres! Once again, TIFF showcases innovative talent from around the world, refining Chris Fujiwara's recent definition of "contemporary" cinema in his N+1 brownstudy. Perhaps what is contemporary is simply what is waiting to be discovered?
As If I Am Not There (Juanita Wilson, Ireland / Macedonia / Sweden)—As If I Am Not There explores one woman's experience of the horrors that took place at the beginning of the Bosnian War. Disturbing and powerful, the film is an important testament to the survivors of the atrocities in the former Yugoslavia. Based on Croatian writer Slavenka Drakulić's real life experiences overseeing the proceedings of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia at The Hague. IMDb. TOFilmFest. World Premiere.
ATTENBERG (Athina Rachel Tsangiri, Greece)—A dying architect and his emotionally stunted daughter inhabit a once booming industrial community in the middle of nowhere, now populated by the precious few who didn't have the heart to leave it behind. Competing at Venice for the Golden Lion. IMDb. Wikipedia. Facebook. TOFilmFest. North American Premiere.
Autumn / Harud (Aamir Bashir, India)—Shot in striking, widescreen images in India's Kashmir region, Bashir's debut tells the story of Rafiq, a young man struggling to come to terms with the loss of his older brother, who has disappeared in the ongoing border conflict. Official site. IMDb. Facebook. TOFilmFest. World Premiere.
Beautiful Boy (Shawn Ku, USA)—A married couple on the verge of separation are leveled by the news that their 18-year-old son has committed a mass shooting at his college, then taken his own life. Stars Michael Sheen and Maria Bello. IMDb. TOFilmFest. World Premiere.
Blame (Michael Henry, Australia)—A group of young vigilantes seeking revenge for a sexual betrayal fall far from grace. When the truth is out, they find themselves on the dark side of justice. IMDb. TOFilmFest. International Premiere.
The Call / La Llamada aka Il richiamo (Stefano Pasetto, Italy / Argentina)—Two women, one a married middle-aged airline stewardess, and the other a free-wheeling factory worker, meet and decide to change their lives. Moving to Patagonia and leaving their men behind, they find that escape carries with it a different set of responsibilities. IMDb. TOFilmFest. World Premiere.
Ceremony (Max Winkler, USA)—Along with his unwitting best friend, a young guy looks to crash the wedding of an older woman with whom he's infatuated. Stars Uma Thurman. IMDb. TOFilmFest. World Premiere.
Dirty Girl (Abe Sylvia, USA)—Danielle is the dirty girl of Norman High School. When her misbehavior gets her banished to a remedial class, she teams up with an innocent closet-case and they head out on a road trip to discover themselves. Stars Juno Temple, Dwight Yoakam, Milla Jovovich and William H. Macy. IMDb. TOFilmFest. World Premiere.
Girlfriend (Justin Lerner, USA)—When an unexpected financial windfall affords a young man with Down syndrome some freedom, he decides to pursue the object of his high school crush, Candy. The decision brings him into conflict with her volatile ex-boyfriend, and the three find themselves involved in a complex, unpredictable triangle of love, aspiration and dreams. Stars Evan Sneider and Jackson Rathbone. Official site. IMDb. Facebook. TOFilmFest. World Premiere.
Griff the Invisible (Leon Ford, Australia)—Griff, office worker by day, superhero by night, has his world turned upside down when he meets Melody, a beautiful young scientist who shares his passion for the impossible. Stars Ryan Kwanten. Official site. IMDb. TOFilmFest. World Premiere.
Half of Oscar / La Mitad de Óscar (Manuel Martín Cuenca, Spain / Cuba)—Oscar and Maria are reunited by the imminent death of their grandfather. Maria has not been heard from in over two years, and now arrives pregnant and with a boyfriend. IMDb. TOFilmFest. World Premiere.
Inside America (Barbara Eder, Austria)—Drawing on her memories as an exchange student in a nowhere town on the US-Mexico border, Barbara Eder explores the dark side of the American Dream. Official blog. IMDb. Facebook. TOFilmFest. North American Premiere.
Look, Stranger (Arielle Javitch, USA)—Look, Stranger is an elegant, spare and powerful telling of one young woman's journey through a war-torn landscape in an effort to get back home. Stars Annamaria Marinca. Official site. IMDb. TOFilmFest. World Premiere.
Mandoo (Ebrahim Saeedi, Iraq)—After the death of Saddam, Shaho, an Iranian Kurd, is determined to take his ailing father back to his village so he can live out his final days in familiar surroundings. The only thing that stands in his way is a wide-eyed young woman. IMDb. TOFilmFest. North American Premiere.
Marimbas From Hell / Las Marimbas del Infierno (Julio Hernández Cordón, Guatemala / France / Mexico)—Don Alfonso loses his job playing the marimba, an indigenous, traditional Guatemalan instrument, at a hotel in Guatemala City. He approaches musician Blacko and proposes that they fuse the sound of the marimba with heavy metal. IMDb. Facebook. TOFilmFest. World Premiere.
Norberto's Deadline / Norberto Apenas Tarde (Daniel Hendler, Uruguay / Argentina)—Award-winning actor Daniel Hendler offers a hilarious account of a man trying to combat his shyness. After being fired from his job, Norberto tries his hand at real estate and his new boss suggests he take some personal affirmation courses. Instead he discovers the theatre and his love and unknown talent for acting. IMDb. TOFilmFest. North American Premiere.
October / Octubre (Diego Vega & Daniel Vega, Peru / Venezuela / Spain)—Money-lender Clemente only knows how to relate to others through transactions. His life is turned upside down when someone leaves him a baby in a basket. When a client, Sofia, steps in to help tend to the baby, Clemente is faced with new possibilities during Lima's October celebration of the Lord of Miracles. IMDb. Facebook. TOFilmFest. North American Premiere.
The Piano in a Factory (Zhang Meng, China)—To fight for custody of his daughter who loves playing the piano, a steel factory worker decides to forge a piano from scratch. An offbeat ballad of friendship and devotion, The Piano in a Factory is an endearing portrait of China in the early 1990s when the certainty of state-run industry begins to falter. TOFilmFest. World Premiere.
Pinoy Sunday (Wi Ding Ho, Taiwan)—Pinoy Sunday is the story of Manuel and Dado, two Filipino migrant workers, who discover a discarded sofa. This transforms their normal Sunday routine into a tale of adventure, perseverance and self-discovery. Official site. IMDb. Facebook. TOFilmFest. North American Premiere.
The Place in Between / Notre étrangère (Sarah Bouyain, France / Burkino Faso)—Bouyain's sensitive debut is a portrait of women caught between Africa and Europe. A biracial woman travels from France to Burkina Faso in search of her mother. In France, a white woman seeks to learn an African language for reasons unknown. TOFilmFest. North American Premiere.
Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale (Jalmari Helander, Finland / Norway / France / Sweden)—Santa Claus is somewhat less than jolly—in fact, he's the stuff nightmares are made of—in Jalmari Helander's atmospheric and witty re-working of a cherished folk tale. Official site. IMDb. Facebook. TOFilmFest. North American Premiere.
Sandcastle (Boo Junfeng, Singapore)—A gentle and affectionate study of the themes of identity, history and memory, Boo Junfeng's debut feature Sandcastle is a loving portrait of a young man coming to terms with the lives of his parents and his grandparents, while trying to make sense of Singapore's troubled history. At MUBI, David Hudson has rounded up a few Cannes reviews where Sandcastle screened in Critics' Week. IMDb. Facebook. TOFilmFest. North American Premiere.
Soul of Sand / Pairon Talle (Sidharth Srinivasan, India)—Bhanu Kumar, a lower caste watchman, stands fierce guard over his feudal master's disused, barren mine. One night, a runaway couple in desperate search of refuge, come to Bhanu seeking shelter. The rusted gate of the Royal Silica Mine opens, exposing a bloody world of lust, fear and violence in the name of caste, ownership and honor. IMDb. Facebook. TOFilmFest. World Premiere.
Viva Riva! (Djo Tunda Wa Munga, Democratic Republic of Congo / France / Belgium / South Africa)—Riva returns home to Kinshasa flush with cash. The town is literally out of gas, and he is sitting on a truckload of it. His first night home, Riva falls in love with a beautiful woman and is emboldened when he learns that a local gangster is keeping her on a short leash. Meanwhile, the gang Riva left behind in Angola arrive in hot pursuit of the gas he stole from them. TOFilmFest. World Premiere.
Wasted On the Young (Ben C. Lucas, Australia)—Wasted on the Young is set in the socially conscious and disaffected society of an elite high school where two step brothers occupy opposite ends of the school hierarchy. When a high school party goes dangerously off the rails, they find that revenge is just a computer click away. IMDb. TOFilmFest. International Premiere.
What I Most Want / Lo Que Más Quiero (Delfina Castagnino, Argentina)—María's four-year relationship is coming to an end while Pilar's father has recently passed away. Though their losses are of a very different nature, the two friends find comfort in each other's company. María stays with Pilar in the Argentine Patagonia and the two women share wine and lake visits as they confront their future. IMDb. TOFilmFest. International Premiere.
Zephyr / Zefir (Belma Bas, Turkey)—This shadowy and atmospheric coming-of-age story follows 11-year-old Zephyr. Left in the care of her stoic grandparents, she roams a rural paradise looking for action, trying to figure out who she is and refusing to grow up. Official blog. IMDb. Facebook. TOFilmFest. World Premiere.