TIFF Announces CWC and Visions Titles.


Just two days after unleashing several dozen Canadian films on the eager TIFF public, the film festival group has announced eighteen new titles – most of which coming from the Contemporary World Cinema department. The rest, of course, from the Visions programme. Though no titles announced are going two draw crowds because of their star-power, there are a few titles that will draw the masses because of their notable indie following; especially Harmony Korine’s latest. Well, I’ll hop to it now:

Shake That Laffy Taffy
Between Two Worlds – starring: No idea. Known for his visual flare – having won the Cannes award for photography back in 2005 with his first feature – Vimukthi Jayasundara is back behind the camera with his second film. The film about a young man who flees his violent and Neanderthal-esque hometown to a village that he stumbles upon on his journey out. Just as he’s getting cozy, he learns that the village’s minds are influenced by an old legend. It sounds like something that I would enjoy – interesting, to say the least. If I can fit it into my schedule, I will. No release date has been set.
(A 7/10 on my personal Anticipation Meter)

Beyond the Circle – starring: No idea. After having critical success and even getting his first (and so far, only) feature submitted by his native country of Bangladesh for the 80th Annual Academy Awards, filmmaker Golam Rabbany Biplob is back. This feature is as simplistic as they come and is a concept that is familiar to many people – an ordinary village musician gets swept up in the big music business after he’s discovered by a label producer. A ‘from rags to riches’ story that will certainly be more a character study and focused on a mental dilemma rather than some variety hour fluff. I’m sure it’ll be a good one, but I’m not sure if I’ll catch it. I won’t avoid it, but if I can’t see it, I can’t see it. (A 6/10 on my personal Anticipation Meter)

Blessed – starring: Miranda Otto and Frances O’Connor. Australian filmmaker Ana Kokkinos’ critically muddled feature Blessed is one of the latest added to the slew of films at this years festival. Yet another film about a fable, but this one is certainly aimed at a more family-esque audience: based on a favourite folklore, this film is based on a story that is about seven children that wander off in an evening and the love of their parents that try to bring them home. Certainly not for me, but I doubt it’d be less than a pleasant hour and a half. Set for a September release in Australia. (A 3/10 on my personal Anticipation Meter)

Down For Life – starring: Danny Glover and Emily Rios. The story is based off of a New York Times article about a fifteen year old Latina gang leader in one fateful night. As she tries to leave the gang life, she realizes that it is much more tough as she believed. Also co-starring Snoop Dogg, this cast promises to be surprising, if anything. I really like the concept, but I am weary of the acting and talent behind it. I’ll be sure to rent it, or even see it in conventional theaters, but I doubt I’ll see this during the festival. (A 6/10 on my personal Anticipation Meter)

Gaia – starring: Emily Lape and Cynthia Adkisson. After getting bumped from its August 1st release in Los Angeles, ‘Gaia’ will be getting its world premiere at TIFF. The film follows Gaia, a woman who is left for dead in the Arizona desert. Luckily, a group of Native Americans come across her dying body, take her back to their reservation and revive her. After being brought back to health, Gaia’s next move will be crucial – does she go back to the life she’s accustomed to, giving the darkness one more chance to claim her life or does she stay where it is secure, but not quite her vision of a rewarding life. I’m not too keen on the idea, plus the director hasn’t achieved any sort of status as a credible filmmaker. I’ll skip it, but it has potential. (A 4/10 on my personal Anticipation Meter)

Giulia Doesn’t Date At Night – starring: Valeria Golino and Piera Degli Esposti. After being nominated for several awards at various Italian ceremonies, acclaimed director/screenwriter Giuseppe Piccioni is at TIFF with his latest – a story about a man who falls in love with his daughter’s swimming instructor. In the tale, he learns that she cannot go out at night because she’s serving a out-of-prison sentence for a crime of passion. I’ve read that this is one of the more depressing films in awhile and Cannes reviews are positive, but not glowing. I’ll check out on of Piccioni’s previous features before knowing if I will see this for sure – but prospects are positive. Released in Italy in February. (A 7/10 on my personal Anticipation Meter)

Heiran – starring: No idea. In yet another TIFF World Premiere, this Iranian feature by newcomer Shalizeh Arefpour doesn’t seem like my thing – perhaps too dry and traditional for my taste. The story is about an Iranian woman who falls in love with an immigrant from Afghanistan and the ensuing war of the words between herself and her parents. Not for me, but I doubt it’ll be a bad movie. (A 3/10 on my personal Anticipation Meter)

Hiroshima – starring: No idea. After back-to-back critical hits to start off his career, Uruguayan filmmaker Pablo Stoll embarks on his third co-directed, co-written feature with long time filmmaking partner Juan Pablo Rebella. Although I’ve yet to see one of his films – I’ll try to catch Whisky before this years festival – the duo appear to be quite a talent. This story takes place in a day of an introverted lead singer in a rock band – a man who is the opposite of tradition. He sleeps when other wake up and wakes up when others sleep – the story is about how he goes about his typical day with such a routine. It sounds promising, so I’ll certainly be open to seeing it. No release date set. (A 7/10 on my personal Anticipation Meter)

The House of Branching Love – starring: Elina Knihtilä and Hannu-Pekka Björkman. Brother of Finland’s greatest directorial export Aki, Mika Kaurismaki’s latest film is a comedy/drama about the complications of divorce. When Tuula and Juhani are fed up with their marriage, they set out a plan to end their romantic entanglement in an orderly and content manner – a way that would keep hostilities and anger at bay. Unfortunately, their proceedings don’t fall into such gentle hands and they get at each others throats. Should be amusing – I’ve yet to see any film by Mika so I don’t know how different his style is from his brother. If it’s similar, I’d be in 100% – so any of his features will be on my “to see list” before September 10th. Set for an August 21st release in Finland. (A 7/10 on my personal Anticipation Meter)

I Am Love – starring: Tilda Swinton and Flavio Parenti. In her first film as acting producer and star, Tilda Swinton’s latest – an Italian production – promises to be one of the actress’ most interesting performance to date. The story is about a rich Italian family headed by the woman, who falls in love with her son’s best friend – an aspiring cook. Class mixing and passion will be what the film thrives on, but I’m not too sure if that’s for me. Swinton can do no wrong, but that might not be enough to put me in a seat. No release date has been announced. (A 6/10 on my personal Anticipation Meter)

Lebanon – starring: Yoav Donat and Zohar Strauss. The first war film announced for TIFF is ‘Lebanon’ via new Israeli director Maoz Shmulik. The story is about a tank group of four people during the Israel-Lebanon war. After getting used to the idea of being in war, they soon find themselves in a terror filled scenario in which they cannot retreat and must confront real violence. It sounds exciting and will sure to have emotions pumping through the films veins – I’ll seek to give it a chance, but it doesn’t strike me as too independent from features such as Days of Glory. No release date has been set. (A 7/10 on my personal Anticipation Meter)

Rabia – starring: Yon González and Martina García. After his last two films being critical successes, Spanish filmmaker Sebastián Corderois is back after a five year wait since his last film Chronicles. Like his other two films would entail – I haven’t seen either – he is a master of suspense, so I’d like to see one for myself before giving up on this one. The story of this is about a construction worker who runs to his girlfriend’s place after killing is foreman… the twist in this story is that she’s a housemaid for a rich family. This could be quite a dark and gritty little feature, so I’ll be sure to check something by Corderois before TIFF. No release date has been set. (A 7/10 on my personal Anticipation Meter)

Sawasdee Bangkok – starring: No idea. Already having his latest feature Nymph playing at this years festival, Pen-Ek Ratanaruang and three other Thai directors come together to present this film – four short films showing the humor and the reality of their native Thailand. I don’t like Ratanaruang’s style whatsoever, so I’ll avoid this just based on him. No release date has been set. (A 3/10 on my personal Anticipation Meter)

Shameless – starring: Jirí Machácek and Fedorova Vera. Acclaimed Czech filmmaker Jan Hrebejk is back at TIFF with his latest film – a comedy about love; both of finding a new one and lasting ones dying. It ran through some critical panning, but nothing too heavy to avoid at all costs. To be honest, I’ve no desire to see this film as it’s already had a DVD release in its homeland, so I’ll be skipping it for that… but also because the plot just isn’t compelling. Had a October 2008 release in the Czech Republic. (A 3/10 on my personal Anticipation Meter)

Slovenian Girl – starring: Nina Ivanisin and Peter Musevski. Respected Slovenian filmmaker Damjan Kozole release his most intriguing sounding film to date – a story about a university student that gets so enraptured in her studies. Her studies, however, are about the sexual being within all people and so she begins to solicit sex. Since I like the concept and Kozole’s films never seem to get any sort of commercial release (ie. I won’t be able to see it otherwise), I might have to catch this at TIFF. If I see it and dislike it, no big deal… but if I don’t see it, thinking it could’ve been amazing will drive me insane. No release date has been set for this feature. (A 7/10 on my personal Anticipation Meter)

Tanner Hall – starring: Rooney Mara and Georgia King. Of the few CWC films that are US oriented, ‘Tanner Hall’ seems to be the most abstract. Being directed by two nobodies that have had bit parts in movies since the early 90’s – one of the directors even being a lead singer for a small bang – this movie about the precocious existence and all too quiet upbringings of four teenage girls in a private boarding school seems like an all too familiar feature. Surely a good way to get your foot in the door for future works, but as a singular feature, this isn’t much at all for me. No release date has been set. (A 4/10 on my personal Anticipation Meter)

To The Sea – starring: No idea. I wish I knew more about this film and the director Pedro González-Rubio because he seems like he could be quite the talent, but I’m not sure if I want to risk missing something else in hopes of my suspicions being right with this one. The story is about a young Mexican man traveling with his Italian half-son on a journey to the second largest coral reef on the planet. It could be overly sentimental and have the connection story be malnourished like most of these features or it could be refreshing and touching without the audience sensing that they’re obligated to find it as such; humanist, in a word. I hope it fits into my schedule where I don’t have to have it compete against something I really want to see, just so I can give this a chance. If not… sadly, I’ll have to skip it. There is no release date set for this film. (A 6/10 on my personal Anticipation Meter)

Trash Humpers – starring: No idea. By far the most shocking add to TIFF’s lineup this year is the latest feature by Harmony Korine – a film that no one – not even his most devoted fans – knew about. Although the synopsis is essentially “Gummo but more solitary and half-musical” and I wasn’t all that fond of Gummo, this will certainly be one film I’m not going to miss. Korine making a relentlessly grim musical? There’s no way I’m missing this. No release date has been set. (A 10/10 on my personal Anticipation Meter)

All in all, I think CWC is my favourite programme of the festival – it certainly allows for the most diverse and ‘best’ films from the foreign scene (a scene that seems to be one-upping the US/Canada scene as of late). I’m very glad Korine’s latest will be at TIFF – that’s certainly the most interesting one to come from the past few weeks. Well, happy festivaling to those who are going this year and cheers for reading if you bothered with all this rambling.


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