Toronto’s Hotly Anticipated World Premieres

 

Premieres at the Toronto International Film Festival always get hearts racing, among industry professionals looking to snag distribution deals and among the notoriously cinephile audiences in Canada’s most diverse metropolis. This year’s Festival is unveiling a good number of such films that are among the festival’s most anticipated (and hard to get into) film screenings.

In the Galas section, anticipation is high for THE DAMNED UNITED, by UK director Tom Hooper. Set in 1960’s and 1970’s England, this is the confrontational and darkly humorous story of Brian Clough’s doomed 44 day tenure as manager of the reigning champions of English football, Leeds United. An examination of Clough’s belligerence and brilliance, The Damned United stars Michael Sheen, is written by Peter Morgan (The Queen, Frost/Nixon) and directed by Tom Hooper (John Adams, Longford).

After the success of SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE at last year’s Festival, a new film from India is high on everyone’s target list. DIL BOLE HAPIDDA is already creating buzz as a kind of Indian BEND IT LIKE BECKHAM. In a village where girls don’t play cricket, Veera (Rani Mukherjee) has to put on a turban and beard and become a man to fulfill her dreams. Her brilliance on the field earns her a place in Rohan’s (Shahid Kapoor) team and Veera Kaur becomes Veer Pratap Singh. And then begins a roller-coaster journey of Veera, Rohan and Veer filled with music, romance and comedy through Punjab and beyond. Also from India comes WHAT’S YOUR RAASHEE?, a romantic comedy frm director Ashutosh Gowariker. Based on a famous novel by Gujarati, the film tells the story of a young man who has always wanted to marry for love. When he suddenly is told that he must find his dream girl within ten days in order to save his family from utter ruin, he discovers that finding her is even hard when it has to happen in a hurry. The film stars Harman Baweja and Priyanka Chopra and could be the “feel good” film of the Festival.

Image from UP IN THE AIR

France’s Jean-Pierre Jeunet has a reputation as a visionary film artist, so expectations are high for MICMACS, his latest stylized film. The film posits the question: Is it better to live with a bullet lodged in your brain, even if it means you might drop dead any time or would you rather have the bullet taken out and live the rest of your life as a vegetable? MICMACS, a fantastical comedy from the world class director of Amélie and Delicatessen, answers these questions and way more.

Screening in the Special Presentations section are several films that are also getting hearts racing and cel phones ringing. THE GOOD HEART by Icelandic director Dagur Kari tells the tale of a homeless boy played by Paul Dano, who meets Jacques (Brian Cox), a grouchy bar-owner, whose unhealthy lifestyle has brought him five heart attacks. Jacques takes Lucas under his wing with the intention of having him continue his legacy. Everything is going according to plan until a drunken stewardess named April enters the bar. A spooky take on human relations is THE HOLE by American horror director Joe Dante. After moving into a new town, brothers Dane and Lucas and their neighbour Julie discover a bottomless hole in their basement that brings their nightmares to life.

Last year’s winner of Best Screenplay at the Cannes Film Festival, Fatih Akin returns to Toronto with SOUL KITCHEN, the story of a young restaurant owner whose luck is going south after his girlfriend moves to Shanghai Things start looking up when the hip crowd embraces his revamped culinary concept, but that doesn’t mend Zinos’ broken heart. He decides to fly to China for Nadine, leaving the restaurant in the hands of his unreliable ex-con brother Illias.

After the international success of JUNO, director Jason Reitman is one of contemporary cinema’s most idiosyncratic talents. His latest film UP IN THE AIR is another comedy, this time starring George Clooney as Ryan Bingham, a corporate downsizing expert whose cherished life on the road is threatened just as he is on the cusp of reaching ten million frequent flyer miles and just after he’s met the frequent-traveller woman of his dreams. Clooney….how can it lose?

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