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Classics, Documentaries, Short Films, Madness & TIFF 2016

Longevity is a crowning achievement for a movie, and the 41st Toronto International Film Festival will be having special screenings of The Battle of Algiers (La battaglia di Algeri) by Gillo Pontecorvo with a restored print,  The Horse Thief by Tian Zhuangzhuang, Pan’s Labyrinth by Guillermo del Toro and Irma Vep by Olivier Assayas.

Real life and historical events get placed before the camera lens with a wide range of topics being explored.  “Revelations abound in this year’s crop of documentaries,” stated TIFF Docs Programmer Thom Powers. “We gain fresh perspectives on high profile figures such as James Baldwin, Amanda Knox and The Beatles; and we meet compelling figures from the worlds of activism, music, sports and, not to be forgotten, classic burlesque.”

Here are some World Premieres:

battle of algiers

The 6th Beatle by Tony Guma and John Rose, USA/United Kingdom/Germany

This fresh take on music history argues for recognition in The Beatles’ legacy of the early promoter Sam Leach. Leach was a working-class Liverpudlian who championed the group, but was eventually replaced as manager by the wealthy, posh-accented Brian Epstein. Interviewing Leach, the band’s original drummer Pete Best and other Liverpool musicians, the film gives a touching portrait of a rock ‘n’ roll true believer.

An Insignificant Man by Khushboo Ranka and Vinay Shukla, India

Arvind Kejriwal is an activist protesting against India’s government corruption when he decided to form a political party and take on the government directly. His main challenger was The Congress, one of the country’s oldest political parties. With unprecedented access, this film follows Kejriwal as he tries to overcome his own shortcomings to convince the people of New Delhi that he is the honest politician they need.
citizen jane

Citizen Jane: Battle for the City by Matt Tyrnauer, USA

Jane Jacobs, whose classic book The Death and Life of Great American Cities changed the way we look at and live in cities, would have celebrated her 100th birthday this year. This film explores our urban past and the future of cities through the lens of Jacobs, one of the 20th century’s great public intellectuals, and a pioneering community organizer, whose campaigns against New York’s master builder, Robert Moses, are the stuff of legend.

Gaza Surf Club by Philip Gnadt and Mickey Yamine, Germany

Trapped in “the world’s largest open-air prison” and ruled by war, a new generation is drawn to the beaches. Sick of occupation and political gridlock, they find their own personal freedom in the waves of the Mediterranean — they are the surfers of Gaza.

The Turning Point by Fisher Stevens, USA

Leonardo DiCaprio interviews individuals from every facet of society in both developing and developed nations who provide unique, impassioned, and pragmatic views on what must be done today to transition our economic and political systems into environmentally friendly institutions.

because the world never stops

If International short films are to your liking then here are some world premieres out of 41 titles to watch out for:

Because the World Never Stops by Maximilien Van Aertryck and Axel Danielson, Sweden

Shot live in the studio during the evening broadcast on Swedish public television, and using offbeat footage and camera angle this film shows the news like you’ve never seen it before.

Fluffy (Flafi) by Lee Filipovski, Serbia/Canada

A family of three are packing to emigrate to Canada from Belgrade. When Fluffy, a gigantic prize teddy bear turns up at the door, the parents must decide whether or not they have room for their daughter’s new friend.

Night Dancing by Barney Cokeliss, UK 

A short film about love, obsession, and delusion, with a strong contemporary dance element.

Sandy Beach by Thanos Papastergiou, Greece

Late summer. Southern Crete. A woman takes her father for their usual Sunday swim. A break in their routine plunges them both into uncharted waters.


Sevince (When you love) by Süheyla Schwenk, Germany

Peri is a Turkish woman who lives with her husband and her daughter in Germany. Her life is bound between doing the household shopping, taking care of her child, and managing the home. Her husband is not aware of her emotions. One day he gives her a surprise, being very sure it will make her as happy as he is. Instead, it turns Peri’s world upside down.

Summer Camp Island by Julia Pott, USA

Oscar and his best friend Hedgehog just got dropped off at summer camp. Once all the parents leave the island, all of the strangeness lurking beneath the surface starts to come out. Aliens exist, horses become unicorns, and there are monsters under the bed.

summer camp island

Dark and sophisticated cinema gets represented as part of the Vanguard programme which features new films from Ana Lily Amirpour, Fabrice Du Welz and Nacho Vigalondo.  “At the Festival, everyone has the opportunity to indulge their different cinematic tastes. In the Vanguard line-up, art house and genre collide to surprise, delight and shock, with films that are a bit darker, a bit more transgressive and a bit more dangerous,” remarked TIFF International Programmer Colin Geddes. “Genre tropes and standards are taken to new levels and the settings of revenge tales, ghosts, aliens and dystopian futures serve as backdrops for stories of the human condition and complex moral decisions.”


As for the World Premieres take a look:

Buster’s Mal Heart by Sarah Adina Smith, USA

A mountain man on the run from authorities survives the winter by breaking into people’s empty vacation homes. He has recurring dreams of being lost at sea — only to find that he is, in fact, the man lost at sea. He is one man in two bodies. This is the story of how he split in two.

Colossal by Nacho Vigalondo, Canada

Gloria is an ordinary woman who, after losing her job and being kicked out of her apartment by her boyfriend, is forced to leave her life in New York and move back to her hometown. When news reports surface that a giant creature is destroying Seoul, South Korea, Gloria gradually comes to the realization that she is somehow connected to this far-off phenomenon. As events begin to spin out of control, Gloria must determine why her seemingly insignificant existence has such a colossal effect on the fate of the world. Starring Anne Hathaway, Jason Sudeikis, Dan Stevens, Austin Stowell, and Tim Blake Nelson.


Godspeed by Chung Mong-Hong, Taiwan

A young man’s plan to reform himself takes a tumble when he, along with a seemingly carefree, innocent cab driver, is kidnapped over the heroin he is delivering. Starring Hong Kong veteran Michael Hui.

My Entire High School Sinking Into the Sea by Dash Shaw, USA 

High school can be brutal. Renowned comic book writer/artist Dash Shaw examines how the social structure within a high school changes when calamity strikes. Starring John Cameron Mitchell, Reggie Watts, Jason Schwartzman, Lena Dunham, Maya Rudolph, Susan Sarandon, and Alex Karpovsky.

WITHOUT NAME by Lorcan Finnegan, Ireland

Land surveyor Eric, alienated from urban existence and those who love him, travels to a remote and unnamed Irish woodland to assess its suitability for a dubious development project. Intangible elements are at play in this ethereal environment. The place seems to be imbued by an intelligence of sorts. A silhouette flits between trees. The place fascinates the fragmenting Eric as much as it disturbs him. Following in the psychonautic footsteps of the mysterious Devoy, Eric attempts to communicate with his surroundings, but he becomes a prisoner of a place without a name.

without name

Then there is the case of experiencing some cinematic chills. “Midnight Madness is the destination for those who love to sink their teeth into excessive, unrelenting, weird and wild films,” stated Geddes. “And this year we have the perfect fix for adrenaline junkies and blood thirsty fiends. Audiences can pick their poison from Paul Schrader’s frenzied crime caper starring Nicolas Cage and Willem Dafoe, Iko Uwais as an ultimate killing machine, the ruthlessly violent The Belko Experiment, late night autopsies, insatiable cannibalism served French-style, a zombie dystopian thriller, and the long-awaited return of Blair Witch. Midnight Madness has you covered!”

Scaring up some World Premieres:

the autopsy of jane doe

The Autopsy of Jane Doe by André Øvredal, USA

Tommy Tilden and his son Austin run a family-owned morgue and when the Sheriff brings in their next case — a ‘Jane Doe’ — it seems like an open-and-shut case. But as the autopsy proceeds, Tommy and Austin are left reeling as each layer of their inspection brings frightening new revelations and an unnatural force takes hold of the crematorium. Starring Emile Hirsch and Brian Cox.

Free Fire by Ben Wheatley, UK

Justine has brokered a meeting in a deserted warehouse between two Irishmen and a gang led by Vernon and Ord who are selling them a stash of guns. But when shots are fired in the handover, a heart stopping game of survival ensues. Starring Brie Larson, Cillian Murphy, Michael Smiley, Sharlto Copley, and Armie Hammer.


Headshot by Kimo Stamboel and Timo Tjahjanto, Indonesia

The indomitable Iko Uwais (The Raid) stars in this fast and furious actioner as an amnesiac whose mysterious past as a killing machine comes to the fore when he takes on the henchmen of a vengeful drug lord.

Rats by Morgan Spurlock, USA

Inspired by Robert Sullivan’s New York Times bestselling book, Rats is a horror documentary that plunges into the darkest depths to expose human kind’s most insidious parasite. Thriving in every corner of the globe, rats are harbingers of disease, death, and psychological trauma. In this film, exterminators, farmers, scientists, and even chefs bring us face-to-face with this complicated creature.

The 41st Toronto International Film Festival runs from September 8 to 18, 2016 and for more information visit


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