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First Round of Announcements for 2019 Toronto International Film Festival

TIFF Co-Heads Executive Director Joana Vicente and Artistic Director Cameron Bailey

After 24 years of Piers Handling serving as the CEO, the 44th Toronto International Film Festival marks a new era under the leadership of co-heads Artistic Director Cameron Bailey and Executive Director Joana Vicente with a Canadian documentary opening the festivities for the first as well an inaugural Tribute Gala that is to serve as fundraiser for the year-round programming provided by TIFF.

Inspired by Robbie Robertson’s memoir Testimony which was published in 2016, Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and The Band directed by Daniel Roher (Ghosts of Our Forest) explores the evolution of five backup musicians for Ronnie Hawkins and Bob Dylan into a seminal musical group known as The Band.  “This is one of Toronto’s great stories of a hometown hero,” stated Bailey in a press release.   “From his early years in this city, to the inspiration he took from life on the Six Nations reserve, to the impact he’s had on generations of music lovers, Robertson emerges in Roher’s film as a truly Canadian-made superstar. In our first year as TIFF’s Co-Heads, Joana and I are thrilled to open the Festival with a Canadian story that speaks to the world.”

During the festival at the Fairmount Royal York, a recipient of the Cecil B. DeMille Award, 3 Oscars, 8 Golden Globes and 3 Primetime Emmys will be lauded with the TIFF Tribute Actor Award.  “Meryl Streep is undoubtedly one of the most talented and versatile actors of her generation,” remarked Vicente. “Her tremendous contribution to cinema, television, and the stage spans five decades; from her early roles in The Deer Hunter, Kramer vs. Kramer, and Sophie’s Choice to later films including The Devil Wears Prada, The Iron Lady, and The Post, she has portrayed characters that are as compelling as they are timeless. TIFF could not be more thrilled to honour such a skilled and exemplary artist.”

Meryl Streep in The Laundromat

Emerging local talent Kacey Rohl, Mikhaïl Ahooja, Nahéma Ricci, and Shamier Anderson will be honoured with the Canadian TIFF Rising Stars programme which provides professional development sessions, industry events, red carpets, mentorship, and networking opportunities.  Three of the four are taking part in World Premieres at TIFF 2019 with Vancouverite Rohl starring in White Lie, Montreal-based Ahooja performing in The Twentieth Century, and Montrealer Ricci cast in Antigone.  As for Anderson, he will be seen in Son of the South directed by Barry Alexander Brown and executive produced by Spike Lee.

Inclusiveness is a defining factor of initial announced 29 World Premieres, six International Premieres, 13 North American Premieres, and eight Canadian Premieres with 50% of them being directed or co-directed by women.   Showcasing their latest cinematic offerings will be filmmakers Taika Waititi (Jojo Rabbit), Marielle Heller (A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood), James Mangold (Ford v Ferrari), Rian Johnson (Knives Out), Marjane Satrapi (Radioactive), John Crowley (The Goldfinch), Thom Zimny and Bruce Springsteen (Western Stars), Atom Egoyan (Guest of Honour), Chinonye Chukwu (Clemency), Kasi Lemmons (Harriet), Noah Baumbach (Marriage Story), Destin Daniel Cretton (Just Mercy), Michael Winterbottom (Greed), Armando Iannucci (The Personal History of David Copperfield), Steven Soderbergh (The Laundromat), Todd Phillips (Joker), Lorene Scafaria (Hustlers), and Roger Michell (Blackbird).

Jojo Rabbit

Canada will be well represented with 26 features and 25 short films getting screened with World Premieres from Alanis Obomsawin (Jordan River Anderson, The Messenger), Alan Zweig (Coppers), Albert Shin (Clifton Hill), Calvin Thomas and Yonah Lewis (White Lie), Amy Jo Johnson (Tammy’s Always Dying), Aisling Chin-Yee (The Rest of Us), Louise Archambault (And the Birds Rained Down), Sophie Deraspe (Antigone), Nicole Dorsey (Black Conflux), Joey Klein (Castle in the Ground), Sanja Zivkovic (Easy Land), and Myriam Verreault (Kuessipan).  In regards to the 2019 edition of Canadian Short Cuts, audience members will be treated to works from Academy Award-nominee Theodore Ushev (The Physics of Sorrow), Brandon Cronenberg (Please Speak Continuously And Describe Your Experiences As They Come To You), Chloé Robichaud (Delphine), Alexandre Dostie (I’ll End Up in Jail) and Renuka Jeyapalan (Life Support).

White Lie

Selected to be the closing film is a biopic about Marie Curie, the first woman to win the Nobel Prize in 1903 along with her husband Pierre Curie for their ground-breaking scientific studies on radioactivity.  “I love that we are closing off the Festival with a story helmed by a woman about a strong woman at the forefront,” stated Vicente.  “Rosamund Pike gives an unforgettable performance as the legendary scientist. Her nuanced performance illustrates the struggle Curie endured that ultimately led to her defying all the odds.”  Adapted from the graphic novel by Lauren Redniss titled Radioactive: Marie & Pierre Curie, A Tale of Love and Fallout, Radioactive is directed by Oscar-nominee Marjane Satrapi.  “Marjane Satrapi’s singular voice as a filmmaker always surprises,” noted Bailey.  “She guides the always outstanding Rosamund Pike to one of her strongest performances, capturing the brilliance and fire of a remarkable mind.”


The 44th Toronto International Film Festival runs September 5–15, 2019 and for more information visit      

Trevor Hogg is a freelance video editor and writer who currently resides in Canada; he can be found at LinkedIn.

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