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Platform, Discovery, Documentaries, and Midnight Madness at TIFF 2019

Originally, introduced five years ago the Platform Prize seeks to honour emerging and established filmmakers from around the world who have a unique perspective; the 10 selected entries for the 44th Toronto International Film Festival edition come from Europe, Latin America, East Asia, USA and Canada with four of them directed by women.  “Competitions should celebrate the range of what great cinema is and what it can accomplish. Platform is alive to those possibilities,” stated Platform Co-Curator Andréa Picard in a press release. “Whether they are debuts or mid-career works, these films push the boundaries of narrative filmmaking in surprising and rigorous ways, some using documentary or experimental techniques in their approaches. Audiences will recognize similar themes emerge like a global collective subconscious, but what is truly exciting is the varied means of cinematic expression on display.”   Opening the competition is the World Premiere of Rocks by Sarah Gavron which revolves around a teenager struggling to care for herself and younger brother.  Others include the teacher as inspiration Wet Season directed by Anthony Chen, family trauma My Zoe helmed by Julie Delpy, musically incline Sound of Metal orchestrated by Darius Marder and literary adaption Martin Eden translated by Pietro Marcello.

Wet Season

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The Discovery programme will be showcasing 37 films from 35 countries with 33 of the directorial debuts having world premieres. Among the emerging cinematic talent are Hinde Boujemaa (Noura’s Dream), Oren Gerner (AFRICA), Antoneta Kastrati (ZANA), Filippo Meneghetti (Two of Us), Mahnaz Mohammadi (Son-Mother), Jorunn Myklebust Syversen (Disco), and María Paz González (Lina from Lima).  “TIFF has long held a space for first- and second-time directors, acting as a springboard for launching the international careers of cinematic giants such as Yorgos Lanthimos, Maren Ade, Christopher Nolan, Alfonso Cuarón, Lav Diaz, Kim Seung-woo, Barry Jenkins, Jean-Marc Vallée, Dee Rees, and Jafar Panahi,” remarked Discovery Lead Programmer Dorota Lech.  “Expect the programme to push cinematic boundaries, pointing us in unexpected directions. As in previous years, it is a place to find work that could be poetic, bold, or challenging, but that is always passionate.”


With Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and The Band opening the festivities, there will be no shortage of documentaries for attendees to see whether it be the World Premiere of The Cave by Feras Fayyad which chronicles the medical efforts of a female doctor in war-torn Syria, an ode to photojournalism with Letter to the Editor by Alan Berliner, fatherhood gets explored with Dads by Bryce Dallas Howard, Truman Capote biography The Capote Tapes by Ebs Burnough, and sexual misconduct scandal Bikram: Yogi, Guru, Predator by Eva Orner.  “This year’s programme captures characters you’ll never forget: lovers, fighters, dancers, athletes, despots, rebels, hustlers, and heroes,” stated Thom Powers, serving his 14th year as TIFF Docs programmer this Festival. “We’ll be talking about these films for a long time to come.” In total there will be 25 documentaries from 18 countries along with 18 World Premieres that include the latest efforts of filmmakers Eva Mulvad (Love Child), Alex Gibney (Citizen K), Alla Kovgan (Cunningham), Gabe Polsky (Red Penguins), and Fisher Stevens & Malcolm Venville (And We Go Green).

The Capote Tapes

For those looking for some late-night scares, the Midnight Madness programme has a line-up of 10 films that consists of dystopian sci-fi tale The Platform by Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia, psychological thriller Saint Maud by Rose Glass, paranormal period piece The Vast of Night by Andrew Patterson, and superhero adaptation Gundala by Joko Anwar.  “I’m delighted to welcome midnight movie institutions like Takashi Miike and Richard Stanley back to the section, and even more ecstatic to have the privilege to introduce so many transgressive, innovative, and galvanizing new voices,” noted Midnight Madness Lead Programmer Peter Kuplowsky.  “The tide is high, and be it a Mi’gmaq reserve, a Hassidic neighborhood, or a Ugandan village, more communities are getting opportunities to share their myths and monsters.”

The Vast of Night

Accompanying Meryl Streep at the Tribute Gala will be TIFF Ebert Director Award recipient Taika Waititi who has gone from a supporting role in Green Lantern to directing the Hollywood blockbuster Thor: Ragnarok and will be screening the World War II dark comedy Jojo Rabbit which revolves around a German boy having his ideals tested when he encounters a Jewish girl hiding in his house.  Taika Waititi is the rock star cinema needs right now,” stated TIFF Co-Head and Artistic Director Cameron Bailey. “His films are full of razor-sharp humour, faultless style, and boundless generosity. Somehow, he manages to stuff both indie hits and massive crowd-pleasers with big, radical ideas. We’re thrilled to be premiering his latest, Jojo Rabbit, at the Festival and to hand over the inaugural TIFF Tribute Award for direction to this 21st-century master.”

Taika Waititi onset of JoJo Rabbit with Roman Griffin Davis.

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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