The feature directorial debuts of Oscar-winning actresses Halle Berry and Regina King, a romantic drama starring Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan, and a father-son story starring Idris Elba and “Stranger Things” actor Caleb McLaughlin are among the films set to screen at a slimmed-down Toronto International Film Festival in September. It will mark only the second major festival to proceed as planned since the coronavirus pandemic forced the cancellation of large gatherings worldwide. (The Venice International Film Festival will kick off on Sept. 2.)
The full lineup for TIFF’s 45th edition, which launches Sept. 10 and runs through Sept. 20, is more internationally focused and absent the sort of star-studded Hollywood premieres that have commanded attention in years past, as a result of the ongoing virus outbreak, festival co-head Cameron Bailey acknowledged in a statement.
“We began this year planning for a 45th festival much like our previous editions, but along the way we had to rethink just about everything,” said Bailey. “This year’s lineup reflects that tumult. The names you already know are doing brand new things this year and there’s a whole crop of exciting new names to discover. We’re thankful to every filmmaker and company that joined us on this adventure and we can’t wait to share these brilliant films with our audiences.”
While Toronto has traditionally been one of the film year’s most significant launching pads for awards contenders as well as films looking for buzz and distribution, the 2020 edition will showcase 50 feature films, down from more than 300 last year, along with programs of short films, interactive talks, cast reunions and Q&As.
The scaled-down festival will include a mix of in-person, socially distanced events, as well as drive-in screenings and outdoor events in Toronto. Additionally, with international travel either forbidden or kept to a minimum due to COVID-19, TIFF will launch a digital platform for the first time, with screenings, talks and events over the festival’s 10 days.
Last year, multiple Oscar contenders including “Joker,” “Ford v. Ferrari,” “Judy,” “Harriet,” and “Jojo Rabbit” screened at the festival, the latter two as world premieres. There was also a heavy Netflix presence including gala screenings of the streamer’s awards contenders “Marriage Story,” “Dolemite Is My Name” and “The Two Popes.” This year, Netflix has signaled that it will sit out of the fall festivals, and — likely due to the combination of an uncertain marketplace for theatrical releases and a delayed awards season with the Oscars’ move to April 2021 — it appears most major studios will do the same.
Several titles in the official 2020 TIFF lineup were previously announced, including Berry’s “Bruised,” Francis Lee’s “Ammonite” starring Winslet and Ronan, Ricky Staub’s “Concrete Cowboy” starring Elba and McLaughlin, and Spike Lee’s opening night premiere of “David Byrne’s American Utopia,” a filmed version of the acclaimed Broadway show which will be released by HBO.
Among the new titles announced today are King’s “One Night in Miami” — about the friendship between Malcolm X and Muhammad Ali — Ben Sharrock’s refugee comedy “Limbo,” J Blakeson’s thriller “I Care a Lot,” starring Rosamund Pike, and a slew of documentaries including the latest from Sam Pollard (“MLK/FBI”), Frederick Wiseman (“City Hall”) and Werner Herzog (“Fireball: Visitors from Darker Worlds”).
Mira Nair’s “A Suitable Boy,” a six-part series for the BBC, will serve as the closing night presentation.
International films hail from Iran (Farnoosh Samadi’s “180 Degree Rule”), Denmark (Thomas Vinterberg’s “Another Round”), China (Wang Jing’s “The Best is Yet to Come”), Taiwan (I-Fan Wang’s “Get the Hell Out”), Mexico (Michel Franco’s “New Order”) and Australia (Glendyn Ivin’s “Penguin Bloom”), among other countries.
Watertown native Viggo Mortensen’s “Falling,” starring the actor-director and Lance Henriksen, and Florian Zeller’s “The Father,” starring Anthony Hopkins and Olivia Colman, will screen following well-received debuts earlier this year at the Sundance Film Festival.
Among the few studio films on the Toronto lineup is Searchlight’s “Nomadland.” In a sign of increased — and unprecedented — collaboration between the major fall festivals, it was announced earlier this week that director Chloe Zhao’s exploration of modern-day van-dwelling life on the road would have simultaneous world premieres Sept. 11 at TIFF and Venice. Both will feature virtual introductions by Zhao and producer and actor Frances McDormand.
Later in the evening, Telluride will host a “Telluride from Los Angeles” drive-in screening featuring in-person appearances by Zhao and McDormand. And the film will go on to play as the centerpiece selection of the New York Film Festival, which kicks off two weeks later.
Other titles announced as part of Venice’s competition lineup that will also play Toronto include Chaitanya Tamhane’s “The Disciple” from India, Hungarian filmmaker Kornel Mundruczo’s English-language debut “Pieces of a Woman” starring Vanessa Kirby and Shia LaBeouf, Bosnian director Jasmila Žbanic’s “Quo Vadis, Aida?” and “Notturno” from Italian documentary filmmaker Gianfranco Rosi, who received an Oscar nomination for “Fire at Sea.”
After spring festivals including SXSW, Tribeca and the venerable Cannes Film Festival were forced to shut down completely earlier this year, the fall festival circuit has been hugely disrupted by the ongoing virus outbreak. Earlier this month, the Toronto, New York, Telluride and Venice film festivals released a joint statement that committed the longtime rivals to cooperate rather than compete for film titles and awards-season bragging rights for world premieres.
“This year, we’ve moved away from competing with our colleagues at autumn festivals and commit instead to collaboration,” the statement read. “We are sharing ideas and information. We are offering our festivals as a united platform for the best cinema we can find. We’re here to serve the filmmakers, audiences, journalists and industry members who keep the film ecosystem thriving. We need to do that together.”
Telluride, which traditionally takes place over Labor Day weekend in Colorado, later announced that it would be scrapping its annual event altogether.
List of films
The full list of films selected for the 2020 Toronto International Film Festival follows:
“180 Degree Rule”director: Farnoosh Samadi (Iran)
“76 Days” directors: Hao Wu, Anonymous, Weixi Chen (USA)
“Ammonite” director: Francis Lee (United Kingdom)
“Another Round (Druk)” director: Thomas Vinterberg (Denmark)
“Bandar Band” director: Manijeh Hekmat (Iran/Germany)
“Beans” director: Tracey Deer (Canada)
“Beginning (Dasatskisi)” director: Dea Kulumbegashvili (Georgia/France)
“The Best is Yet to Come (Bu Zhi Bu Xiu)” director: Wang Jing (China)
“Bruised” director: Halle Berry (USA)
“City Hall” director: Frederick Wiseman (USA)
“Concrete Cowboy” director: Ricky Staub (USA)
“David Byrne’s American Utopia “ director: Spike Lee (USA). (Opening Night Film)
“The Disciple” director: Chaitanya Tamhane (India)
“Enemies of the State” director: Sonia Kennebeck (USA)
“Falling” director: Viggo Mortensen (Canada/United Kingdom)
“The Father” director: Florian Zeller (United Kingdom/France)
“Fauna” director: Nicolas Pereda (Mexico/Canada)
“Fireball: Visitors from Darker Worlds” directors: Werner Herzog, Clive Oppenheimer (United Kingdom/USA)
“Gaza mon amour” directors: Tarzan Nasser, Arab Nasser (France/ Germany/Portugal/Palestine/Qatar)
“Get the Hell Out (Tao Chu Li Fa Yuan)” director: I-Fan Wang (Taiwan)
“Good Joe Bell” director: Reinaldo Marcus Green (USA)
“I Care A Lot” director: J Blakeson (United Kingdom)
“Inconvenient Indian” director: Michelle Latimer (Canada)
“The Inheritance” director: Ephraim Asili 5/8 USA
“Lift Like a Girl (Ash Ya Captain)” director: Mayye Zayed (Egypt/Germany/Denmark)
“Limbo” director: Ben Sharrock (United Kingdom)
“Memory House (Casa de Antiguidades)” director: João Paulo Miranda Maria (Brazil/France)
“MLK/FBI” director: Sam Pollard (USA)
“The New Corporation: The Unfortunately Necessary Sequel” director: Joel Bakan, Jennifer Abbott (Canada)
“New Order (Nuevo orden)” director: Michel Franco (Mexico)
“Night of the Kings (La Nuit des Rois)” director: Philippe Lacote (Cote d’Ivoire/France/Canada/Senegal)
“Nomadland” director: Chloe Zhao (USA)
“No Ordinary Man” directors: Aisling Chin-Yee, Chase Joynt (Canada)
“Notturno” director: Gianfranco Rosi (Italy/France/Germany)
“One Night in Miami” director: Regina King (USA)
“Penguin Bloom” director: Glendyn Ivin (Australia/USA)
“Pieces of a Woman” director: Kornel Mundruczo (USA/Canada/Hungary)
“Preparations to Be Together For an Unknown Period of Time (Felkeszules meghatarozatlan ideig tarto egyuttletre)” director: Lili Horvat (Hungary)
“Quo Vadis, Aida?” director: Jasmila Žbanic (Bosnia and Herzegovina/ Norway/The Netherlands/ Austria/ Romania/ France/ Germany/ Poland/ Turkey)
“Shadow In the Cloud” director: Roseanne Liang (USA/New Zealand)
“Shiva Baby” director: Emma Seligman (USA/Canada)
“Spring Blossom” director: Suzanne Lindon (France)
“A Suitable Boy” director: Mira Nair (United Kingdom/India)
(Closing Night Presentation)
“Summer of 85 (Ete 85)” director: Francois Ozon (France)
“The Third Day” directors: Felix Barrett, Dennis Kelly (United Kingdom)
“Trickster” director: Michelle Latimer (Canada)
“True Mothers (Asa Ga Kuru)” director: Naomi Kawase (Japan)
“Under the Open Sky (Subarashiki Sekai)” director: Miwa Nishikawa (Japan)
“Violation” directors: Madeleine Sims-Fewer, Dusty Mancinelli (Canada)
“Wildfire” director: Cathy Brady (United Kingdom/Ireland)