The Toronto International Film Festival today announced the Contemporary World Cinema lineup featuring the best in cinema from around the globe. The programme presents the latest works from filmmakers Danis Tanović, Clio Barnard, Dante Lam, Götz Spielmann, Avi Nesher, Toa Fraser, Alexey Uchitel, Jan Hrebejk, János Szász, Noh Young-Seok, Mohammad Rasoulof and Alain Guiraudie.
A Place in Heaven (Makom be-gan eden) Yossi Madmony, Israel North American Premiere
Jewish religious law permits the trade of a seemingly non-transferrable concept: another person’s place in heaven. This is the story of a highly-decorated retired general who, in a moment of arrogance during his youth, sold his place in heaven to an army cook for a plate of shakshouka.
A Wolf at the Door (O Lobo atrás da Porta) Fernando Coimbra, Brazil World Premiere
A child is kidnapped. At the police station, Sylvia and Bernardo, the victim’s parents, and Rosa, the main suspect and Bernardo’s lover, give contradictory evidence which will take audiences to the gloomiest corners of desires, lies, needs and wickedness in the relationship of these three characters. Starring Leandra Leal and Milhem Cortaz.
An Episode in the Life of an Iron Picker (Epizoda u životu beraca željeza) Danis Tanović North American Premiere
A humble man desperately tries to save his partner’s life when she is callously denied much-needed treatment for a miscarriage. A critical social commentary from the award-winning director of Cirkus Columbia and Academy Award and Golden Globe winner No Man’s Land. Starring Senada Alimanovic, Nazif Mujic, Sandra Mujic, Šemsa Mujic.
Bad Hair (Pelo Malo) Mariana Rondón, Venezuela World Premiere
A nine-year-old boy’s preening obsession with straightening his hair elicits a tidal wave of homophobic panic in his hard-working mother, in this tender but clear-eyed coming-of-age tale. Starring Samantha Castillo and Samuel Lange.
Bastardo Nejib Belkadhi, Tunisia/France/Qatar World Premiere
Mohsen (Abdel Moneem Chouayat), has always lived with the stigma of being a bastard and saddled with the nickname Bastardo, but when a GSM relay is installed on his roof, he has a reversal of fortune. As his power grows, he has to wrest control over his poor neighbourhood from Larnouba (Chedly Arfaoui), the unscrupulous local mobster — and, in the process, slips into the dark world of power.
The Bit Player (Ekstra) Jeffrey Jeturian, Philippines International Premiere
The Bit Player is a socio-realist drama-comedy that follows a seemingly usual day in the life of Loida Malabanan (Vilma Santos-Recto) as she embarks on yet another day on the set of a soap opera as an extra. As the shoot goes on, we get a glimpse of the truth in the ruling system of the production as well as the exploitation of marginalized labourers like her.
Blind Dates (Brma Paemnebi) Levan Koguashvili, Georgia World Premiere
When 40-year old history teacher Sandro falls in love with the mother of one of his students, he learns that her husband is getting released from prison. Sandro offers to drive the woman to the prison gates but instead of leaving, he stays to drive her and her husband home.
Brazilian Western (Faroeste Caboclo) René Sampaio, Brazil Canadian Premiere
João de Santo Cristo is a young boy, who abandons his poor life in the Brazilian outback to try his luck in the capital, Brasília. A story of love, hate, revenge and violence freely inspired by the Brazilian song Faroeste Caboclo by Renato Russo. Starring Fabrício Boliveira and Isis Valverde.
Break Loose (Vosmerka) Alexey Uchitel, Russia World Premiere
Russian director Alexey Uchitel (The Edge) returns with this explosive, pulse-pounding crime drama about the violent rivalry that erupts when an elite police operative falls for a gangster’s moll.
Child’s Pose (Pozitia Copilului) Calin Peter Netzer, Romania North American Premiere
Well-to-do, well-connected Bucharest society lady Cornelia takes the driver’s seat when her 34-year-old son gets involved in a deadly accident. Through her stifling love, she’s kept the hard realities of life away from him. Starring Bogdan Dumitrache and Luminita Gheorghiu.
Club Sandwich (Club Sándwich) Fernando Eimbcke, Mexico World Premiere
Paloma and her 15-year-old son Hector have a very strong and special relationship. When on holiday on the seaside, Hector meets Jazmin, a teenage girl with whom he discovers love and sexuality. Trying to keep Hector close to her, Paloma has a hard time accepting that he will eventually grow up.
Cristo Rey Leticia Tonos Paniagua, Dominican Republic/France/Haiti World Premiere
The story of a shantytown of Santo Domingo where the Haitian Janvier and the Dominican Rudy— half-brothers who hate each other — will fight for the love of the same woman.
The Dinner (Het Diner) Menno Meyjes, The Netherlands World Premiere
Adapting a Dutch bestseller inspired by a shocking real-life crime, Menno Meyjes (screenwriter of The Color Purple and Lionheart) directs this excoriating assessment of Europe’s contemporary social ills. Starring Jacob Derwig, Thekla Reuten, Daan Schuurmans, and Kim van Kooten.
Eastern Boys Robin Campillo, France North American Premiere
They come from all over Eastern Europe: Russia, Ukraine, Moldavia. The eldest ones appear no older than 25. They spend their time hanging around the Gare du Nord train station in Paris. They might be prostitutes. Daniel, a discreet man in his early 50s, has his eye on one of them. Starring Olivier Rabourdin.
El Mudo Diego Vega and Daniel Vega, Peru/France/Mexico North American Premiere
After a short investigation, police conclude that the gunshot that nearly killed Judge Constantino Zegarra was nothing more than a stray bullet. But Constantino, who unlike his peers fervently adheres to the letter of the law, is convinced someone tried to take him out. He re-opens the investigation, and soon finds himself breaking some of his own rules to prove himself right.
Friends from France (Les Interdits) Anne Weil and Philippe Kotlarski, France/Germany/Canada/Russia World Premiere
1979: Cousins Carole and Jérôme go on an organized trip to Odessa, behind the Iron Curtain. During the day, posing as tourists celebrating their engagement, they visit monuments and museums. In the evening they slip away from the group and meet “refuseniks”, Jews persecuted by the Soviet regime for wanting to leave the country. While Carole is motivated by political commitment and a taste for risk, Jérôme’s motivation is Carole.
Giselle Toa Fraser, New Zealand International Premiere
Giselle is acclaimed director Toa Fraser’s interpretation of the Royal New Zealand Ballet’s production of Giselle. The classic story of love, eroticism and death has been reinterpreted by Fraser to include both the onstage performance of the ballet, and an offstage romance that tells of two itinerant dancers, separated by time, distance and their abiding love for each other.
Heart of a Lion (Leijonasydän) Dome Karukoski, Finland/Sweden World Premiere
Teppo falls in love with Sari but this is no ordinary love affair. Teppo is a central figure in a neo-Nazi group and Sari’s son Rhamadhani is black. When Sari gets pregnant, Teppo decides to make peace with Rhamadhani. When his brother and the Nazi group threaten their peace, he is forced to make a choice between love and hate. Starring Peter Franzén and Laura Birn.
Honeymoon (Líbanky) Jan Hrebejk, Czech Republic/Slovakia International Premiere
The arrival of an uninvited guest casts a shadow over an idyllic wedding celebration in this wonderfully fraught meditation on guilt and forgiveness, directed by prolific Czech filmmaker Jan Hrebejk (The Holy Quaternity). Starring Ana Geislerova, Stanislav Majer and Jiri Cerny.
Hotell Lisa Langseth, Sweden/Denmark World Premiere
Mentally bruised Erika starts group therapy and enters a new world with new acquaintances. In the pursuit of a life-changing adventure, the group seeks a place of absolute anonymity. Starring Alicia Vikander, David Dencik and Mira Eklund.
The Immoral (De Umoralske) Lars Daniel Krutzkoff Jacobsen, Norway World Premiere
Camilla and William are not able to adapt to the Norwegian welfare paradise. When the authorities want to take Camilla’s baby, the two drifters run away into the woods. There, William suggests that Camilla becomes a prostitute so they can buy themselves a camper and drive to Spain. But in order to sell sex they need a house. Starring Hanne Backe-Hansen, Kjetil Krogstad Skrede and Daniel Gjerde.
Intruders (Jo Nan-ja-deul) Noh Young-Seok, South Korea World Premiere
A writer hides away at an isolated B&B only to encounter a series of life-threatening characters. Starring Jun Suk-ho and Oh Tae-kyung.
The Kids from the Port (Los Chicos del Puerto) Alberto Morais, Spain North American Premiere
In this charming neorealist gem set on the sleepy outskirts of Valencia, young Miguel and his friends undertake a seemingly simple mission on behalf of Miguel’s grandfather that teaches them all a lesson in real independence.
iNumber Number Donovan Marsh, South Africa World Premiere
When undercover cop Chili (S’dumo Mtshali) and his partner (Presley Chweneyagae) are cheated out of a reward by their corrupt superior, Chili decides to jump ship and infiltrate a cash-in-transit heist gang, but he cannot do it without protection from his partner and friend. When his carefully staged plan goes awry and his friend is taken hostage, so begins the mad chase to rescue him.
Ladder to Damascus (Soullam iIa Dimashq) Mohamad Malas, Syria/Lebanon/Qatar World Premiere
Ghalia moves to Damascus to study acting and rents a room in a traditional courtyard house where other young Syrians from different regions also live. She meets Fouad, an aspiring filmmaker fascinated by her ambiguity. Within the confines of the house, as their love story blossoms, the streets are embattled with the revolution.
Le Grand Cahier (A Nagy Füzet) János Szász, Germany/Hungary/Austria/France North American Premiere
In a village on the Hungarian border, two young brothers grow up during wartime with their cruel grandmother and must learn every trick of evil to survive in the absurd world of adults. Starring Ulrich Thomsen and Ulrich Matthes.
Life’s a Breeze Lance Daly, Ireland/Sweden International Premiere
Life’s a Breeze is a feel-good recession comedy about a family struggling to stay afloat and together through hard times in Ireland. Starring Fionnula Flanagan, Pat Shortt, Kelly Thornton and Eva Birthistle.
Little Feet Alexandre Rockwell, United States of America World Premiere
Determined to see “the river,” two young children living in Los Angeles leave home to embark on a magical urban odyssey, in the marvelous new film by American indie icon Alexandre Rockwell (In the Soup). Starring Lana Rockwell, Nico Rockwell and Rene Cuante-Bautista.
The Major Yuri Bykov, Russia North American Premiere
Sergey Sobolev, a major at the local police office, is driving to the hospital where his wife is about to give birth. High from happiness, he’s driving fast and runs down a boy. Now the major has only two options: go to prison or conceal the crime. Starring Yury Bykov, Denis Shvedov, Irina Nizina and Ilya Isaev.
Manuscripts Don’t Burn (Dast-neveshtehaa nemisoozand) Mohammad Rasoulof, Iran Canadian Premiere
Kasra is an Iranian author who secretly writes his memoirs. His stories are related to his time in jail as a political prisoner, as well as events connected to his life as an intellectual in Iran. He has prepared everything in order to publish these writings and is getting ready to leave the country. When the security service uncovers Kasra’s plans, they will do anything to destroy his manuscripts. Inspired by true events.
McCanick Josh C. Waller, USA World Premiere
Over the course of one feverish day, a harried narcotics detective (David Morse) and his reluctant partner (Mike Vogel) frantically track down a recently released convict (Cory Monteith) who knows a secret from the past.
Rags and Tatters (Farsh wa ghata) Ahmad Abdalla, Egypt World Premiere
In one of the most extraordinary nights in the history of Egypt, the prisons were suddenly opened, leaving thousands of prisoners wandering in the desert road between Cairo and Alexandria. Among them was one man trying to find his way in a city that is rapidly changing for good.
The Sea Stephen Brown, Ireland North American Premiere
After the death of his wife, Max retreats to The Cedars, a house by the sea where he spent his childhood summers. Re-acquainting himself with places past provokes a cathartic reflection as the present draws out powerful memories from one fateful summer many years ago — memories of innocent joy and uplifting warmth, but also of profound tragedy. Based on the 2005 Booker Prize-winning novel by John Banville. Starring Ciarán Hinds, Charlotte Rampling, Natascha McElhone, Rufus Swell, Bonnie Wright, and Sinead Cusack.
The Selfish Giant Clio Barnard, United Kingdom North American Premiere
The Selfish Giant is a contemporary fable about 13-year-old Arbor and his best friend Swifty. Excluded from school and outsiders in their own neighbourhood, the two boys meet Kitten, a local scrap dealer. They begin collecting scrap metal for him using a horse and cart. Kitten favours Swifty, driving a wedge between the boys. As Arbor becomes increasingly greedy and exploitative, tensions start to build, leading to a tragic event that transforms them all.
Something Necessary Judy Kibinge, Kenya/Germany North American Premiere
Anne, is struggling to rebuild her life after the civil unrest that swept Kenya following the 2007 elections, during which her husband was killed, her son injured and farm burnt. Joseph, an unemployed young man, who was dragged into the gang violence, is tormented with regret and wants to make another life for himself. Something Necessary is a compelling original take on atonement, forgiveness and coming to terms with trauma.
Stop the Pounding Heart Roberto Minervini, Belgium/Italy/USA North American Premiere
Sara is a young girl raised in a family of goat farmers. Her parents home-school their 12 children, rigorously following the precepts of the Bible. When Sara meets Colby, an amateur bull rider, she is thrown into crisis, questioning the only way of life she has ever known. In a stunning portrayal of contemporary America and the insular communities that dot its landscape, Stop the Pounding Heart is an exploration of adolescence, family and social values, gender roles, and religion in the rural American South.
Stranger by the Lake Alain Guiraudie, France North American Premiere
Summertime. A cruising spot for men, tucked away on the shores of a lake. Franck falls in love with Michel, an attractive, potent and lethally dangerous man. Starring Pierre Deladonchamps, Christophe Paou and Patrick d’Assumçao.
This is Sanlitun Róbert I. Douglas, China/Iceland/Ireland World Premiere
Gary is in Beijing to make it big. After failing to impress his Chinese investors he soon takes up teaching English. Gary’s real reasons for staying become apparent when his son and Chinese ex-wife enter the picture.
Unbeatable Dante Lam, China/Hong Kong North American Premiere
Fleeing to Macau to escape from threatening loan sharks, a former mixed-martial arts champion becomes embroiled in the lives of a psychologically troubled single mother and a young wannabe fighter, in Hong Kong auteur Dante Lam’s stylish and compelling action-drama.
Under the Starry Sky (Des Etoiles) Dyana Gaye, France/Senegal World Premiere
The debut feature from Franco-Senegalese filmmaker Dyana Gaye charts the interconnected destinies of three far-flung sojourners across three continents. A quiet drama, about the anxieties of negotiating journeying to foreign countries and making a place for oneself in the world
When Evening Falls on Bucharest or Metabolism (Cand se lasa seara peste Bucuresti sau Metabolism) North American Premiere
Corneliu Porumboiu, Romania
It’s the middle of a film shoot and Paul, the director, is having an affair with Alina, an actress playing a supporting role. With Alina’s last day on set imminent, Paul decides to rewrite the script in order to shoot a nude scene with her.
White Lies (Tuakiri Huna) Dana Rotberg, New Zealand International Premiere
In a small New Zealand town in the early 20th century, three very different women— a Maori medicine woman, a wealthy, sharp-tongued white housewife, and a controlling housekeeper— are brought together by a scandalous secret, in this complex and mesmerizing tale of culture clash and social mores based on a novella by the author of Whale Rider.
The Wonders (Plaot) Avi Nesher, Israel International Premiere
A mysterious prisoner— part con man, part prophet— is held in a dark and musty Jerusalem slum apartment. His neighbour is a cool cat graffiti artist who is reluctantly drawn into this real life film noir plot. Based on a true story. Starring Adir Miller, Ori Hizkiah, Yehuda Levi, Yuval Scharf and Efrat Gosh.
To Repel Ghosts: Urban Tales from the African Continent
Beginning with an ambiguous science fiction in Nairobi and ending with a re-enactment of the myth of Noah’s ark in Cape Town’s Khayelitsha township, To Repel Ghosts: Urban Tales from the African Continent showcases remarkably uncanny and fiercely contemporary stories, including:
Homecoming (African Metropolis) Jim Chuchu, Kenya International Premiere
Nothing is what it seems as Max— a nerdy voyeur — turns fiction into truth and the mundane into the unexpected in his quest to get the attention of Alina — the girl next door. The city of Nairobi is threatened with imminent extinction, and now is his chance to save her and verbalize his unspoken desire. A quirky, light-hearted look at obsession and the desire to be seen.
Berea (African Metropolis) Vincent Moloi, South Africa International Premiere
Long after his friends and family have moved on, Jewish pensioner Aaron Zukerman remains in his inner-city apartment, his world getting ever smaller and smaller, as the city closes in on his memories and happiness. His focus is on a weekly assignation with a kindly prostitute. When her replacement arrives unexpected one Friday, an initially angry response sparks a chain of events that changes the way the old man sees his world. Starring Wilson Dunster and Abena Ayivor.
To Repel Ghosts (African Metropolis) Philippe Lacôte, Ivory Coast International Premiere
Inspired from Jean-Michel Basquiat’s trip to the Ivory Coast shortly before his passing, To Repel Ghosts casts a young New Yorker of Haitian origin who travels to visit his friend in Abidjan and free himself from hauntings.
Kwaku Ananse Akosua Adoma Owusu, Ghana/Mexico/USA North American Premiere
Kwaku Ananse is an intensely personal project that combines contemporary semi-autobiographical elements with the traditional West African folk tale of Kwaku Ananse, a sage who appears as both spider and man.
Noah’s Flood (Unogumbe, Noye’s Fludde) Mark Dornford-May, South Africa World Premiere
Noye’s Fludde is Isango Ensemble’s film adaptation of the one act opera by Benjamin Britten. Sung in Xhosa, it follows the traditional story of Noah’s ark but is set in a South African township, with Noah recast as a woman. Starring Pauline Malefane, Mhlekazi Mosiea and Zamile Gantana.
Previously announced Contemporary World Cinema titles include Catherine Martin’s A Journey (Une Jeune Fille), Ingrid Veninger’s The Animal Project, Terry Miles’ Cinemanovels, Bruce Sweeney’s The Dick Knost Show, Peter Stebbings’ Empire of Dirt, Sébastien Pilote’s Le Démantèlement, Richie Mehta’s Siddharth and Wiebke von Carolsfeld’s Stay.