The Toronto International Film Festival announced its Discovery program showcasing 30 feature films, including 16 World Premieres, by first and second time directors from Canada and across the globe.
The diverse 2015 Toronto International Film Festival Discovery Program lineup includes Desde Allá, an intense social drama from Venezuelan newcomer Lorenzo Vigas; Tom and Sam McKeith’s Manila-set thriller Beast; German filmmaker Sebastian Ko’s riveting suspense We Monsters; Michael Lennox’s A Patch of Fog which chronicles a British anti-bromance; Very Big Shot, the debut from Mir-Jean Bou Chaaya, delving into a darkly comedic world of coke smuggling in Lebanon; Maris Curran’s intimate drama Five Nights in Maine; Irish director Simon Fitzmaurice’s feature debut, the coming-of-age story My Name is Emily; and Mexico’s Alejandra Márquez Abellas’ debut, the poignant drama Semana Santa.
The Toronto International Film Festival also announced an additional title has been added to the Cinematheque Program — a special 20th anniversary screening of Michael Mann’s magnum-opus Heat, followed by a Q&A with the acclaimed writer/director; and in the Vanguard Program, the Festival announced the world premiere of Pedro Morelli’s Zoom.
A Patch of Fog
Michael Lennox, United Kingdom World Premiere
A celebrated novelist and TV personality finds his reputation on the line when he is caught shoplifting by a lonely security guard, intent on becoming his friend for life. Stephen Graham (Pirates of the Caribbean, Boardwalk Empire) stars alongside Conleth Hill (Game of Thrones), Lara Pulver (Sherlock), Arsher Ali (Four Lions) and Ian McElhinney (Game of Thrones).
Robin Pront, Belgium World Premiere
Two bandit brothers, one fresh from prison, the other eager to escape their criminal past, form a potentially explosive love triangle with the ex-con’s ex-girlfriend, in Robin Pront’s Cain vs. Abel update.
Tom McKeith, Sam McKeith, Australia/Philippines World Premiere
Deep in the slums of Manila, a young boxer’s life is changed forever when his father pressures him to cheat in a fight.
Adil El Arbi, Bilall Fallah, Belgium World Premiere
Fifteen-year-old Mavela is a member of the notorious Black Bronx gang. She falls head over heels in love with the charismatic Marwan, a boy from the rival gang 1080ers. The two young people are brutally forced to choose between loyalty to their gang and their love for each other. An impossible choice … or not?
Born to Dance
Tammy Davis, New Zealand World Premiere
A Maori teen faces parental and social pressure while leading his competitive hip-hop dance crew toward the regional championships, in this exhilarating feature directorial debut from New Zealand actor Tammy Davis.
Dégradé (pictured above)
Arab Nasser, Tarzan Nasser, Palestine/France/Qatar North American Premiere
Gaza Strip, present day. Christine’s beauty salon is heaving with female clients: a bitter divorcée, a stern religious woman, a disenchanted housewife addicted to prescription drugs, and a young bride-to-be, among others. But their day of leisure is disrupted when gunfire breaks out across the street. A gangland family has stolen the lion from Gaza’s zoo, and the police have decided it’s time to wrestle control. Stuck in the salon, the women start to unravel…
Lorenzo Vigas, Venezuela North American Premiere
Fifty-year-old Armando picks up young boys in the streets of Caracas and pays them to come home with him. He also regularly spies on an older man with whom he seems bound by something in the past. One day he meets 17-year-old Elder, the leader of a small gang. Violent at first, their relationship morphs into something beautiful … until the inevitable happens.
Grant Scicluna, Australia International Premiere
James has served time for drowning a little boy when he himself was just a child, although the body was never found. Upon his parole, a visit from his victim’s mother sends him on a quest to find the truth. With little time and danger at every turn, James risks his freedom and his life to uncover the trail of sins that might give closure to a grieving mother.
Marko Škop, Slovakia World Premiere
Eva would do anything to regain the love of the one she hurt the most — her son. She is a recovered alcoholic, but decades ago she was a famous actress.
Five Nights in Maine
Maris Curran, USA World Premiere
Reeling from the tragic, sudden death of his wife, a man travels to rural Maine to seek answers from his estranged mother-in-law, who is herself confronting guilt and grief over her daughter’s death. Starring David Oyelowo (Selma), Dianne Wiest and Rosie Perez.
The Here After (Efterskalv)
Magnus von Horn, Poland/Sweden/France North American Premiere
When John returns home to his father after serving time in prison, he is looking forward to starting his life afresh. However in the local community, his crime is neither forgotten nor forgiven. John’s presence brings out the worst in everyone around him and a lynch-mob atmosphere slowly takes shape. Feeling abandoned by his former friends and the people he loves, John loses hope and the same aggressions that previously sent him to prison start building up again. Unable to leave the past behind, he decides to confront it.
Jayro Bustamante, Guatemala/France Canadian Premiere
María, a young 17-year-old Mayan girl, lives and works with her parents on a coffee plantation in the foothills of an active volcano in Guatemala. An arranged marriage awaits her. Although María dreams of going to the “big city,” her status as an indigenous woman does not permit her to change her destiny. A snake bite forces her to go out into the modern world where her life is saved, but at what price?
Josh Mond, USA Canadian Premiere
James White (Christopher Abbott) is a troubled twenty-something trying to stay afloat in a frenzied New York City. He retreats further into a self-destructive, hedonistic lifestyle, but as his mother (Cynthia Nixon) battles a serious illness James is forced to take control of his life. The directorial debut of Martha Marcy May Marlene producer Josh Mond, James White, which had its world premiere at Sundance Film Festival 2014 where it was the winner of the Audience Award: NEXT, is a confident and closely observed debut that explores loss and the deep relationship between a mother and son.
Guillaume Senez, Belgium/Switzerland/France North American Premiere
Maxime and Mélanie are in love. Together, they clumsily explore their sexuality with fiery curiosity until the day Mélanie realizes she’s pregnant. At first Maxime takes the news badly, but then he gets used to the idea of becoming a father. He convinces Melanie to keep the baby. So it’s been decided – Maxime and Mélanie, all of fifteen years old, will become parents.
Thomas Bidegain, France/Belgium North American Premiere
A vast prairie, a country and western gathering somewhere in the east of France. Alain is a central figure in this community. He’s dancing with his daughter, 16-year-old Kelly, as his wife and their young son Kid watch from the sidelines. But on this day, Kelly disappears, and the family falls apart. Alain embarks on a relentless search for his daughter, even though it costs him everything and takes him to dark, unsettling places, where his sole support is Kid, who sacrifices his youth to accompany his father on this seemingly endless quest.
Zahidur Rahim Anjan, Bangladesh World Premiere
A case of mistaken identity throws an apolitical chemistry teacher into the maelstrom of the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War, in the striking debut feature from director Zahidur Rahim Anjan.
Yaelle Kayam, Israel/Denmark North American Premiere
An Orthodox Jewish woman, living at the edge of the cemetery on Jerusalem’s Mount of Olives, becomes fascinated by a nocturnal community of prostitutes and drug dealers congregating amongst the tombstones. Mountain is a haunting and dramatic exploration of a women’s search for identity.
My Name is Emily
Simon Fitzmaurice, Ireland North American Premiere
Packed off to a foster home after her father is institutionalized, a rebellious young Irish girl resolves to bust her dad out of the hospital where he’s been confined, in this spirited coming-of-age tale from celebrated memoirist and first-time feature director Simon Fitzmaurice.
The Paradise Suite
Joost van Ginkel, Netherlands/Sweden/Bulgaria World Premiere
This dexterous tale of survival from director Joost van Ginkel traces the intersecting stories of six immigrants from very different backgrounds in Amsterdam who learn that they can irreversibly influence each other’s lives, sometimes with just one glance.
Alejandra Márquez Abella, Mexico World Premiere
Dali and her eight-year-old son Pepe take a vacation to Acapulco with Dali’s boyfriend, Chavez. Instead of bringing them closer, their beach holiday brings out things in each of them that threaten to pull this emerging family apart.
Stephen Page, Australia World Premiere
Djali, a young Aboriginal man, sets off on a journey of initiation to understand what it means to be a man in a modern day world. He sees the problems being faced by Aboriginal men in remote and urban communities. As he struggles to find his place, he becomes awakened to a spiritual force within, guiding him on his journey into manhood.
Very Big Shot (Film Kteer Kbeer)
Mir-Jean Bou Chaaya, Lebanon/Qatar World Premiere
Intending to smuggle the amphetamine Captagon to Iraqi Kurdistan, a small-time Lebanese drug dealer discovers that a way to foil customs, with the help of a talentless filmmaker. Posing as a film producer, he has no qualms manipulating public opinion to his advantage.
The Wait (L’attesa)
Piero Messina, Italy North American Premiere
Waiting for someone is an act of faith. Anna and Jeanne, isolated in a Sicilian country house in Caltagirone, are waiting for Giuseppe’s arrival. He is the former’s son, the latter’s boyfriend. Their wait turns into a mysterious act of love and will, while in the streets people are celebrating Easter.
We Monsters (Wir Monster)
Sebastian Ko, Germany North American Premiere
Paul and Christine know their teenage daughter Sarah has been thrown off track by their separation — but is she capable of committing a horrible crime? Wanting to protect her, they decide attempt to hide her wrongdoing, but their joint guilt forces the family back together under a web of lies. The directorial debut from German actor Sebastian Ko, We Monsters is a gripping psychological
Wedding Doll (Chatona Meniyar)
Nitzan Gilady, Israel International Premiere
Fixated on romantic fantasies, a kindly and strong-willed young woman with a mild mental disability embarks on a relationship — much to the concern of her protective mother — in this assured first feature from director Nitzan Gilady.
Previously announced Canadian titles in the Discovery Program include Stephen Dunn’s Closet Monster, Adam Garnet Jones’ Fire Song, Jamie M. Dagg’s River, Kire Paputts’ The Rainbow Kid, and Andrew Cividino’s Sleeping Giant.
Michael Mann, USA
Hard-boiled ex-con Neil McCauley is the leader of a crew of seasoned thieves who operate with grim determination and military discipline. But when a last-minute replacement on his team leads to a bloody triple murder during an armored truck robbery, McCauley is targeted by veteran detective Vincent Hanna, whose obsessive dedication both mirrors and contrasts with McCauley’s ruthless professionalism. Starring Al Pacino and Robert DeNiro with Jon Voight, Val Kilmer, Ashley Judd, Tom Sizemore and Amy Brenneman.
Pedro Morelli, Canada World Premiere
Zoom is a fast-paced, pop-art inspired, multi-plot contemporary comedy. The film consists of three seemingly separate but ultimately interlinked storylines about a comic book artist, a novelist and a film director. Each character lives in a separate world but authors a story about the life of another.
The 40th Toronto International Film Festival runs September 10 to 20, 2015.