The Toronto International Film Festival announced today an exciting and diverse selection of new works from international filmmakers, as a part of the 2016 Contemporary World Cinema program. Offering a variety of perspectives from around the world, this year’s lineup draws from Brazil, China, Colombia, France, Haiti, Ireland, Israel, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Singapore, South Africa, Taiwan, Turkey, and more.
“Contemporary World Cinema is the global heart of the Festival,” said Cameron Bailey, Artistic Director, Toronto International Film Festival. “We’re thrilled to be launching a lineup that includes the premieres of new films from Turkey’s Yeşim Ustaoğlu, Romania’s Adrian Sitaru, South Africa’s Akin Omotoso, and Germany’s Marie Noëlle.”
Also included in the program are the latest from directors Danis Tanović, Joachim Lafosse, Kleber Mendonça Filho, Avi Nesher, Adam Leon, Boo Junfeng, Lee Tamahori, Ryszard Bugajski, Yousry Nasrallah, Tizza Covi, Erik Skjoldbjærg, Midi Z, and Zhang Yang.
For the fifth year, the Festival partners with the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs on the Contemporary World Speakers series. This initiative pairs five films in the Contemporary World Cinema program with expert scholars from the Munk School. Audiences will have the opportunity to interact with filmmakers and scholars in extended discussions following each film’s second public screening. Speakers include Janice Stein, Teresa Kramarz, Ron Levi, Ritu Birla, and Stephen J. Toope. The Contemporary World Speakers series is programmed in conjunction with TIFF’s Adult Learning department.
Films screening as part of the 2016 Contemporary World Cinema program include:
A Decent Woman (Los Decentes) Lukas Valenta Rinner, Austria/South Korea/Argentina North American Premiere
A housemaid, working in an exclusive gated community in the outskirts of Buenos Aires, Argentina embarks on a journey of sexual and mental liberation in a nudist colony.
After Love (L’économie du couple) Joachim Lafosse, France/Belgium North American Premiere
After 15 years together, Marie and Boris decide to get a divorce. Marie bought the house in which they live with their two daughters, while Boris completely renovated it. When Boris cannot afford to find another place to live, they must continue to share it, and soon find that neither is willing to give up.
The Animal’s Wife (La Mujer del Animal) Víctor Gaviria, Colombia International Premiere
Amparo lands in a marginal neighborhood in Medellín, Colombia where her cousin Libardo forces her to live under his roof with his family. When she becomes his wife, Amparo cannot escape bearing his child. Will she, through love and temperance, survive and save her daughter?
Teresa Kramarz, Assistant Professor and Research Associate at the Munk School of Global Affairs, is an expert in the politics of accountability. She will speak about The Animal’s Wife in an extended Q&A session following the second public screening of the film.
Apprentice Boo Junfeng, Singapore/Germany/France/Hong Kong/Qatar North American Premiere
This slow-burning drama set in a Singaporean prison explores the charged issue of the death penalty from the point of view of an aspiring executioner who becomes morbidly fascinated with his new trade.
Aquarius Kleber Mendonça Filho, Brazil/France North American Premiere
Clara a 65-year-old widow and retired music critic, is the last resident of Aquarius, an apartment building in a rapidly changing seaside neighborhood in Recife, Brazil, whose other apartments have been bought by a company with plans for redevelopment. Pressures to move surround Clara from all sides, but she has pledged to leave only upon death. From Brazil’s great chronicler of its present moment, Kleber Mendonça Filho (Neighboring Sounds). Starring Sônia Braga.
Ayiti Mon Amour Guetty Felin, Haiti/USA International Premiere
A grieving teenager discovers he has a superpower, an old fisherman thinks the cure for his ailing wife can be found in the sea, and a muse struggles to exit the story her author is penning, in this magical neorealist fable set in Haiti five years after a devastating earthquake.
Brooks, Meadows and Lovely Faces (Al Ma’ wal Khodra wal Wajh al Hassan) Yousry Nasrallah, Egypt North American Premiere
A family of caterers in a small Egyptian village prepare for a big wedding feast while balancing sibling rivalry, romantic entanglements, and culinary ambitions in this charming comedy.
Clair Obscur (Tereddüt) Yeşim Ustaoğlu, Turkey/Germany/Poland/France World Premiere
Elmas and Chenaz are two Turkish women from very different walks of life; one seems oppressed by sexist traditions and one seems liberated by modern mores, but they may have more in common than it would seem.
Death in Sarajevo (Smrt u Sarajevu) Danis Tanović, Bosnia and Herzegovina/France North American Premiere
An aging hotel becomes an ideological powder keg during centennial commemorations for the outbreak of the First World War.
Ember (Kor) Zeki Demirkubuz, Turkey/Germany International Premiere
In this slow-burning psychological drama, an Istanbul seamstress struggling with the debts left behind by her vanished husband rekindles an old friendship that escalates into an affair.
The Fixer (Fixeur) Adrian Sitaru, Romania/France World Premiere
Radu is a simple trainee journalist, but an international scandal involving an underage prostitute seems to be the chance to prove his value. He is ready to overcome each obstacle and deliver a good story. However, the task turns out to be trickier than expected and the more he approaches his goal, the closer he gets to some moral limits.
Handsome Devil John Butler, Ireland World Premiere
Ned and Conor are forced to share a bedroom at their boarding school. The loner and the star athlete at this rugby-mad school form an unlikely friendship until it’s tested by the authorities.
Heaven Will Wait (Le ciel attendra) Marie-Castille Mention-Schaar, France North American Premiere
Heaven Will Wait examines how French teenagers from all socio-cultural backgrounds can be brainwashed to the point of attempting to leave for Syria, and the challenges that face those who try to turn them around before it’s too late.
In Between (Bar Bahr) Maysaloun Hamoud, Israel/France World Premiere
In Between is a portrait of three Arab Israeli women, living and loving in Tel Aviv. It captures their complex daily duality, caught between hometown tradition and big city abandon, and the challenges they must face for a lifestyle that seems obvious to many.
Janice Stein, founding Director of the Munk School of Global Affairs and member of the Order of Canada, is a renowned expert in international conflict management, foreign policy decision-making, and negotiation theory. She will speak about In Between in an extended Q&A session following the second public screening of the film
Indivisible (Indivisibili) Edoardo de Angelis, Italy International Premiere
Daisy and Viola are conjoined twin sisters blessed with beautiful voices. Their father keeps them isolated from the rest of the world and exploits their performances at religious ceremonies to make money. Their lives turn upside-down when Viola falls in love and they discover they can be separated.
Marie Curie, The Courage of Knowledge Marie Noëlle, Germany/France/Poland World Premiere
In 1905, Marie and Pierre Curie received the Nobel Prize for their discovery of radioactivity. After a tragic accident, Pierre dies suddenly and leaves Marie alone with two young daughters. Facing her duties as a mother and a scientist, she continues her work on the “Curietherapy” against cancer. But science is primarily a man’s world and Marie’s audacity is not well received. Following a passionate and scandalous love affair, her second Nobel Prize seems in danger.
Mister Universo Tizza Covi and Rainer Frimmel, Austria/Italy North American Premiere
Young lion tamer Tairo lives a modest and happy life until he loses his lucky charm. Intent on gaining his fortune back, he embarks on a journey across Italy looking for Arthur Robin, a former Mr. Universe, who gave it to him a long time ago.
Past Life Avi Nesher, Israel World Premiere
Based on a true story, Past Life tracks the daring late 1970s odyssey of two sisters — an introverted aspiring classical musician and a rambunctious scandal sheet journalist — as they try to unravel a shocking wartime mystery that has cast a dark shadow on their entire lives.
Ron Levi, Deputy Director and Director of Academic Programs at the Munk School of Global Affairs, is an expert on how people respond to crime and violence in a global context. He will speak about Past Life in an extended Q&A session following the second public screening of the film.
The Patriarch (Mahana) Lee Tamahori, New Zealand North American Premiere
On the east coast of New Zealand in the 1960s, two Māori sheep-shearing families — the Mahanas and the Poatas — are sworn enemies and commercial rivals. Fourteen-year-old Simeon Mahana, the youngest son, seeks allies against his traditionalist grandfather. As Simeon unravels the truth behind the longstanding family vendetta, he risks not just his own future prospects but the cohesion of the entire tight-knit society.
Ritu Birla, the Richard Charles Lee Director of the Asian Institute at the Munk School of Global Affairs, is recognized for bringing the study of Indian economy to current questions in social and political theory. She will speak about The Patriarch in an extended Q&A session following the second public screening of the film.
Pyromaniac (Pyromanen) Erik Skjoldbjærg, Norway International Premiere
A pyromaniac ignites his first fire in a peaceful village. In the weeks to come it is followed by a series of fires, spreading fear in the small community. An inferno lurks under the surface as a local policeman uncovers the unthinkable truth — the pyromaniac is one of the local firemen, and the son of the fire brigade’s chief. The film is an intimate portrait of the pyromaniac and the fireman, as they dual for control of the young boy’s mind.
The Rehearsal Alison Maclean, New Zealand North American Premiere
Stanley, a naïve first year drama student, seeks to impress his charismatic tutor, Hannah. When Stanley falls upon a sex scandal involving the family of his young girlfriend as material for their end-of-year show, he finds himself in morally tricky territory.
The Road to Mandalay Midi Z, Taiwan/Myanmar/France/Germany North American Premiere
The people-traffickers have a well-established route. From Burma into Thailand across the Mekong River, passing bribed police checkpoints; illegal migrants are on their own. Lianqing is one of five illegal immigrants who travels this route, and when Guo, a fellow migrant is kind to her, their fates become entwined.
Santa & Andres (Santa y Andrés) Carlos Lechuga, Cuba/Colombia/France World Premiere
It is 1983 in a rural mountain region of Oriente, in eastern Cuba. Andres, a noncompliant gay writer in his 50s, has been blacklisted by the government for having “ideological problems.” When a big event happens, Santa, a local girl is appointed to watch over him. Santa and Andres are opposites, but what they cannot imagine is that they have more in common than they expected.
Soul on a String Zhang Yang, China International Premiere
Zhang Yang adapts two novels by Tibetan writer Tashi Dawa for this stunning mystical epic about a killer on the run who is entrusted with a sacred mission.
Tamara and the Ladybug (Tamara y la Catarina) Lucía Carreras, Mexico/Spain World Premiere
Tamara and the Ladybug traces the journey of two women who have become faded in their loneliness and invisibility. They will have to become closer than they expected, finding in each other a space where rather than being outcasts they feel needed. Despite their misfortunes and circumstance, their shared encounter will help to lighten each other’s burden.
Tramps Adam Leon, USA World Premiere
Ellie and Danny are an unlikely pair of would-be criminals thrown together over two summer days. Their misadventures through the streets, outer boroughs, and idyllic suburbs of New York City include a heist, a stolen briefcase, mistaken identity — and the prospect of an unforeseen romance. Starring Callum Turner and Grace Van Patten.
Vaya Akin Omotoso, South Africa World Premiere
Based on true stories, Vaya is set in the underbelly of Johannesburg and Soweto. The film weaves three separate plots that intersect in a gripping and moving story about coming to the city and struggling to survive. Nhlanhla, a rural man is promised a job by his big city cousin, Nkulu is coming to recall his father’s body, and Zanele is bringing her aunt’s child to live with her mother for the first time. One event will change their lives forever.
We Are Never Alone (Nikdy nejsme sami) Petr Vaclav, Czech Republic/France North American Premiere
The unhappy lives of a shop clerk, a bouncer, a stripper, and a prison guard intersect in Petr Vaclav’s eulogy to human companionship set in an isolated central European town.
The Wedding Ring (Zin’naariyâ!) Rahmatou Keïta, Niger/Burkina Faso/France World Premiere
Recently returned to her home in the Sultanate of Damagaram in Niger after completing her degree abroad, a young woman suffering from the pain of a lost love finds renewal while awaiting the mystical promise of a new moon.
White Sun (Seto Surya) Deepak Rauniyar, Nepal/USA/Qatar/Netherlands North American Premiere
Young Pooja lives with her mother in a village in Nepal. Though saddened by the death of her grandfather, she is secretly thrilled at the prospect of meeting the man she hopes may be her father — Chandra, a former Maoist guerrilla who is returning home after a decade long civil conflict.
The Women’s Balcony (Ismach Hatani) Emil Ben Shimon, Israel World Premiere
In a small neighborhood in Jerusalem, a group of women struggle to reunite their community and preserve their traditions in the face of a charismatic rabbi who enters their lives
Zaćma: Blindness Ryszard Bugajski, Poland World Premiere
Zaćma: Blindness is an obscure episode in the life of Julia Brystiger, a Stalinist criminal, and colonel of the Office of Public Security in Poland. She was nicknamed Bloody Luna because she tortured prisoners with extreme cruelty during interrogations. At the beginning of the 1960s she met with the Primate of Poland, Stefan Wyszyński, and rejected the communist ideology while asking for her crimes to be forgiven.
Stephen J. Toope is the Director of the Munk School of Global Affairs, and is an expert on international law, human rights, and global affairs. He will speak about Zaćma: Blindness in an extended Q&A session following the second public screening of the film.
Zoology (Zoologiya) Ivan I. Tverdovsky, Russia/France/Germany North American Premiere
A lonely middle-aged zoo worker redefines her life after discovering she has grown a tail, in a film that is part social satire, and part tender love story.
Previously announced Canadian titles in the Contemporary World Cinema programme include Chloé Robichaud’s Boundaries and Juan Andrés Arango’s X Quinientos.
The 41st Toronto International Film Festival® runs September 8 to 18, 2016.