Mimosas by Oliver Laxe
Mimosas by Oliver Laxe

The Toronto International Film Festival revealed the 51 films, videos, and installation works that make up the 2016 Wavelengths program, an international forum for film and video art that challenges the mainstream and seeks to replenish and redefine the art of cinema.

Curated by Andréa Picard, with contributions from members of TIFF’s international programming team (namely Steve Gravestock, Giovanna Fulvi, and Diana Sanchez), Wavelengths comprises four programs of experimental short films and videos, 14 category-defying feature-length fiction, documentary, and essay films, and a trio of exhibitions which engage the moving image in enthralling and powerful ways.

This year’s program features an exciting mix of master and award-winning filmmakers, leading contemporary artists, and emerging, new talent. Some of the highlights include Scottish multimedia artist Douglas Gordon’s I Had Nowhere to Go, a moving and timely portrait of legendary experimental filmmaker Jonas Mekas; Morocco-based Oliver Laxe’s Cannes Critics’ Week Grand Prize winner, Mimosas; urgent, political documentaries by acclaimed filmmakers Wang Bing, Pere Portabella, and Sergei Loznitsa, and a new film from Turkish artist-activist belit sağ, who questions the roles and responsibility of presenting images today — and their control.

Artistic daring is personified in The Ornithologist, the latest provocation by lauded Portuguese auteur, Jõao Pedro Rodrigues, as well as in Eduardo Williams’ debut feature, The Human Surge, which shape-shifts its way across three countries as it tracks bodies at work and play in a globalized age of precarity. Both features were recent winners at the 69th Locarno Film Festival, where they received the Leopard for Best Direction and the Filmmakers of the Present Award, respectively.

“This year’s edition of Wavelengths,” said curator Andréa Picard, “demonstrates how filmmakers and artists are steadfast in their commitment to artistic freedom in a time of global economic and political crises. That we are seeing histories reconsidered and recast, multi-form gestures of empathy, and incongruous and terrific moments of humour offers ample proof that film artists are using the medium not only in formally inventive ways which expand the possibilities of cinematic expression, but also in ways which slyly resist a steadily encroaching conservatism and conformism.”

Wavelengths will expand its reach by presenting a number of important exhibitions throughout Toronto, including Ana Mendieta: Siluetas, a rare presentation of restored films and two related suites of photographs by the late extraordinary Cuban-born artist Ana Mendieta, whose practice is as radical and relevant today as it was during her lifetime. Two high points of this year’s program are provided by Catalan visionary artist-filmmaker Albert Serra, whose latest feature, the Jean Vigo prize–winning The Death of Louis XIV starring French acting legend Jean-Pierre Léaud, will be shown at the Festival, alongside Serra’s monumental five-screen installation Singularity, which was commissioned for last year’s Venice Biennale and will be mounted in North America for the first time at 99 Sudbury, an off-site location new to the Festival this year.

Additional film highlights include Gastón Solnicki’s seductive and beguiling Kékszakállú, obliquely inspired by Béla Bartόk’s opera Bluebeard’s Castle; James N. Kienitz Wilkins’ clever and heady Indefinite Pitch, which deftly probes the vicissitudes of filmmaking as a way to confront contemporary anxieties, world premieres by Antoinette Zwirchmayr, Helena Girón, and Samuel M. Delgado, Tomonari Nishikawa, Joshua Gen Solondz, Manuela De Laborde, Katherin McInnis, and Janie Geiser, a strong showing by local Toronto filmmakers Chris Gehman, Ryan Ferko, Terra Long, and Madi Piller, and the latest epic by Filipino master Lav Diaz, The Woman Who Left.

SHORT FILM Programs

Wavelengths 1: The Fire Within

Bookended by two seminal films from the extraordinary multidisciplinary artist Ana Mendieta, this program excavates political and personal histories as it reinvigorates the surreal potential of landscape.

Silueta Sangrienta Ana Mendieta, USA
Há Terra! Ana Vaz, France/Brazil
Venus Delta Antoinette Zwirchmayr, Austria
025 Sunset Red Laida Lertxundi, USA/Spain
Untitled, 1925 Madi Piller, Canada
Children of Lir Katherin McInnis, USA
Burning mountains that spew flame Helena Girón and Samuel M. Delgado, Spain
Anima, Silueta de Cohetes (Firework Piece) Ana Mendieta, Mexico

Wavelengths 2: Incantati

A recently rediscovered Straub-Huillet fragment lends its name to the title of this program that oscillates between adversity and emancipation, between holding on and letting go.

Incantati Danièle Huillet and Jean-Marie Straub, France
Cilaos Camilo Restrepo, France
An Aviation Field Joana Pimenta, Portugal/USA/Brazil
Strange Vision of Seeing Things Ryan Ferko, Canada/Serbia
Ears, Nose and Throat Kevin Jerome Everson, USA
Ten Mornings Ten Evenings and One Horizon Tomonari Nishikawa, Japan
Luna e Santur Joshua Gen Solondz, USA

Wavelengths 3: Post-performance

In this program, the idea of “performance” adopts many shapes and guises, and recasts the present through a prism of encounters.

Untitled Björn Kämmerer, Austria
What’s New Nina Könnemann, Germany
Foyer Ismaïl Bahri, France/Tunisia
350 MYA Terra Long, Morocco/Canada
I’ll Remember You as You Were, Not as What You’ll Become Sky Hopinka, USA
Dark Adaptation Chris Gehman, Canada
The Watershow Extravaganza Sophie Michael, United Kingdom

Wavelengths 4: Indefinite

Flush with shifting, indefinite and highly suggestive interpretations, this program presents works which investigate and slyly circumvent prescriptive formulas of cinematic image-making.

Flowers of the Sky Janie Geiser, USA
Ayhan and me belit sağ, Netherlands
AS WITHOUT SO WITHIN Manuela De Laborde, Mexico/USA/United Kingdom
Indefinite Pitch James N. Kienitz Wilkins, USA

FEATURES

Austerlitz Sergei Loznitsa, Germany North American Premiere
The new film from Sergei Loznitsa (Maїdan, The Event) is a stark yet rich and complex portrait of tourists visiting the grounds of former Nazi extermination camps, and a sometimes sardonic study of the relationship (or the clash) between contemporary culture and the sanctity of the site.

By the Time it Gets Dark (Dao Khanong) North American Premiere
Anocha Suwichakornpong, Thailand/Netherlands/France/Qatar
The delicately poetic second feature by Thai director Anocha Suwichakornpong weaves together multiple stories and characters to create a portrait of a beautiful country haunted by its troubled history.

The Death of Louis XIV (La Mort de Louis XIV) Albert Serra, France/Portugal/Spain North American Premiere
French cinema legend Jean-Pierre Léaud takes the title role as the expiring French monarch in the stylistically rigorous and strangely transcendent new film from visionary Spanish auteur Albert Serra (Story of My Death).

The Dreamed Ones (Die Geträumten) Ruth Beckermann, Austria Canadian Premiere
Austrian filmmaker Ruth Beckermann recreates the amorous correspondence between poets Ingeborg Bachmann and Paul Celan through the voices and bodies of two winsome young actors creating an audio recording of the letters in Vienna’s venerable Funkhaus.

The Dreamed Path (Der traumhafte Weg) Angela Schanelec, Germany North American Premiere
Two couples suffer the failure of their relationships 30 years apart. In Greece, in 1984, Theres and Kenneth are young lovers on vacation whose relationship collapses under life’s strain and circumstances; in the present day, Berlin-based actress Ariane leaves her anthropologist husband David after a marital crisis. Director Angela Schanelec’s bisected and elliptical narrative is a quietly beautiful meditation on love, loneliness, and happiness just out of reach.

General Report II. The New Abduction of Europe (Informe General II. El Nuevo Rapto de Europa) Pere Portabella, Spain North American Premiere
Pere Portabella follows his masterful 1976 documentary General Report — an epic survey of the Spanish social and political landscape in the wake of Franco — with a sequel that examines contemporary Spain as a microcosm of the economic, political, social, and ecological crises currently affecting Europe.

Hermia & Helena Matías Piñeiro, USA/Argentina North American Premiere
Camila, a young Argentine theater director, travels from Buenos Aires to New York to attend an artistic residency to develop her new project: a Spanish translation of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Upon her arrival, she begins to receive a series of mysterious postcards, which send her down a winding path through her past and towards her future.

The Human Surge (El auge del humano) Eduardo Williams, Argentina/Brazil/Portugal North American Premiere
Winner of this year’s Filmmakers of the Present competition at the Locarno film festival, this ingeniously shape-shifting debut, which follows the lives of mostly young men in disparate parts of the world who are bored by (or released from) their jobs and seeking fulfillment elsewhere.

I Had Nowhere to Go Douglas Gordon, Germany North American Premiere
Internationally acclaimed multimedia artist Douglas Gordon (24 Hour Psycho, Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait) returns to the Festival with this intimate and moving portrait of avant-garde cinema legend Jonas Mekas.

Kékszakállú Gastón Solnicki, Argentina North American Premiere
A portrait of several young women at the threshold of adulthood, feeling their way through various crises born of the insular comforts of class privilege. Obliquely inspired by Béla Bartόk’s sole opera Bluebeard’s Castle, this film is radically transposed within the alternating milieu of work and repose in Buenos Aires and Punta del Este.

Mimosas Oliver Laxe, Spain/Morocco/France/Qatar North American Premiere
Winner of the Grand Prize at Cannes’ Semaine de la Critique, French filmmaker Oliver Laxe’s mesmerizing, minimalist “Eastern western” follows a caravan transporting the body of a sheik to his remote resting place in the perilous wilderness of the Moroccan desert.

The Ornithologist (O Ornitólogo) João Pedro Rodrigues, Portugal/France/Brazil North American Premiere
Stranded along a sublime river fjord in northern Portugal, a hunky ornithologist is subjected to a series of brutal and erotic Stations-ofthe-Cross-style tests, in the daring new film from provocative Portuguese auteur João Pedro Rodrigues.

Ta’ang Wang Bing, Hong Kong/France North American Premiere
The urgent new documentary from acclaimed Chinese filmmaker Wang Bing (West of the Tracks, Three Sisters) takes us into the refugee camps on the Chinese border populated by those fleeing the ongoing civil war in Myanmar.

The Woman Who Left (Ang Babaeng Humayo) Lav Diaz, Philippines North American Premiere
After spending the last 30 years in prison, Horacia is immediately released when someone else confesses to the crime. Still overwhelmed by her new freedom, she comes to the painful realization that her aristocratic former lover had set her up. As kidnappings targeting the wealthy begin to proliferate, Horacia sees the opportunity to plot her revenge. Set in 1990s Philippines, Lav Diaz’s latest work is an incisive study of the distance between rich and poor, past and present.

FREE INSTALLATIONS AND SPECIAL SCREENINGS

Ana Mendieta: Siluetas Ana Mendieta International Premiere
Presented in partnership with CONTACT Gallery, this rare exhibition of film and photographic work by the late, Cuban-born multidisciplinary artist Ana Mendieta (1948-85), includes six restored films and two related suites of photographs that attest to the artist’s radical and influential practice and her inquiry into themes of the female body, violence, primal energy and displacement.

Nightlife Cyprien Gaillard North American Premiere
Presented in a free special screening at TIFF Bell Lightbox (Cinema 2), this immersive, psychedelic work, whose sculptural properties are enhanced by 3D, summons a hallucinatory rebellion of urban botany as it forges mysterious yet suggestive links of resistance and resolve across time and space. Free tickets will be available at TIFF Bell Lightbox two hours prior to the start of the screening.

Rudzienko Sharon Lockhart International Premiere
Presented in partnership with Gallery TPW, this major new film installation by American artist and filmmaker Sharon Lockhart is a deeply affecting and formally inventive collaborative work made with a group of adolescent girls living at the Youth Center for SocioTherapy in Rudzienko, Poland.

Singularity Albert Serra North American Premiere
Commissioned for “Catalonia in Venice” at last year’s Venice Biennale by curator Chus Martínez, Albert Serra’s monumental fivescreen film installation conjures a baroque, era-spanning epic about an exploitative, technology-dependent society where individual desires, everyday habits and general corruption work against the very idea of a “renaissance”. Presented at 99 Sudbury.

The 41st Toronto International Film Festival runs from September 8 to 18, 2016

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