35 feature films, including 16 World Premieres, by first and second time feature directors from Canada and across the globe, will screen in the 2016 Discovery program of the upcoming Toronto International Film Festival.
“Toronto audiences first found Christopher Nolan, Lynne Ramsay and Steve McQueen in our Discovery section,” said Cameron Bailey, Artistic Director of the Toronto International Film Festival. “We can’t wait to introduce a new generation of vibrant, original voices in cinema.”
The festival also added The Dangerous Life of John McAffee, The Terry Kath Experience and Off Frame AKA Revolution Until Victory, to the lineup of the TIFF Docs Program Gringo.
2016 Discovery Program
Blessed Benefit (Inshallah Estafadet) Mahmoud al Massad, Jordan/Germany/Netherlands World Premiere
Imprisoned on an unfair charge of fraud, a mild-mannered Jordanian contractor discovers that prison has its own rhythms, rules, and economies — and he soon begins to carve out a position for himself in this place where fraud isn’t a crime so much as a way of life.
Boys in the Trees Nicholas Verso, Australia North American Premiere
Alienated teens Corey and Jonah begrudgingly find themselves walking home together on Halloween 1997 — their last night of high school — embarking on a surreal journey through their memories, dreams and fears as they lay the ghosts of their past to rest.
Divines Houda Benyamina, France/Qatar North American Premiere
Girlhood meets Scarface in this debut feature about two young women who become embroiled in the criminal world of the Parisian suburbs.
The Empty Box (La caja vacía) Claudia Sainte-Luce, France/Mexico World Premiere
Mexican filmmaker Claudia Sainte-Luce directs and stars in her touching second feature about a young woman in Mexico City forced to care for her estranged father as he descends into senile dementia.
The Fury of a Patient Man (Tarde para la ira) Raúl Arévalo, Spain North American Premiere
The tentative romance between a gentle Madrid labourer and a working single mother becomes a struggle for survival when the woman’s violent boyfriend returns from prison, in the gritty, suspenseful debut feature from Spanish actor Raúl Arévalo.
The Giant (Jätten) Johannes Nyholm, Sweden/Denmark World Premiere
A young man born with physical challenges that impede his ability to communicate finds freedom in his fantasies, in this striking feature debut from Swedish director Johannes Nyholm.
GODLESS (Bezbog) Ralitza Petrova, Bulgaria/Denmark/France North American Premiere
Driven by her morphine addiction and easy cash, a nurse steals ID cards from her elderly patients and sells them on the black market. Isolated and detached from her environment, the lonely young woman struggles to overcome her emotional void in silence, in her search for redemption.
Guilty Men (Pariente) Iván D. Gaona, Colombia North American Premiere
A town leader in rural Colombia plays a risky game with the local right-wing paramilitary group with a cache of cash at stake, in this gripping crime story about ordinary people caught in a situation that rapidly slips out of their control.
The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Mäki (Hymyilevä Mies) Juho Kuosmanen, Finland/Germany/Sweden North American Premiere
Winner of a top prize at this year’s Cannes festival, this irresistible and touching debut feature is a funny and forlorn comedy-drama inspired by the real-life showdown between Finnish boxer Olli Mäki and American champion Davey Moore in 1962 Helsinki.
Heartstone (Hjartasteinn) Guðmundur Arnar Guðmundsson, Iceland/Denmark North American Premiere
In a remote fishing village in Iceland, teenage best friends Thor and Christian experience a turbulent summer as one tries to win the heart of a girl which creates tension in the relationship. When summer ends and the harsh weather of Iceland returns, the two young men must face the acrimony of adulthood.
Hunting Flies Izer Aliu, Norway World Premiere
After losing his job on the first day of school, an idealistic teacher attempts to get rehired by locking his students in the classroom and forcing them to resolve a long-standing feud between their villages.
In the Blood (I blodet) Rasmus Heisterberg, Denmark World Premiere
It’s summer in Copenhagen; a time of endless days and carefree nights for medical student Simon and his best friends. They drink excessively, chase girls endlessly, sleep all day, and start again the next night in this scathing critique of entitlement and isolation among the contemporary upper-class.
In the Radiant City Rachel Lambert, USA World Premiere
A man must return home to rural Kentucky where he and his family, fragmented and haunted, still carry the stigma of a murder his brother committed 20 years ago.
Jeffrey Yanillys Perez, Dominican Republic/France World Premiere
In this debut feature documentary, we follow 12-year old Jeffrey as he dreams of becoming a reggaeton star while working to survive on the rough streets of the Dominican Republic. Jeffrey must solve his ongoing family problems before trying to achieve his dream.
Jesús Fernando Guzzoni, France/Chile/Germany/Greece/Colombia International Premiere
The volatile relationship between a wayward teen and his disapproving father comes to a head when the boy seeks shelter from the police, in the new feature from Chilean writer-director Fernando Guzzoni.
Joe Cinque’s Consolation Sotiris Dounoukos, Australia International Premiere
Based on the prize-winning book by Helen Garner about the headline-grabbing 1997 murder case, this riveting drama chronicles how the romantic relationship between two Australian law students turns deadly when devotion and delusion become fatally mixed.
Kati Kati Mbithi Masya, Kenya/Germany World Premiere
The afterlife is a mysterious and eerie state for newly-dead twenty-something Kaleche, who has no memory of her life or death. When she meets Thomas, who helps other ghosts recall and reconcile their past, Kaleche forces him to face his own regretful history.
Katie Says Goodbye Wayne Roberts, USA World Premiere
A truck stop waitress and part-time prostitute believes she has found a way out of her dead end life when she falls in love with handsome and troubled young mechanic, in this heartrending character study.
Le Ciel Flamand (Flemish Heaven) Peter Monsaert, Belgium World Premiere
This film zooms in on the lives of three generations of women. Monique and her daughter Sylvie run a brothel on the border of West Flanders and France. Eline, Sylvie’s six-year-old daughter, is fascinated by the mysterious workplace of her mother and grandmother, but she is never allowed inside. A dramatic event turns their lives upside down and the family ties are put under pressure.
The Levelling Hope Dickson Leach, United Kingdom World Premiere
After her brother’s suicide, a young woman returns to her family farm to confront her brooding and embittered father, in this beautifully controlled and emotionally precise feature debut.
Little Wing (Tyttö nimeltä Varpu) Selma Vilhunen, Finland/Denmark World Premiere
Twelve-year-old Varpu is quickly blossoming into a young woman, despite her single mother’s overprotective nature. When her curiosity gets the best of her, Varpu steals a car to begin the search for the father she has never met.
Mad World (Yat Nim Mou Ming) Wong Chun, Hong Kong World Premiere
An absentee father and his bipolar son are forced to live together as they struggle with a recent family tragedy. The tension and anxiety boil as they live and try to cope in a tiny apartment. As time passes, they realize their shared pain is not their only source of grief, as they find the outside world is a cruel and unjust place. Starring Eric Tsang and Shawn Yue.
Marija Michael Koch, Germany/Switzerland North American Premiere
A young Ukrainian woman dreams of owning a hair salon as she spends her days endlessly cleaning hotel rooms in Germany. Determined to achieve her goal, Marija is willing to compromise her body, her relationships and her true self to make it happen.
Noces Stephan Streker, Belgium/France/Luxembourg/Pakistan International Premiere
Eighteen-year-old Zahira has grown up in a Pakistani family in Belgium. She now finds herself pregnant, but wants to keep the baby she’s carrying. Her brother and confidant, Amir, promises to help her, but their parents have other plans.
Park Sofia Exarchou, Greece/Poland World Premiere
Young love blossoms among a group of Athenian teenagers during a boisterous summer season, in the raw, romantic and anarchic feature debut from Greek New Wave director Sofia Exarchou.
The Red Turtle Michael Dudok de Wit, France/Belgium/Japan North American Premiere
The wondrous animated story about a man shipwrecked on a deserted tropical island and his unlikely friendship with an enormous sea turtle.
Sámi Blood (Sameblod) Amanda Kernell, Sweden/Denmark/Norway North American Premiere
In this powerful feature debut, a teenage Sámi girl is forcibly removed from her family home and sent to a state boarding school with the mission of refining their Indigenous charges to a level “acceptable” to the rest of Swedish society.
Sand Storm (Sufat Chol) Elite Zexer, Israel Canadian Premiere
In a Bedouin village in the southern Israel desert, a matriarch preparing for her husband’s marriage to a second wife takes out her suppressed emotions on her eldest daughter, who has embarked upon a clandestine relationship with a young man from university.
Wùlu Daouda Coulibaly, France/Senegal International Premiere
In Mali’s bustling capital, a young impoverished man tries to improve his life by working in the drug trafficking business and quickly moves up the ranks. He plunges deeper into the criminal underworld to keep up with his new luxurious lifestyle in this suspenseful first feature film.
Previously announced Canadian titles in the Discovery program include Tony Elliott’s ARQ, Kevan Funk’s Hello Destroyer, Stella Meghie’s Jean of the Joneses, Johnny Ma’s Old Stone, Vincent Biron’s Prank, and Ashley McKenzie’s Werewolf.
Gringo: The Dangerous Life of John McAfee Nanette Burstein, USA World Premiere
Oscar-nominated filmmaker Nanette Burstein (On the Ropes, The Kid Stays in the Picture) delves into the strange story of John McAfee, who went from millionaire software mogul to yogi, Kurtz-like jungle recluse to potential murderer, and most recently a prospective presidential candidate for the American Libertarian Party.
Off Frame AKA Revolution Until Victory Mohanad Yaqubi, Palestine/France/Qatar World Premiere
(Kharej Al-Itar aw Thawra Hata el Nasser)
Showcasing an unprecedented depth of research and access, Off Frame AKA Revolution Until Victory is a unique historical portrait of the Palestinian people’s struggle to produce their own image. Using material long hidden in archives across the globe, the film reaches back through the modern history of Palestine and reverses decades of colonial dominance with a mosaic of struggle from the perspective of the colonized.
The Terry Kath Experience Michelle Sinclair, USA World Premiere
One of the original members of the band Chicago, Terry Kath has been praised by icons like Jimi Hendrix and Joe Walsh for his voice and guitar playing. Michelle Sinclair, first-time filmmaker and Terry’s daughter, searches for the truth surrounding the life and untimely death of her father, in this look at one of the most underrated guitarists in rock history.