Our Lady of the Nile directed by Atiq Rahimi
Our Lady of the Nile directed by Atiq Rahimi

The 2019 Toronto International Film Festival unveiled the rich slate of films from 48 countries in the lineup for its 2019 Contemporary World Cinema (CWC) programs. The films include a wide range of thought-provoking stories that delve into cultural issues and social struggles in poetic and captivating ways. Introducing 21 works directed and co-directed by women, this year’s edition of CWC focuses on fractured families, self-exploration, female-driven narratives, and the consequences of social and political crises.

The African continent is represented in the lineup by eight films beaming with creativity. Opening the program is Atiq Rahimi’s third feature, Our Lady of the Nile, which follows a group of Rwandan girls in a Catholic boarding school. The bewitching work, which boasts hypnotic cinematography, foreshadows the country’s 1994 genocide. The programme also serves as a platform for acclaimed regional projects such as Jenna Bass’ South African road movie Flatland, Jahmil X.T. Qubeka’s Knuckle City, Rabah Ameur-Zaïmeche’s Terminal Sud, and Amjad Abu Alala’s mystical You Will Die at Twenty.

Winner of the Grand Prix in Cannes, Mati Diop’s exploration of migration, Atlantics: A Ghost Love Story, leads a bold wave of films exploring pressing global issues: Guatemalan director Jayro Bustamante presents an examination of his country’s political wounds with La Llorona, in which civil war victims haunt their torturer’s life; Laos’ first and only female director to ever present a film at TIFF, Mattie Do, couples family loss and time-travelling in The Long Walk; and Lijo Jose Pellissery’s Jallikattu offers a daring allegory on toxic masculinity in a remote Indian village. Other award-winning films included in the slate are Synonyms, the Golden Bear–winning film from Israeli filmmaker Nadav Lapid, and the recipients of the 2019 Cannes Jury Prize: French director Ladj Ly’s Les Misérables and the Brazilan film Bacurau, co-directed by Kleber Mendonça Filho and Juliano Dornelles.

This year’s CWC slate is also rich in contributions from internationally renowned actors — both in front of and behind the camera — with Mexican actor Gael García Bernal’s second film as director, Chicuarotes; Austrian performer Karl Markovics’s third feature, Nobadi; Dutch actor-turned-director Halina Reijn’s Instinct; and an extraordinary performance from Iranian icon Golshifteh Farahani in Manele Labidi’s Arab Blues. Produced by US powerhouse Jada Pinkett Smith, Minhal Baig’s Hala is a coming-of-age story about an American Muslim teenager trying to balance her relationship with her strict parents and her own desires. The film is inspired by Baig’s own life and brings to the screen a fresh look at the teen experience.

Other highlights in the program study the complexity of family dynamics, such as Taiwanese Chung Mong-Hong’s lyrical A Sun, which focuses on a fractured father–son relationship. Balloon, directed by Tibetan filmmaker Pema Tseden, tells the conflicting struggles of a family dealing with China’s one-child policy. And Yaron Zilberman returns to TIFF with the World Premiere of Incitement, the first-ever fiction film to depict the cataclysmic assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.

Spotlighting the struggles and triumphs of women in societies around the world are: Maryam Touzani’s domestic epic Adam; Hikari’s 37 Seconds, which follows a young manga artist who uses her craft as a tool of self-discovery; and Sharipa Urazbayeva’s Mariam, the story of a strong Kazakhstani mother and her drive to help her family survive. Films centring on working-class women include internationally acclaimed Bengali director Rubaiyat Hossain’s Made in Bangladesh, which follows a factory worker fighting for dignity in the world of fast fashion; The County, from Cannes prize–winning Icelandic director Grímur Hákonarson; and Edward Burns’ intriguing family portrait Beneath the Blue Suburban Skies.

The 44th Toronto International Film Festival runs September 5 to 15, 2019.

TIFF 2019 Contemporary World Cinema program

37 Seconds
Hikari | Japan/USA Canadian Premiere

Adam
Maryam Touzani | Morocco/France/Belgium
North American Premiere

Arab Blues (Un Divan à Tunis)
Manele Labidi | France
North American Premiere

Atlantics: A Ghost Love Story
Mati Diop | France/Senegal/Belgium
North American Premiere

Atlantis
Valentyn Vasyanovych | Ukraine
North American Premiere

Bacurau
Kleber Mendonça Filho, Juliano Dornelles | Brazil
North American Premiere

Balloon (Qi Qiu)
Pema Tseden | China
North American Premiere

The Barefoot Emperor
Jessica Woodworth, Peter Brosens | Belgium/Netherlands/Croatia/Bulgaria
World Premiere

Beanpole (Dylda)
Kantemir Balagov | Russia
North American Premiere

Beneath the Blue Suburban Skies
Edward Burns | USA
World Premiere

Blow the Man Down
Danielle Krudy, Bridget Savage Cole | USA
International Premiere

Bombay Rose
Gitanjali Rao | India/United Kingdom/Qatar
North American Premiere

Chicuarotes
Gael García Bernal | Mexico
North American Premiere

The Climb
Michael Angelo Covino | USA
Canadian Premiere

Corpus Christi (Boze Cialo)
Jan Komasa | Poland/France
North American Premiere

The County (Héraðið)
Grímur Hákonarson | Iceland/Denmark/Germany/France
International Premiere

Dogs Don’t Wear Pants (Koirat eivät käytä housuja)
J-P Valkeapää | Finland/Latvia
North American Premiere

The Father (Bashtata)
Petar Valchanov, Kristina Grozeva | Bulgaria/Greece/Italy
North American Premiere

Flatland
Jenna Bass | South Africa/Luxembourg/Germany
North American Premiere

A Girl Missing (Yokogao)
Koji Fukada | Japan/France
North American Premiere

Hala
Minhal Baig | USA
Canadian Premiere

Henry Glassie: Field Work
Pat Collins | Ireland
World Premiere

Incitement
Yaron Zilberman | Israel
World Premiere

Instinct
Halina Reijn | Netherlands
North American Premiere

The Invisible Life of Eurídice Gusmão (A Vida Invisível de Eurídice Gusmão)
Karim Aïnouz | Brazil/Germany
North American Premiere

Jallikattu Lijo
Jose Pellissery | India
World Premiere

Knuckle City
Jahmil X.T. Qubeka | South Africa
International Premiere

La Llorona
Jayro Bustamante | Guatemala/France
North American Premiere

Les Misérables
Ladj Ly | France
North American Premiere

The Long Walk (Bor Mi Vanh Chark)
Mattie Do | Laos/Spain/Singapore
North American Premiere

Made in Bangladesh
Rubaiyat Hossain | France/Bangladesh/Denmark/Portugal
World Premiere

Mariam
Sharipa Urazbayeva | Kazakhstan
North American Premiere

Maria’s Paradise (Marian paratiisi)
Zaida Bergroth | Finland/Estonia
World Premiere

Nobadi
Karl Markovics | Austria
World Premiere

*Contemporary World Cinema Opening Film*
Our Lady of the Nile (Notre-Dame du Nil)
Atiq Rahimi | France/Belgium/Rwanda
World Premiere

The Perfect Candidate
Haifaa Al-Mansour | Saudi Arabia/Germany
North American Premiere

Red Fields (Mami)
Keren Yedaya | Israel/Luxembourg/Germany
International Premiere

Resin (Harpiks)
Daniel Joseph Borgman | Denmark
World Premiere

So Long, My Son (Di Jiu Tian Chang)
Wang Xiaoshuai | China
North American Premiere

Spider (Araña)
Andrés Wood | Chile
International Premiere

A Sun (Yang Guang Pu Zhao)
Chung Mong-Hong | Taiwan
World Premiere

Synonyms (Synonymes)
Nadav Lapid | France/Israel/Germany
North American Premiere

Terminal Sud (South Terminal)
Rabah Ameur-Zaïmeche | France
North American Premiere

Three Summers (Três Verões)
Sandra Kogut | Brazil/France
World Premiere

Verdict
Raymund Ribay Gutierrez | Philippines/France
Canadian Premiere

A White, White Day (Hvítur, Hvítur Dagur)
Hlynur Pálmason | Iceland/Denmark/Sweden
North American Premiere

The Wild Goose Lake (Nan Fang Che Zhan De Ju Hui)
Diao Yinan | China/France
North American Premiere

You Will Die at Twenty
Amjad Abu Alala | Sudan/France/Egypt/Germany/Norway/Qatar
North American Premiere

Previously announced Canadian features screening at the Festival as part of the Contemporary World Cinema program include: And the Birds Rained Down, Antigone, The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open, Castle in the Ground, The Last Porno Show, Tammy’s Always Dying, and White Lie.

Please follow us to get updates online.

Share this article ...