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Toronto Film Festival Dailies


The  44th  Toronto  International  Film  Festival  runs  September  5–15,  2019 in Canada's most vibrant and exciting metropolis, it has become one of the most important film events on the festival calendar.

Showcasing more than 300 films and hosting industryites from around the world, Toronto can "make or break" films looking for international distribution and a chance at Oscar gold. From glitzy red carpet premieres to challenging art films to cutting edge new media, the Festival offers something for every taste.

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IFC Films Have Seven On Toronto Slate

Un Conte de Noel (A Christmas Tale)Un Conte de Noel (A Christmas Tale) 

Saturday, September 6------Coming off of a shopping spree of acquisitions at the Cannes Film Festival, New York-based specialty distributor IFC Films is screening an unprecedented seven films at this year's Toronto International Film Festival. With most US distributors in retrenchment mode (or some being shuttered completely), IFC's day-and-date release of films in theaters and via Video On Demand has given them the financial clout to fill the need for an expanding pipeline of new product.

That's good news for the sector as a whole, and the seven films being highlighted in particular. Five of the films are from European auteurs, with one each from the U.S. and South Korea.  Showcasing some of France's most renowned actors, Un Conte de Noël (A Christmas Tale) is the story of a dysfunctional upper class family, as interpreted by the great Arnaud Desplechin. Simmering tensions threaten to turn the Christmas holidays into a "season of hell", as family members pick each other apart, layer by uncomfortable layer. With a cast that includes legendary beauty Catherine Deneuve, Mathieu Almaric (The Diving Bell And The Butterfly), Jean-Paul Roussillon, Anne Consigny and Melvil Poupaud, the film is a devastating mix of Eugene O'Neill family drama with Arnaud's typically dark humor. The film has just been short-listed for the European Film Academy Award.

L'Heure d'Ete (Summer Hours) from French director Olivier Assayas also has a familial theme, but views the relationships between an elderly matriarch and her three children with considerably more humanity and humor. As she faces her 75th birthday, Hélène hosts her three grown up children who arrive to celebrate the happy milestone.  As they reminisce about the past and note the differences that have crept up between them, the children find a sense of redemption while also acknowledging the irretrievable loss of a simpler time when they all felt connected to one another. The film will make its US Premiere at next month's New York Film Festival.

Sure to be one of the most controversial and talked about films of the season is Hunger, the first feature-length film by UK video artist Steve McQueen. The film chronicles the true story of the last six weeks of the life of the Irish republican hunger striker Bobby Sands, who died at the age of 27 in a British prison. Michael Fassebender, a German born actor raised in Ireland, is sure to be remembered at awards time for his devastatingly realistic portrayal of the principled activist, who starves himself to death to protest the British occupation of Northern Ireland. Hunger recently won the Gucci Group Award at the Venice Film Festival, as well as the prestigious Camera d'Or (best first film) at its debut in Cannes.

No film has gotten under the skin of the Mafia quite like Matteo Garrone's Gomorrah.  A contemporary Neapolitan mob drama, this is hard-hitting filmmaking that shows the true terror and influence of the Mafia on Italian life and politics. The film won the Grand Prix Award at the Cannes Film Festival and is also on the short list for the European Film Academy Awards.

A different kind of war is the subject of Flame & Citron, a sprawling World War II epic about the Danish resistance against Nazi occupation. The film, directed by Ole Christian Madsen, was a huge box office hit in Scandinavia, and is Denmark's best shot at a European Film Academy Award. Another historical drama on the IFC slate is The Good, The Bad, The Weird, by South Korean director Kim Jee-woon. The film, set in Manchuria in 1930, is the rousing tale of three Korean outlaws and their dealings with the Japanese army and Chinese and Russian bandits. This "eastern Western" also had its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival.

And finally, for something completely different, there is Medicine for Melancholy, a feisty American indie about two African-American twenty-somethings dealing with the challenge of being a minority in a rapidly gentrifying San Francisco. The film by debut director Barry Jenkins was one of the hits of the South By Southwest Film Festival.

Sandy Mandelberger, Toronto FF Dailies Editor

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