Tuesday, 16 August 2011

TIFF 2011: Galas, Special Presentations, Contemporary World Cinema & Visions Films Announced

It's getting serious. I think with today's set of announcements of film titles my 'to see' list is now official too large to fit in the finite space & time of the festivals duration. That's okay, this is when the multi-tiered systems of prioritization come into play, so it's a whole new kind of fun.

I've shared the complete list of Galas, Special Presentations, Contemporary World Cinema and Visions films announced today (see below), but here are the ones that have piqued my interest the most:

In the Gala and Special Presentation programmes there are several book-centric titles I've got my eye on are Wuthering Heights, even thought I found the book a challenge I'm very curious to see what director Andrea Arnold (Red Road, Fish Tank) does with it. We also have an adaptation of Albert Camus' autobiographical novel with The First Man from director Gianni Amelio. Plus, if you can believe it the action flick Killer Elite starring Jason Statham, Clive Owen, Yvonne Strahovski, Robert De Niro and Dominic Purcell is an adaptation of The Feather Men by Sir Ranulph Fiennes and is centred on assassinations of members of the SAS an there is controversy over the 'based on true events' aspect of the novel it is noted here as "based on a true story". It almost made the cut for the Book to Film Club but it felt a little strange to have an action flick be a book pick and also the regular release of just post-festival September 23, 2011 was only recently announced.

I'm very curious about UFO in Her Eyes which actually talks about UFO tours, Juan of the Dead a Cuba-set zombie film, Japanese film Monsters Club where a bored bomb maker is visited by a creature,The Awakening for pairing skeptism and exposing séances, This Side of Resurrection from Portugal which pairs sibling love and faith, Taiwanese film Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale of the battle between belief in rainbows versus the sun and Death of a Superhero from director Ian FitzGibbon (A Film with Me in It) and starring Andy Serkis.

More titles and descriptions that jumped out at me include My Worst Nightmare for noting "existential chaos", Violet & Daisy for being 'whimsical' and having Danny Trejo (Machete) in the cast, the description for Lena popped out at me for noting a girl who must "find the inner strength and beauty she didn't know she had" because that's always going to work for me. And finally, as one of my TIFF traditions is to see at a film from a country where I've never seen a film from before and this year Always Brando from Tunisia might just fit that slot.

Galas

Page Eight **Closing Night Film**
Dir: David Hare, United Kingdom
International Premiere

Johnny Worricker (Bill Nighy) is a long-serving M15 officer. His boss and best friend Benedict Baron (Michael Gambon) dies suddenly, leaving behind him an inexplicable file, threatening the stability of the organization. Meanwhile, a seemingly chance encounter with Johnny's striking next-door neighbour and political activist Nancy Pierpan (Rachel Weisz) seems too good to be true. Set in London and Cambridge, Page Eight is a contemporary spy film which addresses intelligence issues and moral dilemmas peculiar to the new century. Also stars Ralph Fiennes and Judy Davis.

The Awakening
Dir: Nick Murphy, United Kingdom
World Premiere

Haunted by the death of her fiancé, Florence Cathcart is on a mission to expose all séances as exploitative shams. However, when she is called to a boys’ boarding school to investigate a case of the uncanny, she is gradually forced to confront her skepticism in the most terrifying way, shaking her scientific convictions and her sense of self to the very core. Haunting and moving in equal measure, The Awakening is a sophisticated psychological/supernatural thriller in the tradition of The Others and The Orphanage, but with its own unique and thrilling twist. Starring Rebecca Hall, Dominic West and Imelda Staunton.

Beloved
Dir: Christophe Honoré, France
International Premiere

From Paris in the 1960s to London’s modern days, Madeleine and her daughter Vera waltz in and out of the lives of the men they love. But love can be light and painful, cheerful and bitter. An elegy to femininity and passion with musical outbursts. Starring Chiara Mastroianni and Catherine Deneuve.

Hysteria
Dir: Tanya Wexler, USA/United Kingdom
World Premiere

A romantic comedy based on the surprising truth of how Mortimer Granville came up with the world's first electro-mechanical vibrator in the name of medical science. Academy Award®-nominee Maggie Gyllenhaal and Hugh Dancy headline in this untold tale of a young Victorian doctor's quest to figure out the key to women's happiness. Also starring Jonathan Pryce, Rupert Everett and Felicity Jones.

Killer Elite
Dir: Gary McKendry, USA/Australia
World Premiere

Based on a true story, Killer Elite races across the globe from Australia to Paris, London and the Middle East in the action-packed account of an ex-special ops agent (Jason Statham) who is lured out of retirement to rescue his mentor (Robert De Niro). To make the rescue, he must complete a near-impossible mission of killing three tough-as-nails assassins with a cunning leader (Clive Owen).

Machine Gun Preacher
Dir: Marc Forster, USA
World Premiere

Machine Gun Preacher is an inspirational true story, about Sam Childers, a former drug-dealing criminal who undergoes an astonishing transformation and finds an unexpected calling as the saviour of hundreds of kidnapped and orphaned children. Gerard Butler (300) delivers a searing performance as Childers in Golden Globe®-nominated director Marc Forster’s (Monster’s Ball, Finding Neverland) moving story of violence and redemption. Machine Gun Preacher was previously announced as a Special Presentation.

Trespass
Dir: Joel Schumacher, USA
World Premiere

What happens when a man with everything – a beautiful wife, a teenage daughter and a wealthy estate – is confronted with the reality of losing it all? That is what Kyle Miller must come to terms with as he and his family become the victims of a vicious home invasion. Starring Nicolas Cage and Nicole Kidman.

Winnie
Dir: Darrell J. Roodt, South Africa /Canada
World Premiere

This film reveals the enigma that is Winnie Mandela. A sensitive depiction, Winnie portrays her life’s journey amidst the unwavering love between her and Nelson Mandela, and their unfaltering commitment to the struggle for democracy in South Africa. Winnie takes the audience on an epic voyage of understanding – painting a vivid portrait of one of the world’s most remarkable women. Starring Jennifer Hudson, Terrence Howard, Elias Koteas and Wendy Crewson.

Special Presentations

The Cardboard Village
Dir: Ermanno Olmi, Italy
International Premiere

An old priest and his church are about to be demolished. A group of clandestine immigrants seeking protection find refuge in that church. In a circumstance of crisis and discouragement, together these people will be able to find the real meaning of the word “solidarity” and realize that the church is much more than a place for liturgical ceremonies and golden altars. Starring Michael Lonsdale and Rutger Hauer.

Damsels in Distress
Dir: Whit Stillman, USA
North American Premiere

Damsels in Distress is a comedy about a trio of beautiful girls as they set out to revolutionize life at a grungy American university – the dynamic leader Violet Wister (Greta Gerwig), principled Rose (Megalyn Echikunwoke) and sexy Heather (Carrie MacLemore). They welcome transfer student Lily (Analeigh Tipton) into their group, which seeks to help severely depressed students with a program of good hygiene and musical dance numbers. The girls become romantically entangled with a series of men – including smooth Charlie (Adam Brody), dreamboat Xavier (Hugo Becker), the mad frat-pack of Frank (Ryan Metcalf) and Thor (Billy Magnussen) – who threaten the girls’ friendship and sanity.

Death of a Superhero
Dir: Ian FitzGibbon, Germany/Ireland
World Premiere

Donald is 15 and dreams of girls, sex and crazy adventures. In his fantasy world, he creates an immortal superhero who fights against all evil. And in reality? Donald is falling in love with the school rebel while fighting against a terminal illness. Starring Andy Serkis, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Aisling Loftus, Michael McElhatton, Sharon Horgan and Jessica Schwarz

The First Man
Gianni Amelio, France/Algeria/Italy
World Premiere

An adaptation of Albert Camus’ autobiographical last novel. Part childhood memoir, part epic narrative of Camus’ beloved Algeria and its struggle for independence from France, The First Man was left unfinished by the Nobel Prize-winner who died at age 46.

In Darkness
Dir: Agnieszka Holland, Canada/Germany/Poland
World Premiere

In Darkness tells the true story of Leopold Socha, a sewer worker and petty thief in Nazi-occupied Lvov, Poland. Stumbling upon a group of Jews in the sewers, he agrees to hide them for a price. What starts out as a straightforward business arrangement becomes something unexpected, as they all try to outwit certain death during 14 months of intense danger. Starring Robert Wieçkiewicz and Benno Fürmann.

Intruders
Dir: Juan Carlos Fresnadillo, Spain
World Premiere

Juan and Mia, two children who live in different countries, are visited every night by a faceless intruder – a terrifying being that wants to get hold of them. These presences become more powerful and start ruling their lives as well as their families’. Anxiety and tension increase when their parents also witness these apparitions. Starring Clive Owen.

Life Without Principle
Dir: Johnnie To, Hong Kong
North American Premiere

What do a bank teller, a small-time thug and a police inspector have in common? Nothing. Not until a bag of stolen money worth $10 million crosses their paths and forces them to make soul-searching decisions about right and wrong and everything in between on the morality scale.

Low Life
Dirs: Nicolas Klotz, Elisabeth Perceval, France
North American Premiere

After making love, the youngsters slipped happily into dreamland… but when they opened their eyes the world appeared joyless, and stomach-wrenchingly old. And so they quickly sank back into their happy world, where all sleepers are equal. This is the place they called Low Life.

Mausam / Seasons of Love
Dir: Pankaj Kapur, India
World Premiere

Mausam is a story of timeless love in the face of political hostilities and religious conflict, between a proud Punjabi air force officer and an innocent Kashmiri refugee. Set against a landscape that transcends decades and spans continents, Mausam is a classic journey that transports one into a world of indestructible bonds of love enveloped by the roulette of destiny. Starring Shahid Kapur, Sonam A Kapoor and Anupam Kher.

My Worst Nightmare
Dir: Anne Fontaine, France/Belgium
World Premiere

Agathe doesn’t realize to what extent her life is going to be turned upside down when she takes in Tony, the best friend of her son Adrien. Tony’s father, Patrick, leads Agathe down a merry path of existential chaos, which just may deliver her from herself. Starring Isabelle Huppert.

Rebellion
Dir: Mathieu Kassovitz, France
World Premiere

April 1988, Ouvea island, New Caledonia, a French colony. Thirty policemen are kidnapped by locals fighting for their independence. Three hundred members of the French army special forces unit are immediately sent on a mission to fix the situation. An encounter of two cultures: Philippe Legorjus, head of the unit, versus Alphonse Dianou, head of the rebels. Together, they’ll fight to resolve the situation through mutual trust and dialogue over violence. Except that they’re at the heart of the most-tense presidential elections in French history – when issues at stake are purely political, rules of law and order are not exactly moral.

Sleeping Beauty
Dir: Julia Leigh, Australia
North American Premiere

“You will go to sleep: you will wake up. It will be as if those hours never existed.” Death-haunted, quietly reckless, Lucy is a young university student who takes a job as a Sleeping Beauty. In the Sleeping Beauty Chamber, old men seek an erotic experience that requires Lucy’s absolute submission. This unsettling task starts to bleed into Lucy’s daily life and she develops an increasing need to know what happens to her when she is asleep. Starring Emily Browning and Rachael Blake.

Terraferma
Dir: Emanuele Crialese, Italy
International Premiere

Terraferma is the story of an uncontaminated Sicilian island inhabited by fisherman. Still barely touched by tourism, the islanders have begun to alter their mentality and behaviour as they realize the economic potential of this new industry. At the same time, they deal with illegal aliens flooding the island and a new law requiring them to turn back undocumented peoples seeking aid.

That Summer
Dir: Philippe Garrel, France/Italy/Switzerland
North American Premiere

A couple living together in Paris – he’s a painter, she’s a film actress – befriends a couple of film extras who fall in love with each other. All four go to Rome where their relationships undergo profound changes as emotions shift and change.

Violet & Daisy
Dir: Geoffrey Fletcher, USA
World Premiere

Violet & Daisy, the whimsical story of a teenager’s surreal and violent journey through New York City, follows Oscar nominee Saoirse Ronan (Hanna, Atonement, The Lovely Bones) as Daisy. With her volatile partner-in-crime Violet, played by Alexis Bledel (Sin City, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, The Gilmore Girls), the two young assassins face a series of opponents, including one unusually mysterious man (James Gandolfini), in a life-altering encounter. The film, written and directed by Oscar-winning screenwriter Geoffrey Fletcher (Precious), also stars Oscar nominee Marianne Jean-Baptiste and Danny Trejo.

Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale
Dir: Wei Te-Sheng, Taiwan
North American Premiere

Wei Te-Sheng’s epic film Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale reclaims an extraordinary episode from 20th-century history which is little-known even in Taiwan. It’s a story of the encounter between a people who believe in rainbows and a nation which believes in the sun. It takes the form of a heroic battle in defence of faith and dignity.

Wuthering Heights
Dir: Andrea Arnold, United Kingdom
North American Premiere

A Yorkshire hill farmer on a visit to Liverpool finds a homeless boy on the streets. He takes him home to live as part of his family on the isolated Yorkshire moors where the boy forges an obsessive relationship with the farmer’s daughter. Starring James Howson and Kaya Scodelario.

Contemporary World Cinema

Always Brando
Dir: Ridha Béhi, Tunisia
World Premiere

After meeting Anis Raache, a young Tunisian actor who bears a stunning resemblance to young Marlon Brando, Tunisian master Ridha Béhi decided to write a film casting the two. Marlon Brando was interested, the two met and reworked the script. Brando died before shooting started. Always Brando chronicles Béhi's saga with Marlon Brando and meditates on the lure and cruelty of the art, system and its industry.

Azhagarsamy's Horse
Dir: Suseendran, India
International Premiere

In a small Tamil village, a ceremonial wooden-horse statue goes missing. With a crucial holy symbol suddenly gone, the village falls into recriminations and comic chaos. At the same time, Azhagarsamy, a young man who earns his livelihood by ferrying loads on his horse, puts his marriage on hold when his horse also disappears.

Beauty
Dir: Oliver Hermanus, South Africa/France
North American Premiere

François, a white, Afrikaans-speaking 40-year-old family man, no longer cares about his happiness. Convinced of his ill-fated existence, he is wholly unprepared when a chance encounter unravels his controlled life.

Blood of my Blood
Dir: João Canijo, Portugal
World Premiere

Set in inner city Lisbon, this family saga about unconditional love – a mother‟s love for her daughter and an aunt‟s love for her nephew – chronicles the sacrifices these two women are willing to make to save their family.

Bonsái
Dir: Cristián Jiménez, Chile/France/Argentina/Portugal
North American Premiere

Jiménez' debut celebrates love, literature and botany in this portrayal of a struggling writer, Julio, who finds himself writing a book about his very first experience with love in order to keep up a lie that he has told his current lover. In need of a plot, Julio turns to the romance he had eight years earlier with Emilia when both were studying literature in Valdivia.

Colour of the Ocean
Dir: Maggie Peren, Germany
World Premiere

A Spanish border patrolman of Grand Canary Island, José, decides the fate of hundreds of African boat people. When Nathalie, a German tourist, gets involved, the refugee crisis threatens to spin out of control. It's up to José to decide what to do, but he must learn to free himself first before he can help free others.

Death for Sale
Dir: Faouzi Bensaidi, Belgium/France/Morocco
World Premiere

In Tetouan, at the northern edge of Morocco, three young men decide to rob a jewellery store. The heist goes awry, and their destinies part drastically. In Death for Sale, Faouzi Bensaidi draws a captivating noir portrait of a city abandoned to corrupt officials, smugglers and extremists.

Elena
Dir: Andrey Zvyagintsev, Russia
North American Premiere

Vladmir, an affluent man, drives his second wife Elena to desperation after he patches things up with his estranged daughter and decides to leave her all his money in the event of his death. Elena's son is unemployed, unable to support his own family and is constantly asking Elena for money. Elena's hope to financially rescue her son suddenly vanishes. The shy and submissive housewife then comes up with a plan to give her son and grandchildren a real chance in life.

Extraterrestrial
Dir: Nacho Vigalondo, Spain
World Premiere

Julio and Julia don't know each other, but they wake up in the same bed horribly hungover and with no memory of the night before. He falls in love with her almost immediately – she does not. The last thing they expect to discover is that an alien invasion has taken place. Vigalondo melds science fiction, romance and black comedy in his latest feature about the darkly fascinating aspects of the human psyche.

Footnote
Dir: Joseph Cedar, Israel
North American Premiere

This story chronicles the outcome of a great rivalry between a father and son, both professors in the Talmud department of Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

The Forgiveness of Blood
Dir: Joshua Marston, USA/Albania/Denmark/Italy
North American Premiere

The lives of a teenage boy and his younger sister are thrown into turmoil when a fatal dispute over land pulls their northern-Albanian family into a bloody feud.

Free Men
Dir: Ismaël Ferroukhi, France
International Premiere

Set in German-occupied Paris in 1942, Younes, an Algerian black marketer, is arrested by the police and agrees to spy on a Parisian mosque suspected of helping resistance fighters and Jews. Witnessing the horrors of the Nazi regime, Younes stops collaborating to become a freedom fighter.

From Up on Poppy Hill
Dir: Goro Miyazaki, Japan
International Premiere

Anime director Goro Miyazaki follows a group of Yokohama teens in their quest against a wrecking ball that threatens to destroy their school's clubhouse in preparation for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.

A Funny Man
Dir: Martin P. Zandvliet, Denmark
International Premiere

Opening in the seductive style of the 1960s, A Funny Man uncovers the perennial loneliness that comedian Dirch Passer (Nikolaj Lie Kaas) has found himself in after a fast-track rise to fame, despite being surrounded by a mélange of wealth, women, alcohol and infamy.

Future Lasts Forever
Dir: Ozcan Alper, Turkey/France/Germany
World Premiere

A young ethnomusicologist leaves Istanbul and heads to the southeast of Turkey to work on her masters thesis, gathering a collection of Anatolian elegies and stories. During her stay in Diyarbakir, she finds herself having to confront an agony from her own past in the middle of the ongoing „unnamed war.

Good Bye
Dir: Mohammad Rasoulof, Iran

This is a story of a young lawyer in Tehran and her pursuit of a visa to leave the country.

Goodbye First Love
Dir: Mia Hansen-Løve, France/Germany
Canadian Premiere

It's Spring 1999 and Camille, 15, and Sullivan, 19, love each other passionately. Following the progression of this young, first love, the affair evolves from initial rapture to heartbreak as Sullivan decides he wants to travel the world before settling down. Driven to despair, Camille suffers deep emotional turmoil and must learn to deal with his absence.

Guilty
Dir: Vincent Garenq, France
North American Premiere

This true story documents the Outreau case. In 2011, Alain Marécaux and his wife were arrested, along with twelve other people, for horrible acts of paedophilia they never committed.

Gypsy
Dir: Martin Šulík, Slovakia
North American Premiere

Gypsy tells the story of Adam, a 14-year-old Roma boy, who is forced into a life of crime following his father‟s mysterious death. He encounters racial, social and cultural prejudices and comes into conflict with the unwritten laws of his own community.

Heleno José
Dir: Henrique Fonseca, Brazil
World Premiere

This film is a non-chronological and in-depth account of the life of Heleno de Freitas (1920 to 1959), a controversial and mythological Brazilian football player. Also known as „Gilda' due to his wild temper with teammates and referees, Heleno was the prince of the 1940s golden age in Rio de Janeiro when the city was a dream setting, steeped in glamour and promise. Handsome and charming, Heleno had no doubt he was going to be the biggest Brazilian footballer of all time, but the war, syphilis and a turbulent life would steer him from that destiny, down a road of glory and tragedy.

Himizu
Dir: Sion Sono, Japan
North American Premiere

The story is about a teenager who aspires to be 'ordinary' within a world of chaos. Following an incident that can never be erased from his life, his wish becomes something impossible to achieve, turning him into a person obsessed to sanction evil people in society.

Hotel Swooni
Dir: Kaat Beels, Belgium
International Premiere

Six lives, 24 hours, and a hotel in the middle of a heat wave. Anna and Hendrik have it all: a great son, a good job, a lovely house – but the wedding they witness in the hotel forces them to reflect on the choices they have made. Violette wants to reconcile with her daughter Vicky before she dies, but Vicky struggles to let go of a hurtful past. Meanwhile, a young African refugee hides out in the hotel from the police. The lives of all these people become irrevocably intertwined until the heat breaks and the rain offers some relief.

Islands
Dir: Stefano Chiantini, Italy
World Premiere

This story takes shape under the roof of a parsonage on the Tremiti islands. An eastern European bricklayer looking for work is befriended by a young woman who has retreated into silence and lives with a middle-aged priest. The priest is at war with his sister, the young woman is running from her past and the bricklayer is simply trying to survive. As their lives intermingle, emotions bubble to the surface.

Juan of the Dead
Dir: Alejandro Brugués, Spain/Cuba
World Premiere

The zombie world has yet to witness one last stand – Cuba. An outbreak hits the island on the anniversary of the revolution, so Juan and his friends set out to conquer the undead who, according to government reports, are unruly Americans continuing their quest of undermining the regime.

Land of Oblivion
Dir: Michale Boganim, France/Germany/Poland/Ukraine
North American Premiere

April 26, 1986: Anya and Piotr are celebrating their marriage when an accident occurs at the Chernobyl power station. As a fireman, Piotr leaves to extinguish the flames – but he never returns. Ten years later, after Chernobyl has become a no man‟s land and a tourist attraction, Anya is still there, working as a guide. Split between two lovers, she tries to accept the hope of a new life.

Last Days in Jerusalem
Dir: Tawfik Abu Wael, France/Israel/Palestine/Germany
North American Premiere

A lens into the emotional upheaval of a Palestinian couple‟s last moments before leaving their native city, Jerusalem, to forge a brighter future in Paris. Iyad is a surgeon at the top of his game; Nour is a young actress with an intellectual bourgeois background – attractive, independent and whimsical. On the way to the airport, a news report of a terrible accident means Iyad must return to work, delaying their departure. Abandoned by her husband once again, Nour starts to question the move and their marriage.

Last Winter
Dir: John Shank, Belgium/France
North American Premiere

Somewhere on an isolated mountainous plain, Johann has taken over his father‟s farm, devoting all his time and energy to his work. Surrounded by a struggling community and a natural landscape that has taught him all he knows, his heritage is his entire life. As autumn goes and winter comes, a barn burns to the ground and jeopardizes the fragile balance of the farm‟s survival. This is a story of a man trying to love the world he belongs to one last time, as hard as he can, before it sinks into darkness.

Lena
Dir: Christophe Van Rompaey, The Netherlands/Belgium
World Premiere

Seventeen-year-old Lena is overweight, shy and allows others to take advantage of her. She puts up with an overbearing mother, an egotistical best friend and belittling mates. When she meets Daan, a charming, good-looking young lad, it could either be too good to be true or the well-deserved beginning of a happier life. To find out, she must find the inner strength and beauty she didn‟t know she had.

Lipstikka
Dir: Jonathan Sagall, Israel/United Kingdom
North American Premiere

Lara is a Palestinian woman who came to London to begin a new life. She got married and now lives a comfortable, but somewhat loveless, life with her husband and 7-year-old son James. One morning, Inam, her childhood friend from Ramallah, shows up on her
doorstep. Triggered by her sudden appearance, Lara‟s orderly life begins to crack.

Lucky
Dir: Avie Luthra, South Africa/United Kingdom
World Premiere

Lucky, an AIDS orphan, is forced to leave his native village to live with his uncle in Durban. He learns about life the hard way, but forges an unlikely bond with an elderly Indian neighbour in spite of racial prejudice and language barriers. Together they go on a journey to find him a new life and family.

Man on Ground
Dir: Akin Omotoso, South Africa
World Premiere

This portrayal of rising xenophobia in South Africa tells the story of a young Nigerian man living in the African refugee tenements of Johannesburg, who disappears against the background of animosity against immigrants flaring into violent rioting. In the span of a single night, his brother, on a short visit from London, tries to uncover the mystery.

Michael
Dir: Ribhu Dasgupta, India
World Premiere

Michael, an ex-cop, lives with his 11-year-old son and works in a theatre as a projectionist pirating DVDs for a living. When he starts receiving death threats for his son from someone in his past, he gets caught up in a complex web of his own impending blindness comprised of his insecurities. First-time director Ribhu Dasgupta teams up with India's guru of independent cinema, producer Anurag Kashyap, and veteran actor Naseeruddin Shah for this character-driven, psychological drama.

Michael
Dir: Markus Schleinzer, Austria
North American Premiere

A mousy insurance salesman keeps an under-aged boy locked in his basement, while doing his best to appear ordinary to the outside world.

Miss Bala
Dir: Gerardo Naranjo, Mexico
North American Premiere

Laura, a young aspiring beauty queen, finds her dream turned against her when she unwillingly gets involved with a criminal group at war. This film explores the many extremes of modern Mexican society when the world of beauty pageants and current drug war collide.

Mr. Tree
Dir: Han Jie, China
North American Premiere

Shu (Wang Baoqiang) – whose name translates to “tree” in Mandarin – is a clownish mechanic who resides in a small mining village in Northern China. Shu has a reputation as a slacker, a drunk and a danger to himself and others. He is haunted by dreams and hallucinations, yet when one of his visions manifests as real, his fellow villagers come to regard him as a prophet. Set against the backdrop of sweeping social changes, the film is a subtle commentary on rampant urbanization in China and the relocation of entire villages. Produced by master filmmaker Jia Zhang-ke.

Omar Killed Me
Dir: Roschdy Zem, France
North American Premiere

February 2, 1994: Omar Raddad, a Moroccan gardener, is sentenced to 18 years for the murder of a wealthy widow in Marseille, France. Convinced of Raddad‟s innocence, a journalist sets out to defend his case.

Restoration
Dir: Yossi Madmony, Israel
Canadian Premiere

Yaakov Fidelman (Sasson Gabai, The Band's Visit) hangs on with all his might to the antique restoration workshop that has been his life's work. After his partner passes away, Fidelman rejects his son‟s idea to close the business and build on the site. Will he understand that his only hope for redemption is to learn to let go?

Rose
Dir: Wojciech Smarzowski, Poland
International Premiere

Summertime 1945: the end of the war brings continued chaos and violence for Polish inhabitants of the former East Prussia. Rose is Polish and her German husband has been killed in the war, leaving her alone on their farm. A Polish army officer tries to conceal his identity as he helps protect her from suspicious Soviet soldiers and foraging people circling the farm.

Rough Hands
Dir: Mohamed Asli, Morocco
World Premiere

Mustafa is an illiterate hairdresser who lives with his blind mother. He runs an underground trade as a middleman facilitating favours in exchange for money – among them is Zakia who wants to immigrate to Spain. Unable to realize her Spanish dream, she remains in her country and marries Mustafa.

A Separation
Dir: Asghar Farhadi, Iran
North American Premiere

When Simin's husband Nader refuses to grant her a divorce, she returns to her parents' home. Nader hires a young woman to assist in his wife's absence, hoping his life will return to normal. However, after discovering that the new maid has been lying, he realizes there is more on the line than just his marriage.

The Silver Cliff
Dir: Karim Aïnouz, Brazil
North American Premiere

A phone message from her husband propels Violeta into the streets of Rio until sunrise. Telling their teenage son that a last minute trip has come up, she sets out to find her husband. Rio at night is her sole companion as she struggles to face his abrupt and sudden change of heart, but the beach also provides renewal, unexpected meetings and a window to a whole other world.

Sons of Norway
Dir: Jens Lien, Norway
International Premiere

Nikolaj moves to Rykkin where his father has helped design the new satellite town. His father is a playful, self-declared free spirit, who firmly believes that a new community soul will flourish the Norwegian town. Nikolaj tries to make sense of life under the thumb of his optimistic and energetic father. They‟re a happy little alternative family – until his mother is suddenly killed in a traffic accident.

Superclásico
Dir: Ole Christian Madsen, Denmark
North American Premiere

Christian (Anders W. Berthelsen) owns a wine store approaching bankruptcy – and he is just as unsuccessful in about every other aspect of life. His wife Anna (Paprika Steen) leaves him and finds work as a successful football agent in Buenos Aires, living a life of luxury with Juan Diaz, a star football player. One day, Christian arrives under the false pretence of finalizing divorce papers, but his real motives involve winning his wife back.

Think of Me
Dir: Bryan Wizemann, USA
World Premiere

Angela, a single mother, struggles to make ends meet for her daughter. Beneath the Las Vegas neon glow, her life hits a breaking point, presenting her with an impossible choice: keep trying to make things work, or let it all go for the promise of something better.

UFO in her Eyes
Dir: Xiaolu Guo, Germany
World Premiere

Kwok Yun leads a simple peasant's life in the peaceful village mountains. She lives with her grandfather and works as a labourer. Following a countryside tryst with a married man, she spots a UFO – a giant glowing object in the shape of a dumpling. Later that same day, she helps a snake-bitten American businessman who disappears as mysteriously as the UFO. Using the unexpected events for political gain, the ambitious village leader, Chief Chang, stimulates tourism with UFO tours and gets the local economy roaring, despite the dangers such radical change can bring, especially to the environment.

Union Square
Dir: Nancy Savoca, USA
World Premiere

Union Square chronicles the reluctant reunion of two estranged sisters: one on the verge of marriage, the other on the brink of a nervous breakdown.

Your Sister's Sister
Dir: Lynn Shelton, USA
World Premiere

Still mourning the recent death of his brother, a bereft and confused man finds love and direction in a most unexpected place.

Visions

ALPS
Dir: Yorgos Lanthimos, Greece/France
North American Premiere
A nurse, a paramedic, a gymnast, and her coach have formed a secret, illegal company. The service they provide is to act as stand- ins for the recently deceased, for the benefit of grieving relatives and friends. The company is called “ALPS” and the ALPS members, taking inspiration from the life of the deceased, adopt their behaviours and habits, memorizing favourite songs, actors, foods, familiar expressions. Although the members of ALPS operate under a disciplined regime demanded by the paramedic, their leader, the nurse doesn't.

Century of Birthing
Dir: Lav Diaz, The Philippines
North American Premiere

A grand meditation on the roles of the artist, Filipino director Lav Diaz‟s Century of Birthing tells two seemingly unrelated tales: one focusing on a filmmaker who has spent years working on his latest opus; the other about a Christian cult leader in a rural region.

Cut
Dir: Amir Naderi, Japan
North American Premiere

An obsessive young filmmaker becomes a human punching bag to pay off the yakuza loans that financed his films. A love poem to cinema classics from the acclaimed director of The Runner, Vegas: Based on a True Story, and A,B,C…Manhattan.

Dreileben / Three Lives
Dirs: Christian Petzold, Dominik Graf and Christoph Hochhäusler, Germany
North American Premiere

A thrilling trio of interlocking films, Dreileben explores the story of an escaped murderer from three different angles, in three different styles, by three of Germany's leading filmmakers.

Fable of the Fish
Dir: Adolfo Borinaga Alix Jr., The Philippines
International Premiere

A couple, Lina and Miguel, move into a dumpsite in Catmon, Malabon. As they adjust to their new abode and surroundings, Lina‟s longing to have a child intensifies. One day, Lina learns that she is pregnant. She gives birth in the middle of a storm, and those who witness the birth are shocked – her son is a fish. While Miguel cannot accept it, Lina embraces what has happened and treats the fish as her son. What unfolds is a fable that questions the needs and compromises of a real family.

House of Tolerance
Dir: Bertrand Bonello, France
North American Premiere

The dawn of the XXth century: A brothel in Paris is living its last days. The women live in a state of collective intimacy and fear, baited and beloved by the nightly visits of intimate strangers, and bathed in the light of French Romantic and Impressionist painting.

KOTOKO
Dir: Shinya Tsukamoto, Japan
North American Premiere

The story of a single mother who suffers from double vision; caring for her baby is a nerve-wrecking task that eventually leads her to a nervous breakdown. She is suspected of being a child abuser when things get out of control and her baby is taken away.

The Last Christeros
Dir: Matias Meyer, Mexico/The Netherlands
World Premiere

At the end of the 1930s, in the arid mountains of Mexico, a Christero colonel and his last men resist surrender. The men are peasants, poor but proud people. They require their government‟s support and need ammunition in order to fight. The support does not arrive and life in the sierra turns more difficult every day; the war is almost over. The men, in their suffering, illness and solitude, begin to feel abandoned. They are almost the last ones.

The Loneliest Planet
Dir: Julia Loktev, USA/Germany
North American Premiere

Alex and Nica are a young couple backpacking in the Caucasus Mountains in Georgia. They hire a local guide to lead them on a camping trek, and the three set off into a stunning wilderness. Walking for hours, they trade anecdotes and play games to pass the time. And then, a momentary misstep threatens to undo everything the couple believed about each other and about themselves. The film is a tale about betrayal, both accidental and deliberate, about love, commitment and the ambiguities of forgiveness.

Monsters Club
Dir: Toshiaki Toyoda, Japan
World Premiere

Having abandoned modern civilization, Ryoichi lives an isolated, self-sufficient life on a snow-covered mountain and passes the time by sending mail bombs to corporate CEOs. But one day, a mysterious creature appears before him.

The Mountain
Dir: Ghassan Salhab, Lebanon/Qatar
North American Premiere

As night falls over Beirut, Fadi, a 40-year-old man, packs his bags and sets out for the airport with a friend. Although he has said that he will be leaving the country for a month, when he arrives at the airport, he rents a car, gets on the highway and takes the
mountainous route north.

Mushrooms
Dir: Vimukthi Jayasundara, India/France
North American Premiere

Rahul, a Bengali architect who had gone off to build a career in Dubai, returns to Kolkata to launch a huge construction site. He is reunited with his girlfriend, Paoli, who had long awaited his homecoming. Together, they try to find Rahul‟s brother, who is said to have gone mad, living in the forest and sleeping in the trees. Despite appearances, the two brothers might have a lot in common.

Play
Dir: Ruben Östlund, Sweden/France/Denmark
North American Premiere

Play is an astute observation based on real cases of bullying. In central Gothenburg, Sweden, a group of boys, aged 12-14, robbed other children on about 40 occasions between 2006 and 2008. The thieves used an elaborate manipulation scheme called the "brother trick", involving advanced role-play and gang rhetoric rather than physical violence.

Porfirio
Dir: Alejandro Landes, Colombia/Spain/Uruguay/Argentina/France
North American Premiere

A man disabled by a stray police bullet lives in a world that stretches only from bed to wheelchair in a faraway city on the outskirts of the Colombian Amazon. There, he sells call time on his cellular phone to get by as he waits in vain for a government cheque and takes calls that are never for him. Determined to make himself heard, he hatches a desperately violent plan to take back the reins of his life – only to find himself back where he began.

Random
Dir: Debbie Tucker Green, United Kingdom
International Premiere

Set over the course of one day in London, Random tells the story of an ordinary family on an ordinary day whose lives are shattered by the impact of one random event. It is a lively and beautifully observed portrait of family dynamics which draws us into a moving story.

The River Used to be A Man
Dir: Jan Zabeil, Germany
International Premiere

A young German man travels through an African country. He meets an old fisherman who takes him deep into the wilderness. The next morning, he finds himself alone in the middle of an endless delta. His continuous loss of control leads him into a world far beyond his own comprehension.

Swirl
Dirs: Helvecio Marins Jr. and Clarissa Campolina, Brazil
North American Premiere

At 81, Bastu still loves a good party and dancing until dawn with her friends. When her husband dies, she is suddenly forced to rethink her life and her routine. She spends time telling stories to her grandchildren and reminiscing with friends. Magical and moving, this delicate debut is a wonderful depiction of life in the small village of São Romão, in the arid region of Brazil‟s north.

This Side of Resurrection
Dir: Joaquim Sapinho, Portugal
World Premiere

Questions of religious belief do not concern young Inês, who is more interested in surfing and boyfriends than in God. When her brother Rafael returns, she discovers that he had never left Portugal for Australia as she had originally thought, but had been living nearby in a monastery. As Rafael wrestles with his faith and future, Inês tries to connect with him. Exquisitely shot, Joaquim Sapinho delicately approaches themes of family, sibling love and faith in his latest feature film.

See all of today's press releases:
The Toronto International Film Festival 2011 runs from September 8 - 18, 2011 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

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