It’s hard to surpass the amount of empathy the curators behind this year’s Toronto International Film Festival put into play. The themes ranging from life in a Bucharest ghetto to the family relationship between brothers who work in a coal mine, to what if feels to be in a shoes of a suicide bomber — are immensely diverse, striking and more than anything, real. Here’re the films I’ll be looking forward to watch at this year’s festival.
1. The President’s Visit
Directed by Cyril Aris | Lebanon, Qatar, USA
In a sleepy seaside community in Lebanon, a soap maker receives word that the President intends to visit and the over-zealous townsfolk scramble to construct an image of themselves that is worthy of the stately occasion. This delightful comedy is richly shaded by the whimsical eccentricities of the village population.
2. The Current War
Directed by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon | USA
Alfonso Gomez-Rejon (Me and Earl and the Dying Girl) directs Benedict Cumberbatch, Michael Shannon, Nicholas Hoult, Tom Holland, and Katherine Waterston in this account of the race for marketable electricity in the United States between Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse.
3. Lady Bird
Directed by Greta Gerwig | USA
A rebellious young woman (Saoirse Ronan) navigates the pressures and constraints of Catholic school and life in Sacremento, in Greta Gerwig’s solo directorial debut.
4. Soldiers. Story from Ferentari
Directed by Ivana Mladenovic | Romania, Serbia, Belgium
Set within Bucharest’s impoverished ghetto Ferentari, Ivana Mladenovic’s intimate narrative debut navigates the unexpected relationship that blossoms between a young anthropologist named Adi and Roma guide Alberto.
5. The Square
Directed by Ruben Östlund | Sweden
Swedish provocateur Ruben Östlund (Force Majeure) took home the Palme d’Or at Cannes for this no-holds-barred satire of the postmodern art world, about a self-important curator whose attempts to mount an ambitious exhibition go hilariously awry.
Directed by Sadaf Foroughi | Iran, Canada, Qatar
A 16-year-old girl’s relationship with her family is challenged after her mother takes her to a gynaecologist in order to ensure she’s still a virgin.
Directed by George Clooney | USA
Director George Clooney teams with co-writers Joel and Ethan Coen and an all-star ensemble (Matt Damon, Julianne Moore, and Oscar Isaac) for this complex tale of very flawed people making very bad choices in a seemingly idyllic 1950s community.
8. Winter Brothers
Directed by Hlynur Pálmason | Denmark, Iceland
Hlynur Pálmason’s feature debut examines the lives of Johan and his younger brother Emil, two miners whose routines, habits, and rituals are ruptured by a violent feud with a neighbouring family.
9. The Florida Project
Directed by Sean Baker | USA
The latest from Sean Baker (Tangerine) juxtaposes the carefree summer of a spirited kid with the harsh realities dogging the grown-ups in her orbit.
10. Life and Nothing More
Directed by Antonio Méndez Esparza | Spain, USA
The second feature from Spanish-born filmmaker Antonio Méndez Esparza sensitively chronicles the everyday life of an African American family in northern Florida and their struggle to stay afloat in a society that marginalizes them.