Every year, The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) is met with flamboyantly frocked celebrities from all over the world, like moths drawn to light. The festival, which runs September 10-20, will premiere works from some of the film industry’s greatest auteurs alongside independent local productions. These are some of this year’s standout showings:
STONEWALL (directed by Roland Emmerich)
Stonewall, starring James Irvine and Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, presents the story of the historic New York riots. After devoting most of his career to destroying famous monuments (see: The Day After Tomorrow, 2012), Emmerich strays off the beaten path with a project that, unlike his Armageddon films, is closer to his heart as a prominent LGBT activist. Prepare to be overwhelmed by the stars good-looks and a landmark moment in LGBT history.
FREEHELD (directed by Peter Sollett)
Fresh from her Best Actress win at last year’s Academy Awards, Julianne Moore returns with an LGBT drama film that, like Stonewall, dovetails perfectly with this year’s momentous gay rights achievements. No stranger to depicting LGBT characters, Moore’s performance is the polar opposite of her role in the hit comedy The Kids Are All Right. In Freeheld, Moore stars as a police officer diagnosed with lung cancer. She has to fight the county’s board of freeholders in order to ensure that her pension benefits will pass to her domestic partner, portrayed by Ellen Page.
THE LADY IN THE VAN (directed by Nicholas Hynter)
Adapted from his 1999 play, Alan Bennett’s The Lady in the Van tells the true story of Bennett’s relationship with Miss Mary Shepherd, an elderly homeless woman who parked her van in Bennett’s driveway for 15 years. The indomitable Maggie Smith stars as the titular character (a hilarious reversal of her role in Downton Abbey). Expect riveting performances from Smith, Alex Jennings, and Jim Broadbent.
INTO THE FOREST (directed by Patricia Rozema)
Last year, we had Into the Woods; this year, we get Into the Forest, a film that’s as Canadian as could be. A wilderness survival drama about two sisters struggling to survive in a country house after a calamitous continental power outage, Into The Forest features performances from Evan Rachel Wood and Ellen Page (who presumably used Julianne Moore’s pension savings to buy the country house). With only their intuition and their wits, the sisters defend themselves against disease, starvation, intruders, and the advent of the apocalypse.
BEASTS OF NO NATION (directed by Cary Fukunaga)
After a baffling season of True Detective, Fukunaga is anticipated to return to form with Beasts of No Nation, a Ghanaian war drama starring Idris Elba as the commandant — perhaps a training-wheels role for his rumoured replacement of Daniel Craig as 007. If you can’t catch this film at TIFF, Beasts will premiere on Netflix on October 16.