The Toronto International Film Festival’s Contemporary World Cinema programme presents the latest works of some of the most provocative and important voices in cinema from around the globe. This year’s lineup includes Pascale Ferran, Jessica Hausner, Rolf de Heer, Ronit Elkabetz and Shlomi Elkabetz, Céline Sciamma, Sepideh Farsi, Rakhshan Banietemad, Christian Zübert, Cristián Jiménez, Ryuichi Hiroki and Panos H. Koutras. Unifying diverse perspectives, Contemporary World Cinema brings exciting works from 42 countries.
For the third year, The Toronto International Film Festival partners with the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs on the Contemporary World Speakers series. This initiative pairs five films in the Contemporary World Cinema programme with expert scholars from the Munk School. Audiences will have the opportunity to interact with filmmakers and scholars in extended discussions, following each film’s second public screening. Speakers include Ron Levi, John Stackhouse, Janice Stein, Ron Deibert and Robert Austin. The Contemporary World Speakers series is programmed in conjunction with the TIFF Adult Learning department.
The 39th Toronto International Film Festival runs September 4 to 14, 2014.
Aire Libre Anahí Berneri, Argentina International Premiere
Even though they refuse to admit it, Lucía and Manuel no longer have dreams in common. Maybe for love or perhaps as a remedy for something that is beyond repair, they plan on rebuilding their life together out of town. Their shared passion for architecture seems to bring them together, as they plan on renovating a house with a garden, selling their apartment and moving in with Lucía’s mother. But living with his wife’s family is suffocating Manuel, and he decides to take a break from cohabitation and moves to his parents’ house. As Lucía and Manuel begin to live separate lives trying to fulfill their own personal dreams, they forget what brought both of them together. Building a place to meet is very hard for them, discovering what they have destroyed is hard as well.
Amour Fou Jessica Hausner, Austria/Luxembourg/Germany North American Premiere
Berlin, the Romantic Era. Young poet Heinrich wishes to conquer the inevitability of death through love, yet is unable to convince his skeptical cousin Marie to join him in a suicide pact. It is while coming to terms with this refusal, ineffably distressed by his cousin’s insensitivity to the depth of his feelings, that Heinrich meets Henriette, the wife of a business acquaintance. Heinrich’s subsequent offer to the beguiling young woman at first holds scant appeal… until Henriette discovers she is suffering from a terminal illness. Amour Fou is a romantic comedy based loosely on the suicide of the poet Henrich von Kleist in 1811.
Behavior (Conducta) Ernesto Daranas, Cuba Canadian Premiere
Chala is an 11-year-old with an attitude problem and a difficult life. When his teacher Carmela, the only person who Chala respects, takes a short leave of absence, her substitute sends the boy to a rehab centre. Upon her return, Carmela tries to correct the situation, but her commitment will put them both at risk.
Bird People Pascale Ferran, France North American Premiere
In a Paris airport zone, two strangers try to make sense out of their lives: an American engineer under great professional and emotional pressure who decides to radically change the course of his existence, and a young hotel chambermaid who goes through a life-altering supernatural experience.
Black Souls (Anime Nere) Francesco Munzi, Italy International Premiere
The story of a criminal family from the Southern region of Calabria plays out like a contemporary western, where the call to blood law and an emphasis on revenge are commonplace and acceptable notions of justice.
Breathe (Respire) Mélanie Laurent, France North American Premiere
Charlie is a 17-year-old girl tortured by doubt, disillusionment and solitude. When the beautiful and self-confident Sarah arrives and the two become inseparable, Charlie is thrilled to feel alive, fulfilled and invincible in their intense friendship. But as Sarah tires of Charlie and begins to look elsewhere for a new friend, their friendship takes an ominous turn.
Charlie’s Country Rolf de Heer, Australia North American Premiere
The great Australian actor David Gulpilil won the Best Actor prize in the Un Certain Regard section of the Cannes Film Festival for his engaging performance in this semi-autobiographical drama about an Aboriginal man who journeys into the Outback to live in the traditional ways of his ancestors.
*John Stackhouse, Senior Fellow at the Munk School of Global Affairs, is an award-winning journalist and previously served as the editor-in-chief of The Globe and Mail from 2009 to 2014. He will speak about Charlie’s Country in a Q&A session following the second screening of the film.
Cut Snake Tony Ayres, Australia International Premiere
Set in Melbourne in the mid-1970s, Cut Snake tells the story of Sparra Farrell (Alex Russell), a very private young man who is trying to make a life for himself in a new city. He has found honest work and becomes engaged to the outgoing and charismatic Paula (Jessica De Gouw). But the prospect of his new life is challenged when the charismatic Pommie (Sullivan Stapleton) tracks him down. Sparra finds himself drawn back into a world that he thought he had left behind.
The Dark Horse James Napier Robertson, New Zealand International Premiere
The Dark Horse is an inspiring true story based on the life of a charismatic, brilliant but little-known New Zealand chess champion, Genesis Potini. It’s a provocative, emotionally-charged drama about a man who searches for the courage to lead, despite his own struggles — finding purpose and hope in passing on his gift to the children of his community.
Don’t Breathe (La Faille) Nino Kirtadze, France World Premiere
This subtly comic blend of fact and fiction follows a middle-aged married couple in Tbilisi, Georgia, as they deal with the fallout from an unclear, potentially fatal prognosis.
The Farewell Party (Mita Tova) Sharon Maymon and Tal Granit, Germany/Israel North American Premiere
The Farewell Party is a compassionate dramatic comedy about friendship and saying goodbye. A group of friends at a Jerusalem retirement home build a machine for self-administered euthanasia in order to help their terminally-ill friend. But as rumours of the secret machine begin to spread, more and more people ask for their help.
Frailer (Brozer) Mijke de Jong, Netherlands World Premiere
A woman diagnosed with terminal lung cancer gathers her three dearest friends together to make the most of the time she has left.
Gett, The Trial of Viviane Amsalem (Gett, le procès de Vivane Amsalem) North American Premiere
Ronit Elkabetz and Shlomi Elkabetz, France/Germany/Israel
This film tells the story of Viviane Amsalem’s five-year fight to obtain her divorce in front of the only legal authority for divorce cases in Israel, the Rabbinical Court. Viviane and her lawyer must face the uncompromising attitude of her husband, Elisha, who isn’t responsive to the rabbi’s convocations. Witnesses are called, the procedure drags on, while Viviane is still unable to recover her dignity.
*Janice Stein, Director of the Munk School of Global Affairs and member of the Order of Canada, is an internationally renowned expert on conflict management. She will speak about Gett, The Trial of Viviane Amsalem in a Q&A session following the second screening of the film.
Girlhood (Bande de filles) Céline Sciamma, France North American Premiere
Oppressed by her family situation, dead-end school prospects and having to live by the boys’ rules in the neighbourhood, Marieme starts a new life after meeting a group of three free-spirited girls. She changes her name, her dress code, and quits school to be accepted into the gang, hoping that this will be a way to freedom.
The Grump (Mielensäpahoittaja) Dome Karukoski, Finland World Premiere
A stubbornly traditional 80-year-old farmer whose social attitudes verge on the prehistoric raises hell when he is forced to move in with his sad sack, city-dwelling son and domineering daughter-in-law, in this hilarious social satire based on the wildly popular novel by Finnish author Tuomas Kyrö.
High Society (Le beau monde) Julie Lopes Curval, France International Premiere
Twenty-year-old Alice lives in Normandy. Passionate about embroidery, she invents and creates, trying to find her own path. Contemplating what to do with her innate talent, she meets Agnes, a rich Parisian lady who helps her get into a prestigious school. Without hesitation, Alice leaves everything behind to start a new life in Paris. When she meets Antoine, Agnes’ son, they fall passionately in love. Antoine finds in Alice a sincerity and simplicity that frees him from the bourgeois environment he hates, while Alice risks losing herself in a fascinating new world.
Impunity Jyoti Mistry, South Africa World Premiere
When the mauled body of Zanele Majola, a minister’s daughter, is discovered in the forest of an exclusive safari lodge the morning after her engagement party to a rising political star, Dingande Fakude, a Special Crimes Unit detective is dispatched from Pretoria to oversee the investigation and bring swift closure. He is teamed with the local detective, Naveed Khan, a self-styled outcast. When two young lovers, Derren and Echo, working as waiters at the party, are taken in for questioning, their complicity seems obvious. But as more crimes are uncovered, what looks like an open and shut case presents the two policemen with the complicated challenge of protecting the political elite. Behind the intertwining stories of a couple on a killing rampage and the corruption of politics in South Africa, filmmaker Jyoti Mistry weaves a provocative portrayal of a society permeated with violence and its spectacle, where the notion of justice has gone awry.
In the Crosswind (Risttuules) Martti Helde, Estonia International Premiere
Without warning, Erna and her family are removed from their home and without a trial she is deported to Siberia. Fighting starvation and humiliation, her soul seeks and finds freedom in the letters she sends to her husband, who has been sentenced to a separate prison camp. Based on a true story, In the Crosswind tells a visually extraordinary, heart-wrenching tale of the fate of tens of thousands of people in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania during the purge of native inhabitants of the Baltic countries ordered by Joseph Stalin in 1941.
Itsi Bitsi Ole Christian Madsen, Denmark/Sweden World Premiere
In 1962, a young generation rebels against the establishment. Peace activist Eik Skaløe meets Iben and falls head over heels in love, but Iben refuses to commit herself to one man only. Desperately, Eik tries to win her over by transforming from poet to writer, nomad, junkie, and eventually lead singer in the destined-to-become-legendary band Steppeulvene.
Justice (Hustisya) Joel Lamangan, Philippines International Premiere
Biring (Nora Aunor) works for her kapwa Bicolano Vivian, who operates a human trafficking agency controlled by a powerful syndicate. But Biring sees no evil, hears no evil, caring only about her survival. When she is accused of murder, she is forced to fight for her soul in the belly of the city. Written by the celebrated Ricky Lee, who is also known for his work with Lino Brocka.
Kabukicho Love Hotel (Sayonara Kabukicho) Ryuichi Hiroki, Japan World Premiere
Over one day at this love hotel in Shinjuku, Tokyo — where guests have the choice of staying for a short time or overnight — the dreams and desires of these characters intersect and collide in a bittersweet portrait of modern Japan as they try to get through the day while aspiring for something greater.
Kill Me Three Times Kriv Stenders, Australia World Premiere
A mercurial assassin (Simon Pegg) discovers he isn’t the only person trying to kill the siren (Alice Braga) of a sun-drenched surfing town. In this darkly comedic thriller, the hit man finds himself unravelling three tales of mayhem, murder, blackmail and revenge.
Labyrinth Of Lies (Im Labyrinth des Schweigens) Giulio Ricciarelli, Germany World Premiere
Frankfurt 1958: young prosecuting attorney Johann Radmann comes across documents that help to initiate the trial against members of the SS who served in Auschwitz. Both the horrors of the past and the hostility against his work bring Johann to the point of meltdown. It is nearly impossible for him to find his way through this maze; everybody seems to have been involved.
Leopardi (Il giovane favoloso) Mario Martone, Italy International Premiere
Giacomo Leopardi is a prodigious kid raised under the supervision of his implacable father. Giacomo’s mind runs free in his house, his prison, while outside revolutions begin and he chases connections to the world. When he finally leaves, Italian high society opens its doors to him and the tormented poet struggles to adapt.
The Lesson (Urok) Kristina Grozeva and Petar Valchanov, Bulgaria/Greece World Premiere
In a small Bulgarian town, Nadezhda, a young teacher, is looking for the robber in her class so she can teach them the difference between right and wrong. But when she finds herself in debt to loan sharks, can she find the right way out herself?
Li’l Quinquin (P’tit Quinquin) Bruno Dumont, France North American Premiere
An improbable, screwball and slapstick police investigation focusing on bizarre crimes on the outskirts of a small town in the north of France that has fallen prey to evil and to a band of young scoundrels led by Li’l Quinquin and his beloved Eve.
Lulu Luis Ortega, Argentina World Premiere
Lucas and Ludmilla are two street kids in love with each other and with the city they live in. They move through it as if it was their own board game. Lucas works with his truck driver friend, Hueso, picking up cow and pig bones from the city butcher shops. In his spare time with Ludmilla he shoots at monuments and sculptures with his gun and commits small crimes for amusement.
Margarita, with a Straw Shonali Bose, India World Premiere
Laila is a young romantic, a secret rebel in a wheelchair. Undeterred by cerebral palsy, she embarks on exhilarating adventures of self discovery, which cause a rift both within and with those she is closest to. Ultimately, it is in the intensity of these bonds where she must find the strength to truly be herself.
Meet Me in Montenegro Alex Holdridge and Linnea Saasen, USA/Germany/Norway World Premiere
Finding himself in a career roadblock, Anderson (Alex Holdridge) begins to feel nostalgic about a blissful but brief romantic tryst he had several years ago in Montenegro, and heads to Berlin to rediscover what might have been. He visits his friends Stephen (Rupert Friend) and Friederike (Jennifer Ulrich), a couple floundering between commitment and conclusion. Berlin nestles these couples in her outstretched streets, while they wrestle with the perennial challenge of finding love, recognizing it and keeping it alive.
Men Who Save The World (Lelaki Harapan Dunia) Liew Seng Tat, Malaysia/Netherlands/Germany/France North American Premiere
In a quaint Malay village, the villagers unite to help Pak Awang carry an abandoned house from the jungle into the village as a gift for his daughter, who is getting married. What they don’t know is that an illegal African immigrant who is on the run found the house by accident and decided to hide in it. When the village drug addict mistakes the black shadow he saw in the house as a ghost, the villagers fear that the relocation of the house has enraged the devil. The house moving comes to a halt as a series of wild mishaps befalling the village lead to false accusations, hilarious situations and ingenious actions meant to protect the village from danger.
Mirage (Délibáb) Szabolcs Hajdu, Hungary/Slovakia World Premiere
Francis Boyo is an African substitute forward for a Second League football team in a small town in Romania. After a lost match, he is caught in the middle of a match-fixing scandal and has to flee. Albert, an underworld acquaintance, convinces Francis to go to a farm deep in the Hungarian Puszta, run by a Romanian stockman called Cisco, to find refuge. But when he arrives, he realizes that the farm might not be such a safe haven after all.
Modris Juris Kursietis, Latvia/Germany/Greece World Premiere
Modris is a normal 17-year-old who goes to school, has a girlfriend and some good friends. However, his gambling addiction makes his relationship with his mother difficult, especially since she constantly reminds him that his father is in prison and that Modris has a bad gene. Their relationship boils over when, in the middle of the Nordic winter, Modris pawns his mother’s electric heater to try to squeeze a win from a slot machine. When she betrays him to the police he is sentenced to two years probation, and as he begins his adventures with the Latvian justice system, his relationship to the outside world changes and he becomes determined to find the father he has never met. A story based on true events.
Not My Type (Pas son genre) Lucas Belvaux, Belgium/France Canadian Premiere
Clément, a young Parisian philosophy professor, is transferred to Arras for a year. Far from Paris and its nightlife, he doesn’t quite know what to do with his free time. Then he meets Jennifer, a pretty hairdresser who becomes his lover. While Clément’s life revolves around Kant and Proust, Jennifer’s is punctuated with chick lit, tabloids and karaoke evenings with her girlfriends. Free love and free hearts, they could live a beautiful romance together, but is it enough to bridge the social gap and cultural divide between them?
Out of Nature (Mot naturen) Ole Giæver, Norway World Premiere
Out of Nature is a journey inside Martin’s head and out into the wild nature. Martin is alone on a hiking trip in the mountains and we hear all of his uncensored thoughts and brutally honest observations about himself and the people around him. With thoughts and fantasies ranging from the trivial and infantile to the existential and profound, Out of Nature is an honest and funny portrait of a young man wanting to break the mold.
The Owners Adilkhan Yerzhanov, Kazakhstan North American Premiere
Twenty-five-year-old John, his teenage brother Yerbol, and their sickly 12-year-old sister Aliya, are forced to leave their house in the Kazakh city of Almaty when they become orphaned. By luck, their mother left them a house in a remote village but when they arrive, they find themselves battling with a corrupt local police chief whose alcoholic brother has been living in the house illegally for 10 years. Through the alembic of the absurd, this tragicomedy depicts routine injustice growing to unexpected cruelty, against a background of hilarious indifference.
Partners in Crime (Kong Feng) Chang Jung-Chi, Taiwan North American Premiere
When a girl who is loved by her entire school commits suicide, everyone tries to understand why. A good student, a bad student, and a weird student happen to discover her body on their way to school, and their lives become fatefully intertwined in their search for the truth behind the girl’s death.
The Reaper (Kosac) Zvonimir Jurić, Croatia/Slovenia International Premiere
Three fateful encounters over the course of a single night exposes the gloomy picture of Ivo’s life and of the small Croatian village where he lives, which is as stuck and imprisoned by war as Ivo is by his dark past.
Red Rose Sepideh Farsi, France/Greece/Iran World Premiere
A politically complacent middle-aged man and a young pro-democracy activist debate about the future of their country while hiding from the police in this fascinating drama that blends scripted scenes with on-the-ground footage from Iran’s 2009 Green Revolution.
*Ron Deibert, Director of the Citizen Lab at the Munk School of Global Affairs, is an expert and advisor to governments and organizations on cyber security, cyber-crime, freedom of expression, and access to information. He will speak about Red Rose in a Q&A session following the second screening of the film.
Sand Dollars (Dólares de Arena) Laura Amelia Guzmán and Israel Cárdenas, Dominican Republic/Argentina/Mexico World Premiere
Noelí and her boyfriend earn their living from the tourists in a beach town in the Dominican Republic. When Noelí meets Anne, a mature French woman who promises to take her to Europe, she must decide whether to stay with her loved one or to leave in the hope of a better future.
Still the Water (Futatsume no mado) Naomi Kawase, Japan/France/Spain North American Premiere
On the subtropical Japanese island of Amami-Ōshima, traditions about nature remain eternal. During the full-moon night of traditional dances in August, 16-year-old Kaito discovers a dead body floating in the sea. His girlfriend Kyoko will attempt to help him understand this mysterious discovery.
Tales (Ghesseha) Rakhshan Banietemad, Iran North American Premiere
Tales is an honest and courageous story of seven passionate Iranian filmmakers, workers, intellectuals and state employees, and demonstrates their daily struggles. Will the light of love and hope lighten their lives?
*Ron Levi, Director of the Master of Global Affairs at the Munk School, is an expert on global justice, and human rights regimes. He will speak about Tales in an extended Q&A session following the second screening of the film.
Today (Emrouz) Reza Mirkarimi, Iran International Premiere
In this delicate, deceptively small-scale drama from award-winning Iranian director Reza Mirkarimi, Youness, an ageing taxi driver, takes a young woman to a hospital at the end of his working day not knowing what awaits him there.
Tokyo Fiancée Stefan Liberski, Belgium/Canada/France World Premiere
Her head filled with dreams, Amélie, 20, goes back to Japan, where she spent her childhood. To earn a living, she decides to give private classes in French and meets Rinri, her first and only student, a young Japanese man with whom she soon begins an intimate relationship. Between surprises, happy times and the pitfalls of a culture shock that is both poetic and amusing, she discovers a side of Japan she had never seen before.
Tour de Force (Hin und weg) Christian Zübert, Germany North American Premiere
Belgium, of all places! Why visit, if not for the French fries and chocolates? But it is Hannes and his wife Kiki’s turn to decide on the destination of their annual bike trip with their closest friends, so the group sets out with the spirit of adventure. It is only once they are on their way that their friends learn of Hannes’ terminal illness. This trip is to be his last. Initially, the group is at a loss, but then they turn their trip into a wild and unique tour. Through Hannes, they realize how precious life really is, celebrating it like never before.
*Robert Austin, Lecturer at the Munk School’s Centre for European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies, is an expert on East Central and Southeastern Europe in both historic and contemporary perspective. He will speak about Tour de Force in a Q&A session following the second screening of the film.
Two Shots Fired (Dos disparos) Martin Rejtman, Argentina/Chile/Germany/Netherlands North American Premiere
When 16-year-old Mariano finds a gun in his house, he has a thoughtless impulse and shoots himself twice. Immediately, we learn that he survives and he is in perfect condition. Two Shots Fired is the story of how his family copes with this event.
The Valley (Al-Wadi) Ghassan Salhab, France/Germany/Lebanon/Qatar World Premiere
Following a car accident on a lone mountain road, a middle-aged man loses his memory. Drenched in blood, he continues to walk along the deserted path. Further down the road, he encounters people with engine trouble and helps them get their car running again. They are reluctant to leave him stranded and take him home to their large estate in the Bekaa valley, a place where production is not only agricultural, and a place he may never leave again.
Venice (Venecia) Kiki Álvarez, Cuba/Colombia World Premiere
Havana, summer of 2012. Mayelín, Mónica and Violeta are three friends employed in a hairdressing salon. On payday they spend a night out on the town together, and at dawn they share a common dream: Venice.
Voice Over (La Voz en Off) Cristián Jiménez, Chile World Premiere
Sofia, 35, lives in Valdivia. She’s beautiful and vegan. She has two kids she loves, but still everything seems to go wrong. In need of peace since her recent separation from her husband, she decides to take a reversed veil of silence: no more cell phone, tv, internet or reading for a year. But peace doesn’t occur. Following her example, her father leaves her mother. Her nasty sister comes back to Chile. Her kids become obsessed by meat. And Sofia discovers a disturbing secret about her dad. A southern familial drama-comedy.
Where I Am King (Hari ng Tondo) Carlos Siguion-Reyna, Philippines International Premiere
When his fortune is wiped out, an arrogant, self-made tycoon is forced to return to the slum tenement where he grew up, in this vibrant, socially-aware comedy from Filipino master Carlos Siguion-Reyna.
Who Am I – No System is Safe Baran bo Odar, Germany World Premiere
Benjamin, a young German computer whiz, is invited to join a subversive hacker group that wants to be noticed on the world’s stage. This entertaining thriller looks at the complex construct of identity in our increasingly anonymous society.
Xenia Panos H. Koutras, Greece/France/Belgium North American Premiere
After the death of their mother, 16-year-old Dany, leaves Crete to join his older brother, Odysseas, who lives in Athens. Born from an Albanian mother and a Greek father they never met, the two brothers, strangers in their own country, decide to go to Thessaloniki to look for their father and force him to officially recognize them. In Thessaloniki they discover that auditions are being held for the cult show, Greek Star, and Dany dreams that his brother, a gifted singer, could become the new star of the contest in a country that refuses to accept them.
Previously announced Contemporary World Cinema titles include Felix and Meira (Félix et Meira) by Maxime Giroux, Heartbeat by Andrea Dorfman, Love in the Time of Civil War (L’amour au temps de la guerre civile) by Rodrigue Jean, Teen Lust by Blaine Thurier, and Tu Dors Nicole by Stéphane Lafleur.
The Festival offers the Contemporary World Speakers Pack including all five screenings with extended Q&As for $110, or $93 for students and seniors). Purchase Festival ticket packages online 24 hours a day at tiff.net/festival, by phone from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. ET daily at 416.599.TIFF or 1.888.599.8433, or visit the Gupta Box Office at TIFF Bell Lightbox in person from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. ET daily at TIFF Bell Lightbox, Reitman Square, 350 King Street West, until August 20 while quantities last.