The Toronto International Film Festival invites audiences to step into the unparalleled experience of its Mavericks programme, featuring intimate conversations with leaders in the film world and beyond. Offering engaging, in-depth discussions and revealing anecdotes about their latest projects, this year’s prestigious lineup of special guests includes filmmakers David Thorpe, Julie Taymor, Antoine Fuqua and Jon Stewart; actors Robert Duvall, Denzel Washington, Reese Witherspoon, Richard Gere and Juliette Binoche; and journalists Maziar Bahari and Dan Savage.
“The Mavericks programme offers Festivalgoers an exclusive opportunity to sit in on thoughtful and engaging onstage exchanges with the crème de la crème of the film industry and other lively personalities,” said Mavericks lead programmer Thom Powers. “From daring directors to onscreen legends, our guests promise to captivate audiences with their remarkable and candid stories.”
Mavericks Conversation With… Denzel Washington and Antoine Fuqua
Denzel Washington is one of the film world’s most prominent leading men, known best for his galvanizing portrayals of both real-life figures (Malcolm X, The Hurricane, American Gangster) and fictional characters (Philadelphia, Devil in a Blue Dress, Flight). Washington returns to the Festival starring in The Equalizer, an intense thriller that reunites him with director Antoine Fuqua (Brooklyn’s Finest, Shooter, Olympus Has Fallen) for the first time since their Oscar-winning collaboration on Training Day. In this Mavericks conversation, Washington and Fuqua will take the stage to discuss their own work as well as their remarkable collaborations.
Mavericks Conversation With… Juliette Binoche
From the moment Juliette Binoche stepped from stage to screen, her career has blazed with magnificent intensity. Discovered by Jean-Luc Godard, who cast her in 1985’s Je vous salue, Marie!, Binoche has been honoured for a succession of very fine and sensitive performances that have earned her the main prizes at the Berlin, Venice, and Cannes film festivals, ascending to the heights of Oscar fame when she won Best Supporting Actress for her work in The English Patient. Admired for the visionary filmmakers she has chosen to work with, and for the daring choices she has made as an actor, she’s never afraid to throw herself completely and fully into a variety of roles. As one of the most beloved and honoured actors in contemporary cinema, Binoche discusses an extraordinary career that has taken her from Godard to Godzilla, and her performance in the Festival selection Clouds of Sils Maria.
Mavericks Conversation With… Reese Witherspoon
A singular presence in Hollywood blockbusters and independent cinema alike, Reese Witherspoon specializes in defying expectations. With plenty of great characters under her belt that have seen her evolve from child star to comedic heroine (Legally Blonde) to dramatic powerhouse (Walk the Line), Witherspoon stars in two films at the Festival this year. In Jean-Marc Vallée’s Wild she plays Cheryl Strayed, a woman who overcomes a series of personal tragedies by hiking 1,100 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail; and in The Good Lie she’s an employment agency counsellor whose encounter with a trio of Sudanese refugees opens both her heart and her view of the world beyond her Kansas City home. The Academy Award®-winner will hit the stage for a special conversation on the occasion of the premieres of her highly anticipated new films.
Mavericks Conversation With… Richard Gere
Richard Gere’s long and diverse career spans from his sensational series of screen roles in the ’70s and ’80s (Looking For Mr. Goodbar, Days of Heaven, American Gigolo) to box-office hits (Pretty Woman, Runaway Bride, Chicago), and has seen him collaborate with heavyweight directors such Terrence Malick, Francis Ford Coppola, Paul Schrader and Robert Altman. Gere appears in the Festival in Oren Moverman’s Time Out of Mind — which he also produced — starring as a homeless man desperate to reconnect with his estranged daughter in one of his most vital roles yet. It’s the opposite of the slick roles with which he became associated early on, and proof of his continued commitment to risk-taking and self-reinvention. An artist disinclined to rest on his laurels, Gere takes the stage in this Mavericks session to reflect on his diverse four-decade career as movie star, sex symbol, style icon, political activist and devoted Tibetan Buddhist.
Mavericks Conversation With… Robert Duvall
In a career that has spanned over half a century, Robert Duvall has perhaps embodied more facets of the American psyche than any other single actor, appearing in some of the most iconic films ever made such as To Kill a Mockingbird, The Godfather, Colors, The Apostle, M*A*S*H and Apocalypse Now, as well as in the hugely popular television series The Twilight Zone and The Fugitive. With his new film, The Judge, opening this year’s Festival, the Academy Award-winning actor and director takes the stage to discuss his extensive and fascinating body of work.
Mavericks Conversation With… Jon Stewart
Jon Stewart makes his directorial debut at this year’s Festival with his feature film Rosewater, a notable departure from his satirical comedy as host of The Daily Show. In 2009, Iranian-Canadian journalist Maziar Bahari, who has a distinguished career as a documentary filmmaker, was imprisoned in Iran for five months after his appearance on Stewart’s show, accused of being an American spy. Bahari chronicled the experience in his book Then They Came For Me, which became the inspiration for Stewart’s Rosewater. In this Mavericks conversation, Stewart will talk about making the leap from performing television comedy to directing big-screen drama and will reflect on roles that journalism and satire occupy when they clash with authority. Bahari will join Stewart on stage.
The 50 Year Argument Martin Scorsese and David Tedeschi, USA Canadian Premiere
The world of New York intellectuals has often been memorialized in books, but rarely on film. Martin Scorsese teams up with David Tedeschi (editor on several Scorsese documentaries) to direct The 50 Year Argument, a documentary tribute to The New York Review of Books whose 50-year history saw it frequently on the frontlines of cultural and political debate. The film features a wide array of interviews with the magazine’s international contributors, all of whom exemplify the power of language to provoke, illuminate and effect change. Sitting at the helm is Bob Silvers, who has edited the magazine for its entire history, having done so alongside Barbara Epstein until her death in 2006. In this Mavericks presentation, the screening of the film will be followed by a conversation with Silvers and co-director Tedeschi.
Do I Sound Gay? David Thorpe, USA World Premiere
In his feature-length documentary debut Do I Sound Gay?, journalist David Thorpe embarks on a hilarious and touching journey of self-discovery, confronting his anxiety about “sounding gay.” Enlisting acting coaches, linguists, friends, family, total strangers and celebrities, he quickly learns that many people — both gay and straight — often wish for a different voice. His personal journey uncovers layers of cultural baggage concerning sexuality, identity, and self-esteem, gaining frank and funny perspectives from public figures such as comedian Margaret Cho, actor George Takei, sex-advice columnist Dan Savage, fashion guru Tim Gunn, and writer David Sedaris. This Mavericks world-premiere presentation of Do I Sound Gay? is followed by a live discussion between Thorpe and Savage, whose trademark wit and insight promise a dynamic, stimulating conversation.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream Julie Taymor, USA International Premiere
Of all Shakespeare’s plays, A Midsummer Night’s Dream is the most phantasmagorical, with fairies, spells, and hallucinatory lovers. His flights of fancy are well matched to the talents of Julie Taymor, who turns out a production that’s visually breathtaking, funny, sexy, and darkly poetic. This immersive, inventive cinematic experience took place during Taymor’s highly acclaimed inaugural stage production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the new Polonsky Center in Brooklyn, New York in 2013. Characteristic of Taymor, the feats of visual imagination are ingenious and plentiful, but beating at the centre of the film is an emotionally moving take on the deeper human aspects of this beloved tale. Having gone from experimental theatre to rejuvenating the Broadway musical with The Lion King, Taymor repeatedly takes risks on films, from Frida and Across the Universe to Titus and The Tempest. In A Midsummer Night’s Dream, she displays her creative powers in their peak form. After the screening, Taymor will participate in an extended conversation about its making.
The 2014 Toronto International Film Festival Official Film Schedule was released yesterday and is available at TIFF Bell Lightbox or by visiting tiff.net/festival. Copies will also be distributed in the Toronto Star and Metro on Thursday, August 21. A section about the Festival will appear in the Toronto Star on Thursday, August 28, and will include the full film schedule.
Purchase Festival ticket packages until August 20 while quantities last. Single tickets are on sale from Sunday, August 31 to Sunday, September 14. Purchase packages and tickets online 24 hours a day at tiff.net/festival, by phone at 416.599.TIFF or 1.888.599.8433. Festival Box Office located at 225 King Street West opens on August 31.
The 39th Toronto International Film Festival runs September 4 to 14, 2014.