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Toronto unveils a colourful first wave of selections


- 39 world premieres, and various prime cuts from Cannes, Venice and Telluride have been announced for the September gathering

Toronto unveils a colourful first wave of selections
The Swimmers by Sally El Hosaini, which will open the festival

Viewed as the commencement of awards season, and one of the world's biggest public film festivals, the Toronto International Film Festival (running 8-18 September) has announced a plum selection of titles for its first wave, with its most enviable get being the world premiere of Steven Spielberg’s autobiographical drama The Fabelmans, which Venice themselves coveted. This year’s TIFF is also being celebrated as the festival’s first fully fledged post-pandemic edition, with far more international delegates set to attend, and a reduced virtual presence of titles.

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39 world premieres, five international premieres, and 15 North American premieres are part of the festival’s first batch of titles, announced in full last week after a handful were drip-fed through their Twitter feed. Chief among the European selections is Sally El Hosaini’s opening night film The Swimmers, released through Netflix and depicting the journey of two Syrian refugee sisters who ended up competing at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Also in the gala presentations section is The Hummingbird by Francesca Archibugi, which gives Pierfrancesco Favino another leading role in a “profoundly moving nonlinear epic.” Florian Zeller’s anticipated Venice premiere The Son will skip Telluride to have its North American premiere as a TIFF gala; a companion piece to his Oscar-winning The Father, the film will reunite him with Anthony Hopkins, in an ensemble which also includes Hugh Jackman and Laura Dern.     

In the Special Presentations section, standouts include All Quiet on the Western Front by Edward Berger and starring Daniel Brühl, a new adaptation of Erich Maria Remarque’s ever-timely anti-war novel. British veteran Stephen Frears is also back at TIFF with the world premiere of The Lost King, reuniting him with Steve Coogan who takes up acting and screenwriting duties. Other notable screenings in this section are Empire of Light by Sam Mendes, which will play Telluride first, and Venice competition entries Saint Omer by Alice Diop and The Eternal Daughter from Joanna Hogg.

“We’re excited to welcome some of the most celebrated figures in movies back to Toronto to present their Gala and Special Presentation films,” said TIFF CEO Cameron Bailey in an upbeat statement. “With stories that span six continents and feature performances you just have to see, this line-up delivers the rich experiences we wait all year for. Cinema is alive. Red carpets are back. And the best audience in the world awaits them in Toronto.”

The full list of films selected for the festival:

Gala Presentations

The Swimmers - Sally El Hosaini (UK/USA) (opening film)
Alice, Darling
- Mary Nighy (Canada/USA)
Black Ice - Hubert Davis (Canada)
Butcher’s Crossing - Gabe Polsky (USA)
The Greatest Beer Run Ever - Peter Farrelly (USA)
The Hummingbird
- Francesca Archibugi (Italy/France)
Hunt - Lee Jung-jae (South Korea)
A Jazzman’s Blues - Tyler Perry (USA)
Kacchey Limbu - Shubham Yogi (India)
Moving On - Paul Weitz (USA)
Paris Memories [+see also:
film review
interview: Alice Winocour
film profile
- Alice Winocour (France)
Prisoner’s Daughter - Catherine Hardwicke (USA)
Raymond & Ray - Rodrigo García (USA)
Roost - Amy Redford (USA)
Sidney - Reginald Hudlin (USA)
The Son - Florian Zeller (USA/France/UK)
What’s Love Got to Do With It? - Shekhar Kapur (UK)
The Woman King - Gina Prince-Bythewood (USA)

Special Presentations

Allelujah - Richard Eyre (UK)
All Quiet on the Western Front - Edward Berger (USA/Germany)
The Banshees of Inisherin [+see also:
film profile
- Martin McDonagh (UK/Ireland/USA)
Blueback - Robert Connolly (Australia)
The Blue Caftan [+see also:
film review
film profile
- Maryam Touzani (Morocco/France/Belgium/Denmark)
Broker - Hirokazu Kore-eda (South Korea)
Brother - Clement Virgo (Canada)
Bros - Nicholas Stoller (USA)
Catherine Called Birdy - Lena Dunham (UK/USA)
Causeway - Lila Neugebauer (USA)
Chevalier - Stephen Williams (USA)
Corsage [+see also:
film review
interview: Marie Kreutzer
film profile
- Marie Kreutzer (Austria/Luxembourg/France/Germany)
Decision to Leave - Park Chan-wook (South Korea)
Devotion - JD Dillard (USA)
Driving Madeleine - Christian Carion (France)
The Substitute - Diego Lerman (Argentina/Italy/France/Spain/Mexico)
Empire of Light - Sam Mendes (UK/USA)
The Eternal Daughter - Joanna Hogg (USA/UK/Ireland)
The Fabelmans - Steven Spielberg (USA)
Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery - Rian Johnson (USA)
Good Night Oppy - Ryan White (USA)
The Good Nurse - Tobias Lindholm (USA)
Holy Spider [+see also:
film review
film profile
 - Ali Abbasi (Denmark/Germany/Sweden/France)
Joyland - Saim Sadiq (Pakistan)
The King’s Horseman - Biyi Bandele (Nigeria)
The Lost King - Stephen Frears (UK)
A Man of Reason - Jung Woo-sung (South Korea)
The Menu - Mark Mylod (USA)
On the Come Up - Sanaa Lathan (USA)
One Fine Morning [+see also:
film review
film profile
- Mia Hansen-Løve (France)
Other People’s Children - Rebecca Zlotowski (France)
Moonage Daydream - Brett Morgen (USA)
My Policeman - Michael Grandage (UK/USA)
Nanny - Nikyatu Jusu (USA)
No Bears - Jafar Panahi (Iran)
The Return of Tanya Tucker: Featuring Brandi Carlile - Kathlyn Horan (USA)
Saint Omer - Alice Diop (France)
Sanctuary - Zachary Wigon (USA)
Stories Not to be Told - Cesc Gay (Spain)
Triangle of Sadness [+see also:
film review
interview: Ruben Östlund
interview: Ruben Östlund
film profile
- Ruben Östlund (Sweden/Germany/France/UK/Turkey/Greece)
Walk Up - Hong Sang-soo (South Korea)
Wendell & Wild - Henry Selick (USA)
The Whale - Darren Aronofsky (USA)
Women Talking - Sarah Polley (USA)
The Wonder - Sebastián Lelio (UK/Ireland)

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