TIFF13: Benedict Cumberbatch headlines first batch of festival announcements.

THE FIFTH ESTATE It was ten years ago when a somewhat naive 21 year old film lover decided to attend the Toronto International Film Festival for the first time.  Now, I’m preparing for my eleventh festival and I seem to be an old pro at this point.  Yesterday morning saw the announcement of the first batch of Galas and Special Presentations for the 38th edition of the festival.  The big buzz surrounding the announcement is that this year will be the “Year of Cumberbatch,” since cult favourite British actor Benedict Cumberbatch (best known for BBC’s Sherlock) will be appearing in at least three films at the festival, including the Opening Night Gala The Fifth Estate, which sees Cumberbatch playing WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. As always, it is time for me to rundown a few of the highlights of yesterday’s announcement: 12 Years a Slave – Steve McQueen, USA (Special Presentations)
This drama is receiving a lot of buzz right now and is sure to be one of the main highlights of the festival.  It’s also one of the films with Benedict Cumberbatch appearing. August: Osage County – John Wells, USA (Gala Presentations)
This adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize-winning play is most notable for the all-star cast, including Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Ewan McGregor, and of course, Benedict Cumberbatch. Bad Words – Jason Bateman, USA (Special Presentations)
Jason Bateman directed a film. ‘Nuff Said. Blue Is the Warmest Color – Abdellatif Kechiche, France (Special Presentations)
This year’s Palme d’Or winner is probably the film in this batch that I’m most interested in. Cold Eyes – Cho Ui-seok and Kim Byung-seo, South Korea (Gala Presentations)
Definitely quite interesting seeing a Korean crime thriller in the Gala programme. Devil’s Knot – Atom Egoyan, USA (Special Presentations)
Atom Egoyan returns with this new film based on the infamous West Memphis Three case. The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Him and Her – Ned Benson, USA (Special Presentations)
Probably the most interesting thing about this film is that it is told in two parts, each which presents the story from a different perspective. Don Jon – Joseph Gordon-Levitt, USA (Special Presentations)
Joseph Gordon-Levitt directed a film. ‘Nuff Said. Gravity – Alfonso Cuarón, USA/United Kingdom (Special Presentations)
Here is another film that is likely to be a highlight of this year’s festival.  It is sure to be visually spectacular. Labor Day – Jason Reitman, USA (Special Presentations)
The latest film by Jason Reitman looks to be a bit darker in subject matter than his previous films. Life of Crime – Daniel Schechter, USA (Gala Presentations)
Highlighting the interesting programming choices TIFF has made in recent years, they have decided to make the Closing Night Gala this Elmore Leonard adaptation. Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom – Justin Chadwick, South Africa (Gala Presentations)
This Nelson Mandela biopic seems to be quite timely, since the legendary South African leader sadly seems to be near the  end of his storied life.  This film is sure to lead to good things for British actor Idris Elba, who has been a cult favourite for many years now. Man of Tai Chi – Keanu Reeves, USA/China (Special Presentations)
Keanu Reeves directed a kung-fu film. ‘Nuff Said! Rush – Ron Howard, United Kingdom/Germany (Gala Presentations)
Ron Howard heads to TIFF with this Formula-1 racing drama starring Chris Hemsworth. Well those are my highlights from the first batch of film announcements.  This is only the beginning and more films will be announced in the coming weeks, leading up to the start of the festival on September 5.

Sean Kelly Author

Sean Patrick Kelly is a self-described über-geek, who has been an avid film lover for all his life. He graduated from York University in 2010 with an honours B.A. in Cinema and Media Studies and he likes to believe he knows what he’s talking about when he writes about film (despite occasionally going on pointless rants).