TIFF15: Initial Galas and Special Presentation Highlights

The buzz has been building over the past few weeks for the 40th annual Toronto International Film Festival. My coverage of Fantasia caused to fall behind a bit on my usual pre-festival coverage, so I thought that I play catch up today and run down the films that have been announced in different programmes. I will begin with selections from the Galas and Special presentations that were announced at the opening press conference on July 28.

Opening Night Film

Demolition – Jean-Marc Vallée, USA (World Premiere)
Once known for acclaimed Quebecois films C.R.A.Z.Y. and Café de Flore, Jean-Marc Vallée has been making his mark in the United States for the last couple of years. While it can be argued that it would be nice if he returned to make a Canadian film every once and a while, Jean-Marc Vallée has most definitely earned this year’s opening spot.

Gala Presentations

Beeba Boys – Deepa Mehta, Canada (World Premiere)
Deepa Mehta is one of Canada’s best known filmmakers and her latest film looks to be a bit of a departure from what she is usually known for. It would be interesting to see how she handles a  violent Indo-Canadian gang war.
Forsaken – Jon Cassar, Canada (World Premiere)
There seem to be a whole lot of Westerns coming out this year and this Canadian one starring  Donald Sutherland looks quite interesting.
Hyena Road – Paul Gross, Canada (World Premiere)
Seven years after Passchendaele, Paul Gross returns with another war movie. While gross used to be one of the most recognizable Canadian personalities, he hasn’t really been heard of much in recent years, other than various TV appearances. It will be interesting to see how Hyena Road plays off.
LEGEND – Brian Helgeland, United Kingdom (International Premiere)
I’m pretty sure that this film is most notable for the fact that it features Tom Hardy in a duo role.
The Martian – Ridley Scott, USA (World Premiere)
This film is sure to be a hot ticket at the festival, but it also will be opening in October.
Remember – Atom Egoyan, Canada (North American Premiere)
Atom Egoyan has seen his stock fall a bit after the poor response to Devil’s Knot and the blink and you missed it release of The Captive last year. Let’s see if this film, starring Christopher Plummer, can be seen as a return to form.
Stonewall – Roland Emmerich, USA (World Premiere)
Known primarily as an action filmmaker, it’s always a surprise when Roland Emmerich tackles a different genre. It didn’t really work for 2011’s Anonymous, which I thought was a bit of a slog. Let’s see if this film about the Stonewall riots comes off any differently.

Special Presentations

Black Mass – Scott Cooper, USA (Canadian Premiere)
The only thing that is making me less excited about this Johnny Depp-starring biopic of Whitey Bulger, is that I already seen a documentary on the man last year.
Office – Johnnie To, China/Hong Kong (North American Premiere)
Acclaimed Hong Kong director Johnnie To and acclaimed Hong Kong actor Chow Yun Fat makes this a film worth considering.
Sicario – Denis Villeneuve, USA (North American Premiere)
Like fellow Quebecois filmmaker Jean-Marc Vallée, Denis Villeneuve has been finding success Stateside over the last few years, even though he still returns to Canada to make films such as Enemy. Since the film opens on September 18, I can probably wait and see it during its regular release.
Where to Invade Next – Michael Moore, USA (World Premiere)
One of the biggest surprises of the initial TIFF announcement is the fact that Michael Moore is returning with his first new film since 2009’s Capitalism: A Love Story. I’m automatically sold on this film.

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).