TIFF16: Initial Galas and Special Presentations

Yesterday morning, the first batch of Galas and Special Presentations were announced for the 41st annual Toronto International Film Festival. With diversity being a major issue within Hollywood right now, it appears that the festival has responded with one of its most diverse line-ups. An example of this would be the opening and closing galas, which are directed by a black and female filmmaker respectively. Now, it’s time to rundown some of the highlights of yesterday’s TIFF announcement.

Opening and Closing Films

The Magnificent Seven, Antoine Fuqua, USA (World Premiere) – Opening Gala
Already quite an established filmmaker for films such as Training Day and The Equalizer, Antoine Fuqua will be opening the festival this year with his remake of the 1960 western, which in turn was a remake of Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai. Even though The Magnificent Seven opens wide shortly after the festival, its inclusion is a great support of diversity in Hollywood films.
The Edge of Seventeen, Kelly Fremon Craig, USA (World Premiere) – Closing Gala
On the flip-side of the gala spectrum is his coming-of-age teen movie starring  Hailee Steinfeld, which is the debut film for writer-director Kelly Fremon Craig. While I am admittedly not as excited for this one, this should make a fine addition to everyone’s #52FilmsByWomen tally.

Gala Presentations

Arrival, Denis Villeneuve, USA (Canadian Premiere)
Denis Villeneuve has very quickly become the most successful Canadian exports. Prior to his upcoming Blade Runner sequel, Villeneuve will be coming to TIFF for this science fiction film starring Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner.
Queen of Katwe, Mira Nair, South Africa/Uganda (World Premiere)
Nothing says diversity like a Ugandan drama starring David Oyelowo and Lupita Nyong’o.
Snowden, Oliver Stone, Germany/USA  (World Premiere)
You have seen the documentary, now watch the movie. The inclusion of Oliver Stone’s Edward Snowden biopic is probably one of the least surprising additions to the TIFF line-up.

Special Presentations

The Birth of a Nation, Nate Parker, USA (International Premiere)
This was one of the most buzzed about films at Sundance this year, so it is no surprise at all that The Birth of a Nation will be part of the TIFF line-up.
Elle, Paul Verhoeven, France (North American Premiere)
You don’t hear too much these days from Paul Verhoeven in these parts, so it will be interesting to see what his latest film starring Isabelle Huppert is like.
The Handmaiden (Agassi), Park Chan-wook, South Korea (North American Premiere)
After finding success with his English-language debut Stoker, Park Chan-wook returns to South Korea for his erotic period piece. As a fan of his previous film, this will definitely be on my list.
Mascots, Christopher Guest, USA (World Premiere)
It has been a full decade since Christopher Guest’s last film, so this will definitely be one to check out.
Sing, Garth Jennings, USA/France (World Premiere)
It is quite interesting that an animated film from the same studio that made Minions is getting a World Premiere in the Special Presentations program. I guess Sing is that good (or maybe it’s just all the celebrity voices).