The sophomore film from the director of Ex Drummer, Swedish thriller Bad Faith, Pablo Trapero's Carancho (my personal favorite film from Cannes 2010), Tsui Hark's Detective Dee, Tom Tykwer's Three and a host of others populate one of the more exciting lineups for the TIFF Contemporary World Cinema Program in recent years. Here's the complete lineup:
22nd of May Koen Mortier, Belgium World Premiere
The director of Ex-Drummer returns with an artful meditation on political violence. A security guard fails to prevent a horrific explosion in a shopping mall, then lives through the aftermath as a series of overlapping what-ifs.
Africa United Debs Gardner-Paterson, United Kingdom World Premiere
Africa United tells the extraordinary story of three Rwandan children and their bid to achieve their lifelong dream - to take part in the opening ceremony of the 2010 Football World Cup in Johannesburg.
Aftershock Feng Xiaogang, China North American Premiere
The most successful Chinese movie of all time, Aftershock is based on the novel of the same name by Chinese Canadian author Zhang Ling. An intimate epic, the film sweeps across three crucial decades in recent Chinese history and explores the resilience of a family devastated by the 1976 Tangshan earthquake.
All About Love Ann Hui , Hong Kong, China International Premiere
All About Love takes a rare look at not only the lives of queer women, but also the challenges of creating a family. Ann Hui expertly balances the serious themes of motherhood, sexuality and discrimination, rarely addressed in Hong Kong films, with wit, humour and compassion.
Anything You Want Achero Mañas, Spain International Premiere
Four year-old Dafne's life is unhinged when her mother Alicia suddenly dies. Her father Leo tries to be both father and mother to her, but Dafne really just wants her mom. Leo strives to be just that, and in the process, nearly loses his own identity.
Bad Faith Kristian Petri, Sweden International Premiere
On her way home from work Mona finds the victim of a serial killer. She is shocked but the experience triggers something within and her fascination becomes obsession. She decides to find the killer on her own. Her hunt leads to violent confrontation, not only with the killer but also with herself.
Behind Blue Skies Hannes Holm, Sweden World Premiere
In Hannes Holm's beautifully crafted Behind Blue Skies, Bill Skarsgård stars as a young man on the cusp of manhood who escapes his troubled home to work at a summer resort, but somehow finds himself embroiled in one of the most scandalous criminal cases in 1970s Sweden in this affectionately mounted period piece based on actual events.
Black Ocean Marion Hänsel, Belgium/France/Germany North American Premiere
Three young boys aboard a French naval vessel in 1972 take part in nuclear tests in Mururoa, in the Pacific. Black Ocean explores about the relationships of the men on board who are confronted with discipline, violence, solitude and occasionally, friendship.
Blessed Events Isabelle Stever, Germany World Premiere
Thirty-seven-year-old Simone decides to go out alone on New Year's Eve. The next morning, she wakes up next to a stranger, and a few weeks later discovers that she's pregnant. When she runs into the stranger again she is surprised by his reaction.
Break Up Club Barbara Wong, Hong Kong International Premiere
Barbara Wong captures the mood of Hong Kong's young generation and delivers an ultra-modern romantic comedy about the end of one's innocence and the understanding that love is ultimately about the sacrifices one must make.
Carancho Pablo Trapero, Argentina/South Korea/France/Chile North American Premiere
Sosa (Ricardo Darin) is a lawyer who haunts hospital waiting rooms hoping to represent the victims of traffic accidents in insurance claims. When he falls in love with ambulance medic Lujan, he tries to leave this dark business but the shady law firm that he works for won't let him off that easily.
Chico & Rita Fernando Trueba, Javier Mariscal, Tono Errando, Spain/United Kingdom North American Premiere
Oscar-winning director Fernando Trueba teams up with famed designer Javier Mariscal and co-director Tono Errando to create an epic animated love story that occurs around the time of the Cuban Revolution. Highlighting a pivotal moment in the evolution of jazz and travelling from Havana to New York, Chico & Rita is a tribute to the music, culture and people of Cuba.
Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame Tsui Hark, China North American Premiere
Based on the iconic figure of Di Renjie, a legendary minister of state in the Tang Dynasty (618 - 907 AD) who was known for his ability to solve the most complicated cases, Tsui Hark's Detective Dee (Andy Lau) is a uniquely appealing counterpart to his modern western equivalent, Sherlock Holmes.
The Edge Alexey Uchitel, Russia World Premiere
The arrival of a decorated war hero takes a Siberian labour camp by storm. After assuming control of the region's only steam engine, he sets out to find a ghost engine on a nearby island populated by an undead girl with a railway obsession.
Even the Rain Icíar Bollaín Spain/France/Mexico World Premiere
Filmmaker Sebastian (Gael García Bernal) travels to Bolivia to shoot a film about the Spanish conquest of America. He and his crew arrive during the tense time of the Cochabamba water crisis. The lines between past and present, and fiction and film, become increasingly blurred in Iciar Bollain's latest feature, Even the Rain.
The First Grader Justin Chadwick, United Kingdom World Premiere
In a remote Kenyan primary school hundreds of children are jostling for a chance for the free education newly promised by the Kenyan government. One new applicant causes astonishment when he knocks on the door of the school: Maruge, a Mau Mau veteran in his eighties who is desperate to learn to read.
The Fourth Portrait Chung Mong-Hong, Taiwan North American Premiere
The Fourth Portrait casts a sobering look at the troubling issues of domestic violence, and the difficult family dynamics that are born of marriages of convenience.
Home for Christmas Bent Hamer, Norway/Germany/Sweden World Premiere
Norwegian veteran Bent Hamer (Kitchen Stories) returns with this look at fractured families at Christmas time. The film shuttles between serious drama and the gently absurdist comedy for which Hamer is well-known.
How I Ended This Summer Alexei Popogrebsky, Russia Canadian Premiere
Two meteorologists are isolated on an Arctic island. When the two-way radio transmits some bad news that requires a middleman, it's up to the young intern to inform his veteran colleague. The problem is that he never seems to find the right time.
The Human Resources Manager Eran Riklis, Israel/Germany/France/Romania North American Premiere
A tragi-comedy centers on the HR manager of Israel's largest industrial bakery as he sets out to save the reputation of his business and prevent the publication of a defamatory article - the catch is that he has to take a coffin 1000 kilometres into rural Romania to do it.
The Hunter Rafi Pitts, Iran North American Premiere
Recently released from prison, Ali makes the most of his reunion with his wife and young daughter, amidst much talk of the upcoming elections and promises of change. When tragedy strikes, Ali takes matters into his own hands and the line between hunter and hunted becomes difficult to define.
I Am Slave Gabriel Range, United Kingdom International Premiere
From the award winning team behind Death of a President and The Last King of Scotland, and inspired by real life events, I Am Slave is a controversial thriller about London's shocking slave trade, and one woman's fight for freedom.
Jucy Louise Alston, Australia World Premiere
Jackie and Lucy are best friends who spend all their time together, but not everyone approves of their "womance." Accused of being weird and codependent, they set out to prove their maturity. Jackie gets the guy and Lucy gets the job, but can their friendship survive their newfound independence?
Lapland Odyssey Dome Karukoski, Finland World Premiere
Three unemployed young men set off on a desperate journey to locate a digital conversion box in the north of Finland. Wildly funny, Dome Karukoski's Lapland Odyssey is a Finnish cousin to Harold and Kumar and Fubar.
Late Autumn Kim Tae-Yong, South Korea World Premiere
Anna (Tang Wei) is on her way to Seattle to attend her mother's funeral while on a special weekend release from prison. On the bus, she meets Hoon (Hyun Bin), a "companion for hire" for lonely, older women. Both are running away but both find something in each other while spending a day together.
Leap Year Michael Rowe, Mexico North American Premiere
In this transgressive erotic drama, Laura Lopez lives a lonely existence in her Mexico City apartment. On her calendar, the 29th of February is ominously circled, its significance becoming more apparent as the leap year approaches.
Life, Above All Oliver Schmitz, South Africa/Germany North American Premiere
After the death of her newborn sister, 12-year-old Chanda learns of a rumour that spreads like wildfire through her small, dust-ridden village near Johannesburg. When it destroys her family and forces her mother to flee, Chandra leaves home and school in search of her mother and the truth.
The Light Thief Aktan Arym Kubat, Kyrgyzstan/Germany/France/Netherlands North American Premiere
A funny and touching portrait of small-town politics in a rapidly globalizing world that follows Svet-ake, an electrician in a small Kyrgyz village who has been stealing electricity to help the impoverished local residents. When a wealthy land developer arrives to buy up the land, Svet-ake shares with him his dream to populate the valley with modern windmills - but soon realizes not everyone has the village's best interests at heart.
Mamma Gógó Fridrik Thor Fridriksson, Iceland International Premiere
Icelandic master Fridrik Thor Fridriksson returns with this disarmingly honest, semi-autobiographical portrait of a filmmaker's relationship with his ailing mother. Simultaneously poignant and funny, Mamma Gógó is fuelled by compassion for those who brought us into this world and also pays tribute to the director's artistic influences.
Matariki Michael Bennett, New Zealand World Premiere
A violent tragedy has a harrowing impact on eight different lives in a diverse South Auckland community.
The Matchmaker Avi Nesher, Israel International Premiere
In 1968 Haifa, a teenage boy gets a summer job with a Holocaust survivor who makes ends meet by brokering marriages and smuggling goods. Throughout the summer, the boy discovers the intriguing underbelly of Haifa and its community of Holocaust survivors.
Meek's Cutoff Kelly Reichardt, USA North American Premiere
It's 1845 and a wagon team of three families have hired a guide to take them on the Oregon Trail and over the Cascade Mountains. They become lost and while suffering from hunger, thirst and fear, they encounter a Native American who forces them to reassess everything.
My Joy Sergei Loznitsa, Germany/Ukraine/The Netherlands North American Premiere
Truck driver Georgy sets out on a provincial Russian motorway for a routine delivery but a series of chance encounters see his journey spiral out of control. A roadside police check, a war veteran and a young prostitute lead him to a village from which there appears to be no way out.
Neds Peter Mullan, United Kingdom/France/Italy World Premiere
Set in 1970s Glasgow, this film tells the story of a shy and intelligent young boy who, through a series of circumstances, turns into a NED - a non-educated delinquent. Attending a new school, he becomes increasingly violent and aggressive, all the while searching for a way out.
Of Gods and Men Xavier Beauvois, France North American Premiere
Based on a true incident where a group of Christian monks were killed in Algeria in 1995, Of Gods and Men follows the spiritual lifestyle of the monks, their interaction with the locals and the events that lead up to the confrontation with a group of Islamic fundamentalist insurgents.
Oki's Movie Hong Sangsoo, South Korea North American Premiere
Oki's Movie is comprised of four short films featuring three main characters with different but overlapping roles. The final short, Oki's Movie, is a story of a film student, Oki, who makes a film about two men she has dated. In her film, she makes a cinematographic construction of her experiences of coming to Acha Mountain with each man a year apart.
Outbound Bogdan George Apetri, Romania North American Premiere
Matilda, a feisty woman-child with a sordid past, is out on prison leave. Are 24 hours enough to make up for her mistakes and skip out of the country in time for a brand new life?
Sensation Tom Hall, Ireland International Premiere
Sensation details the relationship between Tipperary farmer Donal Duggan and a veteran Kiwi escort. They begin as client and call girl, evolve into something like lovers, then business partners and finally co-defendants.
The Solitude Of Prime Numbers Saverio Constanzo, Italy North American Premiere
Two youngsters discover that they are doomed to live parallel lives, always linked but never joined. One has to deal with the effects of a serious accident while the other must come to grips with negligence that led to a death. As they grow into adults, they discover that their singularity results in solitude.
Tender Son - The Frankenstein Project Kornél Mundruczó Hungary/Germany/Austria North American Premiere
Long ago, a young man fathered a child without ever knowing what became of him. Now 17, his son Rudi returns home hoping to reunite with his family after years spent in an institution. A terrible event soon changes everything and the father has no choice but to accompany his son on his inevitable brutal path and their common search for redemption.
Tracker Ian Sharp, United Kingdom/New Zealand World Premiere
A former Boer War guerrilla in New Zealand is sent to bring back a Maori accused of killing a British soldier.
Three Tom Tykwer, Germany North American Premiere
Returning to the rule-breaking freedom of early films like Run Lola Run, Tykwer introduces a sophisticated Berlin couple who both start affairs with the same man, putting them on a collision course.
Silent Souls Aleksei Fedorchenko, Russia North American Premiere
When Miron's beloved wife Tanya passes away, he asks his best friend Aist to help him say goodbye according to the rituals of the Merya culture, an ancient Finno-Ugric tribe from Lake Nero. The two men set out on a road trip thousands of miles across the boundless lands.
State of Violence Khalo Matabane, South Africa/France International Premiere
In his follow-up to Conversations on a Sunday Afternoon, Matabane delivers a potent drama about a South African corporate leader whose past as a violent revolutionary comes back to threaten him.
White Irish Drinkers John Gray, USA World Premiere
In this coming of age story set in 1975 working-class Brooklyn, two teenage brothers living with their abusive father and their well-meaning but ineffective mother are caught up in a life of petty crime.
Womb Benedek Fliegauf, Germany/Hungary/France North American Premiere
Rebecca has waited 12 long years to be reunited with her childhood sweetheart, only to lose him again in a fatal accident. The only difference is, now she can bring him back from the dead.
Previously Announced Contemporary World Cinema titles include:
Crying Out (Robin Aubert), MODRA (Ingrid Veninger), A Night for Dying Tigers (Terry Miles), Route 132 (Louis Bélanger), Small Town Murder Songs (Ed Gass-Donnelly).