TIFF 2015: Here we go, people

Jean-Marc Vallée’s Demolition, starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Naomi Watts, will open this year's fest

The slogan for the 40th edition of the Toronto International Film Festival is “Defining Moments Since 1976”. And today’s launch conference, at the TIFF Bell Lightbox, was all about the legacy.

Festival co-directors Piers Handling and Cameron Bailey opened the event with a video compilation of four decades of TIFF clips– evolving from hideous mid-70s broadcast resolution to present-day HDTV – and followed it with another montage of TIFF films shot in Toronto. They thanked surviving TIFF founders Bill Marshall and Henk van der Kolk, who were seated in the audience. And they reminded the assembled press that the festival will be marking its 40th anniversary with free screenings of hits from festivals past and a special presentation of Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo on the last day of TIFF 2015 with a live orchestral performance of Bernard Herrmann’s score.

The announcement of TIFF 2015’s opening-night film was a pleasant surprise: Jean-Marc Vallée’s Demolition, starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Naomi Watts, will make its world premiere at Roy Thomson Hall on September 10. Vallée’s a regular TIFF presence, and this will mark his third straight year of screening a feature here after Dallas Buyers Club in 2013 and Wild last year.

World premieres announced for the Gala programme included Deepa Mehta’s true-crime thriller Beeba Boys, starring Randeep Hooda, Waris Ahluwalia, Sarah Allen and a barely-recognizable Paul Gross Gavin Hood’s Eye In The Sky, a thriller starring Aaron Paul as a drone pilot and Helen Mirren as an intelligence officer weighing a lethal strike Peter Sollett’s Freeheld, a true story about terminal illness and gay rights starring Julianne Moore, Ellen Page, Steve Carell and Michael Shannon Ridley Scott’s The Martian, starring Matt Damon as an astronaut marooned on the red planet and Jessica Chastain, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Kate Mara as members of his crew Stephen Frears’s Lance Armstrong docudrama The Program, starring Ben Foster as the disgraced cyclist and Roland Emmerich’s Stonewall, a drama about the Stonewall Riot of 1969 starring Jeremy Irvine, Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Ron Perlman

World premieres in the Special Presentations category include Florian Gallenberger’s Colonia, a thriller set in 1973 Chile starring Emma Watson and Daniel Brühl Jonas Cuarón’s cat-and-mouse border thriller Desierto, starring Gael Garcia Bernál and Jeffrey Dean Morgan Jason Bateman’s The Family Fang, a generational comedy in which Bateman stars opposite Nicole Kidman and Christopher Walken Nicholas Hytner’s The Lady In The Van, starring Maggie Smith as a homeless woman who befriended the author Alan Bennett (Alex Jennings) Rebecca Miller’s domestic drama Maggie’s Plan, starring Julianne Moore, Greta Gerwig and Ethan Hawke Terence Davies’s Sunset Song, an adaptation of Lewis Grassic Gibbon’s pre-war novel starring Peter Mullan and Agyness Deyn Jay Roach’s Trumbo, starring Bryan Cranston as the blacklisted screenwriter and Helen Mirren as gossip columnist Hedda Hopper, and Michael Moore’s new documentary Where To Invade Next.

Also coming to TIFF as Galas are Atom Egoyan’s Remember, a thriller starring Christopher Plummer and Martin Landau, and Brian Helgeland’s LEGEND, featuring a dual performance by Tom Hardy as English gangsters Reginald and Ronald Kray.

Arriving in Toronto as Special Presentations are Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson’s Anomalisa, starring Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tom Noonan and David Thewlis Cary Fukunaga’s child-soldier drama Beasts Of No Nation, starring Idris Elba as an African warlord Scott Cooper’s Black Mass, starring Johnny Depp as Boston mobster Whitey Bulger Tom Hooper’s Lili Elbe-Gerda Wegener biopic The Danish Girl, starring Eddie Redmayne, Alicia Vikander, Matthias Schoenaerts and Amber Heard Lenny Abraham’s Room, starring Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay in an adaptation of Emma Donoghue’s novel, and Tom McCarthy’s Spotlight, a dramatization of the Boston Globe’s exposé of the Catholic Church’s protection of predatory priests starring Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams, Michael Keaton and Liev Schreiber.

The Special Presentations lineup also includes a number of Cannes titles, including Denis Villeneuve’s drug-war thriller Sicario, starring Emily Blunt, Benicio Del Toro and Josh Brolin Paolo Sorrentino’s Youth, starring Michael Caine and Harvey Keitel as old friends vacationing in the Swiss Alps (and co-starring Rachel Weisz, Jane Fonda and Paul Dano) László Nemes’s acclaimed Holocaust drama Son Of Saul John Crowley’s Brooklyn, starring Saoirse Ronan as an Irish immigrant who falls for an Italian-American lad (Emory Cohen) in 1950s New York Yorgos Lanthimos’s The Lobster, a sci-fi drama starring Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz, John C. Reilly and Léa Seydoux, and Jacques Audiard’s Palme d’Or winner Dheepan.

This is, of course, just a fraction of the total number of titles playing TIFF 2015. The bulk of the Canadian films and shorts will be announced at another press conference next week, with yet more titles to be named at the end of August. Stay tuned.

The 40th annual Toronto International Film Festival runs from September 10 to 20, 2015.

normw@nowtoronto.com | @normwilner

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