The Toronto International Film Festival lineup, staggered as it is over multiple announcements, never quite seems to be complete: just when you think they can’t possibly add any more films to the gargantuan programme, a fresh batch is added. Today’s additions, however, appear to be the last ones, and here’s the final tally: this year, 288 features and 78 shorts will play in the 11-day festival. A whopping 146 of those features are world premieres. I’ve never been to Toronto, and am not going this year, but the very thought makes me want to lie down with a cool flannel over my head.
Among today’s additions are the selections for the Masters, Discovery and Maverick sections of the festival, while onstage events with such figures as Spike Jonze, Harvey Weinstein and Jason Reitman are also on the bill.
Eleven films were selected for the Masters programme, which is devoted to international auteurs of note. Several of them have already been celebrated at other festivals. From Cannes, we have Jia Zhang-ke’s “A Touch of Sin” (which won the Best Screenplay award from Steven Spielberg’s jury), Claire Denis’s “Bastards” (not her finest, but mid-level Denis is still better than most things out there) and Lav Diaz’s four-hour epic “Norte: The End of History.”
From Berlin, we have embattled Iranian auteur Jafar Panahi’s “Closed Curtain” (rewarded with the Best Screenplay prize by Wong Kar-wai’s jury); from Locarno, prolific South Korean director Hong Sang-soo’s “Our Sunhi.” Three Masters picks will premiere in Venice first: Ettore Scola’s “Scola Narrates Fellini”; “Heimat” director Edgar Reitz’s “Home From Home: Chronicle of a Vision,” and reigning Golden Lion winner Kim Ki-duk’s already-controversial latest, “Moebius.” The lineup is rounded out by three world premieres: Robert Lepage and Pedro Pires’ “Triptych,” Pirjo Honkasalo’s “Concrete Night” and, most notably, Catherine Breillat’s “Abuse of Weakness” — a film many expected to show up first in Cannes or Venice.
The already-announced Midnight Madness lineup has been completed with “Witching and Bitching,” the latest from Spanish genre stylist Alex de la Iglesia. He’s a talent whose charms continue to elude me, but I won’t be so churlish as to deny the bonkers intrigue of the film’s logline: “Desperate dad José and his friends run from a coven of witches hell-bent on their souls and on the 25,000 wedding rings the guys stole from a Cash-for-Gold shop in a desperate attempt to escape their lives of wife troubles.” Three years ago, de la Iglesia’s “The Last Circus” was a multiple prizewinner at Venice, so it’s interesting to see this making its world premiere in Toronto.
Among the 28 films selected for the Discovery programme — a section devoted to debut and sophomore films from across the globe — it’s worth singling out Singaporean director Anthony Chen’s “Ilo Ilo,” which played in Cannes to rave reviews (I heard Edward Yang comparisons being bandied about) and wound up beating several higher-profile titles, including “Fruitvale Station,” to the Camera d’Or. Also in the lineup is Gia Coppola’s “Palo Alto,” an adaptation of a James Franco short story starring, believe it or not, Jamers Franco.
The Mavericks sections includes five world premieres, among them Ron Howard’s documentary “Made in America,” a behind-the-scenes glimpse of a Jay-Z-curated music festival in Philadelphia. (Opie and Hova? You read that right.) Another concert film, “12.12.12,” documents last year’s all-star Hurricane Sandy benefit concert. Howard and Harvey Weinstein, respectively, will be on hand for live discussions after the screenings. Documentaries “InRealLife,” “Our Man in Tehran” and “What is Cinema?” will also make their first appearance in the Maverick lineup. As a bonus, Spike Jonze joins the festival’s In Conversation With… series, and will present exclusive clips from his upcoming feature “Her” — premiering at the New York Film Festival in October.
Finally, for those feeling a little movied-out at the festival, Jason Reitman will once more be presenting his Live Read event: a one-take read-through of a well-known film script using an all-star cast. The script and cast for this year’s edition will be announced at a later date; last year’s reading of “American Beauty” featured Christina Hendricks, Bryan Cranston and Adam Driver, among others.
You can feast on the full festival lineup here.