Tiff 4

Source: Gaumont, SF International, Embankment Films, STX

‘C’est La Vie!’, ‘Borg/McEnroe’, ‘Submergence’, ‘Molly’s Game’

Awards season swings into high gear at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival (Sept 7- 17), the vital North American launch for prestige contenders and pretenders. 

On the eve of the festival, Screen has selected a few of the stand-out titles from this year’s event.

Read more: 15 films to look out for at the Venice Film Festival

The Cured (Ire-UK-Fr)

Dir: David Freyne
Freyne makes his feature debut with this genre title set in a society where a zombie virus has been cured, but the formerly infected are discriminated against. Ellen Page joins Irish actors Tom Vaughan-Lawlor and Sam Keeley, while Freyne reteams with producer duo Rachael O’Kane and Rory Dungan, with whom he worked on his shorts The Man In 301, The Mill, Passing and The First Wave.
Contact: Simon Briot-Romer, Bac Films (s.briot-romer@bacfilms.fr)

The Children Act (UK)

Dir: Richard Eyre
Iris and Notes On A Scandal director Eyre returns to Toronto for the first time since 2008’s The Other Man with The Children Act, adapted by Ian McEwan from his novel of the same name. Emma Thompson stars as a high-court judge who must decide the fate of a teenage boy (Dunkirk’s Fionn Whitehead) whose religious beliefs prevent a life-saving blood transfusion. Stanley Tucci, Ben Chaplin and Jason Watkins co-star. Duncan Kenworthy produces for his own Toledo Productions, with BBC Films and FilmNation Entertainment. eOne has UK rights.
Contact: FilmNation Entertainment (nyoffice@filmnation.com)

Molly’s Game (US)

Dir: Aaron Sorkin
Jessica Chastain stars as Molly Bloom, the Olympic-class skier busted by the FBI for running a high-stakes poker game for Hollywood’s rich and famous. A-list writer Sorkin makes his feature directorial debut and Idris Elba also stars in the eOne and Mark Gordon Company drama. eOne will distribute directly in the UK, Canada, Australia/New Zealand, Benelux and Spain. STX will release in the US and China, and Sierra/Affinity handles sales in the rest of the world.
Contact: Sierra/Affinity (sales@sierra-affinity.com

Borg/McEnroe (Swe-Den-Fin)

Dir: Janus Metz
Danish filmmaker Metz follows his acclaimed documentary Armadillo (2010) with his narrative feature debut celebrating the rivalry between tennis stars John McEnroe (Shia LaBeouf) and Björn Borg (Sverrir Gudnason), culminating in the epic 1980 Wimbledon men’s singles final. Producers Fredrik Wikström Nicastro and Jon Nohrstedt of Sweden’s SF Studios developed the screenplay with Ronnie Sandahl, pulling in financing from the Swedish, Danish and Finnish film institutes, and Nordisk Film & TV Fond. Company credits also include Film i Väst, SVT and Yellow Film & TV.
Contact: SF International (international@sf.se)

Grace Jones: Bloodlight And Bami (UK-Ire)

Dir: Sophie Fiennes
In Jamaican patois, ‘bloodlight’ is the red light that illuminates when an artist is recording in the studio, and ‘bami’ is bread, the substance of life. Fiennes, who documented Anselm Kiefer in 2010 Cannes premiere Over Your Cities Grass Will Grow, now spotlights the statuesque Jamaica-born singer. BBC Films, the BFI, Irish Film Board and Roads Entertainment finance the Blinder Films, Sligoville and Amoeba Film production, from producers Fiennes, Shani Hinton, Katie Holly and Beverly Jones. Trafalgar Releasing has UK rights.
Contact: WestEnd Films (info@westendfilms.com)

The Breadwinner (Can-Ire-Lux)

Dir: Nora Twomey
Angelina Jolie serves as executive producer on this animation from the co-director of 2010 Oscar nominee The Secret Of Kells. The Breadwinner is based on Deborah Ellis’s young adult novel about a girl living under the Taliban in Afghanistan. Jehane Noujaim and Karim Amer (The Square) serve as executive producers alongside Jolie and Gerry Shirren of Irish animation studio Cartoon Saloon. GKIDS distributes in the US in November and for the first time acted as financier and producer.
Contact: WestEnd Films (info@westendfilms.com

Sweet Country (Aus)

Dir: Warwick Thornton
Period western Sweet Country is the first Australian indigenous feature to be selected for Competition in Venice. Thornton, winner of the Caméra d’Or at Cannes for Samson & Delilah in 2009, received production investment for the project from Screen Australia’s Indigenous Department, Adelaide Film Festival, Screen NSW and South Australian Film Corporation. Starring Sam Neill, Bryan Brown, Hamilton Morris and Gibson John, the story focuses on an Aboriginal cattle herder who is tried for murder.
Contact: Memento Films International (sales@memento-films.com

Journey’s End (UK)

Dir: Saul Dibb
RC Sherriff’s original 1928 stage play — set in a British army officers’ dugout in the trenches near the end of the First World War — starred Laurence Olivier, before becoming a 1930 film. The Duchess director Dibb helms this Fluidity Films production from a screenplay by Simon Reade (also producing, with Guy de Beaujeu). The cast is led by Sam Claflin, Asa Butterfield and Paul Bettany. Lionsgate has UK rights.
Contact: Metro International (sales@metro-films.com

C’est La Vie! (Fr)

Dirs: Olivier Nakache, Eric Toledano
The sixth feature from French duo Nakache and Toledano (Intouchables) takes place at a wedding reception. Jean-Pierre Bacri, Suzanne Clément and Gilles Lellouche star in the comedy-drama, which is produced by Quad Productions and co-produced by TFI and Gaumont. It is the pair’s second film to premiere at Toronto following Samba in 2014.
Contact: Alexis Cassanet, Gaumont (alexis.cassanet@gaumont.com

The Current War (US)

Dir: Alfonso Gomez-Rejon
Benedict Cumberbatch and Michael Shannon star as electricity titans Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse, who competed to create a sustainable energy system and market it to the American people. Timur Bekmambetov originally acquired Michael Mitnick’s Black List script to direct, but instead produces under his Bazelevs label. The film is set to open in the US on December 22 through The Weinstein Company.
Contact: The Weinstein Company (www.weinsteinco.com

Disobedience (UK)

Dir: Sebastian Lelio
Best known for his 2013 film Gloria, for which Paulina Garcia scooped Berlin’s best actress Silver Bear, Chile’s Lelio makes his English-language debut with Disobedience. It is adapted from Naomi Alderman’s novel about a woman who returns to her Orthodox Jewish home, stirring up controversy when she shows interest in an old childhood friend. Rachel McAdams, Rachel Weisz (also producing, with Ed Guiney and Frida Torresblanco) and Alessandro Nivola lead the cast in this Film4 and Film­Nation Entertainment presentation of an Element Pictures, Braven Films and HGS Productions feature. Lelio’s 2017 Berlinale premiere A Fantastic Woman also plays in TIFF Special Presentations.
Contact: FilmNation Entertainment (nyoffice@filmnation.com)

The Guardians (Fra)

Dir: Xavier Beauvois
Beauvois’ highly anticipated new film is based on the novel of the same name by Ernest Pérochon. Set during the First World War, The Guardians explores how a group of women strive to break free of their prescribed roles when they are forced to take on work as the men leave for the action. Nathalie Baye stars as a woman looking after the farm of her pregnant daughter’s family. Beauvois’ Cesar-winning Of Gods And Men won the Grand Prix at Cannes and went on to be a sensation on the festival circuit in 2010.
Contact: Pathé International (sales@patheinternational.com

Hostiles (US)

Dir: Scott Cooper
Cooper reunites with his Out Of The Furnace star Christian Bale on the western that has earned rave reviews at Telluride. The late-19th-century adventure story tells of an army captain who agrees to escort a Cheyenne chief and his family through dangerous territory. Joining Bale in the cast are Rosamund Pike, Peter Mullan, Ben Foster and Call Me By Your Name breakout Timothée Chalamet. Cooper directed Black Mass, which played in Toronto in 2015. John Lesher, Ken Kao and Cooper produced, and Kao’s Waypoint Entertainment financed.
Contact: Bloom (info@bloom-media.com); Alexis Garcia, WME Global (agarcia@wmeentertainment.com) 

I, Tonya (US)

Dir: Craig Gillespie
Margot Robbie, Sebastian Stan and Allison Janney star in this drama about disgraced competitive ice skater Tonya Harding, whose life went into a tailspin when she was implicated in an attack on fellow skater Nancy Kerrigan. Gillespie directs from a screenplay by Steven Rogers, 10 years after his debut feature Lars And The Real Girl premiered in Toronto. AI Film fully financed I, Tonya and Miramax will distribute the Clubhouse Pictures and LuckyChap Entertainment production in the US.
Contact: Sierra/Affinity (info@sierra-affinity.com

Submergence (Fr-US-Ger-Sp-Bel)

Dir: Wim Wenders
Veteran filmmaker Wenders shot his globetrotting romantic thriller in France, Germany, Spain and Djibouti. James McAvoy stars as a water engineer who falls in love with a deep-sea researcher (Alicia Vikander) and is then taken hostage in Somalia as a suspected spy. Erin Dignam adapted the script from the bestselling JM Ledgard novel, while Cameron Lamb (Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter) produced. After Toronto, Submergence will open San Sebastian Film Festival. Wenders is a TIFF regular, most recently with last year’s The Beautiful Days Of Aranjuez.
International contact: Embankment Films (info@embankmentfilms.com)
North America contact: Rena Ronson, UTA (ronsonr@unitedtalent.com)

Profiles by Nikki Baughan, Charles Gant, Tim Grierson, Wendy Ide, Jeremy Kay, Wendy Mitchell, Louise Tutt, Silvia Wong and Elbert Wyche