September 5th-15th marks the 44th Toronto Film Festival and Screen is here to preview all of the new titles in the main sections. This year’s Special Presentations includes Drake Doremus’ Endings, Beginnings, Gabriela Cowperthwaite’s The Friend and Thor: Ragnorak director Taika Waititi’s JoJo Rabbit, to name a few.
American Son (US) - dir. Kenny Leon
Tony Award-winning Leon brings the 2018 Broadway play he directed to screen, with stage leads Kerry Washington and Steven Pasquale reprising their roles as an estranged couple who reunite in an effort to find their missing teenage son. Netflix has turned the project around quickly, launching the adaptation in January and starting production in February. A release strategy is unknown but expected for later this year.
Bad Education (US) - dir. Cory Finley
Based on true events relating to what is said to be the biggest public-school embezzlement scandal in US history, Bad Education stars Hugh Jackman, Allison Janney and Ray Romano in Finley’s follow-up to his Sundance 2017 hit Thoroughbreds. Fred Berger, Eddie Vaisman, Brian Kavanaugh-Jones, Julia Lebedev, Mike Makowsky and Oren Moverman produce.
Contacts: Endeavor Content; CAA
Clifton Hill (Can) - dir. Albert Shin
This psychological thriller starring Tuppence Middleton (the upcoming Downton Abbey movie) is Shin’s return to Toronto after In Her Place debuted there in 2014 in the Discovery section. Also featuring Hannah Gross (Mindhunter), Marie-Josée Croze and David Cronenberg in the cast, Clifton Hill follows a woman as she returns to her hometown of Niagara Falls after the death of her mother, where she is tormented by the memory of a kidnapping she witnessed as a child.
Contact: Rhombus Media
Coming Home Again (US-S Kor) - dir. Wayne Wang
Hong Kong-born, US-based director Wang’s 22nd feature is based on Chang-rae Lee’s New Yorker short story. Set in San Francisco, it follows the emotional journey of a young Korean-American man as he prepares a traditional Korean meal for what is to be the last New Year’s Eve family dinner for his ailing mother. Starring Justin Chon and Jackie Chung, the US-South Korean co-production is mainly financed by the Center for Asian American Media (CAAM).
US contact: Peter Trinh, ICM Partners
International contact: Maria A Ruggieri, Asian Shadows
Dirt Music (UK-Australia) - dir. Gregor Jordan
The UK’s Wildgaze Films and Australia’s Aquarius Films have succeeded with Tim Winton’s 2002 Booker Prize-shortlisted novel; previous versions with Heath Ledger and Rachel Weisz in 2006 and Nicole Kidman in 2002 failed to get off the ground. Jack Thorne (also in Toronto with Radioactive and The Aeronauts) adapted Winton’s story, with Jordan directing his first festival title since Sundance 2009 thriller The Informers. The Australia-set drama centres on a woman in a loveless marriage who has a chance of happiness with a musician. Kelly Macdonald, David Wenham, and Garrett Hedlund star, with development and finance from Film4.
Contact: Cornerstone Films
Dolemite Is My Name (US) - dir. Craig Bewer
An Eddie Murphy film has become a rare treat and this Netflix Originals promises to be a lot of fun. The actor teams up with Brewer (Hustle & Flow, who will also direct Murphy in Coming 2 America) and screenwriter duo Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski (Man On The Moon). Murphy stars as comedian Rudy Ray Moore, who became a legend in midlife with his outlandish 1970s blaxploitation character Dolemite. Wesley Snipes and Chris Rock also star, and John Davis and John Fox produce.
The Elder One (India) - dir. Geethu Mohandas
Actor-turned-director Mohandas appears in Toronto for the first time with her second feature, after 2014’s Liar’s Dice bowed at Sundance. The Elder One (Moothon) won the Global Filmmaking Award for Mohandas’s script at Sundance 2016; it wrapped in May 2018 after production in Mumbai and Lakshadweep. Previously titled Insha’ Allah: In Pursuit Of Akbar, it follows a 14-year-old boy who comes to Mumbai in search of his elder brother Akbar. Dialogue is in both Hindi and Malayam.
Contact: Jar Pictures
Endings, Beginnings (US) - dir. Drake Doremus
The last time Doremus took a film to Toronto was the 2015 sci-fi romance Equals, following its world premiere in Venice. For his latest exploration of the heart, the US filmmaker has cast Shailene Woodley (Big Little Lies) as a 30-something navigating her way through love and heartbreak over the course of a year. Sebastian Stan also stars, and CJ Entertainment produces.
Contact: Protagonist Pictures
The Friend (US) - dir. Gabriela Cowperthwaite
Michael Teague’s 2015 autobiographical Esquire article chronicled the selfless actions of the male friend that moved in after Teague’s wife was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Cowperthwaite (Blackfish) directs this adaptation by Brad Ingelsby (Liam Neeson starrer Run All Night) with Casey Affleck and Dakota Johnson as the married couple and Jason Segel as the titular pal. Black Bear and Scott Free produce The Friend, and Black Bear fully finances.
US contact: Endeavor Content
International contact: STX international
Greed (UK) - dir. Michael Winterbottom
One year after The Wedding Guest premiered as a TIFF Special Presentation, prolific UK director Winterbottom returns in the same slot with this black comedy about a retail billionaire (Steve Coogan) hosting a 60th birthday for his powerful and celebrity friends on the Greek island of Mykonos. Sony Pictures International and Film4 present a Revolution Films production in association with Damian Jones’ DJ Films.
Contact: Sony Pictures Entertainment
Guns Akimbo (US-UK) - dir. Jason Lei Howden
Howden makes his TIFF debut with his second feature after 2015 comedy-horror Deathgasm. That film premiered at SXSW, winning best film at Barcelona’s Molins Film Festival. Prior to directing, Howden worked in VFX, with credits including The Hobbit trilogy and Man Of Steel. Daniel Radcliffe leads action comedy Guns Akimbo as a man who must use his new skills as a gladiator to save his kidnapped girlfriend (Samara Weaving).
Contact: Altitude Film Entertainment
Heroic Losers (Arg-Sp) - dir. Sebastian Borensztein
This comedy-drama from Borensztein, the Argentinian director of the award-winning Chinese Take-Out, marks the first time Argentinian superstar Ricardo Darin has appeared on screen with his son, Chino Darin. Darin Sr also produces the story — aka La Odisea De Los Giles — about a collective of farmworkers who seek revenge on a conman during an economic crisis.
Contact: Film Factory Entertainment
Hope Gap (UK) - dir. William Nicholson
The second directorial feature from Oscar-nominated screenwriter Nicholson (Gladiator), following 1997’s Firelight,Hope Gap stars Screen Star of Tomorrow 2016 Josh O’Connor (God’s Own Country) as a man who struggles with the news his father (Bill Nighy) is going to leave his mother (Annette Bening). The film is produced by UK outfits Immersiverse Films and Origin Pictures, and is financed by Screen Yorkshire, Sampsonic Media and Creative Media.
Contact: Protagonist Pictures
How To Build A Girl (UK) - dir. Coky Giedroyc
Novelist and columnist Caitlin Moran has adapted her semi-autobiographical novel about a Wolverhampton teen (Beanie Feldstein) who moves to London in 1993 and gets a job as a music critic. Giedroyc (Stella Does Tricks, Women Talking Dirty) directs a cast including Emma Thompson, Alfie Allen and Chris O’Dowd. The film is produced by Monumental Pictures’ Alison Owen and Debra Hayward, who developed the project with Film4.
Contact: Protagonist Pictures
Human Capital (US) - dir. Marc Meyers
Meyers’ sixth feature is a remake of Paolo Virzi’s 2013 Italian title of the same name, itself a loose adaptation of Stephen Amidon’s 2004 novel. Two families collide when their children begin a relationship that has tragic consequences. Stranger Things’ Maya Hawke, Marisa Tomei, Liev Schreiber, Peter Sarsgaard and Alex Wolff star. Meyers most recently directed 2017 serial killer origin story My Friend Dahmer, while writer Oren Moverman has Bob Dylan pic I’m Not There and Oscar-nominated The Messenger among his credits.
I Am Woman (Australia) - dir. Unjoo Moon
Special Presentations opens with the fiction feature debut of Korean-Australian director Moon. The biographical drama about 1970s singer and activist Helen Reddy is named after her signature hit. Rising star Tilda Cobham-Hervey plays Reddy, with Evan Peters and Patti Cake$’ Danielle Macdonald also in the cast. Rosemary Blight produces for Goalpost Pictures. Moon previously directed music documentary The Zen Of Bennett about legendary US singer Tony Bennett.
Contact: WestEnd Films
Jojo Rabbit (US) - dir. Taika Waititi
Waititi (Thor: Ragnarok) presents this self-penned adaptation of Christine Leunens’ Second World War-set novel Caging Skies, about a boy (Roman Griffin Davis) who discovers his mother (Scarlett Johansson) is hiding a Jewish girl (Thomasin McKenzie), and discusses his concerns with an imaginary Hitler (Waititi). Now in the Disney fold, Fox Searchlight Pictures distributes Stateside on October 18.
Contact: Fox Searchlight
Judy (UK) - dir. Rupert Goold
In the year that marks the 50th anniversary of Judy Garland’s death and the 80th anniversary of The Wizard Of Oz, Goold’s film stars Renée Zellweger as the celebrated singer who arrives in London in 1968 at the age of 46 to perform a sellout run at the Talk Of The Town venue. Renowned UK theatre director Goold follows up his debut feature True Story, which premiered at Sundance in 2015. Calamity Films’ David Livingstone (LGBT true tale Pride) produces, in collaboration with BBC Films, Pathé and 20th Century Fox. Roadside Attractions releases in the US on September 27; Pathé (via Fox) follows in the UK on October 4.
Contact: Pathé Films
Jungleland (US) - dir. Max Winkler
Winkler returns to TIFF with his third feature, after debut Ceremony played in Discovery in 2010. Jack O’Connell takes the role of bare-knuckle boxer Lion, with Charlie Hunnam as his brother and manager. The pair meet Sky (Jessica Barden) on their way across the US for one last fight. The producers are Brad Feinstein for Romulus Entertainment, Ryan Stowell and Kevin J Walsh for Scott Free Productions and Jules Daly.
Contact: Mister Smith Entertainment
Knives Out (US) - dir. Rian Johnson
One year after emerging as the big market package in Toronto, Johnson’s star-studded murder-mystery is ready for its close-up. Daniel Craig, Toni Collette, Jamie Lee Curtis, Ana de Armas, Chris Evans, Don Johnson, Michael Shannon and Lakeith Stanfield are among the talent in this whodunit about the murder of a wealthy crime novelist (Christopher Plummer). Lionsgate will release in the US on November 27.
Contact: Lionsgate International
Lucy In The Sky (US) - dir. Noah Hawley
New York native Hawley turns to the big screen after TV success with FX series Fargo and Legion. His feature debut stars Natalie Portman as an astronaut who struggles to readjust to Earth after a lengthy mission, with Dan Stevens as her husband. The story is loosely based on the experiences of NASA’s Lisa Nowak. Reese Witherspoon, Bruna Papandrea, John Cameron and Hawley (through his 26 Keys) produce; Fox Searchlight has set a US release for October 4.
Contact: Fox Searchlight
Lyrebird (US-Neth) - dir. Dan Friedkin
Since forming Imperative Entertainment in 2014 and 30West in 2017, Houston billionaire Friedkin has racked up an impressive list of producer and executive producer credits, including The Square, Ben Is Back, Destroyer, The Mule and All The Money In The World. His directing debut stars Claes Bang, Guy Pearce, Vicky Krieps and August Diehl in a historical thriller telling the true story of a soldier tasked with investigating a Dutch artist believed to have conspired with the Nazis. Ridley Scott produced the film with NL Film’s Sabine Brian and Imperative Entertainment.
Military Wives (UK) - dir. Peter Cattaneo
It has been more than a decade since UK director Cattaneo’s last film, 2008 comedy The Rocker, and his follow-upMilitary Wives stays in the same musical vein. It stars Sharon Horgan (TV’s Catastrophe) and Kristin Scott Thomas as members of a women’s choir on a military base, and is produced by Rory Aitken and Ben Pugh for UK outfit 42, along with Piers Tempest from Tempo Productions. Cattaneo was nominated for a best director Oscar in 1998 forThe Full Monty.
Contact: Embankment Films
Motherless Brooklyn (US) - dir. Edward Norton
Nineteen years after making his directing debut with love-triangle comedy Keeping The Faith, three-time Oscar-nominated actor Norton makes a big leap in production scale with a 1950s-set thriller based on Jonathan Lethem’s 1999 novel. Norton stars as a private detective with Tourette’s syndrome probing the death of his boss (Bruce Willis). Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Alec Baldwin, Bobby Cannavale and Willem Dafoe also star. A closing night slot at New York Film Festival follows in October, and Warner Bros releases in the US and other territories from November 1.
Contact: Warner Bros
Ordinary Love (UK)- dirs. Lisa Barros D’Sa, Glenn Leyburn
The directors of Cherrybomb (2009) and Good Vibrations (2012) reunite with a drama about a couple (Liam Neeson, Lesley Manville) dealing with a breast cancer diagnosis. Originally filmed under the title Normal People(not to be confused with the in-the-works TV adaptation of Sally Rooney’s bestseller) and scripted by Irish playwright Owen McCafferty, the film is backed by the BFI, Northern Ireland Screen, Head Gear Films, Metrol Technology and Kreo Films.
US contact: CAA
International contact: Bankside Films
The Other Lamb (Bel-Ire-US) - dir. Malgorzata Szumowska
Polish filmmaker Szumowska’s Mug played in Competition in Berlin in 2018, where it picked up the Silver Bear grand jury prize. She follows this with her English-language debut, starring Raffey Cassidy (Vox Lux) as a young Irish woman who begins to question the religious cult she has grown up in. The screenplay by Catherine S McMullen was on the Black List of best unproduced screenplays in 2017, and the film is produced by Ireland’s Rumble Films and the US’s Subotica, with Belgian outfit Umedia serving as co-producer. Kino Swiat will distribute in Poland.
The Personal History Of David Copperfield (UK) - dir. Armando Iannucci
Director of scabrous big-screen political comedies In The Loop and The Death Of Stalin, and the creative force behind TV’s The Thick Of It and Veep, Iannucci will doubtlessly be putting a very personal stamp on his adaptation of the Charles Dickens classic, co-written with frequent collaborator Simon Blackwell. Dev Patel stars as the titular orphan who discovers his gift as a storyteller and writer. The cast also includes Tilda Swinton, Hugh Laurie, Peter Capaldi, Gwendoline Christie and Ben Whishaw. Iannucci produces with Kevin Loader, and backing from FilmNation Entertainment and Film4.
Contact: FilmNation Entertainment
Synchronic (US) - dirs. Aaron Moorhead, Justin Benson
Moorhead and Benson return to Toronto after their 2014 Spring appeared in the Vanguard section. Synchronic is a sci-fi horror starring Jamie Dornan and Anthony Mackie as two paramedics in New Orleans faced with a series of deaths caused by a potent drug. It is produced by Benson, Moorhead and David Lawson Jr (all at Rustic Films) alongside Michael Mendelsohn for Patriot Pictures, in association with Pfaff & Pfaff Productions and Love & Death Productions.
Contact: XYZ Films
The Two Popes (US-UK-It-Arg) - dir. Fernando Meirelles
Meirelles premiered his last feature — interwoven-storyline drama 360 — at Toronto in 2011. The Two Popes is billed by the festival as a “surprisingly funny chamber piece” set in 2013 as progressive incoming pontiff Francis (Jonathan Pryce) debates the right path for the Catholic church with conservative outgoing Benedict (Anthony Hopkins). The screenplay is by Anthony McCarten, whose work for The Theory Of Everything (2014), The Darkest Hour (2017) and Bohemian Rhapsody (2018) all provided platforms for best actor Oscar wins.
Uncut Gems (US) - dirs. Benny Safdie, Josh Safdie
The Safdie brothers’ last outing Good Time cast Robert Pattinson in a new light and the hope is the filmmakers can remind audiences of the range Adam Sandler showed in Paul Thomas Anderson’s 2002 romance Punch-Drunk Love when he isn’t otherwise occupied with Netflix films. The comedian plays a dodgy New York City jeweller who invites trouble when he places a series of big bets. Rounding out the key cast are Lakeith Stanfield, Idina Menzel, and Judd Hirsch. A24 distributes in the US later this year.
Waves (US) - dir. Trey Edward Shults
Following the success of arthouse drama Krisha (a SXSW premiere in 2015) and survival genre tale It Comes At Night (2017), Shults makes his Toronto bow with Waves. This musical drama stars Lucas Hedges (Ben Is Back), Alexa Demie (Mid90s, TV’s Euphoria), Kelvin Harrison Jr and Taylor Russell as two young couples as they grow up and fall in love. Waves is produced by Kevin Turen (99 Homes) and Jim Wilson (You Were Never Really Here) for A24, which also distributes the film worldwide.
Weathering With You (Jap) - dir. Makoto Shinkai
Following 2016 blockbuster Your Name, Shinkai reteams with Japanese studio Toho and producer Genki Kawamura on a highly anticipated animation. Weathering With You is about a runaway teenager who meets a girl with the ability to stop the rain and clear the sky. The film has become a box-office hit in Japan after opening on July 19 and is scheduled to roll out to various Asian territories. Toronto will mark its North American premiere; GKIDS has acquired North American rights.
While At War (Sp-Arg) - dir. Alejandro Amenabar
Amenabar’s 2004 drama The Sea Inside played Toronto, and the Spanish filmmaker (The Others) heads back to Canada with a tale set in the early days of the Spanish Civil War. While At War, which stars Karra Elejalde as Basque writer Miguel de Unamuno, is the first original film backed by Movistar+, the division of Spanish telecoms giant Telefonica. Movistar+ produced with K&S Films and Disney will distribute in Spain.
Contact: Film Factory Entertainme
Profiles by Nikki Baughan, Ben Dalton, Nancy Epton, Charles Gant, Jeremy Kay, Orlando Parfitt, Lisa Wehrstedt, Silvia Wong
La Belle Epoque (Fr) - Dir Nicolas Bedos
Cannes newcomer Bedos made his name on the French stage, radio and TV then graduated to directing for the big screen with his 2017 comedy Mr & Mrs Adelman, in which he co-starred with his partner Doria Tillier. She features again alongside Daniel Auteuil, Guillaume Canet and Fanny Ardant in this Les Films du Kiosque production, about a man who undertakes a novelty ‘theme experience’ — an artificial recreation of the glory days of his life.
Contact: Orange Studio; Pathé Films
Deerskin (Fr) - Dir. Quentin Dupieux
French director Dupieux — also known as techno-music artist Mr Oizo — has developed his outré line of surreal comedy both in France and the US, notably with 2010 Critics’ Week title Rubber. He follows his cop farce Keep An Eye Out with this year’s Directors’ Fortnight opener, from Atelier de Production and Arte France Cinema. French comedy mainstay Jean Dujardin (The Artist) is a man obsessively in love with his deerskin jacket, with Cannes favourite Adele Haenel co-starring.
The Domain (Por-Fr) dir. Tiago Guedes
A decade after his last feature Noise (co-directed with Frederico Serra) won a host of festival awards including best actor and best first work at 2009’s Cartagena Film Festival, Portuguese filmmaker Guedes brings his follow-up to Venice Competition. A chronicle of a wealthy Portuguese family from the 1940s to the present day, The Domain (A Herdade) is produced by Portugal’s Leopardo Filmes and France’s Alfama Films.
Contact: Jason Bressand, Alfama Films
Ema (Chile) dir. Pablo Larrain
Chilean auteur Larrain returns to the Lido after his last film Jackie premiered there in 2016 and earned the best screenplay prize for Noah Oppenheim. Ema stars Mariana Di Girolamo in the title role alongside Gael Garcia Bernal in the tale of a guilt-stricken dancer and mother who plots to regain all she has lost. Larrain’s brother and partner at Fabula, Juan de Dios Larrain, produces Ema, which will receive its North American premiere in Toronto.
US contact: CAA
International contact: The Match Factory
Frankie (Fr-Port-Bel-US) - Dir. Ira Sachs
In Sachs’ Cannes debut, Isabelle Huppert, Brendan Gleeson, Marisa Tomei, and Greg Kinnear star in the tale of several generations of a family who gather in an old town in Portugal. Said Ben Said, who worked with Huppert on Elle, produced the film via his SBS Productions, alongside co-producers O Som E A Furia and Beluga Tree. Frankie is the first time Sachs has shot outside the US. Sony Pictures Classics has the film for North America, Eastern Europe (including CIS), Scandinavia, the Middle East, South Africa, Spain, India and for worldwide airlines.
Contact: SBS International
Guest Of Honour (Can) dir. Atom Egoyan
Canadian-Armenian director Egoyan has a second consecutive Venice Competition launch after 2015’s Remember, having previously debuted most frequently at Cannes (eight times) and Toronto (three times) from his 17 features. The drama about the complicated history between a father and daughter stars David Thewlis — also in Billie Piper’s Rare Beasts in Critics’ Week — Laysla De Oliveira and Luke Wilson. The film shot in Toronto in late 2018.
The Laundromat (US) dir. Steven Soderbergh
Soderbergh’s first feature to screen in Competition here, following non-competitive Venice slots for both Bubble(2005) and The Informant! (2009), is adapted by Scott Z Burns from Jake Bernstein’s 2017 book about the Panama Papers tax-evasion scandal. The Netflix Original stars Meryl Streep as a woman who tangles with the co-founders of Panama law firm Mossack Fonseca (Gary Oldman, Antonio Banderas). Soderbergh produces with Burns, regular producer partner Gregory Jacobs, Grey Matter Productions’ Lawrence Grey and Spotlight’s Michael Sugar.
The Lighthouse (US) - Dir. Robert Eggers
There is plenty of buzz swirling around Eggers’ black-and-white fantasy horror after his feature debut The Witch. The Lighthouse stars Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe as lighthouse keepers on a suitably remote and mysterious island in the 1890s. Conditions on the shoot were harsh and Pattinson revealed he came close to hitting Eggers after the director repeatedly sprayed a hose in his face. A24, New Regency and RT Features produced, and A24 distributes in the US and handles worldwide sales.
Marriage Story (US) dir. Noah Baumbach
Baumbach has premiered his previous nine fiction features at the Cannes, Toronto, Sundance, Telluride, Berlin, and New York film festivals, saving only 2015 documentary De Palma (co-directed with Jake Paltrow) for a Venice bow. Now his Competition debut sees Scarlett Johansson and frequent Baumbach collaborator Adam Driver play a couple whose divorce proceedings become increasingly volatile. Baumbach produces this Netflix Original with Heyday Films’ David Heyman.
Mosul (US) dir. Matthew Michael Carnahan
As a writer, Carnahan has penned screenplays for features including Lions For Lambs (2007), World War Z (2013) and Deepwater Horizon (2016). He makes his directorial debut with the Arabic-language Mosul, based on Luke Mogelson’s series of articles for The New Yorker, which focuses on a local police unit fighting to liberate the Iraqi city from Isis militants. It is produced by Joe Russo and Anthony Russo for AGBO, along with Jeremy Steckler of Conde Nast Entertainment.
Contact: Endeavor Content
No.7 Cherry Lane (HK) dir. Yonfan
Following Prince Of Tears, which competed at Venice in 2009, Hong Kong director Yonfan returns to the big screen for the first time in a decade. Set during the turbulent times of 1967 Hong Kong, No.7 Cherry Lane follows a university student who finds himself in a love triangle with the woman he is tutoring and her mother — exiles from Taiwan’s White Terror martial-law regime. This marks Yonfan’s first animation, which is hand-drawn in 2D. The film’s North American premiere will be in Toronto’s Special Presentations.
Contact: Far Sun Film Company
Pain And Glory (Sp) - Dir. Pedro Almodovar
Pain And Glory is the sixth film by the legendary Spanish director to screen in Competition. Almodovar won the best director award for All About My Mother in 1999 and best screenplay for Volver in 2006. Pain And Glory was released in Spain in March where it grossed a modest $5m for Sony. The film is a highly autobiographical love letter to cinema starring two of Almodovar’s most beloved collaborators: Antonio Banderas, who plays a director looking back on his life and career, and Penelope Cruz who portrays his mother in flashback. Filmnation has sold all major territories on the film. Sony Pictures Classics has US rights.
Contact: Filmnation Entertainment
The Painted Bird (Czech-Slovak-Ukr) dir. Vaclav Marhoul
For his third feature after Smart Philip (2003) and Tobruk (2008), Czech writer/director Marhoul has adapted Jerzy Kosinski’s 1965 novel The Painted Bird, which sees a Jewish boy seek refuge in Eastern Europe during the Second World War. Shot in 35mm black-and-white, the film has an international cast including Harvey Keitel, Barry Pepper, and Stellan Skarsgard and is produced by Marhoul’s own Silver Screen in partnership with Czech outfits Czech Television and Certicon, Slovakia’s PubRes and Radio and Television of Slovakia, and Ukraine’s Directory Films.
Contact: Celluloid Dreams
Parasite (S Kor) - Dir. Bong Joon Ho
After 2017’s English-language Okja, which partly triggered the Cannes-Netflix row, Bong returns to Competition with a Korean-language film starring his frequent collaborator Song Kang-ho. The new tragi-comedy is about an unemployed family that infiltrates a more affluent one, leading to unexpected consequences. Cast includes Lee Sun-kyun (A Hard Day), Jo Yeo-jeong (Obsessed) and Choi Woo-shik (Okja). Among Bong’s previous Cannes outings are Mother (Un Certain Regard 2009) and The Host (Directors’ Fortnight 2006).
Contact: CJ Entertainment
Pelican Blood (Ger-Bul) dir. Katrin Gebbe
Gebbe’s sophomore feature (following Cannes 2013 Un Certain Regard premiere Nothing Bad Can Happen) is a dark family drama starring German actress Nina Hoss (Yella) as a woman facing a dilemma after adopting a young girl from Bulgaria who becomes increasingly aggressive. Also scripted by Gebbe, Pelican Blood is produced by Germany’s Junafilm and Bulgaria’s Miramar Film and developed with TorinoFilmLab and the Berlinale co-production market. DCM is handling the German release.
Contact: Films Boutique
Portrait Of A Lady On Fire (Fr) - Dir. Céline Sciamma
Twelve years after taking Un Certain Regard by storm with her debut feature, coming-of-age lesbian romance Water Lilies, France’s Sciamma finally takes her place in Competition. Subsequent films Tomboy and Girlhood premiered at the Berlinale in 2011 and Cannes Directors’ Fortnight in 2014. In a departure from her gritty, contemporary dramas, Sciamma delivers a historical romantic drama set in 18th-century Brittany. Adele Haenel, who co-starred in Water Lilies, plays a reluctant bride-to-be who develops a growing passion for a female artist commissioned to paint her portrait in her final days of freedom.
Contact: mk2 Films
Saturday Fiction (China) dir. Lou Ye
Gong Li heads an international cast in controversial Chinese auteur Lou’s latest thriller, which features her as an iconic actress who returns to 1940s Japan-occupied Shanghai on a top-secret mission. Taiwan’s Mark Chao, Japan’s Joe Odagiri, Germany’s Tom Wlaschiha and France’s Pascal Greggory co-star. The mainland Chinese production — produced by Ying Films, Qianyi Times, Bai An Film and Tianyi Films & TV — segues to Toronto’s Special Presentations after Venice. The release for Lou’s last film Shadow Play was much delayed because of a lengthy censorship process.
US contact: CAA
International contact: Wild Bunch
Seberg (US) dir. Benedict Andrews
Theatre-turned-film director Andrews follows up his 2016 debut Una with this drama about an ambitious young FBI agent who is assigned to investigate iconic actress Jean Seberg’s involvement with the civil rights movement in 1960s America. The film, which stars Kristen Stewart as Seberg alongside Jack O’Connell and Anthony Mackie, is produced by US outfits Phreaker Films, Bradley Pilz Productions and Automatic for Amazon Studios.
Contact: Memento Films International
Sibyl (Fr) - Dir Justine Triet
Triet’s Competition debut follows the 2013 drama Age Of Panic (La Bataille De Solferino), shot against the backdrop of real-life presidential election celebrations, and 2016 Cannes Critics’ Week opening film Victoria, aka In Bed With Victoria. This third feature reunites Triet with Victoria’s Virginie Efira in the role of a jaded psychotherapist with aspirations to become a writer, playing opposite Palme d’Or winner Adele Exarchopoulos (Blue Is The Warmest Color) as a troubled young actress who is one of her patients. The impressive cast also includes Sandra Hüller, Gaspard Ulliel, and Niels Schneider.
Contact: mk2 Films
The Truth (Jap-Fr) dir. Hirokazu Kore-eda
After storming Cannes in 2018 with his Palme d’Or-winning Shoplifters, veteran Japanese director Kore-eda opens the Venice festival with his first feature not in his native language. Catherine Deneuve and Juliette Binoche star respectively as an actress mother and her screenwriter daughter; the cast also includes Ethan Hawke. Le Pacte, IFC Films, and Curzon Artificial Eye respectively will distribute in France, US and UK.
Contact: Wild Bunch
Wasp Network (Fr-Sp-Bel) dir. Olivier Assayas
Assayas’s Cuba-set spy saga centres on five Cuban political prisoners in the 1990s, and a terror network based in Florida whose influence extended throughout Central America. Penelope Cruz, Wagner Moura, Edgar Ramirez, Gael Garcia Bernal, and Ana de Armas star, and prolific Rodrigo Teixeira of RT Features produces with Charles Gillibert of CG Cinema. CAA Media Finance handles US rights. Orange Studio, the film and TV arm of the French telecoms group, handles international sales and French distribution rights.
US contact: CAA
International contact: Orange Studio