Which films are you excited to see?
Precious: Based on the novel “Push” by Sapphire: Despite the overblown title, Lee Daniels’ gritty Harlem drama is drawing raves. Unknown Gabourey Sidibe is a revelation as Precious. Acclaim is also raining on a nearly unrecognizable, de-glamourized Mariah Carey.
Cooking with Stella: Dilip Mehta’s effervescent cultural comedy tosses an unsuspecting Canadian couple into the roil of diplomatic life in New Dehli. We all laugh — lovingly.
The Young Victoria: Jean-Marc Vallee aces his English-language debut, breathing fire, passion and beauty into a British historical period piece about the rise of Queen Victoria.
The White Ribbon: Austere German-Austrian filmmaker Michael Haneke won the Palme d’Or for best film at Cannes 2009 for this dark vision of a German farming community just before the horrors of WWI begin.
A Serious Man: For the first time since Fargo, the Coen Brothers go back to their Minnesota roots with a 1967 comedy infused with Yiddish language and comic sensibilities.
Up in the Air: Canadian Jason Reitman is inextricably linked to the Toronto filmfest so, even after all his Oscar noms for Juno, he returns with his latest dramatic comedy. This one stars George Clooney as a downsizing expert facing his own job challenges.
Bright Star: Jane Campion delicately captures the tragedy of English romantic poet John Keats, with Abbie Cornish and Ben Whishaw both delivering beautifully crafted performances.
A Prophet: With a harsh, violent story set in a French prison, Jacques Audiard captures the horrifying truth of the systemic war of races and religions that bedevils all of humanity.
I Killed My Mother: At age 19 (wow!!!), Montreal’s Xavier Dolan wrote, directed and stars in this semi-autobiographical film about an angry gay youth locked in a love-hate relationship with his mother. And it’s remarkable.
Vengeance: With French legend Johnny Hallyday as his instrument of destruction, Hong Kong super-stylist Johnnie To slam-bams us into a brilliant genre picture about a European bent on violent revenge in Aisa.
Sprockets Family Zone
Timetrip: The Curse of the Viking Witch: Danish director Mogens Hagedorn explores his country’s history through time-travelling fantasy. Makes you wish Hollywood treated kid audiences with the same respect.
The Disappearance of Alice Creed: The purpose of this program is to introduce dynamic new filmmakers. J Blakeson (it’s a guy) takes the leap into the limelight with this terrifying British drama about two men who kidnap a woman and hold her prisoner in an apartment.
Hipsters: Even Russian filmmakers can indulge in a little razzle-dazzle every decade or so — and Ukrainian-born director Valery Todorovsky does just that with his crazy comic musical set during the repressive Soviet regime.
Trash Humpers: This program is designed to challenge audiences. One-time skateboarding screenwriter Harmony Korine does just that with his latest directorial effort. It is another provocative story of marginalized people given a voice by a rebel.
In Conversation With … Michael Caine: The Cockney rebel of Alfie is now dignified Sir Mike. Caine is sure to liven this personal presentation with his sharp, bittersweet and sassy anecdotes.
City to City
A History of Israeli Cinema: To be shown in two parts, French-born filmmaker Raphael Nadjari’s opus chronicles the emergence of a vibrant Israeli cinema. The pre-1979 period of Part 1 deals with building the dream of nationhood into a reality; the post-1979 Part 2 deals with the maturing of the voices, some dissenting from the dream.
Contemporary World Cinema
Suck: After the off-kilter fun of Phil the Alien, Canadian actor-director Rob Stefaniuk again creates magical mayhem. This time he plays the star of a loser bar band named The Winners.
Police, Adjective: Demonstrating the vitality of Romanian cinema, Corneliu Porumboiu offers this small-scale but intense look at an undercover cop sent to spy on a teenager dabbling in drugs.
Real to Reel
Videocracy: In this Swedish-made documentary, Italian-raised filmmaker Erik Gandini examines the bizarre world of Silvio Berlusconi and his rise to power through trash TV.
Once Upon a Time Proletarian: 12 Tales of a Country: Filmmaker Guo Xiaolu explores her birth country China in its post-Mao era. The 12 poetic visual essays document the vision of an angry, disenchanted observer. Guo also has a drama, She, a Chinese, playing in the Vanguard section.
Canadian Open Vault
Sparrows: Toronto-born Mary Pickford made her screen debut 100 years ago. To mark the occasion, William Beaudine’s 1926 silent melodrama, starring Pickford, is revived and restored. Gabriel Thibaudeau performs live musical accompaniment.
Year of the Carnivore: Actress, broadcaster, musician and filmmaker Sook-Yin Lee makes her feature directorial debut. Insiders are calling it charming, bohemian and brave.
Short Cuts Canada
Night Mayor: Guy Maddin is up to his old tricks — that’s a good thing — with his sly portrait of an eccentric inventor who is obsessed with the aurora borealis.
Dialogues: Talking With Pictures
Wake in Fright (Outback): Canadian Ted Kotcheff’s 1971 Australian classic is restored — just in time — and given its rightful place in cinema history. Kotcheff will introduce it.
George A. Romero’s Survival of the Dead: Romero, who has moved his heavenly horror factory to Toronto, goes gonzo again, 41 years after the original Night of the Living Dead.