Credit: Original article can be found here
The 46th edition of the prestigious Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) delivered plenty of mouthwatering cinematic treats for Kiwi movie fans to look forward to.
While, a couple, like The Mad Women’s Ball and The Starling, are already available on streaming services, some of the big hitters (Dune, Spencer, Dear Evan Hansen) will be coming to a cinema near you over the next few months and a clutch have already been lined-up for this year’s New Zealand International Film Festival (Bergman Island, Flee, Memoria).
Although Jane Campion’s locally shot The Power of the Dog only finished third in TIFF’s prestigious People’s Choice Awards, there’s the consolation of knowing it has already been locked as the NZ film fest’s opening night movie. And besides, the eventual winner, Kenneth Branagh’s Belfast, is currently slated for a January 6 release.
Stuff to Watch had the opportunity to view more than 30 documentaries and features during the 10-day annual celebration of global cinema, and we’ve come up with this list of the 12 titles we’re hoping will be making their way to our shores – sooner rather than later.
* The Starling: Melissa McCarthy battles grief and an avian foe in Netflix dramedy
* The Mad Women’s Ball: Amazon’s hauntingly evocative, provocative period drama
* The Panthers actor Dimitrius Schuster-Koloamatangi named Rising Star at Toronto International Film Festival
* Campion’s Power, Thomasin’s Night, Miss Conception’s Raiders to feature at TIFF
Like Questlove’s Summer of Soul, this provides a fascinating insight into a 50-year-old event many Kiwis have probably never heard of.
Through archival footage and modern day interviews with those who were there, Stanley Nelson recounts how the largest prison uprising in US history became a five-day standoff that ended in controversial and shockingly horrific circumstances.
It’s hard not be reminded of Wes Anderson’s The Life Aquatic while watching this fascinating and endearing look at the godfather of nature documentaries.
Liz Garbus, the documentarian who has previously entertained us with portraits of Bobby Fischer and Nina Simone, here offers a soup-to-nuts guide to the French sea adventurer who brought the ocean into our living rooms and was one of the first to raise the alarm with regards to climate change.
The film Scott Morrison won’t want you to see.
Having tackled successive Australian governments’ attitudes towards immigration in Chasing Asylum, documentarian Eve Orner here takes a look at “the lucky country’s” increasing problems with bushfires and politicians’ continued denial that it has anything to do with climate change. Features plenty of shocking footage of the Black Summer of 2019-20.
This gorgeous-looking animated drama beautifully brings to life the tragically short existence and remarkable work of German Jewish artist Charlotte Salomon.
Forced out of art school and into exile in the south of France, she created a visual autobiography that brought a huge amount of posthumous acclaim after her death at the age of just 26. The impressive vocal cast for the English language version includes Keira Knightley, Brenda Blethyn, Jim Broadbent, Sam Claflin, Mark Strong, Sophie Okonedo and the late Helen McCrory.
Hold Your Fire
An interesting counterpoint and companion piece to Attica, Stefan Forbes’ documentary investigates a 1973 hostage situation, which was notable not only for its length, but also for the first usage of negotiation as a tool. Four Black Muslim men’s attempt to rob a Brooklyn sporting goods store escalated into something far more dangerous.
Immersive and thoroughly entertaining, Forbes’ does a magnificent job of corralling conflicting testimony and recounting the complex standoff from as many perspectives as possible.
I’m Your Man
Germany’s entry into next year’s Academy Awards, Marina Schrader’s sci-fi rom-com features two terrific performances.
There’s Downton Abbey’s Dan Stevens delivering near-flawless German and Maren Eggert fully deserving her Silver Bear (from this year’s Berlin Film Festival) for her role as a scientist road-testing a new line of humanoid cyborgs. Keep a look out for Toni Erdmann’s Sandra Huller in a key role.
Documentarian duo Julie Cohen and Betsy West follow-up their excellent RBG with a look at the woman who revolutionised American cuisine.
Through her cookbooks and TV shows, Julia Child introduced homemakers to the joy of French cooking, breaking complicated recipes down into easy to follow constituent parts. This endearing and enlightening tale beautifully captures the essence of a truly larger-than-life figure.
New Zealand’s own Cliff Curtis is a surprise star in this Croatian coming-of-age drama. He plays a wealthy businessman whose visit to an old employee and friend causes ructions within the family and has a young woman dreaming of a life beyond her isolated home.
Richly atmospheric and perfectly paced, it features a terrific performance from Gracija Filipovic, who played the same character in film-maker Antoneta Alamat Kusijanović’s award-winning 2017 short film Into the Blue.
Executive produced by Taika Waititi and New Zealand’s Miss Conception films and featuring 800 Words’ Kiwi actor Alex Tarrant amongst the main cast, it’s easy to see why Canadian film-maker Danis Goulet’s debut has generated plenty of buzz since it made its debut in Berlin earlier this year.
While set in a dystopian future where the military has seized control of North America, it is actually a confronting allegory about Canada’s past treatment of its indigenous peoples. A haunting, vibrant, thought-provoking tale.
A deserved winner of the People’s Choice Documentary Award, Oscar-winning Free Solo duo Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin take a Touching the Void–approach to the successful 2018 rescue of a young Thai football team from the Tham Luang Nang Non caves.
The focus here is on the volunteer British cavers who came up with some radical solutions when all hope seemed lost. Harrowing, yet inspiring viewing.
Not many people would have had this low-key Canadian drama on their shortlist for the prestigious People’s Choice award before the festival began, but it thoroughly deserved its runner-up status.
Reminiscent of Miranda July’s magnificent 2005 debut Me, You and Everyone We Know, this adaptation of Catherine Hernandez’s award-winning book interweaves the stories of three Toronto children from low-income families, to compelling and heartbreaking effect.
Who knew that the actor who played Michael J. Fox’s older sister on Family Ties would more than three-decades later make one of the most audacious feature film-making debuts of the last few years?
If you enjoyed Promising Young Woman, then you will absolutely love this harrowing, unnerving, but ultimately richly satisfying portrait of a woman trying to break her cycle of self-sabotage and loathing.
A terrific showcase for the talented Olivia Munn (The Newsroom), one that might finally see her get the awards recognition her talents deserve.