As with any huge festival, Toronto FF (September 4-14) has announced its programming in waves. We were initially unimpressed by the paltry number of female filmmakers featured in the main programs. But with nearly 300 features showcased this year, even a small percentage of women helmers will mean more than enough female-directed films to keep festival attendees busy.
And now TIFF has announced several more projects from women filmmakers, including the international premiere of Julie Taymor's latest film, A Midsummer Night's Dream, and the Canadian premiere of Persepolis author and director Marjane Satrapi's The Voices.
The globally oriented Discovery Programme will also screen the works of relatively unknown female directors from five continents.
Here are the latest (and final) batch of women-made films announced by TIFF 2014:
A Midsummer Night’s Dream Julie Taymor, USA - International Premiere
Of all Shakespeare’s plays, A Midsummer Night’s Dream is the most phantasmagorical, with fairies, spells, and hallucinatory lovers. His flights of fancy are well matched to the talents of Julie Taymor, who turns out a production that’s visually breathtaking, funny, sexy, and darkly poetic. This immersive, inventive cinematic experience took place during Taymor’s highly acclaimed inaugural stage production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the new Polonsky Center in Brooklyn, New York in 2013. Characteristic of Taymor, the feats of visual imagination are ingenious and plentiful, but beating at the centre of the film is an emotionally moving take on the deeper human aspects of this beloved tale. Having gone from experimental theatre to rejuvenating the Broadway musical with The Lion King, Taymor repeatedly takes risks on films, from Frida and Across the Universe to Titus and The Tempest. In A Midsummer Night’s Dream, she displays her creative powers in their peak form. After the screening, Taymor will participate in an extended conversation about its making.
Fleeing with her 10-year-old daughter after the girl is promised in marriage as part of a peace treaty, the wife of a tribal chieftain is pursued through the mountains by both her husband and the intended groom’s henchmen. Starring Samiya Mumtaz, Mohib Mirza and Saleha Aref.
Huyen, a pregnant teenage girl, reluctantly agrees to prostitute herself in order to make money for an abortion. When the only customer willing to give her money has a fetish for her pregnant belly, things get complicated. Starring Nguyen Thuy Anh, Tran Bao Son, Ha Hoang and Thanh Duy Pham Tran.
Recuperating in Paris after being wounded in Afghanistan, a French Foreign Legion soldier is reunited with the man who saved his life and unexpectedly finds himself able to repay his debt when he is compelled to take care of the man’s young son. Starring Jérémie Renier, Surho Sugaipov and Ramzan Idiev.
Fraudulent charges aimed at a certain “Lorena Ruiz” begin to plague Olivia, who descends into the dark labyrinth of the Chilean payment collection system to confront the unknown woman. However, each step deeper into the underworld progressively blurs the line between Olivia and Lorena’s real identities. Starring Loreto Aravena, Paulina García and Maureen Junott.
The Narrow Frame of Midnight (Itar el-Layl) Tala Hadid, Morocco/United Kingdom/France - World Premiere
Moroccan-Iraqi director Tala Hadid’s brooding first feature laces the intersecting destinies of three characters who will alternately rescue one another and continue on their respective journeys. Zacaria, a Moroccan/Iraqi writer is looking for his missing brother, Aïcha is a young orphan sold to a petty criminal, and Judith yearns to have a child. A meditation on redemption with an evocative urgency. Starring Khalid Abdalla, Marie-Josée Croze, Fadwa Boujouane and Hocine Choutri.
Second Coming Debbie Tucker Green, United Kingdom - World Premiere
Jackie is pregnant and knows it’s not her husband Mark’s. She says she’s slept with nobody else. Mark and their son JJ don't know what to say. Second Coming follows this family over a year as they navigate their way through the aftermath of an unexplained pregnancy. Starring Nadine Marshall, Idris Elba, Kai Francis-Lewis and Sharlene Whyte.
Villa Touma Suha Arraf - North American Premiere
Three unmarried aristocratic Christian sisters from Ramallah have shut themselves in their villa clinging desperately to their former glory, until their orphan niece, Badia, walks into their lives and turns their world upside down. The sisters see it as their mission to marry her to an eligible Christian man. Starring Nisreen Faour, Ula Tabari, Cherien Dabis and Maria Zreik
The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness (Yume to kyôki no ohkoku) Mami Sunada, Japan - North American Premiere
Granted unfettered access to the notoriously insular Studio Ghibli, director Mami Sunada follows the three men who are the lifeblood of one of the world’s most celebrated animation studios — the eminent director Hayao Miyazaki, the producer Toshio Suzuki, and the elusive and influential “other director” Isao Takahata, as they rush to complete production of Miyazaki’s The Wind Rises and Takahata’s The Tale of The Princess Kaguya (Toronto International Film Festival 2014 official selection).
The Voices Marjane Satrapi, USA/Germany - Canadian Premiere
This genre-bending tale centres around Jerry, a lovable but disturbed factory worker who yearns for attention from a woman in accounting. When their relationship takes a sudden, murderous turn, Jerry’s evil talking cat and benevolent talking dog lead him down a fantastical path where he ultimately finds salvation. Starring Ryan Reynolds, Gemma Arterton, Anna Kendrick and Jacki Weaver.