This morning the folks at the Toronto Film Festival rolled out the beginning of the line-up -- the galas and the special presentations. These are the film where we see the biggest directors and actors and also get a first glimpse of the potential Oscar candidates in the mix.
They announced 16 galas and not a single one is directed by a woman. The galas are no question the biggest films. They get the most press and the get the red carpet treatment. (I know that the special presentations also get a red carpet, but one category is a gala and one is a special presentation. I don't make the distinction between the categories, the festival does.) Toronto has been women director friendly in the past. Last year there were six galas directed by women including several docs. And there were also films by Mira Nair and Deepa Mehta.
We all know the bench for women directors is short, but I didn't think it was this short that we are going to have to experience this massive festival which really sets the tone for the fall without a single gala film directed by a woman.
But there are eight films directed by women (out of 55) in the special presentation section including highly anticipated films from Nicole Holofcener and Kelly Reichardt. FYI last year there were 8 films directed by women out of 45.
(All film descriptions are courtesy of TIFF.)
Belle - Amma Asante, United Kingdom (World Premiere)
Belle is inspired by the true story of Dido Elizabeth Belle, the illegitimate bi-racial daughter of an aristocratic Royal Navy Admiral. Belle's lineage affords her certain privileges, yet also prevents her from fully participating in the traditions of her social standing. Against the ridged boundaries of proper society, Belle finds both her true self and true romance — and influences her uncle to take a role in bringing an end to slavery. Starring Gugu Mbatha Raw, Tom Wilkinson, Sam Reid, Sarah Gadon, Miranda Richardson, Penelope Wilton, Tom Felton, James Norton, Matthew Goode and Emily Watson.
Burning Bush - Agnieszka Holland, Czech Republic (North American Premiere)
This epic, long-form docudrama chronicles the political, legal, and moral fallout that followed after Czech student protester Jan Palach set himself on fire in protest against government repression in 1969.
Enough Said - Nicole Holofcener, USA (World Premiere)
Eva (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) is a divorced soon-to-be empty-nester wondering about her next act. Then she meets Marianne (Catherine Keener), the embodiment of her perfect self. Armed with a restored outlook on being middle-aged and single, Eva decides to take a chance on her new love interest Albert (James Gandolfini) — a sweet, funny and like-minded man. Things get complicated when Eva discovers that Albert is in fact the dreaded ex–husband of Marianne. This sharp insightful comedy follows Eva as she humorously tries to secretly juggle both relationships and wonders whether her new favourite friend's disastrous ex can be her cue for happiness. Also stars Toni Collette, Ben Falcone, Eve Hewson and Tavi Gevinson.
Exit Marrakech - Caroline Link, Germany (International Premiere)
When 17-year-old Ben visits his father Heinrich in Marrakech, it is the start of an adventurous journey through a foreign country with a picturesque charm and a rough beauty where everything appears possible — including the chance that father and son will lose each other for good, or find one another again.
For Those Who Can Tell No Tales - Jasmila Žbanić, Bosnia and Herzegovina (World Premiere)
Kym, an Australian tourist, decides to travel to Bosnia. Her guidebook leads her to Višegrad, a small town steeped in history, on the border of Bosnia and Serbia. After a night of insomnia in the 'romantic' Hotel Vilina Vlas, Kym discovers what happened there during the war. She can no longer be an ordinary tourist and her life will never be the same again.
Going Away (Il est parti dimanche) - Nicole Garcia, France (World Premier)
Two unlikely friends — a supply teacher and a lonely young boy suspended between two estranged parents — embark on a weekend motorcycle voyage full of surprises and unforeseen consequences in this surprisingly tough, unsentimental drama.
Hateship Loveship - Liza Johnson, USA (World Premiere)
Johanna Parry moves to a new town to work for Mr. McCauley and his granddaughter, Sabitha. Sabitha and her friend trick Johanna into a one-way epistolary romance with Sabitha's father Ken. Johanna lights on fire, and commits a criminal act to get to her lover, who barely knows she exists. Starring Kristen Wiig, Guy Pearce, Christine Lahti, Nick Nolte, Hailee Steinfeld, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Sami Gayle.
Night Moves - Kelly Reichardt, USA (North American Premiere)
When do legitimate convictions demand illegal behaviors? What happens to a person's political principles when they find their back against the wall? Night Moves is the story of three radical environmentalists coming together to execute the most spectacular direct action event of their lives: the explosion of a hydroelectric dam. Starring Jesse Eisenberg, Dakota Fanning and Peter Sarsgaard.