King kingdom

The Woman King, The Whale, Women Talking: our 10 most anticipated TIFF titles

The Toronto International Film Festival opens Thursday — its first all-in-person iteration since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

And while that means TIFF is as close to status quo as it has been in years, there are a number of films and trends that stand out.

Here, CBC News has compiled 10 of the hottest, most original and exciting productions we’ve been waiting to see.


women who talk

Oscar-nominated Sarah Polley’s Women Talking marks a return to TIFF for the director – and perhaps the early start of an Oscar run. (TIFF)

Welcome, Sarah Polley.

TIFF must be smart to lose the world premiere of Polley’s latest film at the Telluride Film Festival. But the insider buzz that caught him there has already started the race for the Oscars. Polley took a long break from filmmaking to write, reflect and live her life. Now she’s back, seemingly fearless, bringing Canadian Miriam Toews’ novel to the screen.

I feel like the conversation revolves around women who talk Just started.

—Eli Glasner


The female king

Viola Davis appears in The Woman King. The film is inspired by real events and boasts an impressive all-star ensemble cast. (TIFF)

Starring Viola Davis in equal parts action, thriller and drama, The female king is a story “inspired by real events” which is also something we don’t see often anymore: new.

Davis plays Nanisca, a military general of the Agojie – the famous all-female warrior band, tasked with protecting the West African kingdom of Dahomey.

Not only were the Agojie a source of inspiration for Black Pantherby Dora Milaje, the female soldiers of Wakanda, the film continues Black PantherThe example of portraying black people and history as something aspirational and admirable – instead of focusing on struggle, victimization and subjugation. It also features james bond and strange doctor former student Lashana Lynch, star wars‘ John Boyega and South African mainstay – and rising TIFF star – Thuso Mbedu in a breakout role.

—Jackson Weaver


The whale

Brendan Fraser’s performance in The Whale marks a comeback for the actor. Known for his performances in George of the Jungle and Encino Man, The Whale could mark the start of a renaissance. (TIFF)

Call it the Brenaissance or karma, but Brendan Fraser’s second coming is upon us.

Once a textbook case in how Hollywood eats its young, the actor known for his roles in Encino Man and George of the Jungle receives accolades for his work in The whale, a new film by American author Darren Aronofsky. In an interview, Aronofsky said he saw Fraser in a low-budget Brazilian film that inspired the cast. Maybe Aronofsky saw the same sweetness that suddenly spurred fans on his return.

—Eli Glasner


Knight

Kelvin Harrison Jr. returns to TIFF this year, after a Rising Star victory in 2019 for Waves, with Chevalier. The film focuses on Joseph Bologna, a virtuoso violinist, classical composer, fencer and black man living in Europe in the 1700s. (TIFF)

Joseph Bologna – rechristened, and now often known as Chevalier de Saint-Georges by French King Louis XV – has been called “the most accomplished man in Europe” by none other than John Adams. Despite this, hardly anyone knows his name now.

Knight aims to change that. The drama stars Kelvin Harrison Jr. as Bologna, a black classical composer and violin virtuoso born to an enslaved Afro-Guadeloupean woman and a white French aristocrat. Watching the extraordinary polymath’s extraordinary success in everything from fencing to music, Knight spotlights the life of an underrated black talent – an actor whose emotional performance in Waves left many critics speechless.

—Jackson Weaver


The Banshees of Inisherin

Colin Farrell, left, and Brendan Gleeson appear in an image from The Banshees of Inisherin. The film follows a broken friendship and the outcome of petty arguments. (TIFF)

A few years ago, writer/director Martin McDonagh directed the jet black comedy In Brugge, featuring Ray and Ken’s hilarious and dysfunctional working relationship, played by Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson. Now McDonagh returns with a story set in 1920s Ireland, where a friendship dissolves and calamity ensues.

There’s a richness in humanity that McDonagh exhibits between dark laughs. I can not wait.

—Eli Glasner


1899

Andreas Pietschmann appears in a photo from 1899. The Netflix series sees the creators of the Dark thriller series return to the small screen. (TIFF)

germany Dark captured the world’s attention as a deeply bingeable – and incredibly warped – Netflix series in 2017. Now, just two years after its conclusion, its creators are back with another surreal thriller, albeit this time at sea.

1899 looks at the passengers of a migrant steamer which, in the same year, receives a distress call from another ship which has been adrift for months – but it is apparently devoid of passengers.

When the first two episodes get their world premiere at TIFF, I’m excited to see if creators Baran bo Odar and Jantje Friese can pull it off again – and, perhaps more intriguingly, what inspiration they drew from the eerily similar maritime mystery of Canadian-built ghost ship the Celestial Mary.

—Jackson Weaver


I like movies

Canadian actor Isaiah Lehtinen stars as Lawrence in I Like Movies, the feature debut of Toronto-based Chandler Levack. (TIFF)

I like movies is about a young man named Lawrence who defined his whole personality around cinema. Lawrence is not an easy kid to love, but you probably know him or someone like him.

Chandler Levack’s feature debut is many things: an ode to the era of Blockbuster video, run-down malls and rocky friendships. Levack is not afraid of the disorder of his characters. She delights in them.

—Eli Glasner


When the morning comes

Newcomer Djamari Roberts stars as Jamal in Kelly Fyffe-Marshall’s feature debut When Morning Comes. The film follows Jamal as he struggles with the news that he and his family are moving from Jamaica to Canada. (TIFF)

come and see, moon paper, Sixth Sense, come on! Go on: If there’s one thing to be sad about movies directed by a child actor, it’s that they’re either fantastic or unwatchable – and rely almost entirely on the ability of someone who isn’t often than an elementary school student.

This is the drama When the morning comes, which follows a 10-year-old child’s desperate attempts to stay in his native Jamaica instead of moving to Canada with his mother. It is also a feature debut for director Kelly Fyffe-Marshall, whose short black bodies won it TIFF’s first Changemaker Award in 2020 and was one of six Canadian projects – out of 118 films – at Sundance the following year.

Fyffe-Marshall also received a $50,000 award from the Toronto Film Critics Association and David Cronenberg (who said he chose to award the prize to “a new filmmaker with a strong new creation”) earlier this year to complete post-production. If she and young lead actor Djamari Roberts can pull it off, When the morning comes could enter the rarefied society of quality coming-of-age films.

—Jackson Weaver


joyland

Joyland is a film by director Saim Sadiq that focuses on Biba, a trans performer, and her relationship with Haider, a married man. (TIFF)

2022 has proven to be a bumper year for LGBTQ representation in movies so far, with mega studio offerings such as Brothers to Canadian gems such as Something you said last night.

That said, joyland seems like a movie special. Not only was it the first Pakistani film to play at Cannes – winning the coveted jury prize – the story finds a man in an arranged marriage who finds himself attracted to a trans artist. Director Saim Sadiq spoke about the challenges of finding actors willing to take on the role. But if the emotional reactions to the film at Cannes are right, he chose well.

—Eli Glasner


riceboy sleeps

Choi Seung-yoon, right, and Dohyun Noel Hwang appear in an image from Anthony Shim’s Riceboy Sleeps. The film partly follows Shim’s own experience moving from South Korea to Canada as a child. (TIFF)

As When the morning comes, riceboy sleeps looks at displacement, childhood and the concept of home. Set in the suburbs of the 1990s, the film’s director, Anthony Shim, is partly inspired by his own life, moving from Seoul, South Korea to Canada as a child; riceboy sleeps follows a mother who must do the same with her young son, Dong-hyun, after the death of her husband.

Described as “heartbreaking” and “emotionally devastating”, it’s likely to be the type of film for those who like to have their hearts ripped out – or those drawn to the slowly growing genre of desaturated ’90s nostalgia.

And for those looking to spot raw new talent, it stars classically trained Korean ballet dancer – and TIFF Rising Star – Choi Seung-yoon in his first-ever film role, as well as Canadian child actors Ethan Hwang. and Dohyun Noel Hwang, who are unrelated, like Dong-hyun at different ages.

—Jackson Weaver