North America’s biggest film festival opens Thursday in Toronto with the launch of what is believed to be Oscar-winning Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki’s latest film, despite two strikes crippling Hollywood.
Organizers of the event, a springboard for many Oscar-winning films, were finalizing a series of premieres, galas and TV shows when the actors began a social movement.
The CEO of the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) – which features works from dozens of countries – believes that the global reach of programming and the ability of filmmakers and actors to promote independent plays, even in the midst of strikes, testify to the “strength of cinema at the moment”.
“It took a few weeks to really understand the specifics and details of how one would perform at a strike-hit festival, but it turns out we’ll have a lot of talent on the red carpet,” Cameron Bailey said. at AFP.
Among those expected in Canada’s biggest city until September 17 are actors Patricia Arquette, Taika Waititi, Anna Kendrick and Ethan Hawke, all of whom have stepped behind the camera to direct their latest films.
French filmmaker Ladj Ly will present ‘Les Indésirables’, which takes a look at marginalized communities in the Parisian suburbs four years after his Oscar-nominated debut feature ‘Les Miserables’.
The international premiere of the film “The Holdovers”, by director Alexander Payne (“Sideways”), is also on the program. This work tells the story of a teacher (Paul Giamatti) responsible for supervising the students of a boarding school who cannot go home during the Christmas holidays.
Pop star Lil Nas X will spice up the red carpet a bit for the launch of his documentary “Lil Nas X: Long Live Montero,” one of many musical films playing, featuring a world premiere of “In Restless Dreams : The Music of Paul Simon”.
But the first headline screening on Thursday night was to be “The Boy and the Heron”, Miyazaki’s first feature in a decade – and likely his last for famed Studio Ghibli, at 82.
The semi-autobiographical film, released in Japan in July, follows young Mahito as he goes through the horrors of World War II and the death of his mother. After encountering a gray heron, he sets out to find it in a colorful fantasy world.
“It’s a film that we are particularly delighted to present. He is one of the greatest artists in cinema, and this could well be his last film”, underlined Cameron Bailey.
Thursday evening will also be marked by the directorial debut of Patricia Arquette with her film “Gonzo Girl” as well as those of Kristin Scott Thomas with “North Star”.
Ms. Arquette will also receive an award on Sunday to highlight her role as a leading woman in the industry, who “constantly defies convention and elevates the discourse on pay equity”, according to the festival’s CEO.
Along with Venice and Telluride, Toronto is a key stop for fall festivals, where many contenders for American awards reveal themselves in first millimeters.
The TIFF People’s Choice Award has established itself in recent years as an important barometer in the race for the Oscars: two of its winners, “Nomadland” and “Green Book: On the roads of the south”, won the Oscar for best film after being noticed in Toronto.
Friday will be the premiere of “Dumb Money”, with Seth Rogen and Paul Dano, which looks back on the rebellion of thousands of stockbrokers in 2021 to drive up the action of GameStop video game stores in the face of investment funds betting on its fall.
Saturday, Robert De Niro will play him in “Ezra” a father who sees his son return to live under his roof, after the sinking of his career and his marriage.
The festival announces other world premieres, including the sports comedy “A Dream Team” by Taika Waititi, as well as “Knox Goes Away”, by Michael Keaton, which stars Al Pacino.
The festival comes at a time when Hollywood actors and screenwriters are waging a battle with major studios and streaming platforms over their salaries and working conditions.
The actors’ union SAG-AFTRA prohibits its members from promoting the films during the strike.
Derogations have been proposed in certain cases. Furthermore, films screened in Toronto are not subject to the strikes because they were produced independently or internationally.