The oldest programme, and arguably the backbone of this festival, is its survey of Contemporary World Cinema, a daunting mandate but one it often admirably lives up to. 45 titles were announced here, making film descriptions one-liners at best, but even a single sentence can convey excitement. Africa United by Debs Gardner-Paterson might be the feel-good find of the year, or a moving story of three boys who dream of attending world cup football. I will likely pass, but I predict this one to be a festival favourite. On my list from this programme will be some truly exciting stuff. A new film by Hong Kong feminist filmmaker Ann Hui is a cause for celebration: All About Love takes a look at queer family life in Hong Kong, a first for that cinema.
Justin Chadwick’s The First Grader again has the potential for sentimental agenda, as the story of a man in his 80s who joins a first grade class in Kenya, but something tells me it will rise above that.
I have loved Fest favorite Bent Hamer’s previous films such as Kitchen Stories, so I will look forward to his offbeat humour brought to bear on Christmas in Norway in Home for Christmas. Gabriel Range’s I Am Slave looks at London’s slave trade. Aktan Arym Kubat’s The Light Thief looks promising, as the story of an electrician who steals electricity to assist poor people in a small village. Avi Nesher’s The Matchmaker takes us to 1960’s Haifa, and a young man’s encounters with a holocaust survivor into brokering marriages. Mama Gógó is Fridrik Thor Fridricksson’s film about his relationship with his ailing mother, set in Iceland. Ever since I saw Peter Mullan in Ken Loach’s My Name is Joe, I have appreciated him as an actor. Now he’s a director as well, returning to TIFF with another feature, Neds, about a Non-Educated Delinquent in 1970’s Glasgow. Xavier Beauvois’ Of Gods and Men looks at the real life confrontation between Trappist monks and unknown assailants who viciously murdered them in mid-90’s Algeria. German director Tom Tykwer, whose work has made him one of my favourite directors, returns with Three a story of a Berlin couple who both have affairs with the same man.