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Get Into the T.I.F.F.

Get Into The T.I.F.F.
2015 Toronto International Film Festival: Selected Special Presentations

The 40th annual Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) is set to commence this week, running from September 10th through the 20th. Arguably the world’s most influential and high profile film festival after Cannes, TIFF has established a reputation for showcasing the best that world cinema has to offer and this year looks to be no different. Everything from high profile Oscar contenders, independent features, hard-hitting documentaries, and acclaimed foreign films are to be screened throughout the festival. For film lovers in Buffalo, it presents a wonderful opportunity to pay a fall visit to our neighbors in Toronto and take in everything TIFF and the city has to offer. Detailed below are a small handful of the major premieres from the industry’s leading filmmakers—with tickets still available as this issue goes to press.

TIFF has always been a platform for early Oscar buzz to be generated, with many actors and actresses going on to win Academy awards for films which have their world premieres at the festival. One can imagine the producers and distributors of the independent drama I Smile Back are hopeful their film will follow in that trend. Directed by relative newcomer Adam Salky and adapted by Amy Koppelman from her acclaimed novel of the same name, the film stars popular stand-up comedian Sarah Silverman as a New Jersey housewife and mother whose drug addiction and self-destructive behavior puts her life in crisis. It marks the biggest leap into dramatic acting Silverman has yet to make in her career in a performance that’s been described as brave and emotionally demanding. I Smile Back plays Wednesday the 16th, Thursday the 17th, and Saturday the 19th.

Anomalisa, the latest film co-directed by visionary screenwriter Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson, is a stop-motion animation based on Kaufman’s own stageplay. It tells the story of a motivational speaker whose monotonous existence is turned upside-down when he unexpectedly finds love while on a speaking tour. The film finds Kaufman returning to the themes of love, human connectedness, and the artistic process that he explored previously in Being John Malkovich, Adaptation, and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, as well as his directorial debut Synecdoche, NY. It’s sure to be another fascinating work from one of the most unique voices in cinema today. Anomalisa plays Wednesday the 16th and Saturday the 19th.

Mountains May Depart, the new film from Chinese director Jia Zhang-Ke (The World, A Touch of Sin) is a decades-spanning drama that looks into both China’s recent past and speculatively into its near future while chronicling how the country’s economic boom has impacted the bonds of love, family, and tradition. Zhang-Ke has established himself as one of the most celebrated arthouse filmmakers of the new century, and Mountains May Depart looks to be another masterful entry in his growing canon. The film plays Monday the 14th and Tuesday the 15th.

Another must see for serious film buffs playing at TIFF is the British drama Sunset Song, the latest film from the masterful Terence Davies (The House of Mirth, The Deep Blue Sea). An adaptation of Lewis Grassic Gibbons classic novel from 1932, Sunset Song charts a poor farming family’s struggles to survive in Northeast Scotland. The hallmarks of Davies’ previous work, from his exquisite cinematography to his deeply felt humanist empathy, are all on display here. Sunset Song plays Sunday the 13th, Monday the 14th, and Sunday the 20th.

Oscar-winning director Michael Moore (Bowling for Columbine, Fahrenheit 9/11) has given us some of the most provocative and influential political documentaries of the past 30 years, and Where to Invade Next, is sure to find him the center of controversy once again. The documentary finds Moore taking dead-aim at the United States military industrial complex and America’s interventionist foreign policy with equal measures anger and humor. Where to Invade Next plays Sunday the 20th.

Another timely political film that mixes equal parts human drama and satire, Our Brand is Crisis, is also set to play at TIFF. Inspired by a true story, it stars Oscar-winners Sandra Bullock and Billy Bob Thornton as rival American political strategists who work to fix the 2002 Bolivian presidential election. While the film’s acclaimed director David Gordon Green (Pineapple Express, HBO’s Eastbound and Down) has a few duds to his name (most recently Your Highness and Manglehorn), the impressive cast, as well as the fact that the screenplay is written by Peter Straughan (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy) suggest Our Brand is Crisis will be worth a look. It plays Saturday the 12th and 19th.

To buy tickets, learn more, and see a full schedule check out the festival’s official website

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