Michel Gondry headlines TIFF 2012 Vanguard line-up
Gory road trips, gritty crime drama, high-octane action, and transsexual rock operas are just the tip of the iceberg in the Toronto International Film Festival 2012 Vanguard selections. Vanguard has quickly become one of the most popular programmes at TIFF since it was introduced a few years ago, and by looking at the list of films recently announced, I'm sure you'll see why. I'll see you in line.
Sightseers - Ben Wheatley, United Kingdom (North American Premiere)
Ben Wheatley (Director of Kill List, my top pick from the 2011 edition of TIFF) presents us with a couple of real sad-sacks attempting to rekindle their romance by taking a caravan holiday in the British countryside. The close quarters of the caravan takes its toll of the couple, and the vacation devolves into a bloody killing spree.
Pusher - Luis Prieto, United Kingdom (North American Premiere)
I've never been one to endorse remaking a brilliant film, but with Nicolas Winding Refn (Drive) acting as executive producer on this English language remake of his 1996 cult classic, I'm definitely intrigued. Director Luis Prieto stays very close to the source material, about a connected London drug dealer whose life spirals out of control over the course of a chaotic week and eventually hits rock bottom--violently.
Motorway - Pou-Soi Cheang, Hong Kong (North American Premiere)
From legendary producer Johnnie To (Election) and Hong Kong action auteur Pou-Soi Cheang (Accident) comes a high-octane cargasm through the streets of Hong Kong, where a rookie cop takes on a veteran escape driver in a death-defying final showdown on the motorway. If you don't try to compare this to 2011's Drive, and simply sit back and enjoy the exhilarating car stunts, you're in for a treat.
Peaches Does Herself - Peaches, Germany (World Premiere)
Notorious Canadian musician and performance artist Peaches writes, directs and stars in Peaches Does Herself, a balls-out transsexual rock opera: half send-up of pop musicals and half rock concert, it amalgamates over twenty songs from her ten-year career into a quasi-autobiographical and abstract narrative on sex, heartbreak and identity politics.
Here Comes the Devil - Adrian Garcia Bogliano, Mexico/Argentina (World Premiere)
A married couple lose their young son and daughter in some caves, while on a family trip in Tijuana. The kids eventually reappear safely and without explanation, but it becomes clear that they are not who they used to be, and that something dark and terrifying has changed them.
Thale - Aleksander Nordaas, Norway (Canadian Premiere)
A pair of men on a forensic clean-up team discover a Huldra in the basement of a remote cabin in the Norwegian woods. According to myth, this siren-like creature in Nordic folklore has the body of a beautiful woman and the tail of a cow, and hums a seductive tune that lures away men working in the forest, never to be seen again.
The We and the I - Michel Gondry, USA (North American Premiere)
This new film from Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) gives us a voyeuristic look at the lives of several NYC teenagers on a Bronx bus route; the bullies, the bullied, and the everyday people who are just trying to ride the bus, and how their relationships change and evolve on the last day of school.
Berberian Sound Studio - Peter Strickland, United Kingdom (North
Toby Jones (Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy) plays a timid British sound engineer in this taut psychological thriller, who loses his grip on reality while working on an Italian horror film, and soon experiences a terrifying case of life imitating art. Also featuring Greek mega-goddess Tonia Sotiropoulou (Skyfall).
Blondie - Jesper Ganslandt, Sweden (North American Premiere)
A domineering mother reunites her three daughters for her big birthday celebration, forcing open old wounds and bringing new conflicts to the surface. An audacious new film from Jesper Ganslandt (The Ape) that's sure to make you appreciate your own family.
Painless - Juan Carlos Medina, Spain/France/Portugal (World Premiere)
From the writer of the inspired horror classic [Rec], Painless weaves two stories: in the first, during the Spanish Civil War and running through to the '60s, a sanatorium attempts to rehabilitate children who feel no pain by teaching them physical suffering. In the second, which takes place in the present, a brilliant neurosurgeon who needs a bone marrow transplant discovers the dark past when he searches for his biological parents.
Room 237 - Rodney Ascher, USA (Canadian Premiere)
Room 237 is a subjective documentary that explores the numerous theories about the hidden meanings within Stanley Kubrick's masterpiece The Shining (1980). Five separate points of view are highlighted through voice-over, clips, animation and reenactments. Together they'll draw film scholars and die-hard fans of The Shining into a new maze of possibilities--one they'll hopefully not freeze outside of.
iLL Manors - Ben Drew, United Kingdom (International Premiere)
The highly anticipated first film from rapper/actor Ben Drew (a.k.a. Plan B), featuring his own UK charted original music, offers up an honest look at what estate life can be like on the mean streets of London.
90 Minutes - Eva Sørhaug, Norway (World Premiere)
After the 'tiny actions with massive consequences' drama Cold Lunch, director Eva Sørhaug manifests the darkness that can be boiling just below the surface of any domestic situation, in her temerarious sophomore feature.
Beijing Flickers - Zhang Yuan, China (World Premiere)
This playful drama from independent Chinese filmmaker Zhang Yuan (Beijing Bastards), tells the story of the downtrodden people of Beijing, and how one man in particular finds solace after losing everything.