TIFF movies

TIFF Today: Juan of the Dead, Into the Abyss, 360, i am a good person/i am a bad person, A Separation

Today sees TIFF celebrate two of Toronto's own, with the gala premieres of David Cronenberg's A Dangerous Method and Sarah Polley's Take This Waltz. Other high profile premieres include Nicolas Winding Refn's Drive, and Melancholia, Lars von Trier's artful take on the apocalypse. If premium screenings and red carpet sightings aren't your priority, here are five alternative selections from Saturday's schedule.

360 (12:30PM, Winter Garden Theatre)
360 (a world premiere selection) seems to be flying slightly below the radar at this year's festival. The fact that is wasn't pre-screened for press is also a potential warning sign, but 360 ultimately merits a recommendation on the basis that it's directed by Fernando Mereilles (City of God, The Constant Gardner), and stars Rachel Weisz, Jude Law, and Anthony Hopkins. Worth a gamble.

Though it's been billed as a documentary about death row, Werner Herzog's Into the Abyss is actually a comprehensive look at the fascinating fallout of a senseless triple homicide. It's still not the cheeriest subject matter, certainly, but Herzog specializes in the unlikely evocation of humor and humanity, and Abyss stays true to form.

A SEPARATION (4:30PM, Lightbox 3)
Winner of the Golden Bear at this year's Berlin film festival, Iranian director Asghar Farhadi's A Separation is a rich, complex divorce drama with broad social and political implications. Transcending the personal rift between his protagonists, the film engages in a nuanced examination of Iranian attitudes towards socioeconomic status, gender, and religion.

JUAN OF THE DEAD (10:15PM, Scotiabank 3)
Juan of the Dead draws overt inspiration from Edgar Wright's rom-zom classic to deliver what looks to be a genuinely original, irreverent take on the familiar undead genre. Produced in Cuba, Alejandro BruguĂŠs' second feature offers up a pulpy, political mix of blood, guts, sex and satire, and while it's not the sort of film to attract red carpet fanfare, it's surely one of TIFF 11's most intriguing world premieres.

Ingrid Veninger may be considerably less well-known than fellow Torontonians Cronenberg and Polley, but she's quickly establishing a reputation as a Canadian filmmaker to watch, and i am a good person/i am a bad Person is already her third film to screen at the festival. A semi-autographical, darkly comedic story of a director who suffers a crisis of confidence, the film stars Veninger herself, as well as her daughter, Hallie Switzer, who also started last year's well-received MODRA.

A big thanks to Warrior, an Alliance film in theatres September 9th, for sponsoring our coverage of the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival.

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