Reality Matteo Garrone

Cannes and Sundance award winners at TIFF 2012

TIFF tickets go on sale this morning at 10am so now's the time for non-package holders to polish off their must see list. We've already posted our picks of what to see, what's getting the most buzz as well as highlights from the Short Cuts Canada and Wavelength programmes. Today we have something different - a run down of films screening at TIFF that won awards at festivals in Cannes, Sundance or Berlin. Here they are in no particular order.

Rebelle (War Witch), dir. Kim Nguyen (Berlin International Film Festival, Silver Bear for Best Actress - Rachel Mwanza)
Kidnapped and forcibly inducted into a rebel army, a young girl (Rachel Mwanza) finds herself haunted by premonitory visions in this heartfelt and helplessly moving portrait of a child soldier from Canadian director Kim Nguyen.

Barbara, dir. Christian Petzold (Berlin, Silver Bear for Best Director, Berliner Morgenpost Readers' Prize)
Set in East Germany in the early 1980s, the new film from renowned director Christian Petzold (Jerichow) is a suspenseful chamber piece about an accomplished Berlin physician, banished to a rural hospital as punishment, who is torn between the promise of escape across the border and her growing love for a fellow colleague -- who may be planning to betray her to the secret police.

Tabu, dir. Miguel Gomes (Berlin, Alfred Bauer Prize)
The entrancing new film by Portuguese auteur Miguel Gomes (Our Beloved Month of August) travels from a modern "Paradise Lost" to an exotic, magical "Paradise" as it intertwines a chronicle of illicit love with a sly overview of Portugal's colonial history.

Just The Wind, dir. Bence Fliegauf (Berlin, Peace Film Award, Amnesty International Film Prize)
Drawing inspiration from the death-squad murders of several Gypsy families in Hungary in 2008, director Bence Fliegauf's chilling and unforgettable real-life horror story follows a family whose dreams of emigration and escape are suddenly, horribly destroyed.

Smashed, dir. James Ponsoldt (Sundance, U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Prize for Excellence in Independent Film Producing to producer Andrea Sperling)
Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Nick Offerman (Parks and Recreation) and Megan Mullaly (Party Down) star in this story about a perpetually soused first-grade teacher's painful but ultimately triumphant struggle to sober up and remake her life.

Middle of Nowhere, dir. Ava DuVernay (Sundance, U.S. Directing Award: Dramatic)
A young woman (mesmerizing newcomer Emayatzy Corinealdi) brings anguish to herself and those around her through her blind devotion to her imprisoned husband, until a chance encounter leads her to reclaim the life she had almost given away. Writer-director Ava DuVernay won the Best Director prize at Sundance for her elegant, emotionally complex second feature.

Amour, dir. Michael Haneke (Palme d'Or, Cannes)
A touching look at what happens to a long-married couple in their 80s (screen legends Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva) when the wife begins to show signs of a stroke, Amour won the prestigious Palme d'Or at Cannes this year, filmmaker Michael Haneke's second to date. He has been described as a cool and clinical filmmaker, but apparently this is put to effective use in this film, preventing it from slipping into over-sentimentality, while examining the humanity of a couple faced with their own mortality.

Reality, dir. Matteo Garrone (Grand Prix, Cannes)
In this scathing look at the reality TV obsession in contemporary, post-Berlusconi Italy, award-winning filmmaker Garrone (2008's Gomorrah also won the Cannes Grand Prix award) turns his lens onto a family man and fish shop owner, Luciano (Aniello Arena), whose natural performing talent prompts him to seek the ever fleeting spectre of reality TV fame. Convinced that celebrity is within reach, he re-shapes his life around the prospect of it, and doing so begs the question: is he being delusional or are his dreams actually within reach...and is this a good thing?

Beyond the Hills, dir. Cristian Mungiu (Best Screenplay and Best Actress awards, Cannes)
Alina (Cristina Flutur) is a woman possessed. Returning to her homeland after working menial jobs in Germany, she is determined to rescue her childhood friend Voichita (Cosmina Stratan) from the monastery she was sent to after both girls were ejected from an orphanage at the age of eighteen. Alina's single-minded resolve excludes any consideration that the docile Voichita might have actually found fulfillment in this austere retreat -- and a means of forgetting the lesbian relationship she and Alina once shared, a forbidden love that Alina is eager to rekindle. Standing between them is the unyielding "Papa" (Valeriu Andriuta), the head of the monastic order, who responds to Alina's aggression with an ever more zealous dogmatism. He soon comes to believe that Alina has fallen prey to demonic possession, and it is his duty to chastise her soul. The only problem is that he fails to take account of the frailty of her body.

The Hunt, dir. Thomas Vinterberg (Best Actor - Mads Mikkelsen, Cannes)
Certain to be one of the year's defining and most controversial films, The Hunt is an intelligent and disturbing dissection of Danish society, as ferocious as director Thomas Vinterberg's international breakthrough, The Celebration. Set in a small suburban town, the film stars Mads Mikkelsen as Lucas, a divorced daycare worker who is hoping to win custody of his estranged teenage son. Well-liked and easygoing, Lucas is an integral part of this tight-knit community, having lived in the town all his life and formed lifelong friendships with Theo (Thomas Bo Larsen) and Bruun (Lars Ranthe), who regularly organizes the men's hunting trips. When his friend Theo's daughter accuses him of molesting her, he turns into a pariah overnight, and rumours, lies and innuendo reveal the frayed bonds of this supposedly close-knit community. Mads Mikkelsen won the Best Actor prize at Cannes for his riveting performance.

Post Tenebras Lux, dir. Carlos Reygadas (Best Director, Cannes)
Maverick director Carlos Reygadas presents his most ambitious, personal and controversial work yet with this disorienting, kaleidoscopic vision of a family torn between tenderness and violence.

Writing by Gesilayefa Azorbo


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