TIFF foreign films

The top 10 foreign films to see at TIFF 2016

Every year, the Toronto International Film Festival brings the world to us in the form of the perspectives of some of the greatest filmmakers outside of North America. It's one of the annual joys of the festival to see international films we might not be able to see otherwise.

Here are the top 10 foreign films to see at TIFF 2016.

The Age of Shadows
Director Kim Jee woon knows how to put his mark on genre film, whether it's his twisted serial killer revenge flick I Saw the Devil, or his modern Arnold Schwarzenegger western The Last Stand. His latest, South Korea's official pick for Oscar contention, promises his take on a period piece (1920s Korea during Japanese occupation) and a spy thriller with double agents, double crosses, and espionage.

The Commune
Danish Director Thomas Vinterberg can be overshadowed by his more tempestuous countryman, Lars von Trier, but his work (Celebration, Dear Wendy, The Hunt) is no less worth getting excited about. He's especially gifted with ensembles,Commune is easy to look forward to since it's about a couple in the 1970s who experiment with communal living by inviting a group of people to stay in their home.

Ever the provocateur, Paul Verhoeven's latest should maintain his reputation. Raped by a burglar, Mich猫le (Isabelle Huppert) spends the days after not only fantasizing about her assailants return, but exacting revenge. It's potentially controversial subject matter, which, if nothing else, how he'll pull it off.

The Handmaiden
Park Chan-wook doesn't make movies like anybody else. Whether it's a revenge story (Oldboy), a vampire movie, (Thirst) or a Hitchcock homage (Stoker), visually stunning mania and depravity are par for the course. With The Handmaiden he tackles a con-man story in a way only he can: full of violence, graphic sex, and stunning cinematography.

Pedro Almod贸var may not be the first person you'd think of to adapt Alice Munro, but it's a perfect fit. The director has long excelled at understanding and portraying nuanced women and their relationships. That talent should serve him especially well for this story (inspired by stories in Munro's Runaway) about a mother whose daughter chooses to cease all contact, and the anguish that leaves behind.

Every year TIFF hosts movies that are odes to cinema. Rebecca Zlotowski's Planetarium is the latest, and one with a particularly enticing angle. The story follows two mediums (Natalie Portman and Lily-Rose Depp) who communicate with ghosts in 1930s Paris, and are recruited by a French film producer for a project full of the greater powers of cinema and (maybe?) the supernatural.

Sadako vs. Kayako
Horror movies occasionally bless us with wonderfully goofy crossovers where genre icons duke it out: Freddy fought Jason, Aliens versed Predators, Frankenstein tussled with the Wolfman. Now, we can add the improbable battle between the respective supernatural young girls in The Ring and The Grudge. No matter who loses, hopefully we viewers will win.

The Salesman
Asghar Farhadi is one of Iran's greatest filmmakers, and anyone who has seen Oscar winner A Seperation knows why. That makes it impossible to pass up a chance to see his latest, which won both Best Screenplay and Actor at Cannes and follows the story of a couple who are acting in a production of Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman - a play that begins to parallel the couple's own life.

The Unknown Girl
Few filmmakers direct with as much empathy and consistency as Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne. Their movies are like salves for your soul, so there's no chance of passing up their latest about a young doctor who refuses service to a nameless girl. The girl is later found dead, and, wracked with guilt, the doctor embarks on a mission to discover who the girl was.

Yourself and Yours
Hong Sang-soo's playful films are always feel-good delights, and perfect palate cleansers for a busy--or emotionally taxing--TIFF schedule. His latest focuses on a painter whose life is in upheaval not just because he's separated from his girlfriend, but because he sees her doppelgangers everywhere. Which, no surprise, sounds delightful.

What foreign films are you most excited to see at TIFF this year? Let us know in the comments.

Film still from the Salesman.

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