Action! Toronto set for 40th TIFF

tiff-2015-40th-anniversary-cakeStory by Rod Charles
Vacay.ca Deputy Editor

TORONTO, ONTARIO — There’s excitement in the air as I arrive at the press conference for the Toronto International Film Festival, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year.

Finding out which movies will be headlining this blockbuster event — and the stars who will be heading to Hollywood North to promote them — is as important to Toronto summer satisfaction as an ice-cold beer on a patio. To illustrate this point, Piers Handling, CEO and director of TIFF, and Cameron Bailey, the festival’s artistic director, began the press conference by holding up a program from the first Toronto Film Festival.


Fans from around the world arrive in Toronto every September to see blockbuster films before anyone else. (Photo courtesy of TIFF)

“Forty years, amazing, 1976, and this believe it or not was the very first film schedule,” says Bailey, pointing out that everything the festival had to offer fit on one page. “I came down, drove down from Ottawa. It was called the Festival of Festivals in those days and the dates were October 18 to 24. We’ve got a nice little piece here with George Antony a lot of film. Six big parties. We ran about 80 films in those days, five cinemas. Today of course it’s about 360 films, well over 25 cinemas we’re using.”

Canada’s Gift To The World

It isn’t just a Canadian party anymore. TIFF is truly Canada’s gift to the world and a major tourist draw. A study by TNS Canada Ltd. conducted on behalf of TIFF (via CBC.ca) found the festival itself and year-round programming at the Bell Lightbox created 2,295 jobs and added an estimated $189 million to the economy in restaurant receipts, hotel bills and tourism revenue. The festival gets money from federal, provincial and municipal governments, but argues it generated $58.2 million in tax revenue.

What really makes the TIFF such a hot draw — besides great films, parties, galas and film lovers who descend on Toronto — is the festival is an important avenue for making movie deals and generating business in the film industry. Many films and new stars that will entertain us in future years are on Toronto drawing boards today. Fimmakers and producers are coming not only from Canada but Australia, India, France, China, the United Kingdom and the United States. The 2015 event will also feature 15 galas and 34 special presentations.

One of the cool things about TIFF of course are the film announcements. Bailey and Handling highlighted the first round of titles premiering in the Galas and Special Presentations programmes to a packed house at the TIFF Bell Lightbox. Ridley Scott, Deepa Mehta, Lenny Abrahamson, Brian Helgeland, Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson, Jason Bateman are just a few people who will be bringing films to Toronto.

One film that seemed to get the biggest rise out of the attending media was “Where To Invade Next” (USA) by Michael Moore, the outspoken liberal fecal matter-disturber who is famous for “Roger and Me” and “Bowling for Columbine.” Another film that drew applause when it was announced was “Brooklyn” (United Kingdom/​Ireland/​Canada), directed by John Crowley and starring Saoirse Ronan, Domhnall Gleeson, Emory Cohen, Jim Broadbent and Julie Walters.

Festival Kicks Off With ‘Demolition’

Jean-Marc Vallée’s “Demolition” (starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Naomi Watts, Chris Cooper and Judah Lewis) will open the festival on September 10 at Roy Thompson Hall.

“Over the years the festival has been proud to present Jean-Marc Vallée’s feature films including ‘Black List,’ ‘C.R.A.Z.Y.,’ ‘Café de Flore,’ ‘The Young Victoria,’ ‘Dallas Buyers Club’ and ‘Wild,’” said Handling in a press release. “Vallée is a proud Canadian with a distinct and powerful filmmaking voice and we can’t wait to share his latest film with festival audiences on opening night.”

Bailey explained during the conference that a lot of thought has gone into making the 40th anniversary of TIFF one for the ages.


Cameron Bailey, Artistic Director of the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) fields questions. (Rod Charles/Vacay.ca)

“For us I think the main thing was the audience, we always wanted our 40th anniversary to be a celebration of the Toronto audience,” says Bailey. “This is the audience that made this festival, that made this institution what it’s become over the last four decades. We wanted to celebrate that excitement, that enthusiasm, that knowledge that the Toronto audience has. Filmmakers from around the world come here to show their films in front of that office specifically and that’s what we wanted to do, was to give back and thank the audience here in Toronto.”

We can’t list all the upcoming movies, but we’ve tried our best to list a few. Here are some of the 2015 Special Presentations that you can look forward to at the 40th addition of TIFF:

Anamalisa (USA): Directed by Charlie Kaufman, Duke Johnson. Starring Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tom Noonan, David Thewlis.

Beasts of No Nation (Ghana/​USA): Directed by Cary Fukunaga. Starring Idris Elba.

Black Mass (USA): Directed by Scott Cooper, Starring Johnny Depp, Joel Edgerton, Benedict Cumberbatch, Rory Cochrane, Jesse Plemons, Kevin Bacon, Dakota Johnson, Julianne Nicholson, Corey Stoll, Peter Sarsgaard.

The Club (Chile): Directed by Pablo Larraín, Starring Roberto Farías.

Colonia (Germany/​Luxembourg/​France): Directed by Florian Gallenberger, Starring Emma Watson , Daniel Brühl, Michael Nyqvist.

The Danish Girl (United Kingdom): Directed by Tom Hooper, Starring Eddie Redmayne, Alicia Vikander, Ben Whishaw, Amber Heard, Matthias Schoenaerts.

The Daughter (Australia): Directed by Simon Stone, Starring Geoffrey Rush.

Desierto (Mexico): Directed by Jonás Cuarón, Starring Gael García Bernal, Jeffrey Dean Morgan.

Dheepan (France): Directed by Jacques Audiard, Starring Jesuthasan Antonythasan, Kalieaswari Srinivasan, Claudine Vinasithamby, Vincent Rottiers, Marc Zinga.

Families (France): Directed by Jean-Paul Rappeneau, Starring Mathieu Amalric, Marine Vacth, Gilles Lellouche.

The Family Fang (USA): Directed by Jason Bateman, Starring Nicole Kidman, Jason Bateman, Christopher Walken.

Guilty (India): Directed by Meghna Gulzar, Starring Irrfan Khan, Konkona Sensharma, Neeraj Kabi, Sohum Shah, Tabu.
I Smile Back (USA): Directed by Adam Salky, Starring Sarah Silverman, Josh Charles, Thomas Sadoski, Mia Barron, Terry Kinney, Chris Sarandon.
The Idol (United Kingdom/​Palestine): Directed by Hany Abu-Assad.
The Lady in the Van (USA): Directed by Nicolas Hytner, Starring Maggie Smith, Dominic Cooper, James Corden.
Len and Company (USA): Directed by Tim Godsall, Starring Rhys Ifans, Juno Temple, Jack Kilmer, Keir Gilchrist, Kathryn Hahn
The Lobster (Ireland/​United Kingdom/​Greece/​France/​Netherlands): Directed by Yorgos Lanthimos, Starring Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz, John C. Reilly, Léa Seydoux, Ben Whishaw.
Louder than Bombs (Norway/​France/​Denmark): Directed by Joachim Trier, Starring Isabelle Huppert, Gabriel Byrne, Jesse Eisenberg.
Maggie’s Plan (USA): Directed by Rebecca Miller, Starring Greta Gerwig, Ethan Hawke, Bill Hader, Maya Rudolph, Travis Fimmel, Ida Rohatyn, Wallace Shawn, Julianne Moore.
Mountains May Depart (China/​France/​Japan): Directed by Zhang-ke Jia, Starring Tao Zhao, Yi Zhang, Jin Dong Liang, Zijian Dong, Sylvia Chang, Sanming Han.
Office (China/​Hong Kong): Directed by Johnnie To, Starring Sylvia Chang, Yun Fat Chow, Eason Chan, Wei Tang, Yueting Lang, Ziyi Wang.
Parched (India/​USA/​United Kingdom): Directed by Leena Yadav, Starring Tannishtha Chatterjee.
Room (Ireland/​Canada): Directed by Lenny Abrahamson, Starring Brie Larson, Jacob Tremblay, Joan Allen, Sean Bridgers, William H Macy.

Sicario (USA): Directed by Denis Villeneuve, Starring Emily Blunt, Benicio Del Toro, Josh Brolin, Jon Berthal, Victor Garber, Daniel Kaluuya.

Son of Saul (Hungary): Directed by László Nemes, Starring Géza Röhrig, Levente Molnar, Urs Rechn, Todd Charmont, Sándor Zsoter, Marcin Czarnik.

Spotlight (USA): Directed by Tom McCarthy, Starring Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Liev Schreiber, John Slattery, Stanley Tucci, Brian d’Arcy James, Billy Crudup.

Summertime (France): Directed by Catherine Corsini, Starring Cécile De France, Izia Higelin, Noémie Lvovsky, Kévin Azaïs.

Sunset Song (United Kingdom/​Luxembourg): Directed by Terence Davies, Starring Agyness Deyn, Peter Mullan, Kevin Guthrie

Trumbo (USA): Directed by Jay Roach, Starring Bryan Cranston, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Louis C.K., Elle Fanning, John Goodman, Diane Lane, Alan Tudyk, Michael Stuhlbarg, Helen Mirren.

Un plu une (France): Directed by Claude Lelouch, Starring Jean Dujardin, Elsa Zylberstein, Alice Pol, Christophe Lambert.

Victoria (Germany): Directed by Sebastian Schipper

Youth (Italy/​France/​United Kingdom/​Switzerland): Directed by Paolo Sorrentino, Starring Michael Caine, Harvey Keitel, Rachel Weisz, Paul Dano, Jane Fonda.



Dates: September 10-20, 2015
Bell Lightbox Location: 350 King Street West, Toronto, ON (see map below)
Website: tiff.net
Tickets: http://tiff.net/whats-on/ticket-information
Contact Information During Festival: Click here
Galas and Special Presentations: Click here


Rod has previously worked for Canoe.ca and is currently freelancing for Huffington Post Travel. He’s also written travel articles for the Toronto Star and Up! Magazine. Living in Toronto but raised in the small central Ontario village of Holstein, Rod is a country boy at heart who has never met a farmer’s market he didn’t like.

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