TIFF CELEBRATES INTERNAT’L WOMEN’S DAY THROUGHOUT MARCH – Liz Braun reports

International Women’s Day is March 8th, and the Toronto International Film Festival will devote the entire month to celebrating women in cinema. As part of TIFF’s ongoing Share Her Journey initiative, which champions women storytellers, March events will include special screenings, guests and events, with a spotlight on the films of beloved Canadian filmmaker Patricia Rozema and a series devoted to 1980s punk girl features. Guests at TIFF Lightbox include filmmakers Rozema, Liv McNeil and Meredith Hama-Brown.

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SPOTLIGHT August 2023: Judy Lung, Cinema PR Ace, TIFF Communications Chief

Judy Lung is a mensch and a mentor, always an oasis of calm and meticulous organization in what can be a frenetic industry. She is highly respected by the media and well-known as an ally to the press in Toronto and across Canada, and her recent appointment at TIFF was cause for celebration among reporters. As she takes her place in the important cultural institution that is the Toronto International Film Festival, it’s time to spread the word outside Canada and introduce Lung to an international audience.

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TIFF 2023: Galas and Special Presentations Highlights – Liz Braun reports

In the midst of a mostly lacklustre year for movies, TIFF has announced a stellar lineup of Galas and Special Presentations for the upcoming 48th edition of the festival taking place from September 7 to 17. Each of the two high-profile programmes thus far present 60 movies, including 37 World premieres. In a statement, TIFF CEO Cameron Bailey promised audiences would experience, “An unforgettable celebration of film and a memorable and star-studded festival, showcasing the best of global cinema for film lovers.” Here;s what the show looks like thus far.

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THE WHALE – Review by Susan Granger

Brendan Fraser delivers a remarkable performance in the title role of Darren Aronofsky’s The Whale, adapted from his play by Samuel D. Hunter. Before we even glimpse his gigantic, 600-pound frame, we hear his gentle voice, teaching an English literature class on-line. Encased in a latex suit with digital prosthetics, designed by Adrien Morot, Fraser’s portrayal is inevitably minimalist, a choice that exudes pathos, even when he’s gobbling greasy pizza or devouring a bucket of fried chicken.

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EMPIRE OF LIGHT (TIFF 2022) – Review by Cate Marquis

Empire of Light takes place in a grand old movie theater that is now slowly fading away in early 1980s, with a loyal movie-loving staff still selling tickets and popcorn to dwindling audiences. You would expect such a movie to be a love letter to the movies, or at least old movie theaters, fondly recalling the glory days of actual film on reels and the magic of movies. Writer/director Sam Mendes’ nostalgic drama does start out that way, but then it drifts off into something else, a plot touching on mental illness and racial tensions in the 1980s, and involving a May-October romance.

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THE LOST KING (TIFF 2022) – Review by Cate Marquis

Stephen Frears’ true story-inspired comedy-drama The Lost King is a charmer with a thoughtful underdog theme, starring the wonderful Sally Hawkins as an amateur historian who locates the long-lost grave of King Richard III, the last Plantagenet king. The grave’s location had eluded professionals for centuries. The discovery made headlines around the world, but even better, was that the person who pulled off this discovery, Philippa Langley (Sally Hawkins), was an ordinary middle-aged woman who turned amateur historian – or maybe history detective is more apt – after seeing a production of Shakespeare’s play.

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THE BLUE CAFTAN (TIFF 2022) – Review by Cate Marquis

Saleh Bakri and Lubna Azabal deliver moving performances as a traditional tailor and his wife struggling to make a living in one of the oldest medinas in Morocco, in writer/director Maryam Touzani’s moving, thought-provoking human drama The Blue Caftan. Although the drama features a traditional craftsman practicing a fading art, at its heart, The Blue Caftan is really about love in its various forms, romantic love, a love of a craft, and more. It is also a showcase for some striking performances, particularly from Lubna Azabal, in the story that takes surprising twists, and is by turns powerfully dramatic, funny, touching, or heart-wrenching, as this excellent French Moroccan, Arabic-language film unfolds

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My TIFF 2022 Diary: Highlighting Day-to-Day ‘IRL’ – Johanna Schneller reports (Exclusive)

After two minutes, I realize I’m levitating an inch from my seat with happiness. This movie is everything I’d hoped and more. There is not one wasted syllable. I keep swatting away tears of anger (on behalf of the characters, and their real-life counterparts). I can feel the emotion rolling up and down the rows, that feeling you can only get in a theatre full of people who are having a collective experience. I won’t know this until a few days later, but Women Talking sets the tone for my whole TIFF: brilliant women directors, squaring their sites on the patriarchy. And experiencing their work in public again, finally.

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MURU (TIFF 2022) – Review by Ulkar Alakbarova

Muru is a solid thriller inspired by true events of police raids that took place in 1961 and 2007 in New Zealand. It follows a local police Sergeant “Taffy” Tawharau (Cliff Curtis) who must make a tough decision to assist the Government with a police raid or stand by his community and prevent possible bloodshed. When the government launches an armed raid on Taffy’s community called Ruatoki on a school day, things go terribly wrong. What starts as a mission to find and arrest a possible local terrorist who threatened to attack the Prime Minister turns into a violent altercation with casualties that could have been prevented.

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Tearepa Kahi and Cliff Curtis on MURU (TIFF 2022) – Ulkar Alakbarova interviews

Racism, corruption, discrimination, greed and power. They all go hand-in-hand. We hope that at some point the world we live in will change for the better. But it does not happen. Are we just naïve to hope and still believe in miracles? The story told in Muru, directed by Tearepa Kahi happened not too long ago. But when you look at it, you begin to ask yourself – how is it even possible for something like this to occur in our modern times? Not revealing much, I had the great pleasure of sitting down with director Tearepa Kahi and actor Cliff Curtis, who provided insights into the film much better than I could.

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