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Film Masters In Toronto

Written by: FFT Webmaster | September 6th, 2011

The Toronto Film Festival, which opens on September 8, is an intoxicating mix of new works from both acknowledged film masters and fledgling directors making their mark in a very intensive arena. The distribution career and awards chances for all films lies in the balance and may explain the undercurrent of anxiety (mixed with exhilaration) that marks the topline festivals like this one. While discovering newer talents is always an exciting proposition (and a lucrative one for the distributor who makes the right choices), there is also an opportunity in Toronto to savor the latest works from directors who have already made their mark in cinema history. Will their newest films stand up to the classics of old or will there be a consensus that their best work is behind them? The alchemy of the Festival, at this moment in time unknown, will be revealed in the coming two weeks.

Here are the films to be presented in the TIFF Masters program, most of which are International or North American Premieres, and descriptions provided by the Festival:

ALMAYER’S FOLLY (Chantal Akerman, Belgium/France)

Somewhere in South-East Asia, in a little lost village on a wide and turbulent river, a European man clings to his pipe dreams out of love for his daughter. Working freely from Joseph Conrad’s debut novel, Akerman tells the story of a trader in 1950s Malaysia whose dreams of a Western life for his Malay daughter slowly lead to destruction.

FAUST (Alexander Sokurov, Russia)

Freely inspired by Goethe’s story, Alexander Sokurov radically reinterprets the myth. Faust is a thinker, a rebel and a pioneer, but also an anonymous human made of flesh and blood driven by inner impulses, greed and lust.

LE HAVRE (Aki Kaurismäki, Finland)

Marcel Marx, a former author and a well-known Bohemian, has retreated into a voluntary exile in the French port city of Le Havre in the honorable, but not too profitable, occupation of a shoe shiner. When fate suddenly throws in his path an underage immigrant refugee from the darkest Africa and at the same time his wife becomes seriously ill and is bedridden, Marcel once more has to rise against the cold wall of human indifference with his innate optimism.


HARD CORE LOGO II (Bruce McDonald, Canada)

The eccentric Canadian auteur updates his surrealistic, slightly horrific tale with a punk rock sensibility, while offering a withering satiric look at life in Hollywood.

I WISH (Hirokazu Kore-Eda, Japan)

Koichi lives with his mother and retired grandparents in Kagoshima, the southern part of Kyushu region. Separated by their parents’ divorce, his brother Ryunosuke lives with their father in Hakata in northern Kyushu. A new bullet train line in the region will be inaugurated soon, and Koichi starts to believe a “miracle” will happen the first moment these new bullet trains intersect each other from opposite directions with their highest speed.

THE KID WITH A BIKE (Jean-Pierre  + Luc Dardenne, Belgium)

Cyril, almost 12, has only one plan: to find the father who temporarily left him  in a children’s home. By chance, he meets Samantha who runs a hairdressing salon and agrees to let him stay with her on weekends. Cyril doesn’t recognize the love Samantha feels for him, a love he desperately needs to calm his rage.

ONCE UPON A TIME IN ANATOLIA (Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Turkey)

Life in a small town is akin to journeying in the middle of the steppes: the sense that “something new and different” will spring up behind every hill, but always unerringly similar, tapering, vanishing or lingering monotonous roads… As a confessed killer tries to lead the authorities to the place where he buried the body, a series of clues are laid as to what has actually happened.

OUTSIDE SATAN (Bruno Dumont, France)

By the Channel, along the Côte d’Opale, near a hamlet with river and marshland lives a strange guy who struggles along, poaches, prays and builds fires. A girl from a local farm takes care of him and feeds him. They spend time together in the wide scenery of dunes and woods, mysteriously engaging in private prayer at the edge of the ponds, where the devil is prowling…

PINA (Wim Wenders, Germany)


The veteran director makes his first film in 3D….an expressionist and visually ravishing docu/performance piece about the celebrated German choreographer Pina Bausch.

RESTLESS (Gus Van Sant, USA)

A powerful and emotional story of discovery that centers on the relationship of two outsiders, one a cancer patient, the other a misfit, who are brought together by unforeseen circumstances, and whose relationship blossoms into an engaging and provocative love story.

SNOWS OF KILIMANJARO (Robert Guédiguian, France)

Despite losing his job, Michel lives happily with Marie-Claire. They have been in love for over thirty years. Their conscience is as clear as their view of life. This happiness will be shattered by two young men, armed and masked, who beat them, tie them up and snatch their money to go for a trip to Kilimanjaro.

THE TURIN HORSE (Béla Tarr, Hungary)

In Turin in 1889, the German philosopher Frederic Nietzsche loses consciousness and his mind. This film tells the story of a farmer and his daughter trying to survive in a desolate landscape even though the horse that had always provided their livelihood has already given up on them.

THIS IS NOT A FILM (Jafar Panahi, Iran)

In a diary essay, the celebrated and recently jailed dissident filmmaker brings the viewer into his nightmarish limbo world as he awaits trial for a vague charge of disloyalty to the state.

The Toronto Film Festival runs from September 8 to 18. For more information, visit:


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