TIFF 2012's promising slate of premium presentations includes 38 world premieres.
TIFF Artistic Director Cameron Bailey found himself among a very small minority of crestfallen Toronto cinephiles this morning, after trade publication Variety leaked a list of 62 TIFF 2012 premieres—including opening-night selection Looper, from director Rian Johnson. Bailey had been scheduled to deliver the news himself, alongside festival CEO Piers Handling, at TIFF’s annual opening press conference, and took to Twitter to lament the breached embargo. Apart from Bailey and his TIFF colleagues, however, local film fans will have been largely delighted by Variety‘s scoop, which the conference subsequently confirmed.
It’s fair to say that TIFF’s opening night selections have traditionally underwhelmed, but Johnson’s highly-anticipated time-travel thriller is a tantalizing change of pace. “I think Looper will set a very important tone for the festival,” commented Handling during the post-conference Q&A, citing the film’s blend of the science fiction and gangster genres, as well as Johnson’s status as a young filmmaker to watch. Brick, Johnson’s highly acclaimed high-school-noir debut, played the festival in 2005, as did his 2008 follow-up, The Brothers Bloom. But Looper is certainly the director’s highest-profile venture to date, and features Bruce Willis, as well as Joseph Gordon-Levitt, fresh from a prominent turn in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises.
For the snootiest of Toronto cineastes, though, the morning’s big news was surely the announcement that Terrence Malick’s follow-up to 2011′s The Tree of Life will make its North American premiere in the festival’s Special Presentations programme. Entitled To the Wonder, the film features another of Malick’s stellar casts—including Ben Affleck, Javier Bardem, Rachel McAdams, Rachel Weisz, and Michael Sheen, among many others—and is reported to be an R-rated romance, which is an intriguing prospect coming from a director whose films have often elided overt depictions of sexuality. Indeed, it’s intriguing that To the Wonder is set to debut this year at all, given that Malick’s 40-year career has, to date, yielded just five features.
Meanwhile, Malick’s leading man will return to TIFF with his second directorial effort in three years in Argo, based on the true story of an elaborate CIA extraction plot, staged in response to the 1979 Iran hostage crisis. Affleck will also star in the gala presentation as the U.S. intelligence operative who hatched the “Canadian caper,” which, fittingly, saw six American diplomats smuggled out of Iran disguised as members of a CBC film crew.
Joining Argo in making world premiere bows at TIFF ’12 are the ambitious adaptation of David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas, from the Wachowski siblings and Tom Tykwer; The Place Beyond the Pines, which will see Ryan Gosling re-team with Blue Valentine director Derek Cianfrance; David O. Russell’s The Silver Linings Playbook; Joss Whedon’s adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing; and, in a true bolt from the blue, a previously unannounced collaboration between Noah Baumbach and Greta Gerwig, Frances Ha.
As ever, there are also plenty of esteemed international filmmakers among TIFF’s initial lineup, including Francois Ozon (In the House); Costa-Gavras (Capital), Jacques Audiard (Rust and Bone), Matteo Garrone (Reality), Lu Chuan (The Last Supper), Thomas Vinterberg (The Hunt), and Laurent Cantet (Foxfire).
Canadian filmmakers Deepa Metha (Midnight’s Children) and Ruba Nadda (Inescapable) will both enjoy red-carpet premieres, but Sarah Polley’s latest film—a documentary announced today for a Venice debut—is a notable absentee. So too are Cannes standouts like Amour, Holy Motors, and Post Tenebras Lux, but we’d wager that these films, along with Polley’s doc, are likely to be added to what is already a hugely promising festival lineup in the coming weeks.
For a full list of announced TIFF ’12 selections, visit tiff.net/thefestival/.