TIFF's galas this year include a Nelson Mandela biopic and a profile of a college-bound Allen Ginsberg.
The festival’s biggest celebrity showcases and spottiest world premieres both tend to end up in the Gala programme, where TIFF’s sheer size and cat-herding spirit are at their most obvious. Before turning in your hard-earned cash for a spot all the way up in the balcony of Roy Thomson Hall, consider this guide to some of the higher-profile offerings.
Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom
Idris Elba stars as Nelson Mandela in this adaptation of the anti-apartheid revolutionary and former South African president’s autobiography. We weren’t big on The Other Boleyn Girl, director Justin Chadwick’s last crack at history, but the still criminally underrated Elba’s involvement has got our attention.
Kill Your Darlings
Daniel Radcliffe makes a curious bid to shed his Harry Potter image by playing another bespectacled young scholar, this time an earnest Allen Ginsberg in his years at Columbia University. The real reason to catch this competent but underwhelming look at the Beat generation is to get an early glimpse at co-star Dane DeHaan, who’s bound for better things.
Global superstar Irrfan Khan stars as a surly widower brought together with a neglected housewife (Nimrat Kaur) in Ritesh Batra’s comedy-drama. Experience has taught us to be skeptical of directorial debuts in this programme, but Khan’s presence is probably justification enough, and Batra’s last short made an impression on the FIPRESCI jury at the Oberhausen festival.
The Fifth Estate
The festival kicks off with this look at the tumultuous rise of WikiLeaks, with Benedict Cumberbatch as Julian Assange, and Daniel Brühl (also starring in Rush, another gala) as his most trusted lieutenant. This is director Bill Condon’s first film since he chaired the last two entries in the Twilight series, so who knows what supernatural intrigue lies in those secret diplomatic cables.
What festival would be complete without a film in which serious thespian Zac Efron struggles to revive a fading John F. Kennedy (or a dummy made to resemble him) with some full-contact CPR? Peter Landesman’s first film, following a career in investigative journalism, strives to recreate the fateful Dallas day of the Kennedy assassination through the experience of side players like Efron’s ER resident. Most of them, including poor Paul Giamatti as Abraham Zapruder, are wasted in the movie, but they’ll make a good sight on the red carpet.