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culture

TIFF 2014 Unveils Documentary and Masters Programs

Fest's lineup now includes more big-name gets and globe-spanning programming.

Still from Goodbye to Language 3D.

Following its announcement last week of this year’s galas and special presentations, the Toronto International Film Festival came out swinging this morning with a list of new titles, unveiling its TIFF Docs and Masters slates as well as the fan favourite Midnight Madness and Vanguard programs. The documentary and Masters lineups feature appearances from well-known names and festival favourites, and turn the spotlight on subjects both momentous and ordinary.

Still from The Look of Silence.

As this year’s documentaries go, we’re most excited about the Canadian premiere of Joshua Oppenheimer’s Venice-bound The Look of Silence. A follow-up to last year’s bracing The Act of Killing, in which the director invited a trio of Indonesian gangsters central to the anti-communist and ethnic killings of the mid-1960s to re-stage their murders, the film takes up with a family of survivors who aim to confront one of the men behind the youngest brother’s murder.

Students of documentary cinema will also be heartened to hear that the festival has snagged the North American premiere of master filmmaker Frederick Wiseman’s National Gallery. After last year’s complex look at higher education (At Berkeley), Wiseman turns to the behind-the-scenes mechanics of the venerable London museum.

Still from This Is My Land.

Impressive as Wiseman’s and Oppenheimer’s names are, issues-based doc lovers will also be pleased by the slate’s fairly democratic, globe-spanning programming. Chief among the titles that caught our attention are Nick Broomfield’s Tales of the Grim Sleeper, about the so-named serial killer who targeted sex workers in Los Angeles in both the 1980s and early 2000s, and Tamara Erde’s This Is My Land, which follows a number of Israeli and Palestinian schoolteachers over the course of one academic year.

If the documentary lineup tends to draw a diverse crowd, Masters appeals to more specific cinephile tastes. We’d be remiss here not to mention Jean-Luc Godard’s Goodbye to Language 3D, a surprise Jury Prize winner at Cannes (in a tie with the crestfallen Xavier Dolan, who clearly wanted the fest’s highest honour), which, as far as we can tell from the early reviews and the press notes, has something to do with a man, a woman, and the dog who observes them. And, of course, the cinema.

Still from Hill of Freedom.

Also joining the fest from Cannes are Abderrahmane Sissako’s well-received Timbuktu, set during the recent fundamentalist takeover of northern Mali, and Andrey Zvyagintsev’s Leviathan, set in a small fishing village that evidently has a mayor colourful enough to rival Toronto’s own. Of the films coming to Toronto fresh off their debut in Venice, we’re most excited for South Korean filmmaker Hong Sang-soo’s Hill of Freedom; if his other films (and the production still) are any indication, it’ll be full of good-natured discussions about love, academia, and filmmaking over a healthy round of soju.


Related:

TIFF 2014 Midnight Madness and Vanguard Titles Revealed


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