TIFF Announces 40th Anniversary Opening Lineup
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TIFF Announces 40th Anniversary Opening Lineup

The festival celebrates its 40th anniversary with a reciprocating saw-sporting Jake Gyllenhaal and a man-bunned Paul Gross.

Still from TIFF opener Demolition.

TIFF CEO Piers Handling and Artistic Director Cameron Bailey took to the TIFF Bell Lightbox this morning to announce the first wave of programming for the festival’s 40th anniversary. The top brass rolled out a list of titles fat with international stars and homegrown talents, all while emphasizing TIFF’s transformation from a small in-house affair — boasting “a lot of films” and “six big parties,” according to a schedule Handling unearthed from the inaugural edition — to the 300 film behemoth it is today.

Departing from last year’s curious decision to bury the news of the official opener in a later press release, the festival proudly pencilled in Demolition, the new film from Quebec filmmaker and Oscar nominee (at least, pseudonymously) Jean-Marc Vallée. The film stars perennial cinematic widower and friend of French-Canadian filmmakers Jake Gyllenhaal as an investment banker who acts out after the tragic death of his wife. A savvy awards player whose first two English films, Dallas Buyers Club and Wild, platformed from TIFF to the Oscars, Vallée feels about right for the opening slot, given his Canadian bona fides and long history with the festival. And after his paranoid tour through Toronto in 2013’s Denis Villeneuve’s Enemy, Gyllenhaal is basically an honorary Hogtownie.

Still from Brooklyn.

As per tradition, the opening presser also unveiled a wide swath of the fest’s star-studded Gala and Special Presentations. Beyond the expected titles held over from this year’s Cannes lineup — including Palme d’Or winner Dheepan and Villeneuve’s Sicario, which looks like a humourless tryout for the next season of True Detective — the Special Presentations slate should appease the fest’s prestige cinema fan contingent with buzzy films like Brooklyn, starring Saoirse Ronan as an Irish immigrant torn between homelands new and old, and Tom Hooper’s The Danish Girl, starring recent Oscar winner Eddie Redmayne as a trans woman. The latter sounds risible to us, so figure a robust awards haul.

Still from Freeheld.

On the Gala side, the fest announced the world premiere of the Julianne Moore-Ellen Page three-tissue drama Freeheld, based on the true story of a decorated New Jersey detective (Moore) with terminal lung cancer who fought to leave her pension behind to her longterm partner (Page), becoming an LGBT activist in the process. Page and Moore look fine (Steve Carell as the couple’s lawyer, not so much), but we’re in it for supporting player Michael Shannon, who presumably delivers his signature bug-eyed stare. We’re also curious about Deepa Mehta’s Beeba Boys, a commercial-looking genre film about an Indo-Canadian gang war in Vancouver.

TIFF’s complete lineup will be unveiled over the coming weeks. In the meantime, you can follow us in watching the Beeba Boys trailer on repeat to catch the most fleeting glimpse of a white-haired Paul Gross sporting a man bun.

CORRECTION: 4:30 PM This post incorrectly identified Jake Gyllenhaal as holding a jackhammer, not a reciprocating saw. We regret the error.