TIFF Bell Lightbox Opens + The Entertainment District Grows Up

It's Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) launch day today! If you are scrambling to figure out what to see, click on "continue reading" link below for a list of exciting films.

The Entertainment District (see Realosophy's Entertainment District neighbourhood profile) will see the opening of new landmark on September 12, the new Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) Bell Lightbox, a one-size-fits-all hub for film in Toronto (there will be a public street festival to celebrate).

It's an exciting but anxious time for many of the city's dedicated film goers, particularly those of us who've been members of Cinematheque Ontario, a rep theatre dedicated to alternative and art cinema since 1990 (see Toronto Star's recent article on founding programmer James Quandt). As of September, Cinematheque will leave its often pilloried, but well loved home at the AGO's Jackmall Hall and move into the Lightbox, along with TIFF's year round programming and other community programming.

At the Lightbox, film grows up, graduating to food and drinks supplied by Oliver & Bonacini's casual O&B Canteen and upscale restaurant Luma. (For the chronically late, this may be an upgrade from running for a slice of pizza or some pub food and a hastily gulping down coffee before lining up at Jackmall Hall.) Growing up also means price hikes for tickets and memberships, and it will be
interesting to see if the TIFF's CEO and supporters are making the right
gamble in assuming that Toronto film lovers will (can) reach deep into
their pockets to go bigger and flashier, all year round.

The Lightbox and its sophisticated hotel friends (Thompson, Ritz Carleton, Bisha) may also break up the interminable squabbling between the Entertainment District's clubland entrepreneurs and patrons and its residents. Like that predictable 2 am fight started by your cute, Neanderthal boyfriend from the other high school, the neighbourhood's insular battles have long bored the rest of the city, making a new storyline for the neighbourhood most welcome.

The opening of this year's TIFF this Thursday, September 9th gives you the perfect chance to check out some of the new architecture in the Entertainment District. If you are worried about crowds and overhyped films, opt to see a film from the festival's Discovery Programme, featuring new and emerging directors and their compelling films from around the world (screenings are at various festival theatres). For a budget friendly option, there is also the TIFF for Free Programme, which features free screenings of classic films at the Lightbox - expect more of a crowd. 

TIFF Discovery Programme and TIFF for Free films listed below. Please check with the TIFF box office for show times, locations and ticket prices.



As If I Am Not There Juanita Wilson, Ireland/Macedonia/Sweden
World Premiere
As If I Am Not There explores
one woman’s experience of the horrors that took place at the beginning
of the Bosnian War. Disturbing and powerful, the film is an important
testament to the survivors of the atrocities in the former Yugoslavia.

ATTENBERG Athina Rachel Tsangiri, Greece
North American Premiere
dying architect and his emotionally stunted daughter inhabit a once
booming industrial community in the middle of nowhere, now populated by
the precious few who didn’t have the heart to leave it behind.

Autumn Aamir Bashir, India
World Premiere
in striking, widescreen images in India's Kashmir region, Bashir's
debut tells the story of Rafiq, a young man struggling to come to terms
with the loss of his older brother, who has disappeared in the ongoing
border conflict.

Beautiful Boy Shawn Ku, USA
World Premiere
married couple on the verge of separation are leveled by the news that
their 18-year-old son has committed a mass shooting at his college, then
taken his own life. Stars Michael Sheen and Maria Bello.

Blame  Michael Henry, Australia
International Premiere
group of young vigilantes seeking revenge for a sexual betrayal fall
far from grace. When the truth is out, they find themselves on the dark
side of justice.

The Call Stefano Pasetto, Italy/Argentina
World Premiere
women, one a married middle-aged airline stewardess, and the other a
free-wheeling factory worker, meet and decide to change their lives.
Moving to Patagonia and leaving their men behind, they find that escape
carries with it a different set of responsibilities.

Ceremony Max Winkler, USA
World Premiere
with his unwitting best friend, a young guy looks to crash the wedding
of an older woman with whom he's infatuated. Stars Uma Thurman.

Dirty Girl  Abe Sylvia, USA
World Premiere
is the dirty girl of Norman High School. When her misbehaviour gets her
banished to a remedial class, she teams up with an innocent closet-case
and they head out on a road trip to discover themselves. Stars Juno
Temple, Dwight Yoakam, Milla Jovovich and William H. Macy.

Girlfriend Justin Lerner, USA
World Premiere
an unexpected financial windfall affords a young man with Down syndrome
some freedom, he decides to pursue the object of his high school crush,
Candy. The decision brings him into conflict with her volatile
ex-boyfriend, and the three find themselves involved in a complex,
unpredictable triangle of love, aspiration and dreams. Stars Evan
Sneider and Jackson Rathbone.

Griff the Invisible Leon Ford, Australia
World Premiere
office worker by day, superhero by night, has his world turned upside
down when he meets Melody, a beautiful young scientist who shares his
passion for the impossible. Stars Ryan Kwanten.

Half of Oscar Manuel Martin Cuenca, Spain/Cuba
World Premiere
and Maria are reunited by the imminent death of their grandfather.
Maria has not been heard from in over two years, and now arrives
pregnant and with a boyfriend.

Inside America Barbara Eder, Austria
North American Premiere
on her memories as an exchange student in a nowhere town on the
US-Mexico border, Barbara Eder explores the dark side of the American

Look, Stranger Arielle Javitch, USA
World Premiere
Look, Stranger
is an elegant, spare and powerful telling of one young woman's journey
through a war-torn landscape in an effort to get back home. Stars
Annamaria Marinca.

Mandoo Ebrahim Saeedi, Iraq
North American Premiere
the death of Saddam, Shaho, an Iranian Kurd, is determined to take his
ailing father back to his village so he can live out his final days in
familiar surroundings. The only thing that stands in his way is a
wide-eyed young woman.

Marimbas From Hell Julio Hernández Cordón, Guatemala/France/Mexico
World Premiere
Alfonso loses his job playing the marimba, an indigenous, traditional
Guatemalan instrument, at a hotel in Guatemala City. He approaches
musician Blacko and proposes that they fuse the sound of the marimba
with heavy metal.

Norberto’s Deadline Daniel Hendler, Uruguay/Argentina
North American Premiere
actor Daniel Hendler offers a hilarious account of a man trying to
combat his shyness. After being fired from his job, Norberto tries his
hand at real estate and his new boss suggests he take some personal
affirmation courses. Instead he discovers the theatre and his love and
unknown talent for acting.

October Diego Vega, Daniel Vega, Peru/Venezuela/Spain
North American Premiere
Clemente only knows how to relate to others through transactions. His
life is turned upside down when someone leaves him a baby in a basket.
When a client, Sofia, steps in to help tend to the baby, Clemente is
faced with new possibilities during Lima's October celebration of the
Lord of Miracles.

The Piano in a Factory Zhang Meng, China
World Premiere
fight for custody of his daughter who loves playing the piano, a steel
factory worker decides to forge a piano from scratch. An offbeat ballad
of friendship and devotion, The Piano in a Factory is an endearing portrait of China in the early 1990s when the certainty of state-run industry begins to falter.        

Pinoy Sunday Wi Ding Ho, Taiwan
North American Premiere
Pinoy Sunday

is the story of Manuel and Dado, two Filipino migrant workers, who
discover a discarded sofa. This transforms their normal Sunday routine
into a tale of adventure, perseverance and self-discovery.

The Place in Between Sarah Bouyain, France/Burkino Faso
North American Premiere
sensitive debut is a portrait of women caught between Africa and
Europe. A biracial woman travels from France to Burkina Faso in search
of her mother. In France, a white woman seeks to learn an African
language for reasons unknown.

Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale Jalmari Helander, Finland/Norway/France/Sweden
North American Premiere
Claus is somewhat less than jolly – in fact, he's the stuff nightmares
are made of – in Jalmari Helander's atmospheric and witty re-working of a
cherished folk tale.

Sandcastle  Boo Junfeng, Singapore
North American Premiere
A gentle and affectionate study of the themes of identity, history and memory, Boo Junfeng’s debut feature Sandcastle
is a loving portrait of a young man coming to terms with the lives of
his parents and his grandparents, while trying to make sense of
Singapore’s troubled history.

Soul of Sand Sidharth Srinivasan, India
World Premiere
Kumar, a lower caste watchman, stands fierce guard over his feudal
master’s disused, barren mine. One night, a runaway couple in desperate
search of refuge, come to Bhanu seeking shelter. The rusted gate of the
Royal Silica Mine opens, exposing a bloody world of lust, fear and
violence in the name of caste, ownership and honour.

Viva Riva! Djo Tunda Wa Munga, Democratic Republic of Congo/France/Belgium/South Africa
World Premiere
returns home to Kinshasa flush with cash. The town is literally out of
gas, and he is sitting on a truckload of it.  His first night home, Riva
falls in love with a beautiful woman and is emboldened when he learns
that a local gangster is keeping her on a short leash.  Meanwhile, the
gang Riva left behind in Angola arrive in hot pursuit of the gas he
stole from them. 

Wasted On the Young Ben C. Lucas, Australia
International Premiere
Wasted on the Young
is set in the socially conscious and disaffected society of an elite
high school where two step brothers occupy opposite ends of the school
hierarchy. When a high school party goes dangerously off the rails, they
find that revenge is just a computer click away.

What I Most Want Delfina Castagnino, Argentina
International Premiere
four-year relationship is coming to an end while Pilar's father has
recently passed away. Though their losses are of a very different
nature, the two friends find comfort in each other’s company. María
stays with Pilar in the Argentine Patagonia and the two women share wine
and lake visits as they confront their future.

Zephyr Belma Bas, Turkey
World Premiere
shadowy and atmospheric coming-of-age story follows 11-year-old Zephyr.
Left in the care of her stoic grandparents, she roams a rural paradise
looking for action, trying to figure out who she is and refusing to grow


Outrageous!, Richard Benner
Tuesday, September 14 at 7 pm

American Beauty, Sam Mendes
Wednesday, September 15 at 5:30 pm

Roadkill, Bruce McDonald
Thursday, September 16 at 10 pm

Water, Deepa Mehta
Friday, September 17 at 10 pm

Away From Her, Sarah Polley
Saturday, September 18 at 7 pm

Crash, Paul Haggis
Saturday, September 18 at 9 pm    

The Big Chill, Lawrence Kasdan
Sunday, September 19 at 7 pm

The Princess Bride, Rob Reiner
Sunday, September 19 at 10 pm

Above Photo Images: TIFF Bell Lightbox Website

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