“The Fifth Estate,” about the controversial whistleblower website WikiLeaks, will open the Toronto International Film Festival on Sept. 5, 2013.
Directed by Bill Condon, “The Fifth Estate” begins as WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange (Benedict Cumberbatch) and his colleague Daniel Domscheit-Berg (Daniel Brühl) form the site to become unofficial watchdogs of big government and big business, soon breaking news and leaving traditional news outlets in the dust, beginning with their revelations of fraud by the head of Iceland’s biggest bank. Soon they gain access to the biggest trove of confidential intelligence documents in U.S. history.
The film also focuses on the conflicts between the founder and his colleague and opens a debate on the costs of keeping secrets in a free society, and the price paid when exposing them. The film also stars David Thewlis, Stanley Tucci, Laura Linney, Anthony Mackie and Dan Stevens.
“’The Fifth Estate’ explores how the sharing of information has the power to change history,” said Piers Handling, Director and CEO of TIFF. “No matter where they sit on the WikiLeaks debate, audiences will be blown away by Condon’s powerful film featuring commanding performances by Daniel Brühl and by Benedict Cumberbatch who is transformed as Julian Assange.”
“Information is the most potent currency of our time, and we’ve found a film that charts just how volatile it can be,” said Cameron Bailey, Artistic Director of the Toronto International Film Festival. “With ‘The Fifth Estate,’ this year’s Festival kicks off with an electric, timely drama that promises to get people talking. We’re thrilled to welcome Bill Condon back to Toronto with another terrific film. He premiered his very first feature, ‘Sister, Sister,’ here in 1987, and was last at our Festival in 2004 with ‘Kinsey.’”
“On behalf of the cast and filmmaking team, we are really honoured to open the Festival. Toronto has such enthusiastic audiences, and I look forward to sharing the film with them,” said filmmaker Bill Condon.
The festival will close on Sept. 15 with the world premiere of Daniel Schechter’s crime story “Life of Crime,” based on Elmore Leonard’s novel “The Switch.” The starry cast includes Jennifer Aniston, John Hawkes, yasiin bey (a.k.a. Mos Def), Isla Fisher, Will Forte, Mark Boone Jr, and Tim Robbins.
“We want to wrap the Festival with a fun ride,” said Piers Handling, Director and CEO, TIFF. “’Life of Crime’ invites audiences to enjoy the pure pleasure of watching great actors bring the words of Elmore Leonard to life.”
“Life of Crime is a whip-smart story of a ransom, double-crosses and a marriage going south,” said Cameron Bailey, Artistic Director of the Toronto International Film Festival. “It also introduces us to the film’s protagonists Ordell and Louis as young men. These are the same hoods that Samuel L. Jackson and Robert De Niro played in Quentin Tarantino’s Jackie Brown, which was an adaptation of Leonard’s novel ‘Rum Punch.’”
The press release from Toronto’s press department today signals the beginning of the awards season race. One of the most prestigious movie festivals in the world, it is also one of the world’s largest film festivals. Each year, as it grows larger, it turns Canada’s largest city into a swell of red-carpet premieres, celeb star gazing, and a mecca for film buffs.
Its major award, the People’s Choice Award (or known as the Blackberry People’s Choice Award), can go on to win Oscar gold. Last year’s People’s Choice Award went to “Silver Linings Playbook,” and although that film didn’t win the Oscar – that prize went to “Argo” – it picked up Academy Award nominations for all the major stars and was a top contender all season long for a slew of other honors.
Previous winners also include Nadine Labaki’s “Where do We Go Now?,” Tom Hooper’s “The King’s Speech” and Lee Daniels’ “Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire.” (Festival-goers can use their ticket to vote at the cinema or online.)
Below are the galas and the first round of special presentations, many of which already have awards buzz and will only intensify with today’s announcement from Toronto.
Labor Day. Jason Reitman, USA World Premiere. Labor Day centers on 13-year-old Henry Wheeler as he confronts the pangs of adolescence while struggling to be the man of the house and care for his reclusive mother, Adele. On a back-to-school shopping trip, Henry and his mother encounter Frank Chambers, a man both intimidating and clearly in need of help, who convinces them to take him into their home and later is revealed to be an escaped convict. The events of this long Labor Day weekend will shape all of them for the rest of their lives. Starring Kate Winslet, Josh Brolin, Gattlin Griffith, Tobey Maguire, Clark Gregg, JK Simmons, Brooke Smith and James Van Der Beek.
Like Father, Like Son. Hirokazu Kore-eda, Japan; North American Premiere. Two families are forced to choose between nature and nurture — between their natural sons and the sons they have raised.
Man of Tai Chi. Keanu Reeves, USA/China; North American Premiere. A young martial artist’s unparalleled Tai Chi skills land him in a highly lucrative underworld fight club. Starring Keanu Reeves and Tiger Chen.
MARY Queen of Scots. Thomas Imbach, France/Switzerland; North American Premiere. A queen who lost three kingdoms. A wife who lost three husbands. A woman who lost her head.
Mystery Road. Ivan Sen, Australia; International Premiere. Detective Jay Swan returns to his outback hometown to investigate the brutal murder of a teenage girl found in a drain under a highway outside of town. Starring Aaron Pedersen, Ryan Kwanten and Hugo Weaving.
Night Moves. Kelly Reichardt, USA; North American Premiere. When do legitimate convictions demand illegal behaviors? What happens to a person’s political principles when they find their back against the wall? Night Moves is the story of three radical environmentalists coming together to execute the most spectacular direct action event of their lives: the explosion of a hydroelectric dam. Starring Jesse Eisenberg, Dakota Fanning and Peter Sarsgaard.
Omar. Hany Abu-Assad, Palestine; North American Premiere. Trust and identity are stretched like wire in an impossible West Bank love story. Desires for individual and collective freedom collide. Mere sacrifice isn’t enough; betrayal is the only way to survive.
One Chance. David Frankel, USA; World Premiere. This film follows the remarkable and inspirational true story of Paul Potts, a shy, bullied shop assistant by day and an amateur opera singer by night. Paul became an instant YouTube phenomenon after being chosen by Simon Cowell for Britain’s Got Talent. Wowing audiences worldwide with his phenomenal voice, Paul went on to win the competition and the hearts of millions. BAFTA winner James Corden stars as Paul Potts and is supported by an ensemble cast that includes Julie Walters, Mackenzie Crook, Colm Meaney, Jemima Rooper and Alexandra Roach.
Only Lovers Left Alive. Jim Jarmusch, USA; North American Premiere. Set against the romantic desolation of Detroit and Tangier, an underground musician, deeply depressed by the direction of human activities, reunites with his resilient and enigmatic lover. Their love story has already endured several centuries at least, but their debauched idyll is soon disrupted by her wild and uncontrollable younger sister. Can these wise but fragile outsiders continue to survive as the modern world collapses around them? Starring Tom Hiddleston, Tilda Swinton, Mia Wasikowska, John Hurt and Anton Yelchin.
The Past. (Le Passé) Asghar Farhadi, France/Italy; North American Premiere. Following a four year separation, Ahmad returns to Paris from Tehran, upon his French wife Marie’s request, in order to finalize their divorce proceedings. During his brief stay, Ahmad discovers the conflicting nature of Marie’s relationship with her daughter Lucie. Ahmad’s efforts to improve this relationship soon unveil a secret from their past.
Philomena. Stephen Frears, United Kingdom; North American Premiere. Based on the 2009 investigative book by BBC correspondent Martin Sixsmith, The Lost Child of Philomena Lee, this film focuses on the efforts of Philomena Lee (Judi Dench), mother to a boy conceived out of wedlock — something Philomena’s Irish-Catholic community didn’t have the highest opinion of — and given away for adoption in the United States. Following church doctrine, she was forced to sign a contract that wouldn’t allow for any sort of inquiry into her son’s whereabouts. After starting a family years later in England and, for the most part, moving on with her life, Philomena meets Sixsmith (Steve Coogan), a BBC reporter with whom she decides to track down her long-lost son.
Pioneer. (Pionér) Erik Skjoldbjærg, Norway/Germany/Sweden/France/Finland; International Premiere. Pioneer is set in the early 80s, at the beginning of the Norwegian oil boom. Enormous oil and gas deposits are discovered in the North Sea and the authorities aim to bring the oil ashore through a pipeline from depths of 500 meters. A professional diver, Petter is obsessed with reaching the bottom of the Norwegian Sea. Along with his brother Knut he has the discipline, strength and courage to take on the world’s most dangerous mission. But a sudden, tragic accident changes everything. Petter is sent on a perilous journey where he loses sight of who’s pulling the strings. Gradually he realizes that he is in way over his head and that his life is at stake.
Prisoners. Denis Villeneuve, USA; World Premiere. How far would you go to protect your family? Keller Dover (Hugh Jackman) is facing every parent’s worst nightmare. His six-year-old daughter, Anna, is missing, together with her young friend, Joy, and as minutes turn to hours, panic sets in. The only lead is a dilapidated RV that had earlier been parked on their street. Heading the investigation, Detective Loki (Jake Gyllenhaal) arrests its driver, Alex Jones (Paul Dano), but a lack of evidence forces his release. As the police pursue multiple leads and pressure mounts, knowing his child’s life is at stake the frantic Dover decides he has no choice but to take matters into his own hands. But just how far will this desperate father go to protect his family? Also features Melissa Leo, Maria Bello, Viola Davis and Terrence Howard.
Quai d’Orsay. Bertrand Tavernier, France; World Premiere. Alexandre Taillard de Vorms is a force to be reckoned with. With his silver mane and tanned, athletic body, he stalks the world stage as Minister of Foreign Affairs for France, waging his own war backed up by the holy trinity of diplomatic concepts: legitimacy, lucidity, and efficacy. Enter Arthur Vlaminck. Hired to write the minister’s speeches, Arthur must contend with the sensibilities of his boss and the dirty dealings within the Quai d’Orsay, the ministry’s home.
REAL. Kiyoshi Kurosawa, Japan; North American Premiere. Koichi and Atsumi are lovers who have known each other all their lives. A year ago, Atsumi apparently tried to commit suicide and has been in a coma since then. Through ‘sensing’, a type of neurological treatment allowing communication with a comatose patient, Koichi tries to find out why she tried to kill herself. Starring Takeru Satoh and Haruka Ayase.
Starred Up. David Mackenzie, United Kingdom; World Premiere. When troubled teenager Eric is transferred to an adult prison, the new environment serves only to amplify his ultra-violent behavior. He soon comes to the attention of the prison kingpin, who assigns his lieutenant Nev to keep the boy under control. The problem however is that Nev is Eric’s father. They have not seen each other for 12 years, and an uncomfortable stand-off begins as father and son battle to gain some kind of understanding after a decade of mistrust and separation.
Third Person. Paul Haggis, Belgium; World Premiere. Love, passion, mystery, betrayal and hope infuse Paul Haggis’ new feature, which follows the interrelated stories of three couples in three cities, Rome, New York and Paris — each with its own secrets. Starring Liam Neeson, Mila Kunis, Adrien Brody, James Franco, Olivia Wilde, Maria Bello, Kim Basinger and Moran Atias.
Those Happy Years. (Anni Felici) Daniele Luchetti, Italy; World Premiere Rome, 1974. Wannabe artist Guido feels trapped by his conventional life and beautiful, bourgeois wife, Serena. Their young sons, Dario and Paolo, are caught between their parents’ passion for each other, their rows and their infidelities. The film tells of those happy years, which seemed so unhappy at the time…
Tracks. John Curran, United Kingdom/Australia; North American Premiere. Tracks is the true story of Robyn Davidson who trekked from Alice Springs in Central Australia through almost 2,000 miles of sprawling desert to the Indian Ocean, accompanied only by her loyal dog and four unpredictable camels. This epic and remarkable journey into Australia’s last great frontier was captured by charismatic National Geographic photographer Rick Smolan. These challenging and emotional nine months in the desert marked a new beginning for Robyn that would change the rest of her life. Starring Mia Wasikowska and Adam Driver.
Under the Skin. Jonathan Glazer, USA/United Kingdom; North American Premiere The story of an alien in human form on a journey through Scotland. Part road movie, part science fiction, part real, it’s a film about seeing the world through alien eyes. Starring Scarlett Johansson.
Violette. Martin Provost, France/Belgium; World Premiere. Born out of wedlock early in the last century, Violette Leduc meets Simone de Beauvoir in postwar Saint-Germain-des-Près. An intense lifelong relationship develops between the two women authors, based on Violette’s quest for freedom through writing and on Simone’s conviction that she holds in her hands the destiny of an extraordinary writer.
Visitors. Godfrey Reggio, USA; World Premiere. Thirty years after Koyaanisqatsi, with support from Philip Glass and Jon Kane, Godfrey Reggio’s portrayal of modern life in Visitors leapfrogs beyond earth-bound filmmakers. Presented by Steven Soderbergh, Visitors offers an experience of technology and transcendental emotionality, taking viewers to the moon and back to confront them with themselves.
Walesa. Man of Hope. (Walesa. Czlowiek z nadziei.) Andrzej Wajda, Poland; North American Premiere. How was it possible that a single man influenced contemporary world so significantly? This film is an attempt to capture the phenomenon of a common man’s metamorphosis into a charismatic leader — an attempt to see how a Gdansk shipyard electrician fighting for workers’ rights awakened a hidden desire for freedom in millions of people.
We are the Best! (Vi är bäst!) Lukas Moodysson, Sweden; North American Premiere. Stockholm 1982. Bobo, Klara and Hedvig are three 13-year-old girls who roam the streets. Girls who are brave and tough and strong and weak and confused and weird. Girls who have to take care of themselves way too early. Girls who heat fish fingers in the toaster when mom is at the pub. Girls who start a punk band without any instruments, even though everybody says that punk is dead.
Le Week-End. Roger Michell, United Kingdom; World Premiere. Nick and Meg Burrows return to Paris, the city where they honeymooned, to celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary and rediscover some romance in their long-lived marriage. The film follows the couple as long-established tensions in their marriage break out in humorous and often painful ways. Starring Jeff Goldblum, Jim Broadbent and Lindsay Duncan.
You Are Here. Matthew Weiner, USA; World Premiere When Steve Dallas (Owen Wilson), a womanizing local weatherman, hears that his off-the-grid best friend Ben Baker (Zach Galifianakis) has lost his estranged father, the two return to Ben’s childhood home. Once there, they discover Ben has inherited the family fortune, and the ill-equipped duo must battle Ben’s formidable sister (Amy Poehler) and deal with his father’s gorgeous 25-year old widow (Laura Ramsey). You Are Here is a contemporary adult comedy about family, friendship, money, and the people who keep it all afloat.
Young and Beautiful. (Jeune & jolie) François Ozon, France/Belgium; North American Premiere. A coming-of-age portrait of a 17-year-old French girl over four seasons and four songs — from her sexual awakening to her first time; from her exploration of love to her search for her identity.
Piers Handling, CEO and Director of the festival, and Cameron Bailey, Artistic Director of the Toronto International Film Festival, unveiled today the first round of titles set to premiere.
Of the 16 galas and 55 special presentations revealed, this first slate of films includes 40 world premieres from filmmakers including: Bill Condon, Steve McQueen, Sylvain Chomet, John Carney, Jean-Marc Vallée, Atom Egoyan, Amma Asante, Godfrey Reggio, Jason Reitman, John Wells, Denis Villeneuve, Don McKellar, Jasmila Žbanić, Justin Chadwick, Mike Myers, Liza Johnson, Richard Ayoade, David Gordon Green, Ralph Fiennes, Paul Haggis, Manuel Martín Cuenca, Jason Bateman, Bertrand Tavernier and Matthew Weiner.
“This first round of films offers a taste of the powerhouse lineup at this year’s Festival,” said Handling. “These are the works that will have everyone talking because they capture the mood of the times. They will captivate, excite and entertain the global film community and audiences alike.”
“An unparalleled calibre of international talent will illuminate the city for 11 spectacular days, to descend on the hottest red carpets representing productions from across the globe including South Africa, France, Canada, South Korea, Australia, Germany, USA, and the United Kingdom,” said Bailey.
The 38th Toronto International Film Festival runs from Sept. 5 to 15, 2013.
Purchase Festival ticket packages online 24 hours a day at tiff.net/festival, by phone Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. ET at 416.599.TIFF or 1.888.599.8433, or visit the box office in person from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. ET at TIFF Bell Lightbox, Reitman Square, 350 King Street West, until August 19.