The Toronto International Film Festival always showcases the best films from around the world, and this year it is promising to be the best festival yet. Here is our top ten must see films from the festival.
1. About Ray
When a transgender teen begins her transition from female to male, Ray (Elle Fanning) must seek approval and confirmation from her father (Tate Donovan) to legally be able to transition with proper medical care. This follow’s Ray’s story as her mother (Naomi Watts) and grandmother (Susan Sarandon) support her journey. Being one of the two highly sought out films about transgender people – the other is The Danish Girl – the film has been criticised for not using a cisgender actor to feature in the role of Ray. About Ray looks to be a promising addition to this years stories regarding trans stories and especially, trans youth.
Based on the true story of a New Jersey police officer, Laurel Hester is diagnosed with lung cancer. When she meets her future spouse, she repeatedly appeals to the board of freeholders to have her pension passed onto her partner, but it seems much harder due to her sexuality. Oscar winner Julianne Moore takes on the role of Hester, whilst Ellen Page plays Stacie, her spouse. The film comes after the release of Freehold (2007) a documentary featuring Hester and her appeal to change the system regarding her pension. The film also features a humorous light hearted role from Steve Carell amidst the personal tragedy and injustice which features.
3. He Named Me Malala
When Pakistani born Malala Yousafzi survived a Taliban assassination attempt at 15, she became an overnight sensation. The girls’ right advocate who spoke her truth survived the attack and went onto win the Nobel Peace Prize two years later. Yousafzai speaks her truth about surviving, the right for women to be able to have an education and her impact on changing the world in this 87 minute personal look at her life. Her determination and grace show how she deals day by day with the impact she is making on the world.
Based on the novel The Price of Salt (also known as Carol), the book tells the story of a female clerk assistant who falls for an elder, married woman. Set in 1950’s Manhattan, Rooney Mara stars as Therese Belivet, who soon develops feelings for Cate Blanchett’s Carol Aird. The pair embark on a friendship turned love relationship, despite being plagued with relationships, Therese with a man she has no desire for and Carol, a husband who will not allow her to see her daughter if she divorces him. Already tipped as a potential oscar winner for Blanchett, the film is endearing as romance blossoms with obstacles in the way.
5. Black Mass
It’s been said that this is the film that will either make or break Johnny Depp. Despite an extensive film career, Depp has not been heavily featured in a stand-out role (with recent releases such as Mortdecai and a small role in Into the Woods). Playing real life Boston bred gangster, James ‘Whitey’ Bulger, Depp is back in imitating a man so notoriously infamous for his alleged cushy relationship with the FBI, that it may have seemed he was getting away, scot-free, with his unforgivable crimes. The film also features Benedict Cumberbatch as he continues his star turns as Bulger’s conservative politician brother, which makes for outstanding viewing as the pair couldn’t be more opposite. The film seems to be going the right way for Depp, already claiming rave reviews.
6. Je Suis Charlie
The world was shocked 9 months ago when a terrorist attack was carried out on the staff of French magazine, Charlie Hebdo. Killing 12 people at the publication, a father and son, the Lecontes, backtrack and view old footage, featuring interviews with members of the murdered staff. Staff give their views on what the future of journalism entails and how they will continue to publish the magazine, for they will not be silenced. They give you an eye opening view into the history of Charlie Hebdo, how it started and how it will continue.
Perhaps the most controversial film so far to be screened at TIFF is Stonewall, a film featuring the story of the 1969 landmark riots, which saw the modern LBGT movement launched. It comes with saying the controversy is mainly focused on the usage of using a white cis actor taking on a lead role, despite the riots being led mainly by people of colour and drag queens. Director Roland Emmerich has asked for patience surrounding the film, for people not to judge so quickly on the appearance and take more of the story in, for it to be judged not only by what they see.
8. The Danish Girl
Eddie Redmayne takes on another biographical role, after a stellar turn as Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything, to play Einar Wegener/Lili Elbe, the first transgender woman to receive sex reassignment surgery When asked by his wife, Gerda (Alicia Vikander) a painter to help model a dress for her he begins to feel differently about himself and begins to develop the appreciation and attraction for the female physique. He begins living a life as Lili Elbe, soon causing strain in his marriage to Gerda as he undertakes the decision to live his life as his true self, as Lili. Again, the film has also been criticised for the non-use of a cis actor, but as been hailed as a success by critics, especially Oscar buzz for Redmayne.
9. Where To Invade Next
10. Keith Richards: Under the Influence
With many controversial subjects premiering at TIFF, it’s about time a little light music is needed. Or in this case, extremely heavy. Directed by Morgan Neville (Twenty Feet from Stardom) Richards is front and centre as he desscribes his history with the Stones, his true love of music and where it came from and most importantly to him, his first solo album in two decades. It will officially premiere on Netflix, but has caught the eye of music lovers at TIFF, so here is the rocker on top of his pedestal doing what he does best.