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2022 Toronto Intl. Film Festival: 100 Predictions (Part II) Schanelec, Akin, Polak & Maria Schrader

2022 Toronto Intl. Film Festival: 100 Predictions (Part II) Schanelec, Akin, Polak & Maria Schrader

With Michael Grandage’s My Policeman now being confirmed as a non-Venice title (it was just been announced as a World Premiere selection) we now move our focus towards our next batch of predictions (33 in all). Yesterday we gave you 34 films that might trickle into TIFF’s Contemporary World Cinema, Discovery, Gala Presentations, MastersMavericks, Midnight Madness, TIFF Docs, Special Presentations, TIFF Kids, Vanguard and Wavelengths sections.

A Netflix-backed book to film adaptation project due to be released this year, Mike Barker‘s Luckiest Girl Alive lassoed Mila Kunis, Jennifer Beals, Connie Britton and Justine Lupe for a tale about a sharp-tongued New Yorker who appears to have it all: a sought-after position at a glossy magazine, a killer wardrobe, and a dream Nantucket wedding on the horizon. But when the director of a crime documentary invites her to tell her side of the shocking incident that took place when she was a teenager at the prestigious Bradley School, Ani is forced to confront a dark truth that threatens to unravel her meticulously crafted life.

A screenwriter for Rodrigo Reyes’ 499, Lorena Padilla recently moved into the director’s chair for her feature debut. Martínez sees Francisco Reyes topline as the titular character – a lonely accountant who really prizes his daily monotony and is pushed by his hierarchy to retire. While his life stability is threatened, his neighbor, a woman of his age, is found dead in her home after several days. Although he has never met her, her death will make him realize that his life is still ahead of him.

It could be a remarkable two films dropping in the same year for Alex Lehman (TIFF’16 – Blue Jay) with Tribeca preemed Acidman being followed by Meet Cute which stars Kaley Cuoco and Pete Davidson. When Sheila (Cuoco) finds a time machine in a downtown Manhattan nail salon, she uses it to repeatedly travel back in time to relive the best date of her life and figure out where it all went wrong. The premise: What would you do if you could travel to your loved ones’ past, heal their traumas, fix their problems, and change them into the perfect partner?

German filmmaker Angela Schanelec (TIFF’16 – The Dreamed Path / TIFF’19 – I Was at Home, But…) could possibly three-peat at TIFF but on this occasion, present her film (for a first time) as a world premiere. Musik tells the story of a boy who grows up with his step-parents in Greece. At the age of 20, he unwittingly murders his father. While serving his sentence, he falls in love and has a child with a woman who works in the prison. Aliocha Schneider, Miriam Jakob, Agathe Bonitzer and Marisha Triantafyllidou star.

Paris-based Ramzi Ben Sliman returns to a positive youth portrait output with her sophomore film Neneh Superstar. Featuring Oumy Bruni Garrel, Maïwenn, Steve Tientcheu and Aïssa Maïga, this revolves around a little 12-year-old girl named Neneh. Born to dance, she dreams of gaining entry to the Paris Opera ballet school. Despite her enthusiasm, she will need to work twice as hard to escape her condition and gain acceptance from Marianne Bellage, the director of the establishment and an upholder of traditions. Sliman might wait until next year and return to Berlinale to preem.

Perennial TIFF Crowd favorite New Zealander filmmaker Taika Waititi (TIFF’19 – Jojo Rabbit) was too busy with other film distractions to put the finishes touches to a project that has been collecting dust since 2019 (there were reshoots). While Searchlight Pictures appear to be pushing Next Goal Wins for a 2023 premiere, they might have reconsidered the choice since this is a “safe” space. This is about a Dutch-American football coach Thomas Rongen (played by Michael Fassbender) who is tasked with turning the American Samoa national team, considered one of the weakest football teams in the world, into an elite squad.

A Quebecois actor, writer and director with sardonic funny bone, Guillaume Lambert has had the gold touch on pretty much every format. Featuring François Pérusse, Eric Bernier, Guy Jodoin and Lambert himself, this sophomore feature is about the fall, mourning and rebuilding of oneself around three brothers in their fifties who will have to reconnect after the death of their father who died prematurely from an unfortunate Ice Bucket Challenge. Niagara has a domestic Canadian release in October.

A possible Midnight Madness offering, Nocebo became the third feature film outing for Irish filmmaker Lorcan Finnegan (TIFF’16 – Without Name). The trio of Eva Green, Mark Strong and Chai Fonacier topline a tale that follows a fashion designer (Green) suffering from a mysterious illness that puzzles her doctors and frustrates her husband (Strong) until help arrives in the form of a Filipino carer (Fonacier), who uses traditional folk healing to reveal a horrifying truth.

A Canuck film with one of TIFF’s favorites in Sarah Gadon, Carly Stone‘s sophomore feature North of Normal also stars Amanda Fix, Robert Carlyle, River Price-Maenpaa, James D’Arcy and Benedict Samuel. A book-to-film project, this follows an unconventional childhood in the Canadian wilderness, a complicated relationship with a perpetually pot-smoking teen mom, and the path to a version of normalcy on the runways of Paris.

An Australian-Macedonian filmmaker who might drop two films in the same year, Goran Stolevski quickly followed up the Sundance preemed You Won’t Be Alone with Of An Age. Set in Melbourne in the summer of 1999, this follows an unexpected and intense 24-hour romance between a 17-year-old Serbian ballroom dancer. Elias Anton, Thom Green, and Hattie Hook star. Focus Features have not dated the film yet, so this might fall into 2023.

Unless Venice’22 or Sundance ’23 programmers manage to lasso this, our most anticipated debut feature in world cinema should be part of a competition such as the Platform section. Sofia Alaoui‘s Oum tells the tale of Itto, a young woman from a modest rural background, has had to learn the codes of the upper-middle since being propelled into the family of her husband, Amine. When Amine and his family are stranded several hours away from home due to a mysterious event, Itto, pregnant and verging on labour, will have to emancipate herself and go on an adventure in order to join them during a state of emergency in Morocco.

An under-the-radar Focus Features title (that the BFI London programmers will want to get their hands on as well) British writer-director Nida Manzoor makes her debut in feature film after several television stints. Polite Society is an action-comedy with Priya Kansara toplining as a schoolgirl, and martial artist-in-training, who dreams of becoming a world-renowned stunt woman. When Ria witnesses her big sister Lena give up on her dreams by dropping out of art school and getting engaged, Ria’s world is shaken.

Currently in a creative overdrive, veteran helmer Catherine Hardwicke (TIFF’15 – Miss You Already) should see her Prisoner’s Daughter jailbreak next. Featuring Brian Cox and Kate Beckinsale, this tells the story of Max (Cox), a tough but proud ex-con, who’s struggling to find a way to reconnect with his only daughter Maxine (Beckinsale), as well as his grandson; once he begins an attempt at reconciliation, his violent past once again catches up to him.

Perhaps Toronto-based filmmaker Joseph Amenta (TIFF’19 – Flood (short)) will get to premiere his feature micro indie debut to the home crowd. A participant at the TIFF Talent Lab in 2019, Amenta’s Pussy follows three adolescent friends who become enraptured in the queer nightlife scene over summer break before a missing persons pulls them back into the reality they have chosen to leave behind.

Up until yesterday this was an A24 title and going by Red, White, And Water, now it’s an Apple TV+ acquisition and officially called Causeway. American theatre director Lila Neugebauer‘s feature debut will now receive a theatrical release. This is about a US soldier who suffers a traumatic brain injury while fighting in Afghanistan and struggles to adjust to life back home in New Orleans. Jennifer Lawrence toplines.

Icelandic filmmaker Asa Helga Hjörleifsdottir premiered her feature debut, The Swan at TIFF in 2017. Her next project in fiction is the book-to-film project Reply To A Letter From Helga. Set in remote fjord in 1940’s Iceland, where young farmer Bjarni and aspiring poet Helga begin a passionate, forbidden affair, emotions running as wild as the ocean waves that surround them. Hera Hilmar toplines. This is receiving a domestic Iceland release in September.

Music video director Grant Singer made the move into feature filmmaking, first with a docu and now with this Netflix-backed project. Featuring Benicio Del Toro, Justin Timberlake, Alicia Silverstone, Michael Pitt, Ato Essandoh and Frances Fisher, Reptile follows the brutal murder of a young real estate agent, following a hardened detective (Del Toro) as he attempts to uncover the truth in a case where nothing is as it seems. In doing so, he finds himself dismantling the illusions in his own life.

A gangster biopic based on the 2015 book Alles oder Nix by the German hip hop rapper and label boss Xatar, Fatih Akin (TIFF’17 – In the Fade)’s latest film will have its domestic German premiere on October 27th. Rheingold could be an option for Venice, but since TIFF are into films with a music component we’re feeling that this might make a world preem TIFF splash instead.

Populated with thesps Ariane Castellanos and Marc-André Grondin, French Canadian filmmaker Pier-Philippe Chevigny (TIFF’19 – short film Recrue) moved into his feature film debut with Richelieu. This is about a newly hired French to Spanish translator, a young woman who takes a stand against her own superiors to defend temporary Guatemalan workers from the abuse they suffer.

Australian Daina Reid television director moved into feature film terrain with actress Sarah Snook as the top billing in Run Rabbit Run. This is about a fertility doctor who believes firmly in life and death, but after noticing the strange behavior of her young daughter, she must challenge her own values and confront a ghost from her past.

The word on the street is that Netflix is looking to drop Rustin into next year’s cal. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom director George C. Wolfe directed the Netflix-backed project starring Colman Domingo, Chris Rock, Glynn Turman, Audra McDonald and Jeffrey Wright. Written by Dustin Lance Black, this tells the story of how Rustin overcame an onslaught of obstacles and altered the course of American history by organizing the 1963 March on Washington. This was produced by Michelle and Barack Obama’s Higher Ground.

With a September 9th release with Searchlight Pictures, See How They Run would have to be positioned as the opening film of the fest. Sam Rockwell, Harris Dickinson, Saoirse Ronan, Adrien Brody, Ruth Wilson, Shirley Henderson, David Oyelowo and Sian Clifford find themselves in the tale of a desperate Hollywood film producer sets out to turn a popular play into a film. When members of the production are murdered, world-weary Inspector Stoppard and rookie Constable Stalker find themselves in the midst of a puzzling whodunit. This is Tom George‘s directorial debut.

Unless Sharper is an Out of Comp selection on the Lido, we should be seeing Venice Jury president Julianne Moore enjoy a staycation and then, move over to her usual pitstop that is TIFF with Benjamin Caron‘s feature debut. An Apple TV+ project that has not yet been dated, Moore (who plays a con artist in Manhattan’s billionaire echelon) is joined by Sebastian Stan, Justice Smith, Briana Middleton. This was a Black List project.

A project that is giving us some major Spotlight vibes, if Maria Schrader (TIFF’21 – I’m Your Man) follows suit then it has a chance at hitting paydirt with a Venice-Telluride-Toronto trifecta. Universal Pictures have set She Said for a November 18th release date and have better ties with Toronto. Tom Pelphrey, Carey Mulligan, Samantha Morton and Zoe Kazan star in the book to film adaption of the journalists from The New York Times who exposed Harvey Weinstein’s history of abuse and sexual misconduct against women.

John Ridley had a great 2013 TIFF when he preemed All Is by My Side and 12 Years a Slave (as a scribe). He could return to the fest with Shirley – which tells the story of trailblazing political icon Shirley Chisholm – the first Black Congresswoman and the first Black woman to run for President of the U.S. This stars Lance Reddick, Lucas Hedges, André Holland, Terrence Howard, Christina Jackson, Michael Cherrie, Dorian Missick and Regina King as Chisholm. Netflix has not yet attached a release date to the project.

A Berlinale, Rotterdam and Sundance filmmaker with her first three films, with Silver Haze, Dutch filmmaker Sacha Polak could premiere in a section such as TIFF’s Platform section. A winner at Les Arcs’s Industry Village Awards, this is a love story and a coming-of-age film in the backdrop of London and during the pandemic.

With all three of his feature film outputs Ex-drummer (2007), 22nd of May (2010) and Angel (2018) being selected for Toronto, Koen Mortier might be looking to four-peat with Skunk. Featuring Dirk Roofthooft, Boris Van Severen, Natali Broods, Colin Van Eeckhout, Sarah Vandeursen and Thibaud Frank Dooms, this book-to-film follows the fate of a family who are dysfunctional, to put it mildly, and whose daily existence is marked by alcohol, sex and violence. Their life is seen through the eyes of a young hero, Liam, a neglected teen who, after spending years locked up in a damp basement, relentlessly watching the same film, and endless bullying at school, winds up in a detention centre where he tries to find comfort with his fellow inmates, and some horses.

South Korean Ryoo Seung-wan filmmaker from Crying Fist fame might tempt Midnight Madness programmers with Smuggle – a 1970s action crime film set in a small, peaceful village by the sea. Kim Hye Soo and Yum Jung Ah star as two women who get unexpectedly caught up in a high-stakes smuggling scheme. Jo In Sung, Park Jung Min, Go Min Si, and Kim Jong Soo are the supporting players.

Seeing that The Eyes of Tammy Faye played out especially well for its TIFF preem and despite the long lead (theatrical is only on December 16th), Focus Features might  consider sending Michael Showalter‘s possible tearjerker to what would be a gala showcase and easily in contention for the People’s Choice Award. Spoiler Alert: The Hero Dies tells the story of Michael Ausiello and Kit Cowan’s relationship that takes a tragic turn when Cowan is diagnosed with terminal cancer. Sally Field and Jim Parsons topline.

For her fourth feature titled Stellar, Anishinaabe filmmaker Darlene Naponse (TIFF’18 – Falls Around Her) enlisted Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers, Braeden Clarke and Rossif Sutherland in a film that follows two indigenous characters in a chance encounter that sets off a cosmic and environmental connection that seeks to restore the past, while bringing hope to the future.

Her father Terry has had successful premieres at the festival, and now it could be Oorlagh George‘s turn to cross TIFF off her bucketlist. Stranger With A Camera is about a troubled teenager stranded in an Irish village after her father is arrested for a 17-year-old murder tied to the IRA. Compelled by her father’s secrecy, she teams with a delinquent cousin to discover more about their family secrets. Ellie Bamber toplines George’s feature debut.

Freshly selected for the competition section at San Sebastian, Mikel Gurrea‘s Suro tells the story of a couple in crisis as they inherit a farmhouse in rural Catalonia and leave the city to start a new life. Their last chance to get by is to try and resume the cork extraction from the oak tree forests within their property. However, their condition as outsider landowners and the rising tension between local cork peelers and immigrant workers force them to choose between changing the environment or adapting to it. This receives a December domestic release in Spain.

Music video director Anthony Mandler moved to features when his debut Monster preemed at Sundance in 2018. His sophomore feature Surrounded is about a former Buffalo Soldier Mo Washington travels West to lay claim on a gold mine. After her stagecoach is ambushed, Mo is tasked with holding a dangerous outlaw captive and must survive the day when the bandit’s gang tries to free him. Brett Gelman, Jamie Bell, Letitia Wright, Jeffrey Donovan and Michael Kenneth Williams (in his last role) star.

Come back tomorrow for part III. Let us know which of these titles will float to the top!

Eric Lavallée is the founder, CEO, editor-in-chief, film journalist, and critic at IONCINEMA.com, established in 2000. A regular at Sundance, Cannes, and Venice, Eric holds a BFA in film studies from the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema. In 2013, he served on the narrative competition jury at the SXSW Film Festival. He was an associate producer on Mark Jackson’s "This Teacher" (2018 LA Film Festival, 2018 BFI London). In 2022, he was a New Flesh Juror for Best First Feature at the Fantasia International Film Festival. Current top films for 2023 include The Zone of Interest (Glazer), Inside the Yellow Cocoon Shell (Pham Thien An), Totem (Lila Avilés), La Chimera (Alice Rohrwacher), All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt (Raven Jackson).

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