2022 Toronto Intl. Film Festival: 100 Predictions (Part III) Chen, Frears, Zeller, Lafleur, Spielberg & Polley
And here we are with the third part in our top 100 predictions.
Chad Chenouga‘s third feature film Le Principal might be one of those unassuming, perfectly calibrated French dramas that connect with auds — school settings can always land an emotional punch. Starring Roschdy Zem, Yolande Moreau and Marina Hands, this is about parents, students, teachers and one specific principle.
A possible horror offering for the Midnight Madness section, Australian twin brothers Danny & Michael Philippou (aka Racka Racka) lassoed Sophie Wilde to topline a story of a group of friends who discover how to conjure spirits using an ancient embalmed hand. The group goes too far when one of them opens the door to the spirit world. Talk To Me also stars Miranda Otto, Alexandra Jensen, Marcus Johnson, Zoe Terakes, Otis Dhanji. Max doesn’t dream of making green walls for five-star hotels. Tenacious landscaper, committed but cornered, he fights to create a wild garden, without fence, in the heart of downtown Marseille: a plant area open to all. After years of rejection, his project reached the final stage of an architecture competition.
Tom Stern & Celyn Jones combined forces for what could be a grounded crowd-pleaser in The Almond And The Sea Horse. Starring Rebel Wilson and Jones who play an archaeologist and an architect as they fight to re-imagine a future after a traumatic brain injury leaves them adrift from the people they love. This is a first film for both directors.
Anthony Chen (TIFF’19 – Wet Season) has been uber busy as of late moving into projects developed from a little bit everywhere. One film on his docket is the Mainland China-produced The Breaking Ice. Starring Zhou Dongyu, Liu Haoran and Qu Chuxiao, the film follows the blossoming relationship among three young adults in their twenties, set over a short few days in the winter snow.
Best Picture winner Peter Farrelly (TIFF’18 – Green Book) might consider himself lucky as Apple TV+ is coming off the biggest Oscar win of their own and are the ones who are backing his latest feature. Recently stamped with a September 30th release, the book-to-film adaptation of The Greatest Beer Run Ever features Stars Russell Crowe, Zac Efron and Bill Murray and tells the story of leaving New York in 1967 to bring beer to his childhood buddies in the Army while they are fighting in Vietnam. NYFF could attempt to nab the world preem if the September three don’t lasso the project.
More of a guest of the Berlinale, for North Macedonian filmmaker Teona Strugar Mitevska‘s (TIFF’07 – I Am from Titov Veles) fifth feature film we move over to Sarajevo. The Happiest Man in the World tells the story of Asja, a 40-year-old single woman and Zoran, a 43-year-old banker. They meet at a dating event. Zoran is not there looking for love though, but for forgiveness. During the war in 1993 he was shooting at the city from the opposite side, and he wants to meet his first victim. Now, they both have to relive the pain in their search for forgiveness. We imagine the film team is gunning for a Venice unveiling, but TIFF would give this a premium showcase – perhaps the Platform section.
Steven Spielberg isn’t a film fest kind of guy so it would be a big deal for Toronto if they manage to secure The Fabelmans. To be released by Universal on November 11th, this is a semi-autobiographical film about Spielberg’s adolescence as an aspiring filmmaker in Arizona. Michelle Williams, Seth Rogen, Paul Dano, Judd Hirsch, Sam Rechner, Oakes Fegley, Chloe East, Julia Butters, Jeannie Berlin, Robin Bartlett, Jonathan Hadary and Isabelle Kusman toppling the project. *** Note this was announced as a World Premiere selection.
I might be jumping the gun by a full year here, but when is the last time that an Alexander Payne (TIFF’04 – Sideways / TIFF’11 – The Descendants) was in post and didn’t have a distributor already line-up? Pretty much never. In The Holdovers, Paul Giamatti returns to the Payne camp to play the unlikeable teacher Paul Hunham. With no family and nowhere to go over Christmas holiday in 1970, Paul remains at school to supervise students unable to journey home. After a few days, only one student holdover remains — a trouble-making 15-year-old named Angus. Again chances are slim for a ’22 premiere.
A 2018 Cannes Cinéfondation project, The Last Queen is French-Algerian Damien Ounouri (TIFF’12 – Fidaï) first foray into fiction. Starring Adila Bendimerad, Imane Noel, Nabil Asli and Nadia Tereszkiewicz, this is set in the Mediterranean port city of Algiers in 1516, it revolves around the heroic female figure of Zaphira, who stood up to the infamous pirate Barbarossa after he killed her husband King Salim Toumi, took control of the city and demanded her hand in marriage.
Fans of Jeff Goldblum should expect to see him in a low budget, book to film adaptation sometime soon. First time feature helmer Tony Hagger‘s The Liar is an LGBTQ+ coming-of-age spy caper detailing the reckless, irreverent life of Adrian Healey as he negotiates school and Cambridge university. It is at Cambridge that Adrian meets the mysterious professor of English Trefusis, who may or may not be a spy and may or may not have recruited Adrian.
Though he has directed plenty of television, it’s been almost 15 years since veteran actor and filmmaker Steve Buscemi directed a feature. Interview premiered at Sundance in 2007 and shot somewhat under the radar, The Listener might preem in 2022. Enlisting Tessa Thompson, this is about a helpline volunteer who is part of the small army that gets on the phone every night, fielding calls from all kinds of people feeling lonely, broken, etc. This is based on a screenplay by Alessandro Camon (The Messenger).
No stranger to Toronto, veteran filmmaker Stephen Frears lassoed Steve Coogan and Sally Hawkins for The Lost King. This is about the 2012 discovery of King Richard III’s remains. Hawkins will play Philippa Langley, the woman who uncovered the remains which had been lost for 500 years.
If STXfilms decide to go all in running against all the distribs jockeying for awards positioning, then we might find The Marsh King’s Daughter in some major Gala slot. Neil Burger (TIFF’08 – The Lucky Ones / TIFF’17 The Upside) directs Daisy Ridley, Ben Mendelsohn and Garrett Hedlund in the book-to-film project about a woman who was abducted when she was young along with her mother and is forced to confront her past after her infamous father escapes from prison.
Set with a November 18th release, perhaps the Searchlight Pictures folks will want to showcase the appetizing little genre number. Mark Mylod‘s The Menu is loaded up with a cast comprised of Anya Taylor-Joy, Ralph Fiennes, Hong Chau, Nicholas Hoult, John Leguizamo, Janet McTeer and Judith Light. This is a psychological thriller set in the world of eccentric culinary culture, centering on a young couple who visit an exclusive restaurant on a remote island where an acclaimed chef has prepared a lavish tasting menu.
Yet another possible Netflix world premiere on our list of predix, The Mothership stars one of TIFF’s faves in Halle Barry. The sci-fi adventure follows Sara Morse (Berry) one year since her husband mysteriously vanished from their rural farm. When she discovers a strange, extraterrestrial object underneath their home, Sara and her kids embark on a race to find their husband, father, and most importantly – the truth. This is scribe Matthew Charman‘s directorial debut. Molly Parker and Omari Hardwick co-star.
Workhorse Emmy-winning director Claire Scanlon got behind rom-com/book to film adaptation of The People We Hate at the Wedding alongside trio Allison Janney, Kristen Bell and Ben Platt. This follows struggling American siblings Alice (Bell) and Paul (Platt), who reluctantly agree to attend the wedding of their estranged, wealthy half-sister in the English countryside alongside their mother, Donna (Janney). Over the course of the wedding week, the family’s skeletons are wrenched from the closet. Amazon Studios have not dated the film yet.
With a career that has balanced a bit of television with feature films, Rod Lurie (TIFF’08 – Nothing But the Truth) moves to another film for grown-ups with this drama starring Mary Stuart Masterson, Michael Chiklis and Rob Corddry. The Senior follows a man who, 37 years ago, was kicked off his collegiate football team for an altercation. Now at 59, he still carries that burden. He decides to go back to school to get his degree and try out for the team to redeem his past.
Florian Zeller (TIFF’20 – The Father) will see his film launch at either one select venue or could move up and down the entire fall fest season with showings at Telluride, Venice, Toronto, NUYFF and London BFI. Hugh Jackman, Laura Dern, Anthony Hopkins and Vanessa Kirby star in The Son, a tale that sees Peter (Jackman) who has his busy life with his new partner Emma and their baby and is thrown into disarray when his ex-wife Kate turns up with their teenage son, Nicholas. Sony Pictures Classics would tap Canadian partner Mongrel Media for a huge premiere.
Another Netflix project, the perfect life of an upper-middle-class woman’s begins to unravel with the arrival of two shadowy figures in her town in The Strays. A feature debut for actor writer Nathaniel Martello-White, this stars Ashley Madekwe, Bukky Bakray, Jorden Myrie, Justin Salinger, Samuel Small and newcomer Maria Almeida.
Long tipped as a Venice possibility, My Brother the Devil filmmaker Sally El Hosaini’s sophomore feature lassoed Matthias Schweighöfer, Ali Suliman, Krishna Floyd James and Ahmed Malek. A Netflix project, The Swimmers tells the true story of swimming sisters Yusra and Sarah Mardini’s journey as refugees from war-torn Syria all the way to the 2016 Rio Olympics. In 2015, after their house was destroyed in the Syrian Civil War, the Mardini sisters decided to flee the country. They made their way to Lebanon and then Turkey, where they arranged to be smuggled into Greece by dinghy.
Canadian filmmaker Sheila Pye (TIFF’11 The Red Virgin – short) moved into her feature film debut with the young cast of Maddy Martin, Jenna Warren, Sadie Rose and Madison Baines. The Young Arsonists follows four teenage girls during a 1980s summer of discovery, arson, friendship and death. Set amongst the sparse landscape of an isolated farming community, the girls band together to escape their desolate lives by reclaiming an abandoned farmhouse as their own.
Juel Taylor‘s sophomore film They Cloned Tyrone — a pulpy caper and sci-fi mystery in which an unlikely trio — portrayed by John Boyega, Jamie Foxx and Teyonah Parris — investigates a series of eerie events and thrusts an unlikely trio onto the trail of a nefarious government conspiracy. This is a Netflix release.
For her third feature film, Chinonye Chukwu (TIFF’19 – Clemency) moves into the real life assignment of Till (which Orion Pictures will release on October 14th). Starring Haley Bennett, Whoopi Goldberg, Frankie Faison, Sean Patrick Thomas and Jalyn Hall as Emmett Till, this is about his legacy and his mother’s pursuit of justice which became a galvanizing moment that helped lead to the creation of the civil rights movement. Mamie’s decision to have an open casket at Emmett’s funeral, and to have Jet magazine publish David Jackson’s funeral photos, was driven by her motivation to ensure people everywhere knew what had happened to her son.
I was surprised that Tuesday, an American-British drama-fantasy didn’t drop at Sundance and even more surprised that we have not gotten a whiff of it – but then again A24 painstakingly plan out each release and so Daina O. Pusic’s feature debut might drop here or even get an American indie exclusive window at Telluride. Featuring Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Lola Petticrew, Arinzé Kene and Leah Harvey, this is simply described as a mother-daughter fairytale.
English filmmaker Carol Morley (TIFF’18 – Out Of Blue) enlisted Monica Dolan, Kelly Macdonald and Gina McKee for what is essentially a different kind of road movie. Typist Artist Pirate King draws from the extensive archives of forgotten artist Audrey Amiss, the film is a road movie of her life, using real events and actual dialogue from Amiss’s letters and diaries to create an imaginary trip. The film explores the growing friendship between two women as they hit the road in an electric car looking for endings and reconciliation.
Quebecois filmmaker Stéphane Lafleur (TIFF’07 Continental, un film sans fusil / TIFF’14 Tu dors Nicole) got creative during the pandemic with his fourth feature film titled, Viking. Starring Steve Laplante, Larissa Corriveau, Fabiola N. Aladin, Hamza Haq, Denis Houle, Marie Brassard and Martin-David Peters, the Viking Society is recruiting volunteers to collaborate on the first manned mission to Mars. The objective is to form an alter ego B team who will live the adventure in parallel, behind closed doors on Earth, in the hope of remotely solving the interpersonal problems encountered by the five real astronauts who will soon land on the red planet.
With Venice Film Festival programmers announcing that The Draughtsman’s Contract (1982) has been restored and programmed in the Venice Classics section we are also reminded that Peter Greenaway could very feel present his long-gestating film Walking in Paris. Filmed approximately five years ago, Emun Elliott, Carla Juri, Paolo Bernardini and Remo Girone star in a tale set in the early 1900s, the story takes place when Brancusi was 27-year-old and follows his 18-month trek from Bucharest to Paris to reach the metropolis of world culture.
Norwegian television and film director Gunnar Vikene set himself up with an epic survival tale in War Sailor (aka Krigsseileren). This follows two Norwegian sailors whose merchant ship is attacked by German submarines at the outbreak of World War II. Kristoffer Joner, Pål Sverre Hagen and Ine Marie Wilmann star. This receives a domestic release in Norway on September 23rd.
Another book to film project, Jackie Earle Haley, Robin Wright, Billy Bob Thornton, Emma Booth, Brian d’Arcy James
star in Ben Young‘s third feature film. Where All Light Tends to Go is set in North Carolina’s Appalachian Mountains, eighteen-year-old Jacob McNeely is torn between appeasing his meth-dealing kingpin father and leaving the mountains forever with the girl he loves.
A VIP guest since 2005’s The Squid and the Whale, Noah Baumbach‘s White Noise could follow in the footsteps of Marriage Story and complete the Venice-Telluride-TIFF trifecta. The book-to-film project includes Adam Driver, Greta Gerwig, Raffey Cassidy, Jodie Turner-Smith, Lars Eidinger, Don Cheadle, André 3000 and the Nivola family: Alessandro, Sam and May.
The big question for Torontonian filmmaker Sarah Polley is does she pack her bags for glam Italy and mountain-wear or does she take the tram down a couple of blocks to a world premiere? Set for a December 2nd release, Orion Pictures might go one for big splash and maybe a NYFF U.S premiere for Women Talking. The book adaptation featuring powerhouse quintet Jessie Buckley, Rooney Mara, Ben Whishaw, Claire Foy and Frances McDormand tells the story of a group of women in an isolated religious colony as they struggle to reconcile their faith with a string of sexual assaults committed by the colony’s men.
A Netflix sci-fi fantasy project directed by Kim Tae-yong (TIFF’10 – Late Autumn), Wonderland is a story of a virtual world ‘Wonderland’. It is a simulated place for people to reunite with a person they may not meet again by using artificial intelligence. This stars Bae Suzy, Choi Woo-shik, Jung Yu-mi, Park Bo-gum, and the filmmaker’s wife, Tang Wei. A South Korean release is imminent.
The last prediction on our list could easily move into 2023. Black-ish creator and prolific writer Kenya Barris made his feature debut with Netflix backing the project. Jonah Hill, Eddie Murphy and Julia Louis-Dreyfus share top billing on the rom-com You People. This follows a new couple and their families, who find themselves examining modern love and family dynamics amidst clashing cultures, societal expectations and generational differences.
And that’s it folks! If you want to see the entire 100 predictions – click on the arrow below.
Eric Lavallée is the founder, CEO, editor-in-chief, film journalist and critic at IONCINEMA.com (founded in 2000). Eric is a regular at Sundance, Cannes and TIFF. He has a BFA in Film Studies at the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema. In 2013 he served as a Narrative Competition Jury Member 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 served as a New Flesh Comp for Best First Feature at the 2022 Fantasia Intl. Film Festival. Current top films for 2022 include Tár (Todd Field), All That Breathes (Shaunak Sen), Aftersun (Charlotte Wells).