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TIFF adds to Vanguard & Midnight Madness slate

Today’s TIFF Vanguard section add-ons are primarily comprised of Cannes selections, directorial debuts (girls watch out for a certain Mexican actor turned director) and international fair that defy easy categorization and have reaped some awards along the way. Also added to the Midnight Madness section are the highly awaited films from Dario Argento and Takashi Miike – both titles will be high up on the IONCINEMA coverage list. Here are the added titles along with descriptions.  

VANGUARD TITLES

PARANOID PARK Gus Van Sant, France
Alex (Gabe Nevins), a teenaged skateboarder, is at the centre of a criminal investigation after a security guard is killed near a skate park. Through non-linear fragments of action, voiced memories, skating scenes and Alex's inner conflict, his connection to the case is made clear. Like Van Sant's recent trilogy (GERRY, ELEPHANT and LAST DAYS) the sophisticated PARANOID PARK, based on the novel by Blake Nelson, is a provocative work about the human condition.

DÉFICIT Gael García Bernal, Mexico
Mexican star Gael García Bernal's compelling directorial debut is about a 20-something rich kid named Cristobal (Bernal) and a party he throws over a weekend. The clash between his and his younger sister's friends is comic and intense; class differences also reveal a unique social commentary on the state of Mexico.

CHRYSALIS Julien Leclercq, France
In Julien Leclercq's action feature debut, a lieutenant returns to the line of duty to hunt down a dangerous smuggler behind a series of murders, including his wife's own. The investigation leads him to a state-of-the-art clinic where memories are a precious and highly coveted commodity. Starring Albert Dupontel, Estelle Lefébure, Marie Guillard, Marthe Keller and Mélanie Thierry.

EX DRUMMER Koen Mortier, Belgium
Three disabled punk rockers find their perfect drummer in the uber-hip and arrogant author Dries, except for the fact that he can't actually play drums. Dries' unscrupulous behaviour sets off tension within the band, as family vendettas and personal disputes begin to jeopardize their fragile future. Set to a blood-soaked, sweat-drenched punk rock soundtrack, Koen Mortier's debut feature is as coarsely gruesome, sexually raunchy and blackly comic as the novel – by controversial writer Herman Brusselmans – on which it is based.

HELP ME EROS Lee Kang-sheng, Taiwan
From acclaimed actor Lee Kang-sheng comes a darkly comic and sexually daring tale that follows a young, penniless stock broker (Lee) who consoles himself with marijuana grown in his apartment closet. In his misery, he calls a suicide help line and falls for his counsellor, then sets a love triangle in motion when he projects his fantasy of her onto another girl who sells nuts at a nearby stall.

ME Rafa Cortés, Spain
The feature-directorial debut from Spain's Rafa Cortés, ME sees the writer-director musing on the place of his birth – the island of Majorca. When Hans (co-writer Alex Brendemühl) arrives in a small island town to take up work as a caretaker, his presence persistently invokes memories of the previous caretaker, also named Hans – memories that hang heavily over him as he searches and struggles to find an identity to call his own.

PING PONG PLAYA' Jessica Yu, USA
Streetwise swaggering Christopher “C-dub” Wang is a suburban guy who waxes political on all things Asian American and clings to pro basketball pipe dreams. But when misfortune strikes his family, C-dub must overcome living at home, working a dead-end job and his worldly older brother, to run his Mom's ping pong classes and defend the family's athletic dynasty.

XXY Lucía Puenzo, Argentina/Spain/France
Fifteen-year old Alex carries a heavy secret about her gender status and, at puberty, must make a decision one way or the other. But friends visiting from the family's former hometown with their 16-year-old son, Álvaro, and the inevitable attraction between teenagers, complicates matters.

MIDNIGHT MADNESS TITLES

THE MOTHER OF TEARS Dario Argento, Italy/USA
Italian horror fans rejoice! The maestro of cinematic murder, Dario Argento, is back with the long-awaited conclusion of his The Three Mothers trilogy (SUSPIRIA and INFERNO were the first two films) with THE MOTHER OF TEARS. Archaeology student Sarah Mandy (Asia Argento, the director's daughter) opens an ancient urn that releases the demonic forces of a powerful witch. Havoc explodes in the streets of Rome as waves of suicide and violent crime herald the dark priestess' rebirth. The Age of Witches is at hand, but Sarah is the only one who can save the world from descending into a hellstorm of supernatural chaos. Also starring Udo Kier and Daria Nicolodi.

SUKIYAKI WESTERN DJANGO Takashi Miike, Japan
Tighten your saddlebags, load your revolvers and pack your chopsticks for cult cinema bad boy Takashi Miike's audacious wagon ride mash-up into the wild, wild east. A familiar spaghetti western premise that involves a mysterious stranger arriving into the middle of two clans feuding over hidden loot gets sliced and diced into new Americana-Kabuki-baroque fare: Buddhist temples sit alongside saloons, samurai swords hang from gun belts and sake flows with blood. Blue-eyed samurai Quentin Tarantino makes his first Japanese film appearance in Miike's first English language film. Starring Hideaki Ito, Koichi Sato, Yusuke Iseya, Yoshino Kimura, and Masanobu Ando.

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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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