The 2016 Toronto International Film Festival has announced the first 67 films that will play in their prestigious Galas and Special Presentation slots. Last year’s Oscar-winning Irish drama Room played there, winning the People Choice award and setting itself firmly as a contender for awards season. This year 4 Irish films will hope to emulate that success.
Timothy Spall stars as the Reverend Doctor Ian Paisley and Colm Meaney as Martin McGuinness in Nick Hamm’s new Northern Irish drama The Journey. The Journey is directed by Hamm (Killing Bono) from a script by Colin Bateman (Divorcing Jack), and sees the two Northern Irish leaders forced to take a short journey together, and finding a way to work together to form the future of their country. The film also stars John Hurt, as well as Toby Stephens (Believe, The Machine) and Freddie Highmore (The Golden Compass). Hamm, Mark Huffam (The Martian) and Piers Tempest (Like Minds) are producing, with financing coming from Stuart Ford’s IM Global and Northern Ireland Screen.
There are a large number of Irish/Canadian co-productions ready for release, and Aisling Walsh’s Maudie could well be the sleeper-hit of them all. The film is written by Sherry White, and based on the true story of internationally celebrated folk artist Maud Lewis. The film follows Maud, who was born with a severe form of arthritis that limited her physical abilities. She is hired by Everett Lewis as his housekeeper, but unfortunately turns out to be terrible with housework. But when she begins to cover the walls of his tiny home with her colourful paintings Everett unexpectedly finds himself falling in love with the little, bright-eyed woman who sees nothing but colour and beauty in the world. Maudie stars Sally Hawkins in the title role, with Ethan Hawke as Everett. The film shot in Canada with Guy Godfree as cinematographer. Post-production took place in Windmill Lane is world renowned for its recording studio, music video production & commercials, VFX work and audio for Film, TV and Animation., with Stephen O’Connell as editor. Susan Mullen of Parallel Film Productions produces, alongside Small Shack Productions, and Painted House Films. Financing comes from the Fís Éireann/Screen Ireland (FÉ/SI) is the national development agency for Irish filmmaking and the Irish film, television and animation industry., Mongrel Media, Telefilm Canada, Newfoundland Film Development Corporation, Ontario Media Development Corporation, The Harold Greenberg Fund, and Corner Piece Capital.
Commenting on the selection director Aisling Walsh said:
I am absolutely delighted that Maudie has been selected to screen at TIFF. This film has been a passion project of mine since I first came across the story of Maud Lewis and her Painted House. Maud’s passion for painting and her love of life despite her disabilities is a story that I found so inspiring.
A big-hitter at the festival will be Jim Sheridan’s The Secret Scripture. The film, which is an adaptation of Sebastian Barry’s 2008 Man Booker Prize nominated novel of the same name, is the story of a one-hundred-year-old woman, Roseanne McNulty, who now residing in Roscommon Regional Mental Hospital decides to write her autobiography. Lady Rose is an elderly woman who has lived in a hospital for 40 years. Despite her bleak surroundings there is a light in her eyes that cannot be extinguished. Dr Greene is drawn to her, compelled to discover her past and gain her freedom. Through her scripture we reveal a life of extraordinary love, great injustice and a remarkable young woman of courage whose only crime was to fall in love yet she survives the system’s brutal violations. Set against a backdrop of troubled times locally and chaos internationally we learn of her ultimate triumph. American star Rooney Mara plays the younger Rose, with screen legend Vanessa Redgrave playing Rose in her older years. These are supported by Australian actor Eric Bana, and rising UK star Theo James, as well as Irish actors Jack Reynor, Aidan Turner, and Tom Vaughan-Lawlor. Six-time Academy Award nominee Sheridan co-wrote the screenplay with the late Johnny Ferguson. Director of photography Mikhail Krichman worked on the brilliant Russian film Leviathan, and composer Brian Byrne has previously worked with Sheridan on In America. The film is edited by Dermot Diskin (Wake Wood, Moscow Never Sleeps), with production design by Derek Wallace (Good Vibrations, The Sea). The Secret Scripture, which is produced by Noel Pearson and Rob Quigley for Ferndale Films in association with Voltage Pictures, is financed by the Irish Film Board/Bord Scannán na hÉireann, the Ingenious Senior Film Fund, Apollo Media, and the European Media Fund.
Commenting on the selection director Jim Sheridan said:
It was so good to be back home to make this film. I loved bringing Sebastian Barry’s moving novel to the big screen and I feel honoured for the freedom he gave me. Irish novels and stories are loved by people all over the world. Like Robbie Brady, I hope we can hit the back of the net with this one like Room and Brooklyn did. Fingers crossed. I’m also delighted to have a chance to bring the amazing cast back together for the world premiere.
Another Irish/Canadian co-production set to premiere in Toronto is Alan Gilsenan’s Unless. The film, which is scripted by Gilsenan, is based on the award-winning and final novel from Canadian author Carol Shields. It follows a successful writer struggling to come to terms with her daughter’s decision to withdraw from the world and start pan-handling on a street corner. Academy Award nominee Catherine Keener is in the leading role, alongside Matt Craven, Brendan Coyle, Hannah Gross, Chloe Rose, Abigail Winter, Martha Henry, and Hanna Schygulla. Unless is produced by Jennifer Kawaja and Julia Sereny of Sienna Films, and Tristan Orpen Lynch and Aoife O’Sullivan of Dublin-based Subotica. Multiple The Irish Film and Television Academy (IFTA) is an all-Ireland organisation with a Membership of 1,240 individuals across 14 Chapters of Discipline. award-winning film editor Emer Reynolds oversaw post-production, with Celiana Cardenas as Cinematographer, Production design from Tim Bider, and music from Jonathan Goldsmith. The film is financed with the financial participation of the Irish Film Board/Bord Scannán na hÉireann, Telefilm Canada, the Ontario Media Development Corporation (OMDC), Mongrel Media, Premiere Fund and Windmill Lane Pictures, with development funding by Super Channel.
Commenting on the news director Alan Gilsenan said:
I’m delighted that Unless will have its world premiere in Toronto. It’s seems fitting somehow that the film will be screened first in the city in which the story is set, but I’m sorry that the wonderful Carol Shields – upon whose best-selling book it’s based – isn’t still around to see it.
Irish talent will be on display with Andrea Arnold’s American Honey, which had cinematography by Robbie Ryan; J.A. Bayona’s A Monster Calls, starring Liam Neeson; Jeff Nichols’ Loving, starring Ruth Negga; Mick Jackson’s Denial, featuring Andrew Scott; and Adam Smith’s Trepass Against Us, which features Michael Fassbender, Brendan Gleeson, Killian Scott, and Barry Keoghan is an Irish actor from Summerhill in Dublin, best known for his roles in Dunkirk and The Killing of a Sacred Deer..
The 2016 Toronto International Film Festival takes place in the Canadian city from September 8th to 18th.
Opening Night Film
The Magnificent Seven – Antoine Fuqua, USA
Closing Night Film
The Edge of Seventeen – Kelly Fremon Craig, USA
Arrival – Denis Villeneuve, USA
Deepwater Horizon – Peter Berg, USA
The Headhunter’s Calling – Mark Williams, Canada
The Journey is the Destination – Bronwen Hughes, United Kingdom/South Africa
JT + The Tennessee Kids – Jonathan Demme, USA
LBJ – Rob Reiner, USA
Lion – Garth Davis, Australia
Loving – Jeff Nichols, USA
A Monster Calls – J.A. Bayona, USA/Spain
Planetarium – Rebecca Zlotowski, France/Belgium
Queen of Katwe – Mira Nair, South Africa/Uganda
The Rolling Stones Olé Olé Olé! : A Trip Across Latin America – Paul Dugdale, United Kingdom
The Secret Scripture – Jim Sheridan, Ireland
Snowden – Oliver Stone, Germany/USA
Strange Weather – Katherine Dieckmann, USA
Their Finest – Lone Scherfig, United Kingdom
A United Kingdom – Amma Asante, United Kingdom
The Age of Shadows – (Miljeong), Kim Jee woon, South Korea
All I See Is You – Marc Forster, Thailand
American Honey – Andrea Arnold, USA
American Pastoral – Ewan McGregor, USA
Asura: The City of Madness – Kim Sung-soo, South Korea
Barakah Meets Barakah – (Barakah yoqabil Barakah), Mahmoud Sabbagh, Saudi Arabia
Barry – Vikram Gandhi, USA
Birth of the Dragon – George Nolfi, USA/China/Canada
The Birth of a Nation – Nate Parker, USA
Bleed for This – Ben Younger, USA
Blue Jay – Alex Lehmann USA
Brimstone – Martin Koolhoven, Netherlands/Germany/France/Belgium/Sweden/United Kingdom
Brotherhood – Noel Clarke, United Kingdom
Carrie Pilby – Susan Johnson, USA
Catfight – Onur Tukel, USA
City of Tiny Lights – Pete Travis, United Kingdom
The Commune – (Kollektivet), Thomas Vinterberg, Denmark/Sweden/Netherlands
Daguerrotype – (Le Secret de la chambre noire), Kiyoshi Kurosawa, France/Japan/Belgium
A Death in the Gunj – Konkona Sensharma, India
Denial – Mick Jackson, USA/United Kingdom
Elle – Paul Verhoeven, France
Foreign Body – (Jassad Gharib, Corps Etranger), Raja Amari, Tunisia/France
Frantz – François Ozon, France/Germany
The Handmaiden – (Agassi), Park Chan-wook, South Korea
Harmonium – (Fuchi ni tatsu), Kôji Fukada, Japan/France
I Am Not Madame Bovary – Feng Xiaogang, China
The Journey – Nick Hamm, United Kingdom
King of the Dancehall – Nick Cannon, USA/Jamaica
La La Land – Damien Chazelle, USA
The Limehouse Golem – Juan Carlos Medina, United Kingdom
Manchester by the Sea – Kenneth Lonergan, USA
Maudie – Aisling Walsh, Canada/Ireland
Neruda – Pablo Larraín, Chile/Argentina/Spain/France
Nocturnal Animals – Tom Ford, USA/United Kingdom
The Oath – Baltasar Kormákur, Iceland
Orphan – (Orpheline), Arnaud des Pallières, France
Paris Can Wait – Eleanor Coppola, USA
Paterson – Jim Jarmusch, USA
The Salesman – Asghar Farhadi
Salt and Fire – Werner Herzog, Germany/USA/France/Mexico
Sing – Garth Jennings, USA/France
Souvenir – Bavo Defurne, Belgium/Luxembourg/France
Things to Come – (L’Avenir), Mia Hansen-Løve, France/Germany
Toni Erdmann – Maren Ade, Germany
Trespass Against Us – Adam Smith, United Kingdom
Una – Benedict Andrews, United Kingdom
Unless – Alan Gilsenan – Canada/Ireland
The Wasted Times – (Luo Man Di Ke Xiao Wang Shi) Cheng Er, China