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Your Guide to TIFF 2013’s Hottest Films


TIFF's opening-night premiere is The Fifth Estate

TIFF’s opening-night premiere is The Fifth Estate

The Fifth Estate
If information wants to be free, who among us should be able to release it, and at what cost? These questions are at the centre of TIFF’s opening-night premiere, which dramatizes the origins of WikiLeaks and its role in the publication of an enormous cache of confidential U.S. intelligence documents. Benedict Cumberbatch, in the most prominent of his three on-screen roles at this year’s festival (the ‘Batch can also be seen in 12 Years a Slave and August: Osage County), portrays WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, the world’s foremost anti-secrecy advocate.

12 Years a Slave
English director Steve McQueen’s latest seems a significant departure from his two previous films, the searing Hunger and sex-addiction downer Shame. Where those movies were unflinching character studies with little in the way of redemption, 12 Years a Slave is purported to be a triumphant based-on-true-events story of courage and perseverance—Chiwetel Ejiofor stars as a man who is kidnapped and sold into slavery in 19th-century America. You can probably guess what happens once those titular 12 years pass.

You Are Here stars Owen Wilson and Zach Galifianakis

You Are Here stars Owen Wilson and Zach Galifianakis

You Are Here
Film festivals rarely prove to be hotbeds of comedic hijinks; this year’s TIFF is no exception. One can surmise, however, that You Are Here may offer at least a flicker of lightness. The first cinematic effort of Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner boasts a cast of (usually) funny folks, including Owen Wilson, Zach Galifianakis, and Amy Poehler, all of whom become embroiled in a battle over the fate of a family fortune.

Labor Day
Poignant and affecting aren’t typically adjectives one would associate with a story about a depressed single mom, her son, and the escaped convict they pick up on the side of the road, but those words have indeed been bandied about in relation to Jason Reitman’s latest directorial effort. Kate Winslet and Josh Brolin are the thesps charged with making a connection—between themselves and with audiences—in a potential awards-season sleeper hit.

Godfrey Reggio, the director responsible for the visionary Qatsi trilogy of documentaries, premieres his newest piece of cinema in dramatic fashion: the film, a non-verbal narrative about humanity’s relationship with technology, features a score by Philip Glass that will be performed live by members of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra.

Blue is the Warmest Color won the Palme d'Or at Cannes

Blue is the Warmest Color won the Palme d’Or at Cannes

Blue is the Warmest Color
This languid love story about two young women wowed the critics in France—this spring it picked up Cannes’ Palme d’Or for best picture and earned raves for its two lead actresses. Be warned, though, that the film does include some rather explicit sex scenes, as well as a three-hour runtime.

The Unknown Known
Errol Morris’s The Fog of War, about former U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara, won the 2003 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. Ten years later, the renowned filmmaker focuses on an equally controversial figure: Donald Rumsfeld, defense secretary under both presidents Gerald Ford and George W. Bush, and a chief architect of the war in Iraq.

Every film festival—and awards season—needs a marquee ensemble drama, and this detective story about a father and his missing child certainly looks to fit the bill. The first English-language feature from Quebec director Denis Villeneuve (Polytechnique, Incendies) presents a pedigreed cast including Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Paul Dano, Melissa Leo, Maria Bello, Viola Davis and Terrence Howard.

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