Toronto 2015: Read our TIFF 40 preview

This week sees the red carpet rolling into the centre of the Ontario capital for the fortieth edition of the Toronto Film Festival. Giving a headache to keen festival-goers everywhere the anniversary line-up boasts a staggering 289 feature titles including a whopping 132 world premières. Bookending the festival will be Jean-Marc Vallée’s Demolition, which kicks things off on Thursday 10 September, and Paco Cabezas’ Mr. Right, which draws proceedings to a close ten days later. The latter is a murderous rom-com starring Anna Kendrick and Sam Rockwell, the former stars Jack Gyllenhaal, grief-stricken and prone to random acts of destruction. But with such an enormous roster of films to choose from, it doesn’t all hinge on the star-studded awards vehicles that may or not make their bow.

While the likes of Ridley Scott’s The Martian, Stephen Frears’ The Program and recent Venice bows such as The Danish Girl and Black Mass may steal much of the limelight, the beauty of the programme is that it’s packed with gems familiar faces and new names. Of particular interest this year may be the new competition strand – ‘Platform’ – which boasts the World Premier of British director Ben Wheatley’s J.G. Ballard adaptation High-Rise. A jury comprised of Claire Denis, Jia Zhange-ke and Agnieszka Holland will judge it alongside films including: Eva Husson’s racy Bang Gang; Ping He’s meditation on internal migration in China; and Joachim Lafosse’s latest effort The White Knights.

Elsewhere there is ample opportunity to stumble across work by some previously unknown filmmaker. Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah’s Black twists the bard for tale of star-crossed lovers in Brussels gangs; mental disability is thoughtfully tackled in Nitzan Gilady’s fantastic debut Wedding Doll; Ciro Guerra’s Embrace of the Serpent charts two parallel courses through the Amazon and is garnering favourable comparison to Werner Herzog’s Aguirre, the Wrath of God. The dark sides of German teenagers are evident in both We Monsters – which explores the moral implications of two parents covering up a murder committed by their daughter – and Der Nachtmahr, which sees a free-spirited party girl plagued by the appearance of a monstrous sprite that only she can see. The Toronto cinema-going public will have a chance to sample recent British output as London becomes the subject of this year’s ‘City to City’ strand, with Rufus Norris’ musical London Road and Owen Harris’ comedy romp Kill Your Friends both present. The auteurs of the Greek Weird Wave are also on call with Athina Rachel Tsangari’s Chevalier (her follow-up to Attenberg) and Yorgos Lanthimos bringing his first English-language film, The Lobster, to town after positive word from Cannes. Also on show from the Croisette are the new films from arthouse darlings such as Miguel Gomes (Arabian Nights), Paolo Sorrentino (Youth), Hou Hsiao-hsien (The Assassin) and Jia Zhang-ke (Mountains May Depart), plus Cannes prize-winners Rams and Son of Saul. New films from Michael Moore, Lenny Abrahamson, Pablo Larrain, Johnnie To, Chantal Akerman, Terence Davies and Hong Sang-soo offer just a glimpse of the riches in store for a suitably impressive fortieth anniversary line-up.

The Toronto International Film Festival takes place from 10-20 September 2015. For more coverage, follow this link.

Ben Nicholson | @BRNicholson

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