Toronto 2019: SYNCHRONIC, THE LONG WALK, And GUNS AKIMBO Are Coming to Town


Atiq Rahimi, Mati Diop, Gael García Bernal, Ladj Ly, Pema Tseden, Hikari, Rubaiyat Hossain, Karl Markovics, Nadav Lapid, Edward Burns, and Grímur Hákonarson included in this year’s selection of remarkable talent and award-winning directors

TORONTO — The 2019 Toronto International Film Festival® unveiled today the lineup for its 2019 Contemporary World Cinema (CWC) programme. The rich slate of titles from 48 countries features a wide range of thought-provoking stories that delve into cultural issues and social struggles in poetic and captivating ways. Introducing 21 works directed and co-directed by women, this year’s edition of CWC focuses on fractured families, self-exploration, female-driven narratives, and the consequences of social and political crises.

“Contemporary World Cinema is a place where different cultures meet,” said Kiva Reardon, International Programmer and new Lead Programmer for the section. “The vision for the programme is to help expand the cinematic canon and push the definition of what has previously been deemed as fundamental. This is a selection of essential, urgent cinema. It has been a pleasure to work with my fellow programmers in this new role to offer bold stories and invigorating films that ask our audiences to reflect on their position in the world.”

“Contemporary World Cinema is the heartbeat of the Festival,” said Cameron Bailey, TIFF Artistic Director and Co-Head. “This is where audiences feel the pulse of what’s happening now all around the world in screen storytelling. It takes a strong curatorial vision to shape that vast variety of films. I’m glad we have Kiva Reardon on the job as CWC Lead Programmer.”

With contributions from Cameron Bailey, Brad Deane, Giovanna Fulvi, Steve Gravestock, Dorota Lech, Michael Lerman, Michèle Maheux, Diana Sanchez, and Ravi Srinivasan, Reardon has decided to emphasize the importance of showing the current state of the world through the lens of international, deeply talented filmmakers who help guide us through the reality of our social and political environments.

The African continent is represented in the lineup by eight films beaming with creativity. Opening the programme is Atiq Rahimi’s third feature, Our Lady of the Nile, which follows a group of Rwandan girls in a Catholic boarding school. The bewitching work, which boasts hypnotic cinematography, foreshadows the country’s 1994 genocide. The programme also serves as a platform for acclaimed regional projects such as Jenna Bass’ South African road movie Flatland, Jahmil X.T. Qubeka’s Knuckle City, Rabah Ameur-Zaïmeche’s Terminal Sud, and Amjad Abu Alala’s mystical You Will Die at Twenty.

Winner of the Grand Prix in Cannes, Mati Diop’s exploration of migration, Atlantics: A Ghost Love Story, leads a bold wave of films exploring pressing global issues: Guatemalan director Jayro Bustamante presents an examination of his country’s political wounds with La Llorona, in which civil war victims haunt their torturer’s life; Laos’ first and only female director to ever present a film at TIFF, Mattie Do, couples family loss and time-travelling in The Long Walk; and Lijo Jose Pellissery’s Jallikattu offers a daring allegory on toxic masculinity in a remote Indian village. Other award-winning films included in the slate are Synonyms, the Golden Bear–winning film from Israeli filmmaker Nadav Lapid, and the recipients of the 2019 Cannes Jury Prize: French director Ladj Ly’s Les Misérables and the Brazilan film Bacurau, co-directed by Kleber Mendonça Filho and Juliano Dornelles.

This year’s CWC slate is also rich in contributions from internationally renowned actors — both in front of and behind the camera — with Mexican actor Gael García Bernal’s second film as director, Chicuarotes; Austrian performer Karl Markovics’s third feature, Nobadi; Dutch actor-turned-director Halina Reijn’s Instinct; and an extraordinary performance from Iranian icon Golshifteh Farahani in Manele Labidi’s Arab Blues. Produced by US powerhouse Jada Pinkett Smith, Minhal Baig’s Hala is a coming-of-age story about an American Muslim teenager trying to balance her relationship with her strict parents and her own desires. The film is inspired by Baig’s own life and brings to the screen a fresh look at the teen experience.

Other highlights in the programme study the complexity of family dynamics, such as Taiwanese Chung Mong-Hong’s lyrical A Sun, which focuses on a fractured father–son relationship. Balloon, directed by Tibetan filmmaker Pema Tseden, tells the conflicting struggles of a family dealing with China’s one-child policy. And Yaron Zilberman returns to TIFF with the World Premiere of Incitement, the first-ever fiction film to depict the cataclysmic assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.

Spotlighting the struggles and triumphs of women in societies around the world are: Maryam Touzani’s domestic epic Adam; Hikari’s 37 Seconds, which follows a young manga artist who uses her craft as a tool of self-discovery; and Sharipa Urazbayeva’s Mariam, the story of a strong Kazakhstani mother and her drive to help her family survive. Films centring on working-class women include internationally acclaimed Bengali director Rubaiyat Hossain’s Made in Bangladesh, which follows a factory worker fighting for dignity in the world of fast fashion; The County, from Cannes prize–winning Icelandic director Grímur Hákonarson; and Edward Burns’ intriguing family portrait Beneath the Blue Suburban Skies.

The 44th Toronto International Film Festival runs September 5–15, 2019.

Films screening as part of the Contemporary World Cinema programme include:

37 Seconds Hikari | Japan/USA Canadian Premiere

Adam Maryam Touzani | Morocco/France/Belgium North American Premiere

Arab Blues (Un Divan à Tunis) Manele Labidi | France North American Premiere

Atlantics: A Ghost Love Story Mati Diop | France/Senegal/Belgium North American Premiere

Atlantis Valentyn Vasyanovych | Ukraine North American Premiere

Bacurau Kleber Mendonça Filho, Juliano Dornelles | Brazil North American Premiere

Balloon (Qi Qiu) Pema Tseden | China North American Premiere

The Barefoot Emperor Jessica Woodworth, Peter Brosens | Belgium/Netherlands/Croatia/Bulgaria World Premiere

Beanpole (Dylda) Kantemir Balagov | Russia North American Premiere

Beneath the Blue Suburban Skies Edward Burns | USA World Premiere

Blow the Man Down Danielle Krudy, Bridget Savage Cole | USA International Premiere

Bombay Rose Gitanjali Rao | India/United Kingdom/Qatar North American Premiere

Chicuarotes Gael García Bernal | Mexico North American Premiere

The Climb Michael Angelo Covino | USA Canadian Premiere

Corpus Christi (Boze Cialo) Jan Komasa | Poland/France North American Premiere

The County (Héraðið) Grímur Hákonarson | Iceland/Denmark/Germany/France International Premiere

Dogs Don’t Wear Pants (Koirat eivät käytä housuja) J-P Valkeapää | Finland/Latvia North American Premiere

The Father (Bashtata) Petar Valchanov, Kristina Grozeva | Bulgaria/Greece/Italy North American Premiere

Flatland Jenna Bass | South Africa/Luxembourg/Germany North American Premiere

A Girl Missing (Yokogao) Koji Fukada | Japan/France North American Premiere

Hala Minhal Baig | USA Canadian Premiere

Henry Glassie: Field Work Pat Collins | Ireland World Premiere

Incitement Yaron Zilberman | Israel World Premiere

Instinct Halina Reijn | Netherlands North American Premiere

The Invisible Life of Eurídice Gusmão (A Vida Invisível de Eurídice Gusmão) Karim Aïnouz | Brazil/Germany North American Premiere

Jallikattu Lijo Jose Pellissery | India World Premiere

Knuckle City Jahmil X.T. Qubeka | South Africa International Premiere

La Llorona Jayro Bustamante | Guatemala/France North American Premiere

Les Misérables Ladj Ly | France North American Premiere

The Long Walk (Bor Mi Vanh Chark) Mattie Do | Laos/Spain/Singapore North American Premiere

Made in Bangladesh Rubaiyat Hossain | France/Bangladesh/Denmark/Portugal World Premiere

Mariam Sharipa Urazbayeva | Kazakhstan North American Premiere

Maria’s Paradise (Marian paratiisi) Zaida Bergroth | Finland/Estonia World Premiere

Nobadi Karl Markovics | Austria World Premiere

Contemporary World Cinema Opening Film Our Lady of the Nile (Notre-Dame du Nil) Atiq Rahimi | France/Belgium/Rwanda World Premiere

The Perfect Candidate Haifaa Al-Mansour | Saudi Arabia/Germany North American Premiere

Red Fields (Mami) Keren Yedaya | Israel/Luxembourg/Germany International Premiere

Resin (Harpiks) Daniel Joseph Borgman | Denmark World Premiere

So Long, My Son (Di Jiu Tian Chang) Wang Xiaoshuai | China North American Premiere

Spider (Araña) Andrés Wood | Chile International Premiere

A Sun (Yang Guang Pu Zhao) Chung Mong-Hong | Taiwan World Premiere

Synonyms (Synonymes) Nadav Lapid | France/Israel/Germany North American Premiere

Terminal Sud (South Terminal) Rabah Ameur-Zaïmeche | France North American Premiere

Three Summers (Três Verões) Sandra Kogut | Brazil/France World Premiere

Verdict Raymund Ribay Gutierrez | Philippines/France Canadian Premiere

A White, White Day (Hvítur, Hvítur Dagur) Hlynur Pálmason | Iceland/Denmark/Sweden North American Premiere

The Wild Goose Lake (Nan Fang Che Zhan De Ju Hui) Diao Yinan | China/France North American Premiere

You Will Die at Twenty Amjad Abu Alala | Sudan/France/Egypt/Germany/Norway/Qatar North American Premiere

Previously announced Canadian features screening at the Festival as part of the Contemporary World Cinema programme include: And the Birds Rained Down, Antigone, The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open, Castle in the Ground, The Last Porno Show, Tammy’s Always Dying, and White Lie.

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