TIFF 2015 Marks Festival’s 40th Anniversary

First Festival of Festivals poster held by director Rosee Lacreta, 1976

It ain’t a mid-life crisis, that’s for sure. September’s just around the corner, and Torontonians know that means it’s time for another Toronto International Film Festival. This incarnation’s one of those zero-numbers people get so excited about, and at forty, TIFF’s getting downright venerable. What started out in 1975 as The Festival of Festivals (Toronto had big eyes back then, and not a whole lot else), has grown from a scrappy little fest in a half-dozen theatres around town to a massive media machine, with over 350 films appearing in its ten-day run. Start up the projector, let’s take a peak at a few treats that lie just ahead.

Ridley Scott’s next outing looks to be a sci-fi stunner and a return to form from the whipsaw erratic genius. The Martian features Matt Damon as an astronaut stranded on Mars after a severe storm forces the expeditionary crew to evacuate the planet. Presumed dead, he’s left to fend for himself in the most inhospitable environment imaginable. It’s The Right Stuff meets Cast Away, and I’m on the launchpad counting down for this one.

Writer-director Brian Helgeland tackles the infamous British twin gangsters the Krays with LEGEND. Tom Hardy chews double the scenery as brothers Reg and Ron Kray, vicious, glamorous gangsters from sixties London. This time, Hardy gets to beat himself up. It’s bound to be a wild ride.

The Oscar-bait gets rolling in earnest with Freeheld, from director Peter Sollett. Based on a true story, Julianne Moore plays Laurel Hester, a decorated New Jersey police detective dying from cancer. She wants to leave her pension to her domestic partner, the much younger Stacie Andree, played by Ellen Page. The county officials refuse to allow a same-sex partner to garner the benefits, and a legal fight ensues. Also featuring Michael Shannon and Steve Carell, this one’s got the star-power, and looks to be a two-hanky tear-jerker for sure.

Deepah Mehta returns with the adrenaline-charged Indo-Canuck gangster flick Beeba Boys. With guns, bhangra beats, bespoke suits, coke and betrayal, this Vancouver-based crime saga puts a new spin on familiar tropes. The Oscar-nominated director of Water and Midnight’s Children charges ahead with this glossy, frenetic outing, and is bound to pick up some homegrown buzz.

Jake Gyllenhaal opens TIFF 2015 with Jean-Marc Vallée’s Demolition

The festival will open with Jean Marc Valée’s Demolition, starring Jake Gyllenhaal as Davis, an investment banker struggling to deal with the loss of his wife after a tragic car crash. He struggles to keep it together but gradually unravels, until a letter of complaint to a vending machine company strikes up an unlikely correspondence. Davis finds a kindred spirit in customer service rep Karen (Naomi Watts), and the two strangers begin to rebuild on their fledgling connection.

There is a great deal more to come. For a glance at the first roster of films announced, head over to TIFF’s site here.

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