The 41st Toronto International Film Festival
By Ron Gordner, DC Film Society Member
The 41st Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF): Infinite Views was held from September 8-18, 2016 showcasing about 397 films (including 101 shorts, and 296 features, documentaries, and retrospectives) and 138 world premieres from 83 countries, including 38 Canadian features, shown on 28 screens, chosen from over 6,933 submitted films. It was attended by nearly 500,000 people, 5,400 industry personnel, and 1,200 journalists. It was the 41st Anniversary of the festival with the theme "Infinite Views." Starting out as a collection of films from other festivals, the Toronto International Film Festival has now become one of the most beloved cinematic events in the world, universally regarded as an ideal platform for filmmakers to launch their careers and to premiere their new work and one of the major film festivals where public screenings are held. A few films from major studios or highly anticipated indie films this year did not see the need to spend advertising at festivals or skipped TIFF this year--films like Silence, Fences, Billy Lynn’s Long Half Time Walk, and 20th Century Women. TIFF has a large economic impact on Canada, Ontario and Toronto since it brings in over $170 million Canadian dollars annually and currently employs more than 100 full time staff, 500 part time and seasonal staff and over 2,000 volunteers. The festival has become progressively more expensive per ticket depending on the venue and category, but is still one of the largest festivals offering public screenings.
The usual very long lines around the block were seen for the Winter Garden and Elgin VISA screening rooms, or the Princess of Wales huge theatre, but if you have VISA Signature or equivalent level card in Canada you go in first in a separate line, and those in the front of that line may get to go into a holding area in the theatre with free drinks, popcorn and candy and get their seats first. This year they had some tickets listed as Balcony or Orchestra seats at Elgin which was frustrating for some viewers. The physical lines to pick up, switch or buy tickets seemed better than other years, since many people were using the online ticketing system. The online system had major problems early on when trying to enter ticket packages and choices. Many, including me, had to phone the TIFF box office with a 20-30 minute hold to put in ticket requests when the golden window hour of requesting was over and the Apply to Shopping Cart app did not work. Also this year some blocks of tickets were bought by scalpers who put up on other sites tickets for big gala screening and some naïve patrons paid up to $500 for those tickets before the Festival realized the problem. Another major problem this year was that the Scotia 14 Theatre had its very steep up escalator out of service for the first 5 days of the festival. Many press and trade screenings are held there, the first several days also, so the elevator got much use or patrons climbed to the high platform which looks like a star ship.
For the first time in a few years, I got some Sweet Jesus custards twice when the lines were not around the block. It is a custard shop with lots of sugary goodies put on top in various mountain sizes and people usually take photos of them before consuming them. There are long lines especially in the afternoon and night.
TIFF has sections or categories of films and also has some art installations. Sections this year were: Gala Presentations, Masters, Special Presentations, TIFF for free (some free films publicly screened outdoors and a free additional screening of the Audience Award winner on the last Sunday), Discovery (first and second time filmmakers), TIFF DOCS (documentaries), Vanguard, City to City (this year’s selection was several films about Lagos, Nigeria), Contemporary World Cinema, Canadian Programming, TIFF KIDS, Visions (filmmakers who challenge our notions of mainstream cinema), Wavelengths (avant garde cinema), and their famous Midnight Madness section (primarily horror and black comedy films screening at Midnight with usually an appreciative and rowdy crowd). The Wavelengths category described as: daring, visionary, and autonomous voices. Two new programs this year were Platform and Primetime. Platform named for Jia Zhang-ke’s film is a juried section spotlighting the next generation of film masters and a chance to discover new visionary cinema. Primetime included serial television storytelling that shows how recent tv films are blurring the line between big screen and small screen viewing experiences.
TIFF has become a major market and sales stop for films to North America. There is a small market at the Venice Festival but it is really Toronto where they are primarily sold. Over 5,400 industry delegates from over 80 countries came to Toronto this year Some of the deals made in a slow but healthy sales climate in TIFF 2016 included Jackie going to Fox Searchlight and Maudie by SONY Picture Classics. Many films were already under development by new players like Netflix and Amazon or had been picked up since playing at other festivals like Berlin, Cannes and Locarno.
I thought the selections this year were fairly good to very good including top notch Hollywood or American indie films. I only saw a few films that could be described as duds of about 49 films seen. Although a few film goers reported some films they thought dreadful, I only walked out of 2 films and one because its timing overlapped another film’s starting time. There seemed to be a few themes seen in many of the films I saw. Diversity was one theme as seen in films like Loving and United Kingdom about interracial couples and other films like Moonlight, The Birth of a Nation, I Am Not Your Negro, Queen of Katwe, and The Magnificent Seven. The festival also boasted having at least 30% of the films directed by female directors as an important metric. You will note that many of my favorite films this year are by women directors. I also saw many films with the migrant or immigrant theme again this year such as The Fire at Sea, Layla M., and Foreign Body. There seemed to be many films also dealing with rape or attempted rape such as: Elle, The Animal’s Wife, In Between, Graduation, Hema Hema, Maliglutit (Searchers), and Una. TIFF included several panel discussions after some films dealing with human rights issues also. As always there are films based on real life stories also as inspiration such as Loving, Birth of a Nation, Queen of Katwe, Lion, Bleed for This, Maudie, etc.
There is usually an actor or actress that is in several high profile films at the Festival. This year it was French actress Isabelle Huppert who had the lead actress role in 3 films: Mia Hansen-Loves’s L’avenir (Things to Come), Paul Verhoeven’s Elle, and Bavo Defurne’s Souvenir. She was also in a special "In Conversation With" ticketed slot where she was interviewed and spoke about her current movies and career. She said that the three movies are all very different and unique but I don’t consider any of the characters really victims. In Elle her normal life is uprooted when she is raped but the film also should be seen as one story, not a composite of most women’s reactions to rape which has made the film sometimes controversial to critics and viewers. It also deals with the aging woman’s sexuality and her vulnerability, but also a very successful business woman. Although some may see that in Elle she is victimized, she is also a definite rebel. In Things to Come, it is a series of common events that happen in life: her husband abandons her, her mother is terminal, and her children are leaving the home and what may be left is an empty nest or new opportunities for this character. Souvenir is completely different. A past winner of the Eurovision Song Contest, now working in a factory, is rediscovered, and has the chance to have a love affair or more with a much younger boxer. I consider this to be more a melodramatic fairy tale, but again deals with an older woman, her self-identity and sexuality. She is busy working on her fourth film collaboration with Michael Haneke Happy End, which will be a family drama with elements of the European immigrant and refugee crisis. She said she likes working with Haneke and other directors who easily recognize when scenes are real and accurate.
Actress Gemma Arterton is also in three TIFF films this year: The Orphan, The Girl With All the Gifts, and Their Finest.
MUST SEE FILMS: (A few not listed here but seen at later festivals or in DC or highly regarded by other reliable sources were: Moonlight, Manchester by the Sea, Arrival, Paterson, A Monster Calls, and A Quiet Passion).
Graduation (Christian Mungiu, Romania, 2016). The director of the critically appraised 4 Months, 3 weeks, and 2 Days has another morality film where good intentions begin but lead to corruption. Romeo, a physician, hopes that his daughter Eliza will do well on her tests and have a chance to go to London for university and better herself more than he has done. When she is attacked by a stranger but escapes being raped, she is shaken up, but her father is determined nothing will stop her from her plans for a successful future. This film also garnered the Best Director Palme at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.
Handsome Devil (John Butler, Ireland, 2016). 16 year old Ned is at a rugby-mad boarding school and is bullied by the others because of his dyed red hair and his playing of older rock and popular music. A dashing new transfer and rugby star has to kip in with Ned which bothers all the other students, but Conor has problems of his own and has been kicked out of several schools for fighting. Can the boys become friends or even remain roommates? Fionn O’Shea and Nicholas Glaitizine are excellent as the two students as is Adam Scott (who played Moriarity on Cumberbatch’s Sherlock Holmes) as the empathetic English teacher.
Heartstone (Gudmundur Arnar Gudmundsson, Denmark/Iceland, 2016). Two preteen boys who are friends survive small town Icelandic life. Thor has three sisters and a mother who is not always available. Christian has a drunken violent father. An outstandingly layered film for a debut film by a new director. Reminiscent of last year’s Icelandic nominee Sparrows.
I Am Not Madame Bovary (Feng Xiaogang, China, 2016). Year after year a café owner Li Xuelian (Fan Bingbing) goes to regional and higher courts protesting a fake divorce arranged by her ex-husband. Her determination is the consternation of local, regional, and national officials embarrassed by her annually. The film shows her constant determination versus the sometimes comical corruption of officials at all levels to regain her good name (Madame Bovary is a term used for an adultress). Stunning cinematography shows the story many times either within a circle (in the countryside) or within a square (in the urban areas). Winner so far of the Golden Seashell for best film and Silver Seashell for best actress Fan Bingbing and Toronto International FIPRESCI award –Special Presentations. NOTE: This film will be shown in the Freer's Third China Onscreen Biennial series.
Jackie (Pablo Larrain, United Kingdom, 2016). The Chilean director who also had Neruda at the festival provides a snapshot into the life of Jackie Kennedy in the moments after President Kennedy’s assassination until she leaves the White House. Some flashbacks are also included such as her televised White House tour. Natalie Portman is excellent as Jackie and is being touted as a possible Best Actress nominee. The film also stars Peter Sarsgaard as Bobby Kennedy, John Hurt as a priest, and Greta Gerwig as a faithful aide.
La La Land (Damien Chazelle, United States, 2016). A rare wonderful musical from the director of Whiplash which has Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling as possible lovers and striving for their own success in Hollywood during the studio era. Sebastian is a jazz pianist and Mia an aspiring actress/writer. Scenes include dancing and singing on a LA freeway in stuck traffic, the Griffith Observatory, and other common places that come to life. Winner of Toronto’s Audience Award, this may be the film to beat for the Oscars this year and carry some nominations for Stone and others.
Lady Macbeth (William Oldroyd, United Kingdom, 2016). Oldroyd is primarily a theatre director which can be seen in this story of Lady Katherine (Florence Pugh) marrying a landed gentry in Victorian England on the northern heaths of County Durham. Based on an adaptation of Nikolai Lesko’s Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk district, also the basis of a Shostakovich opera, the story is transferred to England and has more in common with Ibsen’s plays or Madame Bovary. Katherine is trapped in a tightly controlled house and world where classes do not mix and a distant feeling and errant husband cannot control her rebellious nature.
Lion (Garth Davis, Australia, 2016). Think Slum Dog Millionaire meets an Australian adoption story. Based on a real story and the book A Long Way Home, a very small Indian boy falls asleep on a train that later takes him hundreds of miles from his family and is adopted worlds away until he learns about Google Earth and tries to find his original home and family. Sunny Pawar as the boy Saroo Khan is mesmerizing and Dev Patel as the adult Saroo continues the arc of the film. Rooney Mara plays his girlfriend and David Wenham and Nicole Kidman portray his Australian adoptive parents. Bring your hankies for this one. First runner up at Toronto for Best Film voted by the Audience.
Maudie (Aisling Walsh, Canada/Ireland, 2016). My favorite smaller film from TIFF this year is the odd but inspiring story of Maud Dowley (Sally Hawkins) in 1937 Nova Scotia, a cast off relative living with her aunt. She eventually sets out on her own to get a job for a crotchety man on the outskirts of town (Ethan Hawke) who at first considers her as a housekeeper but below his dog and chickens in worth. Sally Hawkins gives a stellar performance as the arthritic ridden Maudie who finds some glimmer of happiness in her simple primitive painting that eventually catches the eye of others. This film won’t be released until 2017 but look for it and Oscar worthy acting from Hawkins and Hawke. Another Kleenex mandatory film but understated in many ways that makes it all the more powerful.
The Net (Kim Ki-duk, South Korea, 2016). Kim Ki-duk is sometimes referred to as one of the bad boys of Korean cinema, but his films are always interesting and many times push the limits. This is a more subdued film but about a North Korean fisherman whose fishing net is caught in his motor causing him to drift into South Korean waters. His brutal treatment by officials in both Koreas is a powerful reminder how politics at every level can infiltrate the life of a common man who knows nothing about spies.
Sami Blood (Amanda Kernell, Sweden/Denmark/Norway, 2016). The director herself is born to a Swedish mother and Sami father and lived in the far north of Sweden. A story that spans decades and begins in the 1930s in far north of Sweden deals with Elle Marja, a teenage Sami girl who tries to enter the world of the Swedes. This is a reminder of how the Swedes treated their own indigenous peoples with strange calibrations and ideas of their intelligence. Another powerful Discovery section film by a first time feature female director.
Sand Storm (Elite Zexer, Israel, 2016). Jalila must prepare for her husband to marry a second wife in their Bedouin village, while her older daughter Layla, a university student is also told to forget about an unacceptable boyfriend and education and prepare for an arranged marriage. Another story of mixed loyalties to family, society, religion, tradition and self-fulfillment and another strong Discovery film by a female director. This is Israel’s nominee for best foreign language Oscar.
Toni Erdmann (Maren Ade, Germany, 2016). A favorite film of audiences and critics alike that somehow left Cannes without an award. I did feel that the 162 minutes could have been trimmed by 10-20 minutes. One of the few comedies I saw at TIFF this year that had audiences roaring at times in their seats. Another recurring theme this year dealt with children (sometimes as adults) and their parents. Ines (Sandra Huller) is a driven high-rolling business consultant who is constantly visited (sometimes in a bad disguise) by her prankster father Winfried. A very unique, freshly written script keeps the audience guessing where the film will go next. It should come out around Christmas or New Year’s in DC.
VERY GOOD FILMS:
After the Storm (Hirokazu Kore-eda; Japan, 2016). Another absorbing family drama from the master director of Like Father, Like Son and Nobody Knows. Like Yasujiro Ozu, he captuers the microcosm of a fractured family during a summer storm. Ryota the failed father meets with his ex-wife and young son at his mother’s for another try to establish himself as a breadwinner and responsible father. Like other Kore-eda films there is a quiet strength and truth in and bittersweet telling without forced melodrama.
The Commune (Thomas Vinterberg, Denmark/Sweden/Netherlands, 2016). Vinterberg follow’s up the critically reviewed The Hunt with a more personal tale that is somewhat autobiographical about his youth spent in a commune. A middle class couple Anna (Trine Dyrholm--best actress winner at this year’s Berlin Film Festival) and Erik (Ulrich Thomsen) decide to change their inherited mansion into a commune and gather members in the 1970’s. The interactions of the assembled group and also their young son provide a bittersweet background to benefits and problems of living in a commune.
Divines (Houda Benyamina, France/Qatar, 2016). Somewhat reminiscent of last year’s hit Girlhood, teenager Dounia and her friends dream of a better life outside the Paris projects. She changes from a shy school girl to a wanna-be gangster who may be too deep into bad waters. Mostly set in a Muslim and black housing area, it shows the intersection of French society with police and other authoritative powers. Cannes winner of the Camera d’Or for best first film, it is again another Discovery entry by a female director.
Elle (Paul Verhoeven, France, 2016). As mentioned above, a successful videogame company executive is raped in her home. The incident changes her life but she reacts in a strange way. Verhoeven said in a Q&A that he had intended it to be a U.S. film with an American actress but could not find an actress willing to take the part that Huppert had wanted after first reading the script. It’s hard to imagine anyone else playing this role after you see it. There is some movement to have her nominated for an Oscar in a very tough best actress field this year. This is France’s submission for best foreign language Oscar and is set to open in the DC area November 18. See here for a Q&A with Director Paul Verhoeven.
Fire at Sea (Gianfranco Rosi, Italy/France, 2016). A film capturing the daily life of the people on the island of Lampedusa, south of Sicily, which immigrants in boats try to reach. Local fishermen and their families carry on daily life amidst the alarms and successful and failed trips on boats migrants across the sea. Their eyes are the cameras telling of normal daily routines and the large scale suffering and sober footage of those dying to reach their shores. The film has been chosen as Italy’s submission for foreign language Oscar this year.
The Girl With All the Gifts (Colm MCCathy, United Kingdom, 2016). A Midnight Madness entry starring Gemma Arterton, Paddie Considine, Glenn Close and Sennia Nanua written by Mike Carey and based on his own best-selling novel of the same name. Newcomer Nanua plays Melanie, a young girl with her guarded classmates who can become zombies, but can also be normal some of the time. They are held in a captive fortress by the British military and have no idea of the zombie apocalypse happening outside their walls. Gemma Arterton is their teacher and Glenn Close a doctor experimenting on the children trying to find a vaccine to save humanity.
I Am Not Your Negro (Raoul Peck, United States/France/Belgium/Switzerland, 2016). Haitian director Peck's film is built around James Baldwin’s words and is a mixture of essay and archival footage on America’s biases with skin color. A sober look at racial issues in America, the film is based on Baldwin’s unfinished book Remember This House which deals with the lives and assassinations of his friends and black leaders Medger Evers, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King. This is a powerful film about Civil Rights and historical struggles and received a standing ovation. I thought that no mention of Baldwin’s being black and gay with other biographical detail seemed lacking.
In Between (Maysouloun Hamoud, Israel/France, 2016). A tale of three roommates in Tel Aviv, Arab Israeli women, some not considered quite Palestinian enough by their society. Lalia and Salma are much more worldly than their families wish. Nur, however, is a young devout Muslim woman studying at the university and engaged to a strict fiancé. This is the rare story of their odd friendship and bonds although coming from different backgrounds and philosophies. The directors and cast received a standing ovation in Toronto.
Old Stone (Johnny Ma, Canada/China, 2016). A former resident and student in Toronto has returned to China and made a fascinating moral debut film based on news stories from China. Lao Shi, a taxi driver is involved in an accident to a motorcyclist caused by a drunk passenger in his cab. Being a good Samaritan and taking the cyclist to the hospital begins a long thread of a story where he is culpable for monetary and other legal issues. Real stories in China of good Samaritans being sued or arrested has created a current state of turning a blind eye to anyone in trouble many times now and the films highlights this issue in a powerful way. The film was named best Canadian first film at TIFF 2016.
The Queen of Katwe (Mira Nair, South Africa/Uganda, 2016). Canadian-Indian director Nair by way of Disney provides a film based again on a true story of a village girl who learns to play chess and becomes a national champion. Oscar winner Lupita Nyong plays the girl’s mother who slowly realizes the need of her daughter to play chess. David Oyelowo is the teacher who sees the potential in 10 year old Phiona Mutesi (newcomer Madina Nalwanga). The film placed third in the TIFF audience favorites this year and has already opened in the DC area.
Things to Come (Mia Hansen-Love, France/Germany, 2016). Hansen-Love whose earlier films Father of My Children, Goodbye First Love, and Eden were critically acclaimed, this time tackles the life of a middle-aged professor (Isabelle Huppert) who learns to live with her husband leaving her, her sickly mother, and grown children. She learns to start anew with the sometimes help of an indifferent gray cat and grandchildren. A quiet layered film of new acceptance and new discoveries highlighted this time by Huppert’s underplayed acting but facial expressions that say so much.
Carrie Pilby (Susan Johnson, United States, 2016). Bel Powley plays a British girl living in New York City in an apartment paid by her London father (Gabriel Byrne). She needs to write a plan and start getting a job and a life. A deft and comical story of her job hunting and attempts to date are priceless. Perhaps a spoiled girl will adapt to many common and learned life skills.
Ember (Seki Demirkubuz, Turkey/Germany, 2016). This is a slow burning, quiet film about a young couple who lost a child trying to rekindle their relationship after the errant husband returns from Germany to return to work in a garment factory. There are side stories with additional embedded embers also that keeps the audience guessing where the story will lead.
Foreign Body (Raja Amari, France/Tunisia, 2016). Samia flees Tunisia for France with no proper papers and tries to exist through random jobs and working for the elegant widow Christine (Hiam Abass). She meets a young man who eventually also helps Christine and creates an issue of sexual tension for both women.
Hema Hema: Sing Me a Song While I Wait (Khyentse Norbu, Bhutan/Hong Kong 2016). A beautifully photographed, almost silent film. Every 12 years individuals gather in the forest with masks for a ritual. Anonymity can be both a blessing and a curse. The leader says each is there to find out who they truly are.
The Journey (Nich Hamn, United Kingdom, 2016). A film based on what may have transpired on an auto trip to the airport in 2006 with Irish Democratic Unionist Party leader, Reverend Ian Paisley (Timothy Spall) and Sinn Fein (Irish Republican Army) leader MP Martin McGuinness (Colm Meaney) to solidify a cease fire and signing of the St. Andrews Agreement in Scotland which ended the nearly 40 years of violence in Northern Ireland. Nervous Prime Minister Tony Blair (Tony Stephens) and government official (John Hurt) try to cement the deal and arrange a detour for the trip under the handling of chauffeur/agent played by Freddie Highmore.
Marija (Michael Koch, Germany/Switzerland, 2016). Young Ukrainian émigré Marija arrives in Dortmund and tries to obtain a job, an apartment to share, and save money so she can send money home and prepare for a better life in the West. She goes through many trials and tribulations but has an inner strength that refuses to let her become another victim of the system.
Noces (Stephan Streker, Belgium/France/Luxembourg/Pakistan, 2016). Zahira appears to be a typical Belgian teenager, but her Pakistani family is fairly strict when it comes to boys and she is expected to have an arranged marriage and maybe live in Pakistan. Another film that splits a young woman between guiding her own life and following the traditions of her religion and family can seem like a roller coaster ride with ambiguous endings.
Pyromaniac (Erik Skjodlbjaerg, Norway, 2016). The director of the famous Insomnia again recreates the dark, cold Norwegian look. In 1981, 19 year old Dag returns home after military service and joins his father on the fire brigade in a small rural town. Dag still doesn’t fit in and his new fascination with fire can only mean trouble for him and the villagers.
Rats (Morgan Spurlock, United States, 2016). A Midnight Madness entry may seem like an odd choice for the director of Super Size Me, but this is a chilling documentary about the rats that invade our city streets and sewers and their cunningness and ability to withstand infections that are then passed on to other animals and humans. One scene with cascading rats coming out of curbed garbage bags in New York City is very striking. Audience members were given plastic rat noses to wear during the Midnight screening.
White Sun (Deepak Rauniyar, Nepal/United States/Qatar/Netherlands, 2016). A man returns to a small Nepal village for the burial of a friend but his pro-Maoist leanings and continuing conflict with Chinese backed soldiers and local resistance fighters provides a microcosm of societal, cultural, political, and practical problems of burying the man properly after appropriate funeral rites. The future prospects and ingenuity of the children shines in this tale of what seems like a simple task taking on many layers of cultural and official stalemates and corruption.
The Animal’s Wife (Victor Gaviria, Colombia, 2016). This was one of the films chosen for discussion with a panel on human rights issues which were broken many times in this film. Many of the audience left before the discussion began due to the unrelenting physical rape, verbal and other physical abuse given to 18 year old Amparo. Early on, she is literally kidnapped and forced into a marriage against her will by the town bully no one would stop, including her sister. His nickname Animal well describes this nasty man and the gritty plot. There is a strange blaming of the victim which was difficult to accept and the fact that a 18 or 19 year old poor girl would still be a private Catholic school stretched credulity. She couldn’t deal with the rules of the school so escaped to begin a more dangerous path in life.
Mimosas (Oliver Laxe, Spain/Morocco/France/Qatar, 2016). Winner of the Grand Prize at Cannes Critics Week, I will admit this has some lovely cinematography in Morocco’s Atlas Mountains, but is extremely slow with amateurs just moving in the desert trying to take a dying sheik to another city to be buried. Not much happens and it has been described as having some metaphysical qualities that I failed to see or feel, only the hardness of the seat in the Art Gallery of Ontario theatre.
Never Ever (Benoit Jacquot, France/Portugal, 2016). A master director who seems to make both excellent films like Three Hearts, School of Flesh and Sade but also some clunkers like The Untouchable. The title Never Ever says it all. Based on Don DeLillo’s novella The Body Artist, Mathieu Amalric plays an egotistical filmmaker who dumps his current lover and takes up with a very young performance artist. Things go well until she hears strange noises in the mansion and the relationship and circumstances go into strange plot twists in this psychological study.
THE OFFICIAL TIFF 2015 AWARDS:
People's Choice Award: La La Land. Runners-up: Lion and Queen of Katwe.
People's Choice Award For Documentary: I Am Not Your Negro.
Toronto Platform Prize: Jackie.
People's Choice Award For Midnight Madness: Free Fire.
Best Canadian Feature Film: Those That Make Their Revolution Halfway Only Dig Their Own Graves.
Best Canadian First Feature Film: Old Stone.
Prizes of the International Critics (FIPRESCI Prize) for Special Presentations Section: I Am Not Madame Bovary.
Prizes of the International Critics (FIPRESCI Prize) for Discovery Section: Kati Kati.
NETPAC Award For Best Asian Film: In Between.
Award For Best Canadian Short Film: Mutants.
Award For Best International Short Film: Imago.
The Dropbox Programme Filmmakers Discovery Award: Jeffrey.
Check local theater listings and upcoming festivals such as AFI’s European Union Film Festival and The DC Jewish Film Festival which may have some of these and other films in coming months.
Other Reviews and Awards
Indiewire’s criticWire survey of top film critics and bloggers selected their favorite films, directors, and performances at TIFF2016.
Top four films reviewed from TIFF2016: La La Land, Moonlight, Toni Erdmann, and Arrival.
Individual votes by up to 45 critics can be found here.
Visit the TIFF website for more information about the festival.
Calendar of Events
American Film Institute Silver Theater
"Portrait of an Actress: Remembering Setsuko Hara" is a tribute to the great Japanese actress who died last year. She worked with some of the greatest directors including Akira Kurosawa, Yasujiro Ozu and Mikio Naruse. The AFI's portion of this tribute starts October 29 and ends November 22. Titles in November are Sudden Rain (Mikio Naruse, 1956), The Idiot (Akira Kurosawa, 1951), Late Spring (Yasujiro Ozu, 1949), Early Summer (Yasujiro Ozu, 1951), Tokyo Story (Yasujiro Ozu, 1953) and Tokyo Twilight (Yasujiro Ozu, 1957).
"Small Stories" (October 8-November 23) is a film series inspired by architecture and co-presented by the National Building Museum which also exhibits historic objects through January 15, 2017. Film titles in November include Attack the Block, The Innocents, The Uninvited, Highrose, Hangover Square, The Royal Tenenbaums, Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House, Crimson Peak, Clue and This Happy Breed.
"Objects of Desire: The Films of Luis Bunuel" (October 27-November 23) is shown in several locations. The AFI's titles in November include The Young One, This Strange Passion, The Brute, Robinson Crusoe, Los Olvidados, Susana, Diary of a Chambermaid, Simon of the Desert, Nazarin, The Criminal Life of Archibaldo de la Cruz, Tristana, Belle de Jour and The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie.
"Silent Cinema Showcase" (October 28-November 20) features silent films all with live musical accompaniment. November titles include Whispering Shadows with Andrew Simpson providing musical accompaniment, Faust (1926) with musical accompaniment by Gabriel Thibaudeau, The Half-Breed (1916) with Gabriel Thibaudeau, The Last Man on Earth (1924) with Gabriel Thibaudeau, Ben Hur (1925) with musical accompaniment by Michael Britt, The Shakedown (1929) with musical accompaniment by Donald Sosin, The Dumb Girl of Portici (1916) with Donald Sosin, Shoes with Donald Sosin, The Circus with the Columbia Orchestra, Destiny with music accompaniment by Stephen Horne, Stella Dallas (1925) with Stephen Horne, and a program of Laurel and Hardy short films with accompaniment by Ben Model.
Special Engagements during November include Political Advertisement IX: 1952-2016 featuring a Q&A with filmmakers Antoni Muntadas and Marshall Reese, V for Vendetta and "CatVideoFest 2016."
The 18th Annual Animation Show of Shows is on November 1 (16 shorts) with a shorter program of 12 shorts on November 5 and 6.
Freer Gallery of Art
The Freer is closed for renovations until October 2017. Films will be shown at varying locations.
"Third China Onscreen Biennial" is a series of six films all showing at Landmark's E Street Cinema. On November 15 at 7:00pm is Tharlo (Pema Tseden, 2015); on November 15 at 9:30pm is the documentary Ta'ang (Wang Bing, 2016); on November 16 at 7:00pm is Crosscurrent (2016) with filmmaker Yang Chao in person. On November 16 at 10:00pm is the documentary The Road (Zhang Zanbo, 2015); on November 17 at 7:00pm is I Am Not Madame Bovary (Feng Xiaogang, 2016); and on November 17 at 9:30pm is A Simple Goodbye (Degena Yun, 2015).
"China Onscreen Biennial Sidebar: Dunhuang Projected" is an affiliated program to the above. All films in the Sidebar are shown at the National Gallery of Art. On November 12 at 1:00pm is The Cave of the Silken Web (Dan Duyu, 1927) with live music accompaniment by Andrew Simpson. On November 26 at 1:30pm is Stage Sisters (Xie Jin, 1964). On November 26 at 4:00pm is A Better Tomorrow (John Woo, 1986). On November 27 at 4:30pm is Saving Mes Aynak (2014) with filmmaker Brent E. Huffman in person.
National Gallery of Art
Special events in November include For Florence (Franco Zeffirelli, 1966) on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the 1966 flood in Florence, shown on November 4 at 12:0pm and November 6 at 5:30pm. A Cine-concert on November 12 at 4:00pm features Un Chien Andalou (Luis Bunuel and Salvador Dali, 1929) with music by Spanish instrumentalist Remate. Following that is L'Age d'or (Luis Bunuel and Salvador Dali, 1930). On November 20 at 4:00pm is the documentary Olga (Miroslav Janek, 2014) introduced by Pavla Velickinova.
The International Festival of Films on Art, held each year in Montreal, features new films on dance, painting, architecture, cinema and other art forms. This two-part series includes films from the most recent festival with different programs on November 25 at 12:00 noon and November 27 at 12:00 noon.
Dunhuang is a Gobi desert oasis town in northwestern China. This program, "Dunhuang Projected", is a Freer program shown at the National Gallery of Art (see above). On November 12 at 1:00pm is The Cave of the Silken Web (Dan Duyu, 1927) with live music accompaniment by Andrew Simpson. On November 26 at 1:30pm is Stage Sisters (Xie Jin, 1964). On November 26 at 4:00pm is A Better Tomorrow (John Woo, 1986). On November 27 at 4:30pm is Saving Mes Aynak (2014) with filmmaker Brent E. Huffman in person.
"Ipersignificato: Umberto Eco and Film" is a short series of four films evokes Eco's philosophy of the cinema. On November 13 at 2:00pm is Amarcord (Federico Fellini, 1973) followed by Teorema (Pier Paolo Pasolini, 1968). Two more in December.
National Museum of the American Indian
On November 5 at 7:00pm is Mekko (Sterlin Harjo, 2015) about a man released from prison. The filmmaker, Sterlin Harjo and actor Rod Rondeaux will be present for discussion.
Smithsonian American Art Museum
On November 6 at 4:00pm is Deaf Jam (Judy Lieff) about a deaf teen who enters a spoken-word slam scene. The filmmaker and featured artist Manny Hernandez will participate in Q&A after the film and Gallaudet University students will perform ASL stories.
Washington Jewish Community Center
On November 1 at 7:30pm is Junun (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2015), a music documentary, part of the Washington Jewish Music Festival. A performance by Sandaraa follows the film.
On November 22 at 7:30pm is Time to Say Goodbye (Viviane Andereggen, 2015), a coming of age comedy from Germany.
On November 29 at 7:30pm is Atlit (Shirel Amitay, 2015), set in 1995 Israel during the peace process.
National Geographic Society
On November 4 at 7:30pm is the Telluride Mountainfilm festival. Nine short films are shown November 4 and ten in a separate program November 5 at 7:30pm. See the website for titles.
On November 13 at 7:30pm is "FotoFilms," a series of six short films about varied topics. Part of the FotoWeekDC Festival.
The French Embassy takes part in the Luis Bunuel retrospective. On November 9 at 7:00pm is Fever Rises in El Pao (1959) and on November 22 at 7:00pm is Death in the Garden (1956).
The Japan Information and Culture Center
On November 16 at 6:30pm is Round Trip Heart (Yuki Tanada, 2015). On November 18 at 6:30pm is Hal (Ryotaro Makihara, 2013), an anime film.
The Textile Museum at GWU
On November 10 at noon is Indigo: A World of Blue (2011), a documentary about indigo's history, traditions, superstitions and lore.
On November 16 at 4:00pm is a film and discussion A Weaverly Path: The Tapestry Life of Silvia Heyden (Kenny Dalsheimer, 2011), a documentary about a Swiss tapestry weaver. The filmmaker will be present to introduce the film.
On November 9 at noon is The Luft Gangster: Memoirs of a Second Class Hero (Mike Rott, 2016), a documentary about Tuskegee Airmen pilot Alexander Jefferson. The filmmaker will be present to introduce the film and answer questions.
"Cinema Arts Bethesda" is a monthly Sunday morning film discussion series. On November 20 at 10:00am is Behavior (Ernesto Daranas, 2014) from Cuba. Breakfast is at 9:30pm, the film is at 10:00am and discussion follows, moderated by Adam Spector, host of the DC Film Society's Cinema Lounge and author of the column "Adam's Rib."
National Museum of Natural History
On November 4 at 2:30pm is A Weave of Time (Susan Fanshel, 1986), about four generations of change in a Navajo family. On November 11 at 2:30pm is Dancing with the Incas (John Cohen, 1992) about Huayno music of the Andes. Both are part of the NMNH's Ethnographic Film Series.
On November 15 at 6:30pm is Spillover: Zika, Ebola and Beyond, a documentary about "spillover" diseases, diseases that have spilled over from animals to humans. A discussion follows the documentary.
On November 29 at 6:30pm is Death By Design (Sue Williams, 2016), about the notion of electronics as a "clean" industry. Discussion follows the documentary.
On November 2 at 8:00pm is Olympic Pride, American Prejudice (Deborah Riley Draper, 2016), a documentary about the 18 African American Olympians who took part in the 1936 Games in Berlin. The film's producer, Michael Draper and cast member Wolfie Fraser will participate in a Q&A after the film. Part of the "Programmer's Choice" series.
On November 9 at 8:00pm is Theo Who Lived (David Schisgall, 2016) about journalist Theo Padnos who went to Syria and was kidnapped by Al Qaeda. The filmmaker will be present for Q&A. Part of the "Films in Focus" series.
On November 16 at 8:00pm is Made in France (Nicolas Boukhrief, 2015), a thriller about French home-grown radicals. Part of the "French Cinematheque" series.
On November 23 at 8:00pm is Tikkun (Avishai Sivan, 2015), part of the Reel Israel series.
On November 30 at 8:00pm is Red (Krzysztof Kieslowski, 1994), the third and final film of Kieslowski's "Three Colors" trilogy.
Library of Congress
The Mary Pickford Theater at the Library of Congress starts a new series of films showcasing the Library's collection and including newly preserved films. On November 17 at 6:30pm is a film noir double feature: Chicago Calling (John Reinhardt, 1952) starring Dan Duryea, shown with The Big Steal (Don Diegel, 1949) starring Robert Mitchum.
"Film Nights with Pat Padua" is a series of music-related films. The theme for November is "Shooting Stars: Bowie and Prince on Film." On November 4 at 7:00pm is Just a Gigolo (David Hemmings, 1978); on November 10 at 7:00pm is Absolute Beginners (Julien Temple, 1986); on November 18 at 7:00pm is Graffiti Bridge (1990). One more in December.
For National American Indian Heritage Month, on November 3 at 2:00pm is We Still Live Here (Anne Makepeace, 2010), a documentary about cultural revival by the Wampanoag of southeastern Massachusetts.
Anacostia Community Museum
On November 16 at 11:00am is Detropia (2012), a documentary about Detroit's economic degradation following the collapse of the auto industry.
On November 25 at 8:00pm and November 26 at 2:00pm is Steven Spielberg's E.T. The Extra Terrestrial with John Williams' score performed live by the NSO Pops, Steven Reineke conducting.
"Political Nightmares" is a film series hosted by New Yorker staff writer Margaret Talbot and movie critic Nell Minow. On November 6 at 4:00pm is Pickup on South Street (Sam Fuller, 1953) starring Richard Widmark and Jean Peters; on November 13 at 4:00pm is Fail Safe (Sydney Lumet, 1964), starring Henry Fonda and Walter Matthau.
On November 16 at 7:30pm is Chicago (1927), based on a real-life "crime of the century." Film historian Bruce Lawton will introduce the film and Ben Model provides musical accompaniment.
Fritz Lang's Metropolis (1927) will be shown with an original score by Ton Teasley on November 16, 17, 18, and 19 at 8:00pm and November 19 at 3:00pm at Source Theater.
Reel Affirmations XTra
On November 18 at 7:00pm is Women Who Kill (Ingrid Jungermann, 2016).