The Toronto International Film Festival has begun its 2014 programme roll-out announcing one NZ title among the 50+ features that will have Gala or Special Presentations at this year’s event. Toa Fraser’s The Dead Lands will fly the Kiwi flag.
The roll-out was accompanied by technical problems which including a repeatedly crashing web-site and (in the moments when the site was operating) media releases which turned out to be unusable corrupted files.
The 40-something Special Presentations cover a lot of ground, while the bulk of the Gala Presentation programme is reserved for US-skewing features.
Earlier this year, TIFF director Cameron Bailey publicly stated that TIFF’s opening weekend Gala Presentation slots would only be given to films guaranteeing at least a North American premiere. Bailey threatened to relocate films – presumably to mid-morning weekday “graveyward” slots – if they didn’t honour that agreement. The move came in the wake of a number of films offering premiere status to TIFF but then turning up on the Telluride bill. Telluride opens a week ahead of Toronto and doesn’t announce its programme.
Among the TIFF Gala Presentations, the Denzel Washington-led adaptation of the Edward Woodward-led 1980s TV show The Equalizer has a ready-made fan base. There’s plenty of other high-profile fare on offer with new films from British actor turned director Alan Rickman and Lone Scherfig, whose An Education was produced by ex-pat Kiwi Finola Dwyer.
David Cronenberg’s Map to the Stars, one of a small number of titles currently here in the NZIFF, also plays.
There’s plenty of Hollywood star power lined up in front of the lens too. On offer are films featuring Jason Bateman, Steve Carell, Kevin Costner, Robert Downey, Jr., Robert Duvall, Tine Fey, Jane Fonda, Tobey Maguire, Chloë Grace Moretz, Liev Schreiber, Kate Winslet and Reese Witherspoon – who also appears in a title given a Special Presentation.
Many of those will grace red carpet events in Toronto to ensure the media attention to support films’ US releases and, in some cases, to fire the first shots of the 2015 Awards season campaign.
TIFF programmes across 19 strands, so there are plenty of announcements still to come. TIFF runs 4 – 14 September.