Timothée Chalamet, Judi Dench and Amandla Stenberg will be among the names packing the red carpet at the Toronto film festival in September, it has been revealed, after the festival announced the first batch of its lineup on 24 July.
Although the festival cancelled its traditional press conference after the shooting in the city on 23 July, the list of titles for its two headline sections, galas and special presentations, were released. Chalamet will star alongside Steve Carell in Beautiful Boy, about a father helping his son deal with methamphetamine addiction; Dench will play Joan Stanley, a retired scientist and former Soviet agent, in Red Joan, a film inspired by the real life story of Melita Norwood; and Stenberg has been cast as the lead of The Hate U Give, an adaptation of Angie Thomas’s novel revolving around the police killing of an African American teenager.
All three films will be given a gala screening at the festival, and are world premieres; although the jostling between the three biggest autumn film festivals – Toronto, Venice and Telluride – means the picture is not entirely clear. Two of Toronto’s most high-profile selections are definitely not world firsts: A Star Is Born, the latest remake of the classic story with Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga, and First Man, the Neil Armstrong biopic starring Ryan Gosling and directed by Damien Chazelle, both receive their world premieres at Venice. Widows, the Steve McQueen-directed remake of the Lynda La Plante 80s TV series, is billed as a world premiere, but may screen at Telluride (which runs a week before Toronto) like McQueen’s previous feature, 12 Years a Slave, as may If Beale Street Could Talk, Barry Jenkins’ follow-up to the Oscar winning Moonlight.
Among the other world premiere screenings are High Life, a science-fiction thriller about a group of convicts sent into space, directed by Claire Denis and starring Robert Pattinson; the Emilio Estevez-directed The Public, about a sit-in at a library, and Michael Winterbottom’s India-set The Wedding Guest, starring Dev Patel.
Toronto has also avoided the conflict with the streaming giants that dogged Cannes earlier in the year. The gala section has two films from Netflix – The Land of Steady Habits, a drama about a retiree who decides to ditch his family, starring Ben Mendelsohn and Edie Falco, and The Kindergarten Teacher, the American remake of an Israeli film about a precocious pre-schooler and his teacher – and two from Amazon – the aforementioned Beautiful Boy and Life Itself, a Spanish-American family drama starring Oscar Isaac.
The special presentations lineup contains a string of much-lauded films already premiered elsewhere, such as the Paweł Pawlikowski 1940s-set romance Cold War, Nadine Labaki’s fable of Lebanese child anger Capernaum, Hirokazu Kore-eda’s family-thief drama Shoplifters, and the Colette biopic starring Keira Knightley. Toronto is also likely to see the North American premieres of a number of heralded but as-yet unseen films: Sunset, the Hungarian drama from Sun of Saul director László Nemes; Maya, from Things to Come’s Mia Hansen-Løve, and The Sisters Brothers, the first English-language film from Rust and Bone’s Jacques Audiard. Also screening will be the much delayed White Boy Rick, the informer thriller directed by ’71’s Yann Demange, and Where Hands Touch, a wartime romance from A United Kingdom’s Amma Asante, and also starring Stenberg.