TIFF 2016 to open with ‘The Mag­nif­i­cent Seven’ re­make

The Hamilton Spectator - - A&E - VIC­TO­RIA AHEARN

The Toronto In­ter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val has las­soed the world pre­mière of An­toine Fuqua’s buzzy west­ern “The Mag­nif­i­cent Seven” as its open­ing night ti­tle, a coup or­ga­niz­ers chalk up to the di­rec­tor’s fond­ness for the fest.

The re­make of the 1960 west­ern — star­ring Den­zel Wash­ing­ton, Chris Pratt and Ethan Hawke, among oth­ers — comes 15 years af­ter Fuqua made his break­through at the fest with “Train­ing Day,” which went on to win Wash­ing­ton an Os­car for best ac­tor.

“(Fuqua) came back a cou­ple of years ago with ‘The Equal­izer’ and when we saw this film and loved it and in­vited it for open­ing, they wanted to come,” fes­ti­val artis­tic di­rec­tor Cameron Bai­ley said Tues­day, af­ter un­veil­ing the first slate of 2016 films.

“Be­cause he’d been be­fore, he’d seen the re­ac­tion from the Toronto au­di­ence, they were all thrilled to be here.”

In all, TIFF an­nounced 68 ti­tles on Tues­day rep­re­sent­ing about 80 coun­tries. It’s the big­gest num­ber of ti­tles ever an­nounced at one TIFF press con­fer­ence, but that doesn’t mean the fes­ti­val is big­ger this year, said fes­ti­val di­rec­tor Piers Han­dling.

“I think we’re a lit­tle bit more or­ga­nized this year, things fell our way, to be hon­est,” he said. “A lot of peo­ple showed us films ear­lier, have com­mit­ted to films ear­lier.”

High­lights in­clude the world pre­mière of Oliver Stone’s “Snow­den,” a drama­ti­za­tion of Ed­ward Snow­den’s de­ci­sion to leak clas­si­fied se­cu­rity doc­u­ments to the me­dia. Stars in­clude Joseph Gor­don-Le­vitt, Shai­lene Wood­ley and Melissa Leo.

Also mak­ing its world pre­mière is Rob Reiner’s “LBJ,” star­ring Woody Har­rel­son as pres­i­dent Lyn­don B. John­son and Jen­nifer Ja­son Leigh as his wife Lady Bird John­son. Au­di­ences will also get a first peek at Peter Berg’s “Deep­wa­ter Hori­zon,” about the 2010 oil dis­as­ter in the Gulf of Mex­ico. The cast in­cludes Mark Wahlberg, Kurt Rus­sell, John Malkovich and Kate Hud­son.

And in “Lion” by Garth Davis, Dev Pa­tel stars as an adoptee who uses Google Earth to find his birth par­ents. Ni­cole Kid­man and Rooney Mara co-star.

Other hot ti­tles in­clude the pe­riod drama “The Birth of a Na­tion,” about the life of slave/preacher Nat Turner, di­rected by and star­ring Nate Parker.

“There are a lot of strong films based on true sto­ries this year,” said Bai­ley.

Ac­claimed Que­bec di­rec­tor De­nis Vil­leneuve will bring his sci-fi thriller “Ar­rival,” star­ring Amy Adams and Jeremy Ren­ner. Adams also stars in fash­ion de­signer Tom Ford’s sopho­more fea­ture “Noc­tur­nal An­i­mals,” which he wrote and di­rected, based on Austin Wright’s novel “Tony and Su­san.” She plays an art gallery owner dis­turbed by the con­tents of a novel writ­ten by her ex-hus­band, played by Jake Gyl­len­haal.

Lon­don, Ont., na­tive Ryan Gosling — whose mother lives in Burling­ton — sings and dances in the mu­si­cal ro­mance “La La Land.” “Whiplash” writer-di­rec­tor Damien Chazelle helms the cast that also fea­tures Emma Stone and J.K. Sim­mons.

“Ryan Gosling singing and danc­ing — does it get any bet­ter?” said Han­dling.

“The Head­hunter’s Call­ing,” di­rected by Mark Wil­liams, is billed as a Cana­dian ti­tle that stars Ger­ard But­ler, Ali­son Brie and Willem Dafoe. Han­dling let it slip that Que­bec di­rec­tor Philippe Falardeau will also have a film at the fest, which runs Sept. 8-18.

The clos­ing film will be Kelly Fre­mon Craig’s com­ing-of-age com­edy “The Edge of Seven­teen,” star­ring Hailee Ste­in­feld as a teen hav­ing trou­ble fit­ting in at school. Woody Har­rel­son and Kyra Sedg­wick co-star.

“It’s a fun film and it’s a film that I think ... we’ll all rec­og­nize what these kids go through,” said Bai­ley.

Other high­lights: a film on Barack Obama, Ewan McGre­gor’s di­rec­to­rial de­but, a film about an Ugan­dan chess prodigy and the an­i­mated flick “Sing.” Other mu­si­cals in­clude the Justin Tim­ber­lake con­cert doc “JT + The Ten­nessee Kids” by Jonathan Demme, and “The Rolling Stones Ole Ole Ole!: A Trip Across Latin Amer­ica” by Paul Dug­dale.

NATHAN DENETTE, THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

Di­rec­tor De­nis Vil­leneuve, pos­ing dur­ing the 2015 Toronto In­ter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val, will bring his sci-fi thriller “Ar­rival” to this year’s TIFF.

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