TIFF 2016 to open with ‘The Magnificent Seven’ remake
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.
Director Denis Villeneuve, posing during the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival, will bring his sci-fi thriller “Arrival” to this year’s TIFF.