Toronto lineup aims to show di­ver­sity on and off the screen

China Daily (Canada) - - LIFE - By AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS in New York

Prophecy abounds at the Toronto In­ter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val. Pun­dits pro­nounce Os­car guar­an­tees. Buzz, the most cher­ished com­mod­ity at the fes­ti­val, is mea­sured and spec­u­lated on like stock prices.

But this year’s fes­ti­val, teem­ing with di­ver­sity on screen and be­hind the cam­era, stuffed to the gills with not just more than 300 films but vir­tual re­al­ity and even a smat­ter­ing of tele­vi­sion, might just of­fer a broader vi­sion of what’s to come in movies.

“If you want to see the fu­ture of film, you need to come to Toronto this year,” says Cameron Bai­ley, artis­tic di­rec­tor of the fes­ti­val.

“It feels like the range of the lineup in terms of the di­ver­sity of the sto­ries that are be­ing told and the sto­ry­tellers that are telling them, the in­tro­duc­tion of new tech­nol­ogy, like the VR lineup we have, the way that the fes­ti­val has pretty smoothly in­te­grated tele­vi­sion and long-form sto­ry­telling. All of those things, I think, are where film is headed.’’

It may be an op­ti­mistic por­trait of cin­e­matic fu­ture put forth by the 41st Toronto Film Fes­ti­val, but the strength of fes­ti­val lineup lends a sense of in­evitabil­ity. The fes­ti­val kicks off on Thurs­day with the pre­miere of An­toine Fuqua’s Mag­nif­i­cent Seven re­make, star­ring Den­zel Washington and Chris Pratt.

“The in­dus­try can only ben­e­fit from see­ing more di­verse ev­ery­thing. Not just in front of the cam­era, be­hind the cam­era, ex­ec­u­tive po­si­tions,” says Fuqua, the di­rec­tor of Train­ing Day.

“It’s good for ev­ery­one be­cause movies are a shared ex­pe­ri­ence. Peo­ple go to the theater and we laugh and have each other.”

The movies at the fes­ti­val of­fer a com­pen­dium of the fall movie sea­son, squeezed into a 10-day blitz. Many of them are awards-hope­fuls, in­clud­ing most of the top films from Cannes, Venice and Tel­luride. And af­ter a lack­lus­ter sum­mer rife with block­buster dis­ap­point­ment, the dis­tance be­tween sea­sons has never felt so vast.

No films come into Toronto with more heat than Damien Chazelle’s Los Angeles mu­si­cal La La Land, star­ring Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling, and Barry Jenk­ins’ Moon­light, a strik­ing com­ing­tale of a gay black man. Both have drawn en­thu­si­as­tic raves out of Tel­luride and Venice in re­cent days.

Of the many de­buts, few match the size of Peter Berg’s Deep­wa­terHori­zon, a vis­ceral, big-bud­get ren­der­ing of the oil rig dis­as­ter, made with it­sow­nenor­mous­mock rig.

Also on tap are cour­ses of sci­ence fic­tion (De­nis Vil­leneuve’s alien com­mu­ni­ca­tion thriller Ar­rival), fan­tasy (J.A. Bay­ona’s emo­tional A Mon­ster Calls, a drama filled with equal parts won­der and grief), and com­edy (Kelly Fre­mon Craig’s witty and hon­est com­ing-of-age movie The Edge of Seven­teen).

“The en­thu­si­asm that runs through the peo­ple that make the de­ci­sions of what’s go­ing to be there is ridicu­lous,” says Jonathan Demme, who will pre­miere his Justin Tim­ber­lake con­cert film, JT and the Ten­nessee Kids.

“They’ve got good taste and they show too many movies. I’ve got the press sched­ule in my pocket right now. I’m go­ing to see as many movies as I can in be­tween our screen­ings.” all get to fun with


Chris Pratt stars in TheMag­nif­i­cen­tSeven, which kicks off the Toronto Film Fes­ti­val on Thurs­day.

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