Initial Lineups Set For Toronto International Film Festival
Rosamund Pike as Marie Curie in "Radioactive," which has been named the closing night film for the Toronto International Film Festival (photo courtesy of TIFF).
"Radioactive" named closing night film; "Joker," "Hustlers," "A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood" among 1st selections announced
  • LOS ANGELES (AP)
  • --

An origin story about the Joker starring Joaquin Phoenix, a Mr. Rogers biopic with Tom Hanks and a film about strippers scamming Wall Street bankers with Jennifer Lopez and Cardi B are among the films premiering at the Toronto International Film Festival in September.

TIFF Artistic Director Cameron Bailey and Executive Director Joana Vicente announced 16 gala selections and 37 in the special presentation category Tuesday morning, including Todd Phillips’ “Joker,” Marielle Heller’s “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” and Lorene Scafaria’s “Hustlers.” Iranian-born director Marjane Satrapi’s Marie Curie film “Radioactive,” in which Rosamund Pike plays the groundbreaking physicist, will close the festival on Sept. 15.

Bailey told The Associated Press that “Joker” is somewhat of a first for the festival.

“This is our first entry into the superhero world as far as I can remember,” he said. “But it’s a really original vision. It’s disturbing, utterly compelling, really gripping from start to finish. ... And one of the most remarkable things is that Joaquin Phoenix, in a career of great performances, gives one of his very best.”

Other standout performances the programmers love are Michael B. Jordan and Jamie Foxx in Destin Daniel Cretton’s civil rights drama “Just Mercy,” Meryl Streep in Steven Soderbergh’s investigative journalism drama “The Laundromat,” Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson in Noah Baumbach’s divorce saga “Marriage Story” and Renee Zellweger in the Judy Garland biopic “Judy.”

“It’s one of those career-best performances,” Bailey said. “And that’s coming from a guy who absolutely loves ‘Jerry Maguire.’”

The Toronto selections often help define the looming awards race. Last year, TIFF’s audience award winner “Green Book” went on to win the best picture Oscar.

“It’s not the motivation, but it’s always great to be a launchpad for films that will be part of the awards conversation,” Vicente said.

Other high-profile films premiering include James Mangold’s “Ford v Ferrari” with Christian Bale and Matt Damon, Kasi Lemmons’ Harriet Tubman film “Harriet” starring Cynthia Erivo, Rian Johnson’s star-studded ode to Agatha Christie “Knives Out,” with Chris Evans and Daniel Craig, Edward Norton’s adaptation of “Motherless Brooklyn,” John Crowley’s adaptation of “The Goldfinch” and the Bruce Springsteen concert film “Western Stars.”

Some, a little less flashy, but just as worthy according to Bailey include the cancer drama “The Friend,” from Gabriela Cowperthwaite with Dakota Johnson and Casey Affleck, the animated teen love story “Weathering With You,” from Makoto Shinkai, the 
Japanese director of the anime breakout “Your Name,” and Michael Winterbottom’s “Greed.”

Bailey said “Greed,” about the economy of fast fashion, is “one everybody should see.”

Steve Coogan plays a mogul in the fast fashion world and it is “very funny and very biting.”

And then of course there is “Hustlers,” with Lopez and Constance Wu, which Bailey said is “a great watch.”

“It feels like ‘Casino’ or ‘Goodfellas,’” he said. “But instead of gangsters killing, these are women just scamming these guys.”

Although films aren’t selected with any theme or agenda in mind, Bailey said some do emerge eventually.

“It became clear that although we’re living in a complicated, difficult world with a lot of conflict, a lot of the films that really resonated the most this year were ones that were about empathy, about reaching out and across borders to other people,” Bailey said. “Maybe most emblematic of that is ‘A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,’ but also ‘Just Mercy,’ a really tough film about the death penalty ... and ‘Jojo Rabbit.’”

“Jojo Rabbit,” from filmmaker Taika Waititi, is about a young member of a Hitler Youth group.

“But he grows, he changes, he learns,” Bailey said. “And you begin to feel at least some empathy for the possibility of change.”

Vicente added that it was “one of our favorites. It really surprises and we all kind of fell in love with it.”

The festival kicks off Sept. 5 with the previously announced opening-night film “Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and The Band.”  

Of the Gala films announced today, 50% of titles are directed or co-directed by women--a record number for the program. This year’s selection also includes 29 world premieres, six international premieres, 13 North American premieres, and eight Canadian premieres.

More films will be announced in the coming weeks.

Here's a rundown of the first selections announced:

GALAS 2019
A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood Marielle Heller | USA
World Premiere

Abominable Jill Culton | USA
World Premiere

American Woman Semi Chellas | Canada
Canadian Premiere

Blackbird Roger Michell | United Kingdom
World Premiere

Clemency Chinonye Chukwu | USA
International Premiere

Ford v Ferrari James Mangold | USA
Canadian Premiere

The Goldfinch John Crowley | USA
World Premiere

Harriet Kasi Lemmons | USA
World Premiere

Hustlers Lorene Scafaria | USA
World Premiere

Joker Todd Phillips | USA
North American Premiere

Just Mercy Destin Daniel Cretton | USA
World Premiere

Opening Night Film
Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and The Band Daniel Roher | Canada
World Premiere

Ordinary Love Lisa Barros D’Sa, Glenn Leyburn | United Kingdom
World Premiere

Closing Night Film
Radioactive Marjane Satrapi | United Kingdom
World Premiere

The Sky Is Pink Shonali Bose | India
World Premiere

The Song of Names François Girard | Canada
World Premiere

True History of the Kelly Gang Justin Kurzel | Australia
World Premiere

Western Stars Thom Zimny, Bruce Springsteen | USA
World Premiere

SPECIAL PRESENTATIONS 2019
A Herdade Tiago Guedes | Portugal
North American Premiere

Bad Education Cory Finley | USA
World Premiere

Coming Home Again Wayne Wang | USA/South Korea
World Premiere

Dolemite Is My Name Craig Brewer | USA
World Premiere

Ema Pablo Larraín | Chile
North American Premiere

Endings, Beginnings Drake Doremus | USA
World Premiere

Frankie Ira Sachs | France/Portugal
North American Premiere

The Friend Gabriela Cowperthwaite | USA
World Premiere

Greed Michael Winterbottom | United Kingdom
World Premiere 

Guest of Honour Atom Egoyan | Canada
North American Premiere

Heroic Losers (La odisea de los giles) Sebastian Borensztein | Argentina/Spain
International Premiere

Honey Boy Alma Har’el | USA
International Premiere

Hope Gap William Nicholson | United Kingdom
World Premiere

How to Build a Girl Coky Giedroyc | United Kingdom
World Premiere

Opening Special Presentations Film
I Am Woman Unjoo Moon | Australia
World Premiere

Jojo Rabbit Taika Waititi | USA
World Premiere

Judy Rupert Goold | United Kingdom
Canadian Premiere

Knives Out Rian Johnson | USA
World Premiere

La Belle Époque Nicolas Bedos | France
North American Premiere

The Laundromat Steven Soderbergh | USA
North American Premiere

The Lighthouse Robert Eggers | USA
North American Premiere

Marriage Story Noah Baumbach | USA
Canadian Premiere

Military Wives Peter Cattaneo | United Kingdom
World Premiere

Motherless Brooklyn Edward Norton | USA
International Premiere 

No.7 Cherry Lane Yonfan | Hong Kong
North American Premiere

The Other Lamb Malgorzata Szumowska | Belgium/Ireland/USA
World Premiere

Pain and Glory Pedro Almodóvar | Spain
Canadian Premiere

The Painted Bird Václav Marhoul | Czech Republic/Ukraine/Slovakia
North American Premiere

Parasite (Gisaengchung) Bong Joon-ho | South Korea
Canadian Premiere

Pelican Blood (Pelikanblut) Katrin Gebbe | Germany/Bulgaria
North American Premiere

The Personal History of David Copperfield Armando Iannucci | United Kingdom
World Premiere

Portrait of a Lady on Fire (Portrait de la jeune fille en feu) Céline Sciamma | France
Canadian Premiere

The Report Scott Z. Burns | USA
International Premiere

Saturday Fiction (Lan Xin Da Ju Yuan) Lou Ye | China
North American Premiere

The Two Popes Fernando Meirelles | USA/United Kingdom/Italy/Argentina
Canadian Premiere

Uncut Gems Benny Safdie, Josh Safdie | USA
International Premiere

Weathering With You Makoto Shinkai | Japan
North American Premiere

While at War (Mientras Dure La Guerra) Alejandro Amenábar | Spain/Argentina
World Premiere

The 44th Toronto International Film Festival runs September 5–15, 2019.

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