Toronto Film Fest Constructs Platform Lineup of 10 Features
A scene from director Sarah Gavron's "Rocks," the opening night film of the Toronto International Film Festival's Platform program (photo courtesy of TIFF)
Sarah Gavron’s "Rocks" named Opening Night Film; Pietro Marcello’s "Martin Eden" is Closing Night screening
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The Toronto International Film Festival has unveiled the 10 features that comprise the Platform competition for 2019, a year rich in perspectives, genres, and exceptional performances by newcomers as well as established actors. Ranging from first-time feature directors to veterans at turning points in their careers, this year’s Platform filmmakers offer a panoramic view of the diverse range of talent and distinct directorial voices that are emerging around the globe.

Of the 10 features in this year’s Platform selection, 40% are directed by women. The films hail from a wide range of regions, including Europe, Latin America, East Asia, and the U.S. 

Named Opening and Closing Night films, respectively, are director Sarah Gavron’s Rocks and Pietro Marcello’s Martin Eden. Rocks marks Gavron’s third feature. The follow-up to her earlier Suffragette and Brick Lane stars Bukky Bakray in a career-launching role as Rocks, a teenager who suddenly finds herself struggling to take care of herself and her younger brother.

Martin Eden is Marcello’s much anticipated second narrative film, following his debut, Lost and Beautiful, and several documentary shorts and features. Based on the Jack London novel of the same title in 1909, Martin Eden features a sailor (Luca Marinelli) trying to remake himself as a writer, in this passionate and timeless story of class consciousness and failed ideals.

Kazik Radwanski’s Anne at 13,000 ft is the standout Canadian title in the program’s 2019 lineup, grounded in a career-best performance by Deragh Campbell (TIFF 2015 Rising Star).

“With a dynamic, international slate that assembles some of brightest cinematic voices of today and tomorrow, this year’s lineup distills the essence of the Festival,” said Cameron Bailey, Platform co-curator and TIFF artistic director and co-head. “These films tackle some of the most urgent concerns of our day using original, exciting cinematic language.”

“Competitions should celebrate the range of what great cinema is and what it can accomplish. Platform is alive to those possibilities,” said Platform co-curator Andréa Picard. “Whether they are debuts or mid-career works, these films push the boundaries of narrative filmmaking in surprising and rigorous ways, some using documentary or experimental techniques in their approaches. Audiences will recognize similar themes emerge like a global collective subconscious, but what is truly exciting is the varied means of cinematic expression on display.”

Highlights include the world premieres of Wet Season by Singapore-based director and producer Anthony Chen, the anticipated follow-up to his breakout debut Ilo Ilo (TIFF 2013); Julie Delpy’s My Zoe, a genre-bending tale of a mother’s navigation of grief that stars Delpy alongside Richard Armitage and Daniel Brühl; and Alice Winocour’s Proxima, an incisive drama following an astronaut and mother as she faces an impossible decision, featuring remarkable performances by Eva Green, Lars Eidinger, Matt Dillon, and Sandra Hüller.

In addition to new films by established directors, this year’s lineup boasts a number of exciting feature debuts, including Darius Marder’s Sound of Metal, starring Riz Ahmed (alongside Olivia Cooke and Mathieu Amalric) as a professional drummer whose life is thrown into freefall when he begins to lose his hearing. Also of note is Workforce, the debut feature by Mexican filmmaker David Zonana. Produced by Michel Franco, the class-conscious drama follows a group of construction workers who seek justice after a workplace accident.

Now in its fifth year, Platform is the Toronto International Film Festival’s competitive program that champions bold directorial visions. All 10 films in the program are eligible for the Toronto Platform Prize, an award of $20,000 (CAD) given to the best film in the program, selected by a three-person jury. Berlinale artistic director Carlo Chatrian, film critic Jessica Kiang, and filmmaker Athina Rachel Tsangari make up this year’s jury.

Named after Jia Zhang-ke’s trailblazing second feature, Platform is curated by Bailey and Picard, who is also lead curator for the Wavelengths program. The Platform selection committee comprises TIFF Cinematheque director Brad Deane; Ming-Jenn Lim, sr. manager of theatrical programming at TIFF Bell Lightbox, and Lydia Ogwang, TIFF Cinematheque programmer.

Previous Platform selections include Alex Ross Perry’s Her Smell (2018), Karyn Kusama’s Destroyer (2018), Clio Barnard’s Dark River (2017), Kamila Andini’s The Seen and Unseen (2017), Bertrand Bonello’s Nocturama (2016), Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight (2016), and Gabriel Mascaro’s Neon Bull (2015).

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

Platform’s complete 2019 lineup:

Anne at 13,000 ft Kazik Radwanski | Canada/USA
World Premiere

Platform Closing Film.
Martin Eden Pietro Marcello | Italy/France
International Premiere

The Moneychanger (Así Habló El Cambista) Federico Veiroj | Uruguay/Argentina/Germany
World Premiere

My Zoe Julie Delpy | Germany/France
World Premiere

Proxima Alice Winocour | France/Germany
World Premiere

Platform Opening Film.
Rocks Sarah Gavron | United Kingdom
World Premiere

The Sleepwalkers (Los Sonámbulos) Paula Hernández | Argentina/Uruguay
World Premiere

Sound of Metal Darius Marder | USA
World Premiere

Wet Season Anthony Chen | Singapore/Taiwan
World Premiere

Workforce (Mano De Obra) David Zonana | Mexico
World Premiere


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