Branagh, who will be in attendance at the opening night screening, directed from Ben Elton’s script about the little-known period in the final years of William Shakespeare. Branagh portrays the playwright with Dench as his wife Anne, while McKellen plays the Earl of Southampton. Sony Classics bought worldwide rights in October.
The festival will close with “Ladies in Black,” directed by Bruce Beresford, on Jan. 13. The movie, starring Angourie Rice, Rachael Taylor, Julia Ormond, Ryan Corr and Shane Jacobson, centers on a group of department store employees in 1959 Sydney. Beresford will attend.
The festival will screen 223 films from 78 countries, including 48 premieres. It will screen 43 of the 87 official submissions in the Best Foreign Language Film category for the 91st Academy Awards. A jury of international film critics will review these films to present the Fipresci Award for Best Foreign Language Film of the Year, as well as Best Actor and Best Actress in this category.
Alfonso Cuaron’s “Roma,” Mexico’s official subsmission, is screening along with Japan’s “Shoplifters,” which won the Palme d’Or at Cannes; South Korea’s “Burning,” directed by Lee Chang-Dong; Lebanon’s “Capernaum,” directed by Nadine; Poland’s “Cold War,” directed by Pawel Pawlikowski; Belgium’s “Girl,” directed by Lukas Dhont; Denmark’s “The Guilty,” directed by Gustav Möller; Paraguay’s “The Heiresses,” directed by Marcelo Martinessi; and Germany’s “Never Look Away,” directed by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck.
In celebration of the festival’s 30 year anniversary, a 30 film retrospective of films from past festivals will include titles like “Chocolat” and “Memento.” Films from France, India and Mexico will all be highlighted in special sections, while other programs will focus on Jewish cinema and queer cinema.
New for this year is the Ricky Jay Magic of Cinema award, named for the late actor and magician, in honor of a film that exemplifies the magic of cinema.