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Toronto Film Festival Lineup Includes ‘A Star Is Born,’ ‘Widows,’ ‘First Man’

A Star is Born,” “First Man,” and “Widows” are among the awards-season hopefuls that will screen at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival, running Sept. 6-16.

Other notable films scheduled for the prestigious gathering include “Beautiful Boy,” a drug addiction drama with Steve Carell and Timothee Chalamet; “The Front Runner,” with Hugh Jackman as Sen. Gary Hart; and “The Old Man & the Gun,” a heist thriller that will mark Robert Redford’s retirement from acting.

The films announced on Tuesday are not the final list, as Toronto programmers intend to keep adding to the current crop of invitees. Programmers screened roughly 7,000 films before deciding which films to showcase.

The Canadian celebration of cinema is seen as an important stop for movies hoping to be in the Oscar conversation. In the past, films such as “Gravity,” “12 Years a Slave,” “Spotlight,” and “The Shape of Water” have all generated momentum that propelled them to success at the Academy Awards after showing in Toronto. It can also be a buzz killer. Last year, for instance, Darren Aronofsky’s “Mother!” and George Clooney’s “Suburbicon” both secured festival berths only to earn indifferent critical notices en route to commercial disaster.

“I don’t think you’ll find a stronger lineup at any of the fall festivals,” Cameron Bailey, the festival’s artistic director, told Variety. “The combination of the media attention, the industry attention, and the enthusiasm of the general public makes us unique.”

That said, the festival landscape has become ever more crowded, with Telluride and Venice emerging as favored destinations for the auteur set. Many of the movies that will screen at Toronto will likely have screened at those earlier festivals by the time they land in Toronto. “First Man,” Damien Chazelle’s drama about Neil Armstrong’s (Ryan Gosling) moon landing, will open Venice, and “A Star Is Born,” a love story with Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper that also marks Cooper’s directorial debut, is having its world premiere on the Lido.

A number of directors are returning to Toronto after having achieved success at the festival. “Widows,” a sprawling crime drama with Viola Davis, Robert Duvall, and Michelle Rodriguez, marks Steve McQueen’s follow-up to “12 Years a Slave,” which took the festival by storm when it debuted in 2013. Alfonso Cuaron, who electrified Toronto crowds with “Gravity” that same year, also returns with “Roma,” an intimate family drama that is being distributed by Netflix.

And several films that have screened at earlier festivals will try to use Toronto to remind tastemakers about their craftsmanship. These include “Colette,” a historical drama about the famous French novelist that debuted at Sundance and generated Oscar buzz for Keira Knightley, and ”Shoplifters,”​ a tender Japanese drama that won the Palme d’Or at Cannes.

“Widows” will be perhaps the highest-profile film to have its world debut at Toronto. Other films that have decided to have their initial bows at the festival include Claire Denis’ science fiction drama “High Life” and Emilio Estevez’s political drama “The Public.”

The line-up has yet to be finalized, but Bailey said he expects roughly a third will be from female directors. Five of the 17 films announced on Tuesday are directed by women and a half dozen are by directors of color.

Bailey said that many of the films speak to the current political and social moment. “The Hate U Give” tackles the Black Lives Matter movement; “Beautiful Boy” and “Ben Is Back” dramatize addiction; and “The Frontrunner” grapples with a scandal from the 1980s that helped kick off the tabloidization of politics.

Much has changed in the 12 months since the last edition of Toronto. Harvey Weinstein, a fixture at past Toronto’s, has seen his career implode after dozens of women accused him of sexual harassment and assault. His downfall triggered a reckoning in Hollywood, one that tarnished the legacies of other major entertainment figures such as Dustin Hoffman, Matt Lauer, Kevin Spacey, and Louis C.K., who were themselves accused. It was a very different picture last year when C.K. was feted as the director of “I Love You, Daddy.” That film sold to The Orchard out of the festival for $5 million. The studio scrapped its release after allegations broke that C.K. was accused of sexual misconduct by five women.

There’s another tie to the Weinstein collapse. “Hotel Mumbai,” a terrorist drama with Dev Patel, has been ensnared in the sale and financial ruin of the Weinstein Company. It will debut at this year’s Toronto, presumably with another distributor overseeing its release.

Toronto is also taking steps to make sure its attendees have resources to report issues when they arise. It is following the lead of industry gatherings such as Sundance and CinemaCon by creating a hotline for people to report abuse and harassment. It will also have programming and events to discuss the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements and to assess their impact on the film industry.

“We want to keep the conversation going and to give people an opportunity to talk through what this all means,” said Bailey. “One of the most important things we can do is to really showcase films by women and to make sure that we have a lineup that really reflects who we are as people.”

Here’s a full list of the announced films:

GALAS 2018
“Beautiful Boy,” ​Felix van Groeningen, USA
“Galveston,” ​Mélanie Laurent, USA
“Everybody Knows​,” Asghar Farhadi, Spain/France/Italy
“First Man,” ​Damien Chazelle, USA
“The Hate U Give,” G​eorge Tillman,Jr.,USA
“Hidden Man​,” Jiang Wen, China
“High Life​,” Claire Denis, Germany/France/Poland/United Kingdom
“Husband Material​,” Anurag Kashyap, India
“The Kindergarten Teacher,” Sara Colangelo, USA
“The Land of Steady Habits,” ​Nicole Holofcener, USA
“Life Itself,” ​Dan Fogelman, USA
“The Public,” ​Emilio Estevez, USA
“Red Joan,” ​Sir​ ​Trevor Nunn, United Kingdom
A Star is Born,” ​Bradley Cooper, USA
“Shadow,” Z​hang Yimou, China
“What They Had,” ​Elizabeth Chomko, USA
“Widows,” ​Steve M​cQ​ueen, United Kingdom/USA

SPECIAL PRESENTATIONS 2018
“Ben is Back,” ​Peter Hedges, USA
“Burning,” L​ee Chang-dong, South Korea
“Can You Ever Forgive Me?” ​Marielle Heller, USA
“Capernaum​,” Nadine Labaki, Lebanon
“Cold War,” P​aweł Pawlikowski, Poland/UnitedKingdom/France
“Colette,” W​ash Westmoreland, United Kingdom
“Dogman,” ​Matteo Garrone, Italy/France
“If Beale Street Could Talk,” Barry Jenkins, USA
“The Front Runner,” ​Jason Reitman, USA
“Giant Little Ones,” K​eith Behrman, Canada
“Girls of the Sun (Les filles du soleil),” ​Eva Husson, France
“Hotel Mumbai,” ​Anthony Maras, Australia
“The Hummingbird Project​,” Kim Nguyen, Canada
“Maya,” ​Mia Hansen-Løve, France
“Manto,” ​Nandita Das, India
“Monsters and Men,” R​einaldo Marcus Green, USA
“Mouthpiece,” P​atricia Rozema, Canada
“Non-Fiction​,” Olivier Assayas, France
“The Old Man & the Gun,” ​David Lowery, USA
“Papi Chulo,” J​ohn Butler, Ireland
“Roma​,” Alfonso Cuarón, Mexico
”Shoplifters,”​ Hirokazu Kore-eda, Japan
“The Sisters Brothers,” ​Jacques Audiard, USA/France/Romania/Spain
“Sunset,” ​László Nemes, Hungary/France
“Through Black Spruce,” D​on McKellar, Canada
“The Wedding Guest,” Michael Winterbottom, United Kingdom
“The Weekend​,” Stella Meghie, USA
“Where Hands Touch,” A​mma Asante, United Kingdom
“White Boy Rick,” ​Yann Demange, USA
“Wildlife​,” Paul Dano, USA

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