TORONTO — Despite the challenges that come with putting on entertainment industry events amid dual Hollywood strikes, the recent Venice and Telluride film festivals premiered what will surely be some of the year’s most talked-about movies, including Bradley Cooper’s “Maestro,” Sofia Coppola’s “Priscilla,” Yorgos Lanthimos’ “Poor Things,” Michael Mann’s “Ferrari,” Emerald Fennell’s “Saltburn” and Ava DuVernay’s “Origin.”
Which means this year’s Toronto International Film Festival — opening Thursday with the international premiere of “The Boy and the Heron,” the latest from master animator Hayao Miyazaki, and the world premiere of Larry Charles’ “Dicks: The Musical” — already has a lot to live up to.
TIFF is typically an extremely starry affair, with fans lining the streets outside theaters for a glimpse of their favorites as they walk the red carpet. Whether the 2023 edition will conjure the same energy with the walkouts of the Writers Guild of America and the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists is the biggest mystery hanging over this year’s festival.
Cameron Bailey, chief executive of TIFF, said in an interview last week that the relationship among the fall festivals is a healthy mix of competition and cooperation. The program at this year’s festival in particular is a latticework of world premieres, international premieres, North American premieres and Canadian premieres.
“It is something that is just part of the character of putting on a film festival in the same way that scoops are for people in the journalism trade,” Bailey said of the pressure to land high-profile world premieres. “It’s not the only thing that drives your work, but it’s a factor and it’s something that you keep in mind.”
“We are colleagues for the other festivals in the fall,” Bailey added. “We collaborate, but you also want to do the very best for your own festival, your own audience. …
“No one festival is going to get all of the premieres, nor should they. I’m glad to see that there is enough strong work to go around.”
Justine Triet’s Cannes Palme d’Or winner, “Anatomy of a Fall,” will be at Toronto, as will Jonathan Glazer’s Cannes-premiering “The Zone of Interest” — both of which star German actor Sandra Hüller. Harmony Korine’s “Aggro Dr1ft,” which divided critics and audiences when it premiered at Venice, will play in TIFF’s Midnight Madness section. George C. Wolfe’s “Rustin” is already generating strong Oscar buzz for Colman Domingo’s lead performance. And DuVernay’s “Origin” was a last-minute addition to the TIFF lineup.
Among TIFF’s other world premieres, Canadian-born Elliot Page stars in and produces Dominic Savage’s “Close to You”; Page is also executive producer on D.W. Waterston’s “Backspot,” which stars “Reservation Dogs’” Devery Jacobs. There’s also Craig Gillespie’s “Dumb Money,” based on the story of the GameStop Wall Street scandal of 2021 and starring Paul Dano, Shailene Woodley, America Ferrara, Sebastian Stan and Pete Davidson.
The most anticipated event of this year’s festival, however, just may be the Monday night screening of Jonathan Demme’s 1983 Talking Heads concert film “Stop Making Sense.” A new 4K restoration will play in IMAX at the festival, followed by the four original members of the group — David Byrne, Chris Frantz, Tina Weynouth and Jerry Harrison — appearing together for the first time in more than 20 years for a Q&A moderated by Spike Lee.
“It was meant to be and was meant to be at our festival,” said Bailey, “and I cannot wait for that night.”
That’s far from everything, though. Below are the 10 titles that L.A. Times staffers who will be on the ground at Toronto are most excited about.