TIFF ’19: Francois Girard, Semi Chellas films land gala premieres

The movies are joined by Atom Egoyan's Guest of Honour, which will bow on the special presentation roster.
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François Girard’s The Song of Names and Semi Chellas’ American Woman will premiere as gala presentations at the Toronto International Film Festival. The films are among the first gala and special presentation titles the festival has announced. Atom Egoyan’s Guest of Honour (pictured) will also have its North American premiere as a special presentation.

Girard’s drama The Song of Names will have its world premiere at the festival. The film is produced by Toronto’s Serendipity Point Films and Montreal’s Lyla Films, in association with Ingenious Media, Feel Films and Proton Cinema. It is produced with the participation of Telefilm, SODEC, Bell Media, CBC, CMF and Ontario Creates, and stars Tim Roth and Clive Owen as two men caught up in a mystery over a missing violin player.

Chellas’ American Woman, produced by First Generation Films and Elevation Pictures, had its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival in March. The gala lineup includes buzz-generating films such as Marielle Heller’s A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, Kasi Lemmons’ Harriet and John Crowley’s The Goldfinch.

Girard is no stranger to TIFF. His film Hochelaga, Terre des Âmes had its world premiere as a TIFF gala film in 2017. HanWay Films, which handles worldwide sales for The Song of Names, has already inked a multi-territory deal for the film ahead of its premiere. Sony Pictures Classic is the U.S. distributor, while Elevation Pictures will distribute in Canada.

Egoyan is another TIFF veteran. His latest, Guest of Honour, stars David Thewlis and is produced by The Film Farm and Egoyan’s Film Arts production banner. The filmmaker last premiered Remember, starring Christopher Plummer, at the festival in 2015.

Robert Egger’s The Lighthouse, which was shot entirely in Nova Scotia, will have its North American premiere as a special presentation. The film, which stars Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe as two feuding lighthouse keepers, picked up a critics’ choice award for best first or second feature at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.

Todd Phillips’ DC Comics film Joker, starring Joaqin Phoenix, will have its North American premiere as a gala presentation. Vancouver-based Bron Creative is a producer on the project, as a result of a multi-million dollar financing deal with Warner Bros. Pictures.

Additional high-profile special presentations include Palme d’Or winner Parasite, directed by Bong Joon-Ho; and Céline Sciamma’s Portrait of a Lady on Fire, which picked up the best screenplay prize at Cannes. Montreal distributor MK2|Mile End has picked the Canadian distribution rights to both films.

The closing gala film is director Marjane Satrapi’s Radioactive, a biopic of scientist Marie Curie.

TIFF has already announced Canadian doc Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and The Band as the festival’s opening film. The Crave original doc will be the first Canadian documentary to open the festival in its 44-year history.

The full list of gala and special presentations is below:

Gala Presentations

Opening Film
Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and The Band, Daniel Roher (Canada)

Closing Film
Radioactive, Marjane Satrapi (U.K.)

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, Marielle Heller (U.S.)
Abominable,  Jill Culton (U.S.)
American Woman, Semi Chellas (Canada)
Blackbird, Roger Michell (U.K.)
Clemency, Chinonye Chukwu (U.S.)
Ford v Ferrari, James Mangold (U.S.)
Harriet, Kasi Lemmons (U.S.)
Hustlers, Lorene Scafaria (U.S.)
Joker, Todd Phillips (U.S.)
Just Mercy, Destin Daniel Cretton (U.S.)
Ordinary Love, Lisa Barros D’Sa, Glenn Leyburn (U.K.)
The Goldfinch, John Crowley (U.S.)
The Sky Is Pink, Shonali Bose (India)
The Song of Names, François Girard (Canada)
True History of the Kelly Gang, Justin Kurzel (Australia)
Western Stars, Thom Zimny, Bruce Springsteen (U.S.)

Special Presentations

A Herdade, Tiago Guedes (Portugal)
Bad Education, Cory Finley (U.S.)
Coming Home Again, Wayne Wang (U.S., South Korea)
Dolemite Is My Name, Craig Brewer (U.S.)
Ema, Pablo Larraín (Chile)
Endings, Beginnings, Drake Doremus (U.S.)
Frankie, Ira Sachs (France/Portugal)
Greed, Michael Winterbottom (U.K.)
Guest of Honour, Atom Egoyan (Canada)
Heroic Losers (La odisea de los giles), Sebastian Borensztein (Argentina/Spain)
Honey Boy, Alma Har’el (U.S.)
Hope Gap, William Nicholson (U.K.)
How to Build a Girl, Coky Giedroyc (U.K.)
I Am Woman, Unjoo Moon (Australia)
Jojo Rabbit, Taika Waititi (U.S.)
Judy, Rupert Goold (U.K.)
Knives Out, Rian Johnson (U.S.)
La Belle Époque, Nicolas Bedos (France)
Marriage Story, Noah Baumbach (U.S.)
Military Wives, Peter Cattaneo (U.K.)
Motherless Brooklyn, Edward Norton (U.S.)
No.7 Cherry Lane, Yonfan (Hong Kong)
Pain and Glory, Pedro Almodóvar (Spain)
Parasite (Gisaengchung), Bong Joon-ho (South Korea)
Pelican Blood (Pelikanblut), Katrin Gebbe (Germany/Bulgaria)
Portrait of a Lady on Fire (Portrait de la jeune fille en feu), Céline Sciamma (France)
Saturday Fiction (Lan Xin Da Ju Yuan), Lou Ye (China)
The Friend, Gabriela Cowperthwaite (U.S.)
The Laundromat, Steven Soderbergh (U.S.)
The Lighthouse, Robert Eggers (U.S.)
The Other Lamb, Malgorzata Szumowska (Belgium/Ireland/U.S.)
The Painted Bird, Václav Marhoul (Czech Republic/Ukraine/Slovakia)
The Personal History of David Copperfield, Armando Iannucci (U.K.)
The Report, Scott Z. Burns (U.S.)
The Two Popes, Fernando Meirelles (U.K.)
Uncut Gems, Benny Safdie, Josh Safdie (U.S.)
Weathering With You, Makoto Shinkai (Japan)
While at War (Mientras Dure La Guerra), Alejandro Amenábar (Spain/Argentina)

Image courtesy Elevation Pictures