Toronto International Film Festival (affectionately known as TIFF) has always been a proud champion of East Asian cinema and this year is no exception with a number of eagerly awaited films from high profile directors including the World Premiere of the latest from Feng Xiaogang and highly anticipated return to action cinema for John Woo alongside interesting debuts from up and coming new directors.
- Youth – Feng Xiaogang’s followup to I am Not Madame Bovary makes its World Premiere at TIFF. A national coming of age story, Feng’s drama focusses on a ’70s military arts troupe as one particular dancer suffers at the hands of her peers but later emerges as a heroine.
- Angels Wear White – Featured in competition at Venice, Vivian Qu’s Trap Street followup focusses on a pair of teenage girls assaulted in a hotel room and the receptionist who says nothing for fear of losing her job,
- Dragonfly Eyes – the debut feature from artist Xu Bing, Dragonfly Eyes uses footage assembled from China’s many surveillance cameras to tell a sad love story.
- Manhunt – John Woo returns to the realms of heroic bloodshed with a remake of a ’70s Japanese action classic starring Masaharu Fukuyama and Zhang Hanyu.
- Mrs Fang – Wang Bing’s affecting documentary focusses on an elderly woman left alone to die in a small Chinese village.
- Struggling – TIFF teams up with China Film Archive for a screening of this recently restored Chinese silent film from 1932.
- The Conformist – Set on the Sino-Russian Frontier, Cai Shangjun’s The Conformist is an existential crime thriller revolving around a double agent working for the police whilst inhabiting the local underworld.
- Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts – an Indonesian feminist western, Mouly Surya’s third feature follows a young widow out on a quest of revenge after a gang of bandits storm her farmhouse, rape her, and steal all her cattle. Armed only with a sword and a severed head, she takes to the road.
- The Seen and the Unseen – making its World Premiere at TIFF Kamila Andini’s The Seen and the Unseen is a magical tale of a young girl retreating into a fantasy world to cope with the impending death of her twin brother.
- Birds Without Names – Kazuya Shirasishi’s Dawn of the Felines followup stars Yu Aoi as a young woman living with an older man (Sadawo Abe) but pining for her violent ex-boyfriend.
- Oh Lucy! – Atsuko Hirayanagi’s sleeper Cannes hit is the story of a lonely middle-aged office lady who discovers a new side to herself when a charismatic English teacher (Josh Hartnett) gives her a blonde wig giving birth to the alter ego Lucy.
- Radiance – the latest from festival favourite Naomi Kawase, Radiance stars veteran actor Masatoshi Nagase as a photographer losing his sight.
- The Third Murder – a departure for director Hirokazu Koreeda, The Third Murder is a tense courtroom thriller starring Koji Yakusho as the defendant in a seemingly open and shut murder case but his lawyer (Masaharu Fukuyama) has his doubts about his client’s testimony.
- Vampire Clay – veteran makeup artist Soichi Umezawa makes his directorial debut with this B-movie inspired tale of plasticine demons devouring the students at a rural arts school.
- Wolf Guy – another special treat, Kazuhiko Yamaguchi’s 1975 Sonny Chiba starring tale of werewolf detectives gets a screening as part of the farewell to Midnight Madness’ Colin Geddes. Review.
- The Poet and the Boy – Kim Yang-hee’s Jeju set character drama stars Yang Ik-june as a melancholy poet whose life changes when he encounters a handsome young man at a local donut shop.
- The Day After – Hong Sang-soo’s third release in 2017 stars Kim Min-hee as a recent recruit to a publishing company where (unbeknownst to her) she’s taken over from a woman let go after an affair with the boss ended badly.
- Dark is the Night – Independent filmmaker Adolfo Alix Jr returns with an urgent look at life in Duterte’s Philippines as a middle-aged couple make a little on the side selling drugs but decide to give it up because of the danger only for their addict son to go missing.
- A Fish out of Water – A young boy becomes fixated on the idea of finding his “past parents” in the debut feature from Lai Kuo-An.
The Great Buddha+ – an extension to director Huang Hsin-Yao’s 2014 short, The Great Buddha+ follows two security guards as they spy on their womanising boss for kicks but find out something they were not supposed to know.
- Samui Song – the highly anticipated return of Last Life in the Universe’s Pen-ek Ratanaruang, Samui Song is a violent thriller in which a soap opera actress plots to escape her wealthy husband who has been brainwashed by a cult.
The Toronto International Film Festival runs from 7 – 17th October. The complete festival programme as well as full information on all the films can be found on the festival’s official website, and you can keep up with all the latest details through the official Facebook page, Twitter account, Instagram and YouTube channels.