TIFF 2013: The films getting the buzz

Posted By: Justine Lewkowicz · 9/3/2013 9:02:00 PM

There are 366 films screening at TIFF this year. Of those, 31 are Canadian productions. 268 of them are world or North American premiers.

Some of the films will become big blockbusters. Many others will never make it to mainstream theatres.

Here are some of the films getting the most buzz this year:

The Fifth Estate (opening night film)

You don't disclose three-quarters of a million classified documents without making a few enemies. So discovers WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in Bill Condon's The Fifth Estate, a mesmerizing, complex portrait of an embattled new-media luminary. The Fifth Estate details WikiLeaks's rise to international notoriety and the subsequent souring of relations between Assange (Benedict Cumberbatch, also appearing at the Festival in 12 Years a Slave and August: Osage County) and his most trusted lieutenant, Daniel Domscheit-Berg (Daniel Brühl, also at the Festival in Ron Howard's Rush).

12 Years A Slave

In Saratoga Springs, New York, 1841, Solomon Northup is a free man making his living as a musician. After accepting a job offer from two men to play for a circus, he soon finds himself kidnapped, transported to the South and sold into slavery. Forced to take a new name, he is thrown together with other enslaved African Americans, each suffering the horrors of gruelling labour, daily humiliations, and families torn apart. But for Northup, there is the added nightmare of remembering the freedom and identity he so recently enjoyed. (Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Dano, Garret Dillahunt, Paul Giamatti, Scoot McNairy, Lupita Nyong'o, Adepero Oduye, Sarah Paulson, Brad Pitt, Michael Kenneth Williams, Alfre Woodard)

Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom

His story is epic and inspiring. Born to be a Xhosa leader, he was trained in law, then drawn into resistance, then politics, then elevated to a reverence that approached sainthood. Nelson Mandela has lived one of the most remarkable lives of our time. His autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom, charts the many struggles that took him from South Africa's rural Cape region to armed struggle and arrest, and then to the president's mansion as his nation's first democratically elected leader. Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom transforms Mandela's book into a rousing, spirited film.

Don Jon

Jon Martello Jr. (Gordon-Levitt) is a New Jersey bartender and womanizer. Yet, in spite of his ability to land sexual partners, Jon has a dirty secret: he's hopelessly hooked on internet porn. For him, no reallife bedmate — no matter how gorgeous or skilled — can compare to the endless parade of images he finds on the web. Even after what would seem an exhausting session in the sack, Jon still feels the call of his laptop. Jon's routine seems fixed for life — until he meets Barbara Sugarman (Scarlett Johansson, in one of her best roles). She's a sassy Jersey girl who proves a rare challenge to his powers of seduction. But can he reveal to her his awkward addiction?

Devil’s Knot

When three young boys were brutally murdered in the small community of West Memphis, Arkansas, in 1993, their deaths led to shock and outrage in this tightly knit religious town. It wasn't long before three teenagers were arrested, tried, and sentenced — two of them to life imprisonment and one to death — despite the fact that they all claimed innocence. This story of wrongful conviction roiled the American justice system, brought a number of prominent movie stars and rock musicians to the defence of the three young men, and resulted in a trilogy of documentaries, Paradise Lost, that did much to keep the case in the public eye. Atom Egoyan has revisited the story of the West Memphis Three and dramatized it for the screen in a film as compelling and disturbing as the truth itself. (Colin Firth, Reese Witherspoon)

August: Osage County

Beverly Weston (played by Sam Shepard, another great American playwright, whose influence upon Letts is unmistakable) is an Oklahoma poet battling alcoholism, while his wife Violet (Meryl Streep) suffers from cancer and a new-found drug dependency. Not long after hiring a live-in caregiver for Violet, Beverly vanishes, prompting the family to unite in a search that ends with a morbid discovery. Mother and daughters (Julia Roberts, Julianne Nicholson and Juliette Lewis) are left to deal with the aftermath, and each other — the four women have never exactly seen eye-to-eye.


From the first jaw-dropping scene, you are immersed in space. Astronauts Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) and Matt Kowalsky (George Clooney) banter like a mismatched couple in a classic romantic comedy, but their work is deadly serious. Tethered to a space station orbiting at 600 kilometres above Earth, they couldn't be more different: Stone is a medical researcher on her first mission, and Kowalsky's a veteran NASA man headed for retirement. As they complete their tasks outside the station, they're protected from instant death only by their spacesuits. It's clear that their banter — funny as it is — is a screen. Then, the unimaginable happens. Plunged into crisis, Stone and Kowalsky suddenly find themselves in mortal danger, and without the aid of NASA command back on the ground. The cold, vast beauty of space stands between them and home. To get there, they've got nothing to rely on but their own wits.


Brilliantly adapted from the late Nobel Prize-winning author José Saramago's 2002 novel The Double, the latest from the Academy Award-nominated Denis Villeneuve breathes new life into the doppelgänger tradition, with a hypnotic, haunting, surreal approach that reaffirms the Quebec director as one of our generation's most skilled storytellers. Adam Bell (Jake Gyllenhaal) is a glum, disheveled history professor, who seems disinterested even in sex with his beautiful girlfriend, Mary (Mélanie Laurent). Watching a movie on the recommendation of a colleague, Adam spots his double, an actor named Anthony Clair, in a bit role, and decides to track him down — an adventure he quite relishes. The identical men meet, and their lives become bizarrely and irrevocably intertwined.


Rush, the latest from director Ron Howard, revisits one of the most thrilling seasons in Formula One history: that of 1976, when two young drivers contested fiercely on and off the track. Austria's Niki Lauda (Daniel Brühl, also appearing at the Festival in Gala Presentation The Fifth Estate), the reigning world champion, was cool, detached, methodical; a kind of Teutonic metronome, perceived as being ruthlessly efficient but colourless. Across the grid from him was Englishman James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth), the swashbuckling, hard-living, carousing blond playboy who looked every inch the part. What turned their duel into the stuff of legend was the ferocity with which they competed — literally to the edge of death.

(film descriptions from

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