Notebook

WHAT WE'RE EXCITED FOR AT TIFF 2016

With our fashion week being canceled indefinitely, TIFF is one of the few globally awaited festivals Toronto still has to offer. And with a focus on underrepresented voices (think female directors and people of colour - woo!) we were extra excited to browse through the lineup. Here are our picks.

Loving

From TIFF: Mildred and Richard Loving were arrested in 1958 for the crime of getting married. According to the state of Virginia, she was "colored," he was "white," and their marriage was illegal. Both were sentenced to a year in prison — a sentence that was only suspended on the condition that they leave Virginia.

The couple fought that judgment before the US Supreme Court, which ultimately ruled in their favour, bringing an end to Virginia's anti-miscegenation laws. This inspiring film from Jeff Nichols (Mud, Take Shelter) tells Mildred and Richard's story of romance and injustice with tenderness and wisdom.

Why we’re excited: Considering the current political climate, especially surrounding race, this movie will be an important reminder of both how far things have come and how far there is still left to go.

Planetarium

From TIFF: In 1930s France, American spiritualists Laura and Kate Barlow are winding up a world tour. Seemingly adept at communicating with the dead, the women are somewhat less experienced with the business of the living. Nevertheless, their astonishing exhibit of apparently supernatural powers piques the interest of powerful French film producer André Korben, who retains their strange talents for his wildly ambitious new film project. Laura and Kate are soon swept up in a scheme that, fusing art and the occult, portends a dark shadow soon to be cast over all of Europe.

Lyrical and dreamlike, Planetarium immerses us in a world where reality and illusion intermingle until it's nearly impossible to discern between the two.

Why we’re excited: We love when stories about women are actually told by women, and Planetarium is director Rebecca Zlotowski’s second film that does just that. The movie was written and directed by a woman, and features two strong female leads. We’re excited.

Queen of Katwe

From TIFF: David Oyelowo and Academy Award winner Lupita Nyong’o star in the true story of a young girl from rural Uganda who discovers a passion for chess, and sets out to pursue her dream of becoming an international champion.

From her vantage point in the Kampala shantytown of Katwe, 10-year-old Phiona Mutesi can see precious few routes out of destitution. When a missionary and one-time soccer player named Robert begins teaching the local kids to play chess, Phiona is transfixed — and displays an instant affinity for the game.

Recognizing raw talent and fierce moxie when he sees them, Robert takes Phiona under his wing. As she gets more and more opportunity to demonstrate her talents, Phiona begins to realize that she might also be able to help her family find a better life.

Why we’re excited: It’s not often that we get real, balanced stories about African countries that don’t center around the same tired colonial narratives. In that respect, Queen of Katwe is really a breath of fresh air. Also: Lupita Nyong’o.

Christine

From TIFF: Antonio Campos directs this chilling character study of real-life Florida newscaster Christine Chubbuck, narrating the events before she committed suicide on live television in 1974. Typically assigned to cover community interest fare for her news station, Christine longs for the chance to tackle something more substantial. With one disappointment after another Christine embarks on a dark path.

Though we know how it will end, Campos imbues our journey with suspense and an unsettling mood. Demonstrating control and sensitivity, Campos and screenwriter Craig Shilowich skillfully avoid sensationalizing Christine's suicide. In offering their explanation of what might have driven her to her death, they paint a thoughtful picture of the woman she may have been, in the process honouring her life.

Why we’re excited: Director Antonio Campos is part of the team that brought us Martha Marcy May Marlene, one of the most visually stunning and absolutely chilling movies we’ve seen in a while. He obviously does tension really well, which is perfect for this story.

Marie Curie, the Courage of Knowledge

From TIFF: Physicist, chemist, and pioneer in the study of radioactivity, Marie Sklodowska Curie spent her life setting precedents. She was the first woman to win the Nobel Prize and the first person to win it twice.

As the first female professor at the University of Paris, she had to overcome the condescension and antagonism of France's male-dominated academic establishment. She also courted controversy of the sort that still threatens to quash the careers of public figures today. This sweeping biography brings to life Curie's inspiring story of discovery, heartbreak, and triumph.

Why we’re excited: As you can see by the description above, Marie Curie was a revolutionary woman that a lot of people don’t seem to know much about. It’s no secret that we hear a lot less about important female figures in history, and this movie helps balance the scales a little.