The 2015 film festival season finally makes it’s way across the pond to Canada, for the 40th anniversary of the Toronto International Film Festival. Like so many movie lovers on this continent and beyond, I’m joining the masses once again to squeeze in as many screenings, red carpets and one-of-kind TIFF moments into the coming days without reaching total and utter burn-out (sleep is so overrated).
What’s fuelling my cinematic appetite more than any other year, though, is TIFF’s choice for the City to City Programme, which is none other than the fine city of London, England. All hail British cinema and the immense amount of talent and extraordinary storytelling that this region has become known for. I love this article in the Hollywood Reporter from earlier this year on why British actors nab so many American roles.
British film and talent have dominated the hearts and headlines of TIFF revellers over the past few years, in particular Benedict Cumberbatch, or “The Batch” as I so affectionately call him. A TIFF darling 3 years running, The Batch starred in TIFF’s 2013 opener The Fifth Estate, where he portrayed Wikileaks co-founder Julian Assange. Last year I watched from the camera call pit as his cast mates and the audience gave him an extended standing O (before) the screening of The Imitation Game, which turned out to be well-deserved praise. The film, directed by Morten Tyldum, went on to win the coveted Grolsch People’s Choice Award.
This year he’s back to star alongside Johnny Depp in the much anticipated Black Mass, an adaptation of the book by Dick Lehr and Gerard O’Neill, about the notorious Irish-American gangster Whitey Bulger, who spent three decades as an FBI informant while rising to the top of Boston’s organized crime underbelly.
When I look back at TIFF 2014, my most enjoyable, shocking and emotional moments were triggered by the powerful films coming out of the UK. I cried an inconsolable (read unattractive), yet happy cry at the conclusion of Pride, the true story of how a London-based gay rights collective came to rally behind a bunch of small-town Welsh miners, moving the LGBT movement one giant leap forward. And let’s not forget the spoiled, entitled and borderline homicidal boys portrayed in The Riot Club based on the play Posh by British playwright Laura Wade.
James Marsh’s Oscar nominated masterpiece The Theory of Everything had its world premiere during TIFF last year, followed by Eddie Redmayne snagging the Academy Award for Best Actor for his masterful portrayal of Professor Stephen Hawking. This year, Redmayne stars in Tom Hooper’s The Danish Girl, a performance already generating Oscar buzz.
Ben Wheatley’s wicked look into the complexities of the British class system in High-Rise tops my list of must-see screenings this weekend. I’m also looking forward to Tom Hardy’s double role in Legend, where he portrays both Reggie and Ronnie Kray, identical twin brothers who ruled the London underworld during the swinging 60s. Hardy also stars in London Road as part of TIFF’s City to City Progamme.
Which British film do you think will win over the festies this year? Chime in below or tweet me @missusheatherm using the #TIFF15 hashtag.
Originally published in The Province.