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Stephen Chbosky’s Dear Evan Hansen is set to add to the glitz for September’s 46th Toronto Film Festival as the opening night film at Roy Thomson Hall.
And Chinese director Zhang Yimou, who directed Raise the Red Lantern and Hero, is bringing One Second to close the Canadian festival, organizers said on Tuesday. Also on Tuesday, Neon, which distributed 2020 Oscar best picture winner Parasite, announced it had picked up the North American rights to One Second on the heels of premiering Titane in Cannes ahead of its Palme d’Or win.
Dear Evan Hansen, Universal’s adaptation of the Broadway musical, stars Ben Platt, Amy Adams, Julianne Moore, Kaitlyn Dever, Amandla Stenberg and Nik Dodani. Chbosky (Wonder) directs the feature, which has a script by Steven Levenson, who wrote the book for the stage musical. And Platt, who originated the role and even won a Tony for it, is reprising the character of Evan Hansen, a socially awkward teen who gets caught up in a lie when he claims he was best friends with a schoolmate who commits suicide.
Gala screening berths have also been reserved for Walt Becker’s Clifford the Big Red Dog from Paramount and Will Sharpe’s The Electrical Life of Louis Wain, which stars Claire Foy, while Michael Showalter’s The Eyes of Tammy Faye, where Jessica Chastain and Andrew Garfield play televangelists Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker, will screen as part of the Special Presentations section.
Canada is set to loosen border restrictions on Aug. 9 for fully vaccinated U.S. citizens and permanent residents looking to come north for non-essential travel without having to quarantine; other fully vaccinated international travelers will be allowed into Canada on Sept. 7. So the Toronto Film Festival, which gets underway Sept. 9, can look forward to having international stars and directors potentially walk its red carpet for the first time in two years.
Rounding out the latest Gala program additions for Roy Thomson Hall are Barry Levinson’s The Survivor, a drama starring Ben Foster as a boxer who uses high-profile fights against boxing legends like Rocky Marciano to find his first love again.
And the Special Presentations sidebar has booked Clio Barnard’s British drama Ali & Ava, which bowed at Cannes; Mia Hansen-Love’s Bergman Island, a movie about screenwriters navigating crises of love and career that stars Vicky Krieps, Tim Roth and Mia Wasikowska; Michael McGowan’s All My Puny Sorrows; Japanese director Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s Drive My Car; and Beast writer-director Michael Pearce’s latest movie, Encounter, from Amazon Studios and starring Riz Ahmed.
The announcements came as TIFF unveiled its latest titles for another slimmed-down edition, with physical, drive-in and digital screenings planned for the Sept. 9-18 edition. Some TIFF titles will also be available for Canadians across the country to view at home as the festival, for the second year running, plans more streaming than screening.
Toronto organizers will also hold their third annual Tribute Awards. Toronto anticipates around 100 movies in its official selection to screen over the festival’s 10 days.
The Special Presentations section also includes Maria Schrader’s I’m Your Man; Fabrice du Welz’s Inexorable; Brent Harmer’s The Middle Man; Mariano Cohn’s Official Competition; and Jacques Audiard’s Paris, 13th District, the latest film from the 2015 Palme d’Or winner for Dheepan that explores the lives of several Parisian 30-somethings in black and white and bowed in Cannes.
Also booked into the Special Presentations sidebar is The Story of My Wife, from director IIdiko Enyedi; Nanni Moretti’s Three Floors, another Cannes title that sees Margherita Buy, Alba Rohrwacher and Riccardo Scamarcio play characters living in the same condo in alternating dramas about ordinary people; and Justine Bateman’s Violet, with Olivia Munn starring in the directorial debut from Relativity Media and Rogue Pictures that bowed at SXSW and tells the story of a Hollywood executive’s struggle to turn off the hostile voice in her head and live a more authentic life.
In June, the first wave of films unveiled for Toronto’s 2021 official selection included Antoine Fuqua’s The Guilty from Netflix; Kenneth Branagh’s Belfast, Focus Features’ award season contender starring Caitriona Balfe, Judi Dench and Jamie Dornan; HBO’s Alanis Morissette documentary Jagged, directed by Alison Klayman; and the Naomi Watts starrer Lakewood, directed by Philip Noyce and shot in northern Ontario.
As the Canadian city slowly emerges from a long pandemic lockdown, fest organizers are planning in-person screenings at TIFF Bell Lightbox, Roy Thomson Hall, the Princess of Wales Theatre and the Cinesphere Theatre at Ontario Place as well as outdoor screenings at four drive-in locations on the city’s waterfront.
The 2021 Toronto Film Festival will effectively resemble last year’s hybrid event, with limited in-person film screenings. Last year TIFF first introduced its digital screening platform to comply with safety protocols during the COVID-19 pandemic.
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