TIFF 2011: 25 Most Anticipated Films pt.1 – Kids, Monsters, Neurotic Housewives, Greek Insanity & More

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The Toronto Film Festival is a tricky beast when it comes to picking what films to see. There is always the problem that a few movies may screen at the same time, leaving you with the difficult choice of choosing one over the other. This will only be my third year heading to the fest, but I have quickly come to learn a few tricks. The first and most important thing to keep in mind is release dates. There is no sense in purchasing a ticket for a film that will have a wide theatrical release soon after the fest begins if it means missing out on another movie which you may not have the chance to see again for a very long time. A prime example from this year’s line-up is Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive, which gets released theatrically the very same week. With that being said, I still to intend on watching Drive at TIFF cause, well, Refn is a genius, and I am not sure if I can wait much longer – but if it came between Drive and, say, Alps, I would gladly choose the Greek film first, knowing it probably won’t ever hit the box office in North America. It is also handy to keep track of the distance between the theaters. You don’t want to leave one film and have only five minutes to run to the next, if it is screening halfway across town. Also for anyone who cares about the red carpets and celebrity sightings, I would offer this piece of advice: the day screenings are less crowded and usually, although not always, the actors/actresses and directors still make an appearance for a Q&A. It is actually much easier to cross paths with anyone of them in the day time after the Q&A on the side entrance of each theater – whereas at night they are usually in a rush to leave, heading out to whatever after party they have planned. With that said, what is really important is the movies, so here is a list of my most anticipated films screening this year at TIFF.

1. Alps

Way before Yorgos Lanthimos’ provocative Dogtooth ever had an Oscars nomination, we raved about the film on our podcast. The film was so popular amongst the Sound On Sight staff that it made our top 10 both in 2009 and 2010. You see, some of us lucky folks had the chance to see it long before it ever had any sort of theatrical release in North America, thanks to great film festivals worldwide. Not to say we were the only ones. The film landed on the number one spot on Slant Magazine’s best of the year list, and won the Un Certain Regard prize at Cannes.

Now Lanthimos is back with Alps, which he calls “darker and funnier. It goes to each extreme a little bit more.”

The film stars Dogtooth actress Aggeliki Papoulia in a story that follows a nurse, a paramedic, a gymnast and her coach, who form a service for hire in which they stand in for dead people by appointment, replicating the behaviour and gestures of the deceased, to help friends and relatives with the grieving process.

2. Dreileben Trilogy

One of the most talked-about world-premieres at Berlin, Dreileben is also one of the longest: a triple-bill of 90-minute movies, made by respected German writer-directors Christian Petzold, Dominik Graf and Christoph Hochhäusler. That’s right, there is a trilogy playing at TIFF this year and it is a must-see. Also I am including this as one film even though technically there are three.


A thrilling trio of interlocking films, Dreileben explores the story of an escaped murderer from three different angles, in three different styles, by three of Germany’s leading filmmakers.

3. Kotoko

Shinya Tsukamoto, the director of the black & white 16 mm feature Tetsuo: The Iron (a film considered the definitive example of Japanese cyberpunk), and also the creator of Tokyo Fist, Bullet Ballet and Snake And June, is back at TIFF with Kotoko, the story of a single mother who suffers from double vision; caring for her baby is a nerve-wrecking task that eventually leads her to a nervous breakdown. She is suspected of being a child abuser when things get out of control and her baby is taken away. It’s nice to see the director doing something original and staying away from sequels, which has kept him busy for far too long. If you are not familiar with the filmmaker, I suggest you get busy and rent some of his older stuff. I promise even if you don’t like it, you won’t forget it.

4. Monster’s Club


One of the films in that selection that we are all extremely excited to see is Toshiaki Toyoda’s Monster’s Club, a dark fantasy from the director of Blue Spring and Nine Souls. So the controversial and acclaimed director is back after his career was cast into the shadows of guilt when arrested on drug charges and then subsequently blacklisted by the conservative Japanese film industry. There is a reason Toyoda was named one of the most promising new filmmakers in the early aughts. Check out the trailer for his latest film below.

5. Play

Writer-director Ruben Ostlund (The Guitar Mongoloid and Involuntary) brings us Play, based on a spate of real cases of bullying and robbery that took place in Gothenburg, Sweden between 2006 and 2008. The film had its World premiere at Cannes, Directors’ Fortnight and was received with a very positive response. Also worth noting is that the film was shot entirely in long takes. The trailer below should be enough to sell you.

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Part 2

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