In this podcast episode, we discuss some of the highlights of TIFF 2020, from buzzed-about films like Ammonite and Nomadland to lesser known hidden gems.
This podcast episode features Editor-in-Chief Alex Heeney, Executive Editor Orla Smith, and special guest (and contributing writer to our books) Angelo Muredda.
Nomadland (Chloé Zhao) premiered at TIFF, Venice, and NYFF
Chloé Zhao’s third feature, Nomadland, stars Frances McDormand as a woman who has moved into a van and is living an itinerant life in the American southwest. The film won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival and the People’s Choice Award at the Toronto International Film Festival.
- Read Alex Heeney’s review of Nomadland
- Read our interview with Chloé Zhao on her second feature, The Rider
- Read our review of Chloé Zhao’s first feature, Songs My Brothers Taught Me
Look forward to a Chloé Zhao-themed episode closer to the release of Nomadland
Ammonite (Francis Lee) premiered at TIFF
Francis Lee’s second feature, Ammonite, had its world premiere at TIFF, after being selected at Cannes and Telluride this year. Set in 1800s Lyme, the film is a queer love story between real-life paleontologist Mary Anning and a woman who came to stay with her for a few weeks.
We previously published a book on Francis Lee’s first feature, God’s Own Country, which includes in-depth interviews with Lee on his approach to sound, directing actors, and more. You can read excerpts from the book here.
We’ll be discussing God’s Own Country and Ammonite on the podcast when Ammonite is released in Canada and the US.
Inconvenient Indian (Michelle Latimer)
Since we recorded this podcast, Inconvenient Indian won both the Amplify Voices Award for Best Canadian Feature Film and the TIFF 2020 People’s Choice Documentary Award. Adapted from Thomas King’s book of the same name, Michelle Latimer’s work of creative nonfiction explores the narratives settlers have told about Indigenous people in the past and today, how this continues to affect Indigenous people, and how Indigenous people are reclaiming those narratives.
Alex Heeney’s interview with Michelle Latimer on Inconvenient Indian is coming soon
Inconvenient Indian will screen online and in person at the Vancouver International Film Festival which starts on September 24.
No Ordinary Man (Aisling Chin-Yee, Chase Joynt)
“The story No Ordinary Man tells is one of lost transgender history that’s finally being reclaimed. The film’s subject is Billy Tipton, an influential jazz musician who worked between the 1930s and 1970s. It wasn’t until 1989, when Tipton died in the arms of his son, Billy Jr., that Tipton’s family and the public discovered that he was assigned female at birth. After his death, Tipton’s story was twisted: Tipton was unequivocally a trans man, but the cis-dominated media presented him as a woman who dressed as a man in order to get a foot in the door in the music industry. Even the most cited text about Tipton’s life, Suits Me: The Double Life of Billy Tipton by Dianne Middlebrook, framed his story around this harmful narrative.
In Chin-Yee and Joynt’s hands, No Ordinary Man is no ordinary biographical documentary. They go way beyond the standard archival footage and talking head interview approach to tell Tipton’s story. ” – Orla Smith
No Ordinary Man will screen online at the FIN Atlantic Film Festival, Calgary International Film Festival, and Vancouver International Film Festival.
Trickster (Michelle Latimer)
Trickster will premiere on CBC (and CBC Gem) on October 7 in Canada. As far as we know, it has not yet been sold to other territories.
The Truffle Hunters (Michael Dweck, Gregory Kershaw)
“The impossible challenge of translating the singular olfactory pleasures of sampling a top-shelf white truffle into words over the phone is something of an apt analogy for Dweck and Kershaw’s project. The filmmakers convert the idiosyncratic private lives and nonstandard labour of several elderly, taciturn northern Italian mushroom foragers and their dogs (who are also their business partners) into crowd-pleasing documentary fodder for foodies as well as people who go to nonfiction for a chance to gawk at eccentrics.” – Angelo Muredda, Film Freak Central
The Truffle Hunters will be released later this year.
Quo Vadis, Aida? (Jasmila Žbanic)
“Quo Vadis, Aida? is set in 1995, in the heat of the war between the Serbian and Bosnian populations, and the Serbs are encroaching on Srebrenica in increasingly violent ways. Writer-director Jasmila Žbanic, who lived through the war, drops us straight into the action with this scene of negotiation between the mayor, who is concerned for the safety of his townspeople, and the UN soldiers, who assure him that the Serbs “have been issued an ultimatum” that will keep Srebrenica safe. Through Aida’s panicked eyes, we watch this hopeless conversation unfold as the soldiers naively reason that the Serbs won’t attack because the UN has warned that they will face “serious consequences” if they do.” – Orla Smith
True Mothers (Naomi Kawase)
“It’s a shame that Naomi Kawase’s features have a tendency to vanish from English-speaking countries as soon as they make their festival run, because she’s a uniquely thoughtful, sensitive filmmaker. True Mothers is perhaps my favourite of her films I’ve seen (Still the Water, Sweet Bean, and Vision) because of how smartly it deals with what it means to be a mother, and sadly, the sheer amount of shame that is associated with it.” – Alex Heeney
Limbo (Ben Sharrock)
Limbo is about a Syrian refugee living on a Scottish island as he awaits to hear if he’s been granted asylum. The film has shades of Yorgos Lanthimos, Aki Kaurismäki, and surreal horror, but it’s entirely it’s own thing.
Limbo will screen online at the London Film Festival. Get your tickets >>
Bandar Band (Manijeh Hekmat)
“In March 2019, 26 of Iran’s 31 provinces were flooded from excessive downpour. In April, The New York Times reported, “‘Iran is under water,’ said Sayed Hashem, regional director of the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent. ‘The scale of this crisis means that more help is needed.’” This tragic event, which left thousands of people without their homes and entire cities under water, is the backdrop of director Manijeh Hekmat’s often lighthearted film, Bandar Band.” – Alex Heeney
180° Rule (Farnoosh Samadi)
It’s best to go into this twisty, provocative film blind. Through the story of an Iranian schoolteacher who disobeys her husband and faces tragic and unexpected consequences, director Farnoosh Samadi pokes and prods at the limitations placed on women in Iranian society. Samadi also co-wrote the brilliant short film Exam.
Stay tuned for Orla Smith’s interview with the director.
180° Rule will screen online at the London Film Festival. Get tickets here >>
MLK/FBI (Sam Pollard)
“Documentarian and editor Sam Pollard peers into the recently declassified files on the FBI’s aggressive counter-intelligence operation against Martin Luther King, Jr. in MLK/FBI. Pollard’s nonfiction essay is an infuriating and timely document undermined at times by its glossy, cinema-of-quality treatment.” – Angelo Muredda, Film Freak Central
Read our other coverage on TIFF2020
- Read Alex Heeney’s editorial about the disappointments of this year’s TIFF
- Read Justine Smith’s in-depth interview with Sofia Bohdonawicz on her short film Point and Line in Plane
- Read Joe Lipsett’s review of Falling on Consequence of Sound, which we mentioned on the episode.
- Read Angelo Muredda’s forthcoming review of Tenet with a subscription to CinemaScope.
Catch up with Angelo Muredda’s previous appearances on the Seventh Row podcast:
- Listen to Angelo discuss the Canadian slate at TIFF 2019 on the podcast
- Listen to Angelo discuss Wendy and Lucy and First Cow and some of the insights from his essay which appears in Portraits of resistance
Watch Lockdown Film School with Sofia Bohdanowicz and Kazik Radwanski where they discuss getting your independent and short films programmed at film festivals.