TIFF 2015 Films On Our Radar

There are many films to go and see at the Toronto International Film Festival (September 10 to 20). Some will be blockbusters that will have wide-releases in theatres across the country. They are pretty predictable but what we have our eyes on are films that may have great success internationally and may not screen here again.This may just be our only  chance to catch the hidden gems. Here is our list of titles by Asian filmmakers definitely worth checking out …by the way, single tickets are now on sale at tiff.net

OFFICE: Directed by Johnnie To. China/Hong Kong. Special Presentations

Hong Kong master Johnnie To (Drug War, Mad Detective) directs superstars Chow Yun-fat and Sylvia Chang in this spectacular movie musical about high-level corporate intrigue. Stylish, glamorous, and fast-paced, Office sees Hong Kong master Johnnie To branching out into yet another genre, rendering Sylvia Chang’s hit play Design For Living as a spectacular movie musical about high-level corporate intrigue.

A TALE OF THREE CITIES: Directed by Mabel Cheung. China. Special Presentations 

Based on the incredible true story of superstar Jackie Chan’s parents, this epic spans the period from the Second Sino-Japanese War to the beginning of the Mao era as it follows the romance of a former spy and a drug-smuggling young widow as they struggle to survive in a country devastated by war and famine.

MOUNTAINS MAY DEPART: Directed by Jia Zhang-ke. China/France/Japan. Special Presentations

Mainland master Jia Zhang-ke scales new heights with Mountains May Depart. At once an intimate drama and a decades-spanning epic that leaps from the recent past to the present to the speculative near-future, Jia’s new film is an intensely moving study of how China’s economic boom — and the culture of materialism it has spawned — has affected the bonds of family, tradition, and love.

Mountains May Depart. Photo credit: Courtesy of TIFF

OUR LITTLE SISTER: Directed by Hirokazu Kore-eda. Japan. Masters 

After their estranged father’s death, three twentysomething sisters discover that they have a teenaged step-sibling, in this gentle, deeply affecting family drama from Japanese master Hirokazu Kore-eda (Like Father, Like Son).

CEMETERY OF SPLENDOUR: Directed by Apichatpong Weerasethakul. Thailand/UK/France/Germany/Malaysia. Masters

A young medium and a middle-aged hospital volunteer investigate a case of mass sleeping sickness that may have supernatural roots, in the gorgeous, mysterious, and gently humorous new film from Palme d’Or winner Apichatpong Weerasethakul (Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives).

THE ASSASSIN: Directed by Hou Hsiao-Hsien. Masters 

A beautiful assassin (Shu Qi) is sent to kill the powerful lord who was once her betrothed, in this sumptuous martial-arts epic from Taiwanese master Hou Hsiao-hsien (Flight of the Red Balloon).

RIGHT NOW, WRONG THEN: Directed by Hong Sangsoo. South Korea. Masters 

The delightful new film from Festival favourite Hong Sang-soo (In Another Country) presents two variations on a potentially fateful romantic encounter between a filmmaker and a painter, tracing each to its own very distinct outcome.

AN: Directed by Naomi Kawase. Japan/France/Germany. Contemporary World Cinema

A lonely baker has his life (and business) reinvigorated when he hires an elderly woman with an uncanny culinary skill and a mysterious communion with nature, in this graceful, quietly moving drama from Japan’s Naomi Kawase (The Mourning ForestStill the Water). Adapted from the novel by Durian Sukegawa, the new film by Naomi Kawase (who last appeared at the Festival in 2014 with Still the Water) is a graceful ode to the invisible essences of existence — to the beauty and joy we can discover once we learn to listen to nature and feel the life that is coursing through and all around us.
AN. (photo credit: Courtesy of TIFF)
A COPY OF MY MIND: Directed by Joko Anwar. Indonesia/South Korea. Contemporary World Cinema.

A beauty-salon worker and pirate-DVD enthusiast accidentally comes into possession of incriminating evidence of high-level political corruption, in this romantic drama by renowned Indonesian director Joko Anwar.

HONG KONG TRILOGY: PRESCHOOLED PREOCCUPIED PREPOSTEREOUS. Directed by Christopher Doyle. Hong Kong. Contemporary World Cinema

Renowned cinematographer and artist Christopher Doyle celebrates Hong Kong and its people with this documentary-fiction hybrid that focuses on Hong Kong residents in their childhood, youth, and old age.

HONOUR THY FATHER: Directed by Erik Matti, Philippines. Contemporary World Cinema 

A pair of married white-collar swindlers run afoul of their latest victims, in this suspenseful crime drama from celebrated Filipino director Erik Matti.

IN THE ROOM: Directed by Erik Khoo. Hong Kong/Singapore. Contemporary World Cinema 

The sensitive and sensual new film from Singaporean director Eric Khoo draws together several narratives spanning several decades, all of them transpiring in the same room of the same Singaporean hotel — and all of them involving sex.

JOURNEY TO THE SHORE: Directed by Kiyoshi Kurosawa. Japan/France. Contemporary World Cinema 

A young widow undertakes an elegiac voyage with the spectre of her dead husband, in this delicate, touching ghost story from Japanese master Kiyoshi Kurosawa (Tokyo Sonata, Pulse).

Journey to the Shore. (photo credit: Courtesy of TIFF)

PATH OF THE SOUL: Directed by Zhang Yang. China. Contemporary World Cinema

Director Zhang Yang blurs documentary and fiction in this account of a band of pilgrims who make a 2,000-kilometre journey on foot to Lhasa, the holy capital of Tibet.

THE WHISPERING STAR: Directed by Sion Sono. Japan. Contemporary World Cinema

A humanoid robot deliverywoman muses on the mystery of human nature as she drops off parcels around the galaxy, in this playful sci-fi fable from Festival favourite Sion Sono (Why Don’t You Play in Hell?)

AFTERNOON: Directed by Tsai Ming-laing. Taiwan. Wavelengths 

This disarmingly candid, insightful and ultimately very touching conversation between Taiwanese auteur Tsai Ming-liang and his muse Lee Kang-sheng illuminates one of the great actor-director collaborations in cinema history.

A YOUNG PATRIOT: Directed by Du Haibin. China/USA/France. TIFF Docs

This intimate documentary chronicles five years in the life of a young Chinese student, whose fervent idealism and dedication to Mao’s legacy stands in stark contrast to contemporary China’s turn towards state capitalism.

HIDE & SEEK: Directed by Kimie Tanaka. France/Japan/Singapore. Short Cuts Programme 10

Shoichi, a Japanese male nurse living in the city, returns home to the countryside after his mother’s sudden death to deal with younger brother Kotaro, who hasn’t left his room in over a decade.

BAM: Directed by Howie Shia. Canada. Short Cuts Programme 11
A young boxer struggles to contain the rage roiling inside him. Rendered in a spare but powerful style, this animated study in anger shifts from outbursts of brutal force to moments of quieter poignancy.

YAKUZA APOCALYPSE: Directed by Takashi Miike. Japan. Midnight Madness 

Japanese cinematic extremist Takashi Miike (13 Assassins) returns to his gonzo roots with this mind-melter that finds room for vampires, gangsters, earthquakes, volcanoes, monsters, martial arts, and even a yakuza knitting circle.

SPL 2 – A TIME FOR CONSEQUENCES: Directed by Soi Cheang. Hong Kong. Midnight Madness

Martial-arts greats Tony Jaa (Ong-bak) and Wu Jing team up in this bone-crunching action epic. In the wake of a botched bust meant to shut down an organ-trafficking ring, undercover cop Kit (Wu Jing) has his cover blown. As payback, the sinister gang sends him to a Thai prison run by a corrupt warden (Zhang Jin), who swaps Kit’s identity with that of a prisoner facing a life sentence.

THE PROMISED LAND: Directed by He Ping. China. Platform

Veteran director He Ping’s (Warriors of Heaven and Earth) first film to be set in the present day spotlights the massive internal migration that has seen millions of young people leaving their rural towns and villages to try and find a new life in China’s biggest cities.

The Promised Land. (photo credit: Courtesy of TIFF)

VETERAN: Directed by Seung-wan Ryoo. South Korea. Vanguard 

A tough cop targets the tyrannical heir to a mega-corporation in this hard-hitting thriller from South Korean cult auteur Ryoo Seung-wan (Crying Fist, City of Violence).

BEAST: Directed by Multiple Directors. Australia/Philippines. Discovery 

After accidentally killing his opponent in a crooked fight, a young Filipino-American boxer is forced to go on the run through the teeming streets of Manila.

THE BOY AND THE BEAST: Directed by Mamoru Hosada. Japan. TIFF Kids 

A young boy in modern-day Tokyo stumbles into an alternate dimension and becomes the apprentice to a bearlike warrior, in this stunning animated fantasy from writer-director Mamoru Hosoda.




Sonya is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor of AZNmodern.com. She is also a well-established contributing lifestyle writer to other sites and magazines sharing her passion for arts & culture, fashion, beauty, travel and food. Sonya is based in Toronto, Canada. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @theculturepearl

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