TORONTO, Canada: With a jam-packed schedule each day of the Toronto International Film Festival, with screenings from dawn to midnight in multiple locations, it’s challenging to keep up with all the world premieres on offer.
Here’s a quick look at the three films debuting this weekend in Canada’s biggest city. All of them come from talent also known for their work in front of the camera: Oscar winner Taika Waititi, Michael Keaton and Scandal star Tony Goldwyn.
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“Next goal wins”
Waititi earned huge cheers and laughs Sunday with “Next Goal Wins,” a feel-good comedy about American Samoa’s soccer team’s quest to qualify for the World Cup, just over a decade after a 31-0 qualifier loss.
The 48-year-old actor-director (“Thor: Ragnarok,” “What We Do in the Shadows”) cast Michael Fassbender against type in a comedic role as Dutch-American team manager Thomas Rongen, who is sent to try to whip. unlucky team to fix.
The story had already been told in documentary form, but Waititi added a bit of fictional footage with his own quirky sense of humor – a winning formula if the audience’s rapturous applause is any indication.
“I wanted to tell this story because it’s uplifting … I had never tried to make a sports movie, so I just wanted to challenge myself and get out of my comfort zone,” Waititi said on the red carpet.
The Maori filmmaker is at home in Toronto: his Nazi satire “Jojo Rabbit” won the coveted TIFF People’s Choice award here in 2019 and won Waititi’s Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay.
“For me, the most important thing is to put ourselves on the screen – I mean Polynesians, Pacific Islanders, because we’re often overlooked, especially in the diversity conversation,” she said.
Rongen and transgender player Jaiyah Saelua, who portray Kaimana in a poignant performance in the film, received a warm welcome from the audience and joined Waititi on stage for a brief post-show question-and-answer session.
Waititi emphasized the importance of representing Jaiyah’s character as fa’afafin, people with fluid gender roles in Samoan culture.
The Pakistani-Canadian film debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival
“Knox Goes Away”
Keaton did double duty in Knox Goes Away, which directed and starred in the story of John Knox, a hitman suffering from memory loss who tries to complete his last job – helping his estranged son (James Marsden) cover up a murder.
The road ahead is complicated, so Knox enlists his friend Xavier (Al Pacino) to help him remember all the details of his job before it’s too late.
At times darkly funny, the film offered a unique insight into the ravages of memory loss and the tendency to repent in the final days.
The ongoing Hollywood actors’ strike meant that Keaton and other artists involved in the project did not attend the premiere in solidarity with their Screen Actors Guild (SAG-AFTRA) colleagues, who joined the writers in July.
Some of the film’s producers walked the red carpet.
Goldwyn, stage and screen actor known for “Ghost” and has been for years The ABCs ‘Scandal’ is also an accomplished director with several films to his credit.
This time, he tapped Robert De Niro, Bobby Cannavale and Rose Byrne in Ezra, a blistering family drama based on Goldwyn’s friend and screenwriter Tony Spiridakis’ experiences raising an autistic son.
Cannavale plays Max, a standup comedian trying to land a spot on a late-night talk show as he seeks a divorce from Jenna (Byrne, his real-life partner) and the complex needs of their son Ezra (William Fitzgerald).
An impromptu – and illegal – trip changes the family dynamic and leads to a new normal for everyone, including Max’s father Stan (De Niro).
“We knew we wouldn’t have a movie if we didn’t have Ezra,” Goldwyn told the audience at a post-screening Q and A late Saturday, praising Fitzgerald, who is autistic, and won the role over about 100 other young actors. .
– He had heavy issues in telling this story, and William threw himself. He’s the real thing.”