TIFF 2019: A Reading List

August 28, 2019 | Viveca

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The 2019 Toronto International Film Festival takes place from September 5 until September 15. Novels, short stories, plays, magazine articles and memoirs form the basis for many of this year's films reflecting an immense range of cinematic styles, genres, and subjects. 

In between star-gazing and film viewing, check out this list of 19 titles and reserve your TIFF 2019 read from the Toronto Public Library. Official trailers have been included where available.  

The Goldfinch

The Goldfinch / USA / Directed by John Crowley / Starring Ansel Elgort, Oakes Fegley, Finn Wolfhard, Sarah Paulson, Luke Wilson, Jeffrey Wright, Nicole Kidman 

Based on the novel The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt / All Formats

Tartt won the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for her epic coming-of-age novel. 13-year-old Theo Decker (Ansel Elgort) is at the museum when a bomb explodes, killing his mother. In despair and confusion, he takes a painting from the museum which becomes pivotal to the events in his life. Watch for Stranger Things' Finn Wolfhard as Decker's friend, Boris. This film appears on the Globe Team's Most-Anticipated Film List 2019.

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood / USA / Directed by Marielle Heller / Starring Tom Hanks, Matthew Rhys, Susan Kelechi Watson, Chris Cooper

Based on Tom Junod's 1998 Esquire Article "Can You Say . . . Hero?" 

Junod was greatly affected by his interview with the late (beloved) Ted Rogers, star of a long-running children's television show. And wasn't Tom Hanks born to play Mr. Rogers? For those interested in further viewing, there is Morgan Neville's wonderful 2018 documentary available to borrow from the Toronto Public Library: Won't You Be My Neighbor?

End of the Rainbow

Judy / United Kingdom / Directed by Robert Goold / Starring Renée Zellweger, Jessie Buckley, Finn Wittrock, Rufus Sewell, Michael Gambon

Based on the musical stage play End of the Rainbow by Peter Quilter / All Formats

This film is based on Quilter's musical stage play that chronicles the last year of Judy Garland's life. Apparently, Zellweger in the role of Garland will actually sing in this film and will perform numbers with Sam Smith and Rufus Wainwright.

Hustlers / USA / Directed by Lorene Scafaria / Starring Constance Wu, Jennifer Lopez, Julia Stiles, Keke Palmer, Lili Reinhart, Mercedes Ruehl, Cardi B

Based on Jessica Pressler's 2015 New York Magazine article "The Hustlers at Scores".

A band of exploited strippers affected by the financial crisis of the late 2000s, guided by their leader (Jennifer Lopez), decides to swindle their prosperous clients in order to survive.  Heads up: the trailer includes some saucy language and athletic pole moves. 


Antigone / Canada / Directed by Sophie Deraspe / Starring Nahéma Ricci, Nour Belkhiria, Rawad El-Zein, Rachida Oussaada, Antoine Desrochers, Paul Doucet, Nathalie Tanous, Hakim Brahimi, Benoit Gouin, Kathleen Fortin

Based on the play Antigone by Sophocles / All Formats

This classic Greek tragedy is reworked and re-imagined for a contemporary Canada. Set in modern-day Quebec, Antigone (Nahéma Ricci) and her family move to Montreal as immigrants with tragic results. This film is one of NOW Magazine's 10 Must-See Canadian Films Playing at TIFF 2019

Motherless Brooklyn

Motherless Brooklyn / USA / Directed by Edward Norton / Starring Edward Norton, Bruce Willis, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Bobby Cannavale, Cherry Jones, Leslie Mann, Alec Baldwin, Willem Dafoe

Based on the novel Motherless Brooklyn by Jonathan Lethem / All Formats

Lethem's novel won the 1999 National Critics Book Circle Award and the 2000 Gold Dagger for mystery fiction. During the 1950s in Brooklyn, orphaned Lionel Essrog (Edward Norton) grows up to be a non-traditional private detective living with Tourette's Syndrome. 

The Unwomanly Face of War

Beanpole / Russia / Directed by Kantemir Balagov / Starring Viktoria Miroshnichenko, Vasilisa Perelygina, Andrey Bykov, Igor Shirokov, Olga Dragunova, Konstantin Balakirev, Ksenia Kutepova

Based on true stories in The Unwomanly Face of War: An Oral History of Women in World War II by Svetlana Alexievich / All Formats

Beanpole follows the lives of women who fought in the war and are now trying to rebuild their lives. This film is is based on the oral histories collected by Alexievich, the Nobel Prize- winning investigative journalist who focused on women fighters whose stories were absent from traditional histories. 

How to Build A Girl

How to Build a Girl / United Kingdom / Directed by Coky Giedroyc / Starring Beanie Feldstein, Alfie Allen, Paddy Considine, Chris O'Dowd, Emma Thompson

Based on the novel How to Build a Girl by Caitlin Moran /All Formats

Set in the 1990s, this coming-of-age story follows Johanna Morrigan (Beanie Feldstein), a working-class teenager who reinvents herself as "Dolly Wilde," a caustic London music critic. 

Return to Glory

Ford v Ferrari / USA / Directed by James Mangold / Starring Matt Damon, Christian Bale, Jon Bernthal, Catriona Balfe, Tracy Letts, Josh Lucas, Noah Jupe, Remo Girone, Ray McKinnon, JJ Field, Jack McMullen

While not directly based on Return to Glory: the Story of Ford's Revival and Victory at the Toughest Race in the World by Matthew DeBord, this might be of interest to those wanting to read more about the Le Mans Race and the Ford Motor Company. 

 Our Lady of the Nile

Our Lady of the Nile / France, Belgium, Rwanda / Directed by Atiq Rahimi / Starring Amanda Santa Mugabekazi, Albina Sydney Kirenga, Malaika Uwamahoro, Clariella Bizimana, Belinda Rubango Simbi, Pascal Greggory

Based on the novel Our Lady of the Nile by Scholastique Mukasonga ; translated from the French by Melanie Mauthner / All Formats

This coming-of-age film follows of a group of Rwandan schoolgirls from various backgrounds at a Belgian-run Catholic boarding school prior to the 1994 genocide during the Rwandan Civil War. 

American Woman

American Woman / Canada / Directed by Semi Chellas / Starring Hong Chau, Sarah Gadon, Lola Kirke, John Gallagher Jr., Ellen Burstyn, David Cubitt

Based on the novel American Woman by Susan Choi / All Formats

In a fictionalized account of the Patty Hearst affair, Jenny, a political activist (Hong Chau) is charged with caring for fugitive radicals on the run. This film is one of NOW Magazine's 10 Must-See Canadian Films Playing at TIFF 2019

History of the Kelly Gang

The True History of the Kelly Gang / Australia / Directed by Justin Kurzel / Starring George MacKay, Essie Davis, Nicholas Hoult, Charlie Hunnam, Russell Crowe, Orlando Schwerdt, Thomasin Harcourt McKenzie, Sean Keenan, Earl Cave, Marlon Williams, Louis Hewison

Based on the novel The True History of the Kelly Gang by Peter Carey / All Formats

This film is a fictionalized account of the legendary 19th century Australian outlaw, Ned Kelly (George MacKay) who died at the age of 25. Carey won the Man Booker Prize for this novel.

HP Lovecraft

Color Out of Space / USA / Directed by Richard Stanley / Starring Nicolas Cage, Joely Richardson, Madeleine Arthur, Brendan Meyer, Julian Hilliard, Elliot Knight, Q'orianka Kilcher, Tommy Chong

Based on the short story Color Out of Space by H.P. Lovecraft.

A meteor falls on a house in New England and appears to affect the house's patriarch (Nicolas Cage) in a terrifying manner. Playing an over-the-top character may not be a stretch for the scenery-chewing Cage - but the film should be an interesting addition to the Midnight Madness series. This film is also on the Globe's Most-Anticipated Film List.

Burnt Orange Heresy

The Burnt Orange Heresy / USA, United Kingdom / Directed by Giuseppe Capotondi / Starring Claes Bang, Elizabeth Debicki, Mick Jagger, Donald Sutherland

Based on the novel The Burnt Orange Heresy by Charles Willeford 

An art critic steals a rare painting in this thriller based on Willeford's cult novel. This film is on the Globe Team's Most-Anticipated Film List. 

Just Mercy

Just Mercy / USA / Directed by Destin Daniel Cretton / Starring Michael B. Jordan, Jamie Foxx, Brie Larson, Rob Morgan, Tim Blake Nelson, Rafe Spall, O'Shea Jackson Jr., Karan Kendrick

Based on the true story in Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson / All Formats

Bryan Stevenson, a Harvard-educated lawyer (Michael B. Jordon), defends Walter MacMillian (Jamie Foxx), a convict on death row, for a crime he did not commit. 

Young Skins Calm With Horses

Calm With Horses / United Kingdom, Ireland / Directed by Nick Rowland / Starring Cosmo Jarvis, Barry Keoghan, Niamh Algar, Ned Dennehy, David Wilmot

Based on the short story "Calm With Horses" in Young Skins by Colin Barrett / All Formats

Doug Armstrong is a retired boxer in Ireland with a young son, Jack, who is on the autism spectrum. With few job prospects, he takes on the job as enforcer for a family who runs the local drug empire. 

Sweetness in the Belly

Sweetness in the Belly / Ireland, Canada / Directed by Zeresenay Berhane Mehari / Starring Dakota Fanning, Wunmi Mosaku, Kunal Nayyar, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II

Based on the novel Sweetness in the Belly by Camilla Gibb / All Formats

Abandoned by British globe-trotting hippie parents, Lilly ends up living as a devout, young, white Muslim woman in Ethiopia just before the revolution. Gibb's novel was shortlisted for the 2005 Giller Prize, won the 2005 Trillium Award and was longlisted for the 2007 Dublin IMPAC Literary Award. 

Les Miserables

Les Misérables / France / Directed by Laj Ly / Starring Damien Bonnard, Alexis Manenti, Djebril Zonga, Issa Perica, Al-Hassan Ly, Steve Tientcheu

While this is not really a close adaptation of Victor Hugo's classic novel, the film draws on many of Hugo's thematic elements, updated and re-imagined for a contemporary France. 

Joker / USA / Directed by Todd Phillips / Starring Joaquin Phoenix, Robert De Niro, Zazie Beetz, Frances Conroy

While the latest iteration of DC Comics' most infamous villain isn't based on any specific comic or graphic novel, the Toronto Public Library has a large collection of material featuring the Joker. 

My Life As a Comedian / Sweden, Belgium / Directed by Rojda Sekersöz / Starring Johan Rheborg, Loke Hellberg, Ulla Skoog, Klara Zimmergren, Fredrik Hallgren, Maria Sid, Jakob Eklund

This film is based on Jonas Gardell's bestselling memoir about growing up in Sweden during the 1970s. At present time, Gardell's books are not available in English but we will continue to monitor. 

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