The Toronto International Film Festival Vanguard programme takes audiences on a sensory roller coaster ride with boundary-pushing international works that are bold and bodacious. Curated by international programmer Colin Geddes, this lineup brings the best in genre and arthouse together for a cinematic odyssey that eludes conventional definition.
“From revenge and ruin to sex, drugs and taxation, this programme challenges audiences to go places that no audience has gone before,” said Geddes. “Where Midnight Madness opens up audiences to a world of fear and fantasy, Vanguard plunges them into a confrontational and unnerving one that sometimes comes a bit too close to reality for comfort.”
The Vanguard roster features a provocative partnership between Ti West (The House of the Devil, The Innkeepers) and Eli Roth (Hostel, Cabin Fever),the darkly comic and esoteric Jeremy Saulnier (Murder Party), the ironic social commentary of Alex van Warmerdam (The Last Days of Emma Blank, Ober), the daring French duo of Helene Cattet and Bruno Forzani (Amer), and horror master Alexandre Aja (Haute Tension, Piranha 3D, The Hills Have Eyes). The full list of Vanguard titles are listed below:
Jeremy Saulnier, USA North American Premiere
A classic American revenge story, Blue Ruin follows a mysterious outsider whose quiet life is turned upside down when he returns to his childhood home to carry out an act of vengeance. Finding himself in a brutal fight to protect his estranged family, he proves to be an amateur assassin. Starring Macon Blair.
Alex van Warmerdam, The Netherlands/Belgium/Denmark North American Premiere
Borgman is the central character in Alex van Warmerdam’s dark, malevolent fable. Is he a dream or a demon, a twisted allegory or an all-too-real embodiment of our fears? Borgman is a sinister arrival in the sealed-off streets of modern suburbia. His presence unleashes a crowing gallery of distortion around the careful façade constructed by an arrogant, comfortable couple, their three children and nanny. Starring Jan Bijoet, Jeroen Perceval and Hadewych Minis.
Celestial Wives of the Meadow Mari
Alexey Fedorchenko, Russia Canadian Premiere
Comprised of 23 vignettes illuminating the pagan-influenced mores of western Russia’s Meadow Mari, the latest film from director Alexey Fedorchenko (Silent Souls) is a beguiling, painterly portrait of a culture driven by a ritualistic appreciation of female beauty and feminine sexuality.
Yeon Sang-ho, Korea World Premiere
A rural village is determined to be submerged and its residents are compensated for relocation. A swindler named Choi deceives the poor villagers with false religion to make them give up their compensations as church offerings. Min-chul, an infamous local good-for-nothing waster, discovers the truth, but he is unable to convince anyone; especially against Reverend Sung, who isrevered by the people, but who in fact is someone Choi scouted to serve his purpose. When Min-chul’s own faithful daughter is forced into prostitution by these fakes, he sets out to get even.
Alexandre Aja, USA World Premiere
Horns, a supernatural thriller driven by dark comedy, mystery and romance follows Ignatius Perrish as he awakens after a hard night of drinking to find he has grown a pair of horns. In addition to his devilish appearance, the horns cause people to fall into a trance and voice their most unspeakable thoughts, an effective tool in Ig’s quest to discover the truth of his girlfriend's murder. Starring Juno Temple and Daniel Radcliffe.
People In Places (Gente En Sitios)
Juan Cavestany, Spain World Premiere
This kaleidoscopic film weaves together approximately 20 fragmented scenarios that offer a view of contemporary Spain, drawing conclusions about the persistence of the human condition, strangeness, and the chaos within relationships. Starring Raul Arevalo, Eduard Fernandez and Santiago Segura.
Zack Parker, USA World Premiere
While walking home from her latest OB appointment, a very pregnant Esther Woodhouse is brutally attacked and disfigured by a hooded assailant. This horrible event seems to be a blessing in disguise when Esther finds consolation in a support group. Her life of sadness and solitude is opened up to friendship, understanding, and even acceptance. However, friendship and understanding can be very dangerous things when accepted by the wrong people.
Ti West, USA North American Premiere
From acclaimed writer/director Ti West (The House of the Devil, The Innkeepers) and horror master Eli Roth (Hostel, Cabin Fever, The Last Exorcism), The Sacrament follows two Vice media correspondents as they set out to document their friend's search to find his missing sister. They travel outside of the United States to an undisclosed location where they are welcomed into the world of "Eden Parish," a self-sustained rural utopia comprised of nearly 200 members. At the centre of this small, religious, socialist community is a mysterious leader known only as "Father." As their friend reunites with his sister, it becomes apparent to the newcomers that this paradise may not be as it seems. What started as just another documentary shoot soon becomes a race to escape with their lives. Starring Joe Swanberg, AJ Bowen, Kentucker Audley, Amy Seimetz and Gene Jones.
Brillante Mendoza, Philippines World Premiere
With the rival station Philippine Broadcasting Channel (PBC) eating up the TV audiences' major share, Sarimanok Broadcasting Network (SBN) needs a miracle to stay alive in the competition. In these mad and fearful times, SBN's news team finds that documenting an actual spiritual possession would be their only hope.
Sex, Drugs & Taxation (Spies & Glistrup)
Christoffer Boe, Denmark International Premiere
Sex, Drugs & Taxation is based on the true story about the spectacular friendship between two of the most notorious and provocative men in 1960s Denmark : the eccentric lawyer-turned-politician, Mogens Glistrup, and the 'travel king', millionaire, womanizer and public provocateur, Simon Spies. Starring Pilou Asbæk, Nicolas Bro and Jesper Christensen.
Chung Mong-Hong, Taiwan International Premiere
A-Chuan, a quiet 30-year-old man working as a chef in a Japanese restaurant, collapses suddenly and is rushed to a hospital. His colleagues send him to his father, who resides in the mountains. While there, A -Chuan becomes immobile: he won’t speak, eat or even go to the toilet on his own. One day his father returns from work only to find A-Chuan sitting in the corner with his daughter lying dead in a pool of blood. In an unfamiliar, eerily calm voice, A-Chuan says,“I saw this body was empty, so I moved in.”
The Strange Color of Your Body’s Tears
Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani, Belgium/France/Luxembourg North American Premiere
A woman vanishes. Her husband inquires into the strange circumstances of her disappearance. Did she leave him? Is she dead? As he continues his search, he plunges into a world of nightmare and violence...Starring Klaus Tange, Jean-Michel Vovk, Sylvia Camarda, Sam Louwyck and Anna D’Annunzio.
Thou Gild’st the Even
Onur Ünlü, Turkey North American Premiere
Man is created of anxiety.—Euripides
In a small Anatolian town, life goes on: Cemal is an assistant referee in football matches; Yasemin works on a farm; and Defne is a street vendor who sells books. In this town with two suns and three full moons in the sky, Cemal—who has the ability to see through the walls—has no expectations out of life, and looks for a way out with Yasemin—who can move objects with her fingers. However, Defne, who can freeze time, will muddle things up, and Yasemin's immoral boss' actions will contradict the invisible elementary school teacher's advice, who is trying to eliminate the worries of Cemal. Thou Gild'st the Even is a black and white film about the ordinary sorrows, worries and troubles of townspeople with extraordinary abilities.
We Gotta Get Out of This Place
Simon Hawkins and Zeke Hawkins, USA World Premiere
With only three weeks left until his two best friends leave for college, Billy Joe robs his cotton farmer boss, Giff, in order to pay for one last blow-out weekend in Corpus Christi, Texas. Arriving home from the weekend, the teens find the consequences of Billy Joe’s actions brutal. Now Billy Joe, Bobby, and Sue will be taken on a ride that will test love, heartbreak, trust, and crossing that permanent line from adolescence into adulthood.