A couple weeks ago, The 2015 Toronto International Film Festival announced its selections for Galas and Premeires, and now they’ve released the lineups for their other categories. As usual, their documentary selections are impressive, and while TIFF is a battling ground for who can make waves in the awards race, the festival also features some top-notch documentaries, and this year looks no different.
Based on the brief descriptions, this year’s standouts include Kent Jones’ Hitchcock/Truffaut, which uses the 1962 meeting between the two legendary directors as a jumping off point for examining the former’s work, and the documentary includes input from David Fincher, Richard Linklater, Martin Scorsese, and more; there’s also the Janis Joplin documentary Janis: Little Girl Blue from director Amy Berg (West of Memphis); He Named Me Malala, which is about Nobel Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai; Je Suis Charlie, which goes inside the terrorist attack at Charlie Hebdo; and The Reflektor Tapes, which is about the making of Arcade Fire’s album Reflektor.
Check out the full documentary lineup below. The 2015 Toronto International Film Festival runs from September 10 – 20th.
Amazing Grace Sydney Pollak, International Premiere
Sydney Pollack’s film of Aretha Franklin’s ‘Amazing Grace.’ Filmed during church services in Los Angeles on January 13 and 14, 1972, the footage was never seen until now. Featuring Reverend James Cleveland, the Southern California Community Choir and the Atlantic Records rhythm section.
A Flickering Truth Pietra Brettkelly, North American Premiere
As Afghanistan teeters on an unpredictable future, A Flickering Truth uncovers the world of three dreamers and cinephiles, the dust of 100 years of war and the restoration of 8,000 hours of film archive that they risked their lives to conceal. What surprises will emerge from the cloak of time?
A Journey of a Thousand Miles: Peacekeepers Geeta Gandbhir and Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, World Premiere
A unit of Bangladeshi female police officers leave their families to join a United Nations peacekeeping mission in Haiti and challenge stereotypes about the capabilities of Muslim women. The film focuses on three of the women as they grapple with the harsh realities of becoming foot soldiers in a UN Peacekeeping Mission, and the pressures on their families left behind.
A Young Patriot Du Haibin, Canadian Premiere
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.
Being AP Anthony Wonke, World Premiere
Being AP is an intimate documentary portrait of AP McCoy – the greatest jump jockey of all time. As he passes his 40th birthday, an age beyond which most jockeys are unable to continue, AP contemplates his obsession with winning, the years of sacrifice that he has endured to become a champion, the chase for a 20th successive title, and then a future without racing.
Bolshoi Babylon Nick Read, World Premiere
For the first time, Russia’s Bolshoi Theatre allows filmmakers full and uncensored access backstage. After a brutal acid attack on the ballet company’s director Sergei Filin in January 2013, Bolshoi Babylon follows the dancers and managers through a new season as they try to regain their status as the world’s leading dance company.
Dark Horse Louise Osmond, Canadiana Premiere
Set in a former mining village in Wales, Dark Horse is the inspirational true story of Jan Vokes and her group of local friends who decide to take on the elite ‘sport of kings’ and breed themselves a racehorse. Raised on a slagheap allotment, their foal becomes a source of inspiration and hope.
He Named Me Malala Davis Guggenheim, International Premiere
Acclaimed documentary filmmaker Davis Guggenheim shows us how Malala Yousafzai, who was targeted by the Taliban and severely wounded by a gunshot when returning home on her school bus, remains committed to fighting for education for all girls worldwide. Providing an inside glimpse into her extraordinary life — from her close relationship with her father who inspired her love for education, to her impassioned speeches at the UN, to her everyday life at home.
Heart of a Dog Laurie Anderson, Canadian Premiere
Heart of a Dog is a personal essay film that explores themes of love, death, and language. The director’s voice is a constant presence as stories of her dog Lolabelle, her mother, childhood fantasies and political, and philosophical theories unfurl in a seamless song-like stream.
Hitchcock/Truffaut Kent Jones, Canadian Premiere
In 1962, two of the greatest minds in cinema sat down for an intimate and expansive conversation. Based on the original recordings of this meeting — used to produce the influential book Hitchcock/Truffaut — this film illustrates the greatest cinema lesson of all time and plummets us into the world of the creator of Psycho, The Birds, and Vertigo. David Fincher, Richard Linklater, Martin Scorsese and other legendary filmmakers add to the discussion of Hitchcock’s enduring legacy and influence on cinema.
Horizon Bergur Bernburg and Fridrik Thor Fridriksson, World Premiere
A documentary about the late Icelandic painter Georg Gudni Hauksson, whose innovative interpretations of forms and ideas paved the way for a renaissance in Icelandic landscape painting.
In Jackson Heights Frederick Wiseman, North American Premiere
Frederick Wiseman’s latest documentary is about the diverse neighborhood of Jackson Heights in Queens, New York where 167 languages are spoken among immigrants from every continent, and half the population is foreign-born. The community is an example of America as a ‘melting pot’ settled and made strong by people committed to making their neighborhood work despite cultural and religious differences.
It All Started at the End Luis Ospina, World Premiere
Filmmaker Luis Ospina recounts the history of El Grupo de Cali, the prolific bohemian artistic collective that revolutionized Colombian film and literature in the 1970s and ’80s.
Janis: Little Girl Blue Amy Berg, North American Premiere
Academy Award-nominated director Amy Berg reveals the raw, sensitive and powerful woman behind the legend in Janis: Little Girl Blue; the quintessential story of the short, turbulent, epic existence that changed music forever. Chan Marshall (aka Cat Power) lends her raspy Southern voice to the film, reading Janis Joplin’s achingly intimate letters.
Je Suis Charlie Emmanuel Leconte and Daniel Leconte, World Premiere
On January 7, 2015, French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo was the victim of a terrorist attack that killed 12 people, including some of the greatest French cartoonists such a Cabu, Wolinski, Charb, Tignous and Honore. The following day a policewoman was shot dead in the street. On January 9, another attack targeted the Jewish community. Four hostages were murdered. This film pays tribute to all these victims.
Miss Sharon Jones! Barbara Kopple, World Premiere
Two-time Academy Award-winner Barbara Kopple follows R&B queen Sharon Jones over the course of an eventful year, as she battles a cancer diagnosis and struggles to hold her band the Dap-Kings together. Additionally, TIFF Cinematheque will showcase Kopple’s film Harlan County, USA which played at the first Festival in 1976.
The Music of Strangers: Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble Morgan Neville, World Premiere
This film tells the extraordinary story of the Silk Road Ensemble, an international musical collective created by legendary cellist Yo-Yo Ma. The film follows this group of diverse instrumentalists, vocalists, composers, arrangers, visual artists, and storytellers as they explore the power of music to preserve tradition, shape cultural evolution, and inspire hope.
Nasser Jihan El-Tahri, International Premiere
Filmmaker Jihan El-Tahri explores the history of Gamal Abdel Nasser, the revolutionary army officer whose decade-long reign as president of Egypt saw him defy the West during the 1956 Suez Crisis, co-found the international Non-Aligned Movement, and suffer dramatic defeat to Israel in the Six-Day War.
Our Last Tango German Kral, World Premiere
Argentina’s María Nieves and Juan Carlos Copes are the best-known couple in tango’s history and shaped the dance like no others. They danced passionately, loved and hated each other for almost 50 years, until one day they separated, and left a gap in the tango scene. Now, almost at the end of their lives, they tell their story for the first time. Executive produced by Wim Wenders.
P.S. Jerusalem Danae Elon, World Premiere
Danae Elon grew up in Jerusalem. After many years of living abroad, she moves back with her three young sons and French-Algerian husband Philip who are fresh to the city. Over three years, she documents their experiences, bearing witness to what makes Jerusalem so fiercely contested. A looming presence is the memory of her late father, the esteemed author Amos Elon, seen in home movies. Through the prism of one family’s life, the film exposes a complex portrait of Jerusalem today.
The Reflektor Tapes Kahlil Joseph, World Premiere
The Reflektor Tapes is a fascinating insight into the making of Arcade Fire’s international #1 album Reflektor. The film recontextualizes the album experience, transporting the viewer into a kaleidoscopic sonic and visual landscape. The Reflektor Tapes blends never-before-seen personal interviews and moments captured by the band to dazzling effect, and features 20 minutes of exclusive unseen footage, filmed only for cinema audiences.
Return of the Atom Mika Taanila and Jussi Eerola, World Premiere
Finland was the first country in the West to give permission to build a new nuclear power plant after the Chernobyl disaster. The film portrays the strange and stressful life in the small Finnish ‘nuclear town’ Eurajoki during an era of nuclear renaissance.
Sherpa Jennifer Peedom, Canadian Premiere
Director Jennifer Peedom set out to uncover tension in the 2014 Everest climbing season from the Sherpas’ point of view, and instead captured a tragedy when an avalanche struck, killing 16 Sherpas. Sherpa tells the story of how the Sherpas united after the tragedy in the face of fierce opposition to reclaim the mountain they call Chomolungma.
Thru You Princess Ido Haar, International Premiere
In her late 30s, Samantha lives in New Orleans and works as a caregiver. She often uploads her songs and musings online and none of her clips get more than a few dozen hits. She doesn’t imagine that someone, on the other side of the world, is about to expand the number of listeners by millions. Kutiman, an Israeli musician, discovered Samantha’s songs on YouTube and weaves them with audiovisual symphonies composed of musical clips that people posted online.
Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom Evgeny Afineevsky, Canadian Premiere
Chronicling events that unfolded over 93 days in 2013 and 2014, Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom witnesses the formation of a new civil rights movement in Ukraine. What started as peaceful student demonstrations supporting European integration morphed into a full-fledged violent revolution calling for the resignation of the nation’s president. The film captures the remarkable mobilization of nearly a million citizens from across the country protesting the corrupt political regime that utilized extreme force against its own people to suppress their demands and freedom of expression.
Women He’s Undressed Gillian Armstrong, International Premiere
During Hollywood’s golden age, the Australian known as Orry-Kelly was a costume designer for an astonishing 282 films including classics like Some Like It Hot, Casablanca, and An American in Paris. As a gay male during a closeted era, he was also a keeper of secrets. Director Gillian Armstrong (Oscar and Lucinda; Little Women) employs inventive recreations, interviews and film clips to uncover his story.
[Documentaries previously announced for the Festival were Brian D. Johnson’s Al Purdy Was Here, Patrick Reed and Michelle Shephard’s Guantanamo’s Child: Omar Khadr, Mina Shum’s Ninth Floor, Avi Lewis’ This Changes Everything, and Geneviève Dulude-De Celles’ Welcome to F.L. playing in TIFF Docs; and Michael Moore’s Where to Invade Next for Special Presentations.]