Review: ‘Both Sides of the Blade,’ starring Juliette Binoche, Vincent Lindon and Grégoire Colin

August 6, 2022

by Carla Hay

Vincent Lindon and Juliette Binoche in “Both Sides of the Blade” (Photo courtesy of Curiosa Films/IFC Films)

“Both Sides of the Blade”

Directed by Claire Denis 

French with subtitles

Culture Representation: Taking place in the French cities of Paris, Vitry-sur-Seine, and Bayonne, the dramatic film “Both Sides of the Blade” features a predominantly white cast of characters (with a few black and biracial people) representing the working-class and middle-class.

Culture Clash: A woman and a man, who have been in a nine-year, live-in relationship, have their relationship tested when the woman starts to think about getting back together with her most recent ex-lover, who was her current lover’s best friend.

Culture Audience: “Both Sides of the Blade” will appeal primarily to people who are fans of star Juliette Binoche, filmmaker Claire Denis and well-acted movies that take their time exploring the intracacies of conflicted feelings about love triangles.

Grégoire Colin and Juliette Binoche in “Both Sides of the Blade” (Photo courtesy of Curiosa Films/IFC Films)

“Both Sides of the Blade” is so immersive with the stifling tedium of staying too long in a dead-end relationship, viewers might be bored by the movie’s slow pacing. The performances depicting a love triangle make this introspective drama worth watching. “Both Sides of the Blade” (formerly titled “Fire”) is not the movie to watch if people are expecting a lot of neatly resolved storylines or a movie where there are clearly defined “heroes” and “villains.” The movie doesn’t pass judgment on who’s “right” and who’s “wrong” in this love triangle, but instead presents what happens in an observational way.

Directed by Claire Denis, “Both Sides of the Blade” (which takes place in France) is based on Christine Angot’s 2019 novel “Un tournant de la Vie,” which means “a turning point in life” in French. Angot and Denis co-wrote the “Both Sides of the Blade” screenplay. “Both Sides of the Blade” had its world premiere at the 2022 Berlin International Film Festival, where Denis won the Silver Bear prize for Best Director.

The story is essentially about a couple who got together because of infidelity and betrayal, and the woman in this couple starts to wonder if she made a mistake and should go back to her ex. The movie’s biggest strength can also be considered its biggest weakness: It realistically shows the back-and-forth indecision that some people have in love triangles about if, how or when they should end a relationship, in order to choose one person over another. Some viewers will be frustrated by this indecision seeming to drag throughout most the movie, while other viewers might be curious to keep watching to see what until the very end of the movie.

In “Both Sides of the Blade,” radio journalist Sara (played by Juliette Binoche) and sports agent Jean (played by Vincent Lindon) are a Paris-based couple who are in their late 50s to early 60s and who have been living together for the past nine years. The movie’s opening scene shows Sara and Jean frolicking together in a large body of water during what appears to be a romantic vacation. Jean and Sara later have sex. Everything looks like they are a loving couple in a healthy relationship.

But it isn’t long before the cracks in the relationship begin to show. And the trigger seems to be when Sara unexpectedly sees her ex-lover François (played by Grégoire Colin) on a street, but he does not see her. Sara seems so overcome with emotion after seeing François, when she’s at the radio station, she leans against a wall and whispers repeatedly, “François,” as if she’s pining for a long-lost lover.

When Sara is at home with Jean, she casually mentions to him that she saw François, just to see what Jean’s reaction will be. He doesn’t seem phased either way. Sara seems like she wants Jean to have more of an emotional reaction, or even some curiosity, at this news. She’s disappointed that this sighting of François doesn’t affect Jean as much as it’s affected her.

The story of this love triangle is revealed slowly in “Both Sides of the Blade,” with no flashbacks but with descriptions of the past that are discussed in conversations. When Sara met Jean, he was married to another woman who is now his ex-wife. Sara was living with François, who was Jean’s best friend and co-worker at the time. On the first or second occasion that Sara and Jean met, the three of them (Sara, François and Jean) went to a house party together.

Sara vividly remembers that at this party, Jean watched her and François dancing together. Jean was looking at a computer, but he was also noticing Sara and François. Sara was emotionally struck by how happy and contended Jean looked at that moment. And she felt a spark of attraction to Jean.

This trio left the party together by sharing a taxi. Rather than wait for the tax to drop off Sara and François at their place first, Jean decided that he was going to walk back to his house because his wife was waiting for him at home. The presumption is that Jean couldn’t wait to see her. Sara remembers feeling at that moment that Jean’s wife must be very lucky to have a spouse who’s so devoted to her.

At some point, Jean became attracted to Sara too, and this attraction turned into mutual love. Not too many details are given about the breakup of Jean’s marriage and the end of Sara’s relationship with François. But what is clear is that Sara and Jean left their respective partners to be with each other. And there was enough messiness and hard feelings that Jean’s unnamed ex-wife (who’s never seen in the movie) no longer speaks to him.

François has also been out of the lives of Sara and Jean for quite some time. Until now. And later, Jean has some bombshell news for Sara: François is starting his own sports agency, and he wants to bring on Jean as a partner. This news sends Sara on a path of inner turmoil and confusion that she tries to hide from Jean.

Her emotional agitation is also mixed with curiosity about how seeing François again on a regular basis will affect her life and if she can handle it. As far as Jean knows, his relationship with Sara is pretty good, although not as passionate was it was in the beginning. Over time, it becomes obvious that Sara feels differently from Jean: She thinks her relationship with Jean has hit a rut and that the relationship isn’t necessarily worth saving.

It’s not that Jean is mistreating her in any way. But perhaps Sara has been falling out of love with him and doesn’t quite know how to tell Jean. For Sara, seeing François again has made Sara think that maybe she made a mistake in leaving François for Jean. Her anxiety goes into overdrive when Jean makes the decision to start working with François. Sara knows that this work relationship will affect all three of their personal lives.

“Both Sides of the Blade” has a somewhat awkwardly placed subplot about Jean’s estranged relationship with his 15-year-old son Marcus (played by Issa Perica), who is in his second year of high school. Marcus lives with Jean’s mother Nelly (played by Bulle Ogier) in Vitry-sur-Seine, which is about five miles from Paris. Marcus’ mother currently lives in Martinique and is not really in contact with him, implying that she abandoned him.

Marcus is currently having problems because he’s been stealing money from Nelly, and he’s been getting into fights with other boys at school. Marcus is close to being expelled at school. Marcus tells Jean that he if he drops out of high school, he’ll probably will go to a trade school, because he has no plans for a university/college education. It’s unclear if his parents’ divorce caused Marcus to have any emotional problems, but his interactions with Jean are very strained. Marcus (who is biracial; his mother is black) claims that he’s being bullied at school because he’s not white, and he says the black kids and Arab kids at school get treated the worst.

Jean doesn’t show much empathy and makes a racist comment to Marcus by asking why black people and Arab people can’t think independently of their own skin color. (It’s very easy for anyone who benefits from white supremacy to have the attitude that Jean has.) Jean then lectures Marcus by saying that Marcus needs to be his own person. There seems to be no real point to this scene, except to show that although Jean might be very loving to Sara, he’s not a very good father to Marcus.

One of the movie’s flaws is that it doesn’t show or tell much about Sara’s life outside of her home and work. She apparently doesn’t have any close friends, and she doesn’t confide in anyone about her unresolved feelings for François. Mati Diop has a quick and thankless role as a pharmacist name Gabrielle, who seems to be an acquaintance of Sara’s.

There’s no real mention of Sara’s family. She seems to be completely uninterested in having any type of relationship with Marcus. And that’s not surprising, considering that Marcus probably blames her and Jean for the breakup of his parents’ marriage.

Even less is told about François, who is in the movie fleetingly, as Sara eventually ends up spending some private time with him. “Both Sides of the Blade” is told from Sara’s perspective the most. The movie seems to make François look mysterious and intriguing as a way of Sara trying to relive that heady feeling when someone want to start a romance but it’s unknown if the other person really wants the same thing.

Is Sara one of those people who likes the chase and then becomes bored after she gets what she wants? Binoche’s performance is fascinating because it will keep viewers guessing about her motives and whether or not she really thinks that being with François will make her happy. Lindon also gives a nuanced performance as Jean, but Jean’s story arc is ultimately more predictable than Sara’s.

“Both Sides of the Blade” is far from being a masterpiece. It will probably never be considered a classic film either, because so many other movies have covered similar “love triangle” stories in much better ways. But if you have an interest in movies where talented cast members skillfully portray people with messy love lives, then “Both Sides of the Blade” is a fairly solid option.

IFC Films released “Both Sides of the Blade” in select U.S. cinemas on July 8, 2022. The movie is set for release on digital and VOD on August 23, 2022.

2019 New York Film Festival: special events, shorts, talks announced

August 23, 2019

Joaquin Phoenix in “Joker” (Photo by Nikos Tavernise)

Film at Lincoln Center announces the complete lineup for the Special Events, Shorts, and Talks sections for the 57th New York Film Festival (September 27 – October 13).

Special Events will feature Francis Ford Coppola’s The Cotton Club Encore, an extended version of his portrait of the eponymous Harlem nightclub where legendary black musicians like Cab Calloway, Lena Horne, and Duke Ellington performed for an exclusively white clientele. Coppola recovered lost negatives to restore sound, image, and the film’s intended length, and will appear in person for a Q&A.

Joker, the highly anticipated origin story of Batman’s arch enemy, starring a brilliant Joaquin Phoenix as the nefarious villain, will screen in a special sneak preview. Phoenix will join audiences for an extended Q&A along with director Todd Phillips and the creative team behind this stunning new vision of Gotham.

Roee Messinger’s American Trial: The Eric Garner Story envisions the fictional but unscripted trial of recently fired officer Daniel Pantaleo for one of the nation’s most disturbing recent tragedies: Eric Garner’s 2014 murder by police chokehold in Staten Island, which galvanized the Black Lives Matter movement. The film features the testimony of real-life witnesses and friends of Garner, and the participation of two legal teams. American Trial will make its World Premiere at NYFF with a free screening and extended panel, featuring the director and a number of the film’s participants.

Special Events also includes a Screenwriting Master Class with Olivier Assayas, a fixture of the New York Film Festival, who will discuss the process of adapting real events into creative fictions, such as his newest film, Wasp Network, playing in this year’s Main Slate.

This year’s four Shorts programs feature a mix of narrative and documentary films from established and emerging artists, with 9 world premieres, including all titles in the annual New York Stories program and Theo Anthony’s Subject to Review (Program 2). Highlights include new work from NYFF alumni Yorgos Lanthimos, Gabriel Abrantes, Gaston Solnicki, Qiu Yang, Martin Rejtman, Pia Borg, Joe Stankus, Adinah Dancyger, Jay Giampietro, Ricky D’Ambrose, and Joanna Arnow.

NYFF Talks return with On Cinema, wherein festival director Kent Jones sits down with world-renowned filmmakers for an in-depth discussion about films that have influenced and inspired them, illustrated with film clips. This year Film at Lincoln Center presents two such talks: with Martin Scorsese, director of Opening selection The Irishman, and Pedro Almodóvar, a festival veteran and director of Main Slate selection Pain and Glory. Directors Dialogues are special Q&As with filmmakers from NYFF57, discussing the ideas and the craft behind their buzzed-about newest works. This year’s participants are Bong Joon-ho, the Palme d’Or–winning director of Parasite, and Mati Diop, who makes her NYFF debut with Atlantics.

Presented by Film at Lincoln Center, the 17-day New York Film Festival highlights the best in world cinema, featuring works from celebrated filmmakers as well as fresh new talent. The selection committee, chaired by Jones, also includes Dennis Lim, FLC Director of Programming, and Florence Almozini, FLC Associate Director of Programming. Shorts are programmed by Tyler Wilson and Madeline Whittle.

HBO is the presenting sponsor of NYFF Talks, which bring wide-ranging conversations with directors featured in NYFF57 to the public and include Directors Dialogues and On Cinema. HBO also sponsors NYFF Live, which will be announced in September.

As part of their commitment to celebrating filmmaking talent, Warby Parker is proud to return this year as the presenting partner of the Screenwriting Master Class.

The NYFF Shorts section is presented by Netflix.

As previously announced, the NYFF57 Opening selection is Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman, Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story is the Centerpiece, and Edward Norton’s Motherless Brooklyn will close the festival. The complete lineup for the Main Slate, Projections, Convergence, and Spotlight on Documentary can be found here.

Tickets for Special Events and the On Cinema Talks are $30 for General Public and $25 for Members & Students. Some exceptions may apply for select programs, including Joker and the Screenwriting Master Class. Tickets for Shorts and the Directors Dialogues are $17 for General Public and $12 for Members & Students. Visit here for more information.

Tickets for the 57th New York Film Festival will go on sale to the general public on September 8. Festival and VIP passes are on sale through today, August 23rd and offer one of the earliest opportunities to purchase tickets and secure seats at some of the festival’s biggest events, including Opening and Closing Night.

SPECIAL EVENTS DESCRIPTIONS

American Trial: The Eric Garner Story
Dir. Roee Messinger, USA, 100m
World Premiere

The idea is powerfully simple: engage the services of two actual legal teams to create a rigorous, legally based fictional—yet unscripted—trial that never happened for one of the nation’s most disturbing recent tragedies. The accused is Officer Daniel Pantaleo (only recently fired by New York City Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill), charged in the July 17, 2014 death of Eric Garner with reckless manslaughter and strangulation in the first degree. The judge is played by a seasoned defense lawyer, while the officer is played by the only actor in the cast (Anthony Altieri). Eyewitnesses, bystanders, friends, and his widow, Esaw Snipes, all come to testify; meanwhile, credible expert witnesses who would have likely been called to testify in a real trial provide their testimonies for both the prosecution and the defense to create fair judicial proceedings. Roee Messinger’s film goes deep into the case, placing the audience in the position of the jury. American Trial is a one-of-a-kind film, and this special screening will be free to the public.

The Cotton Club Encore
Dir. Francis Ford Coppola, U.S., 1984, 139m

It’s now clear that Francis Ford Coppola’s eighties constituted his most fruitfully experimental period of filmmaking, when he used the clout from such behemoth masterpieces of the previous decade as the Godfather films and Apocalypse Now to try his hand at films of various genres and budget levels. At the time, The Cotton Club, Coppola’s stylish throwback to those 1930s Hollywood standbys the gangster film and the musical, was considered a costly disappointment, altered seemingly irrevocably due to behind-the-scenes conflicts with producers and financiers. Yet this sophisticated, witty, wildly ambitious movie, starring Gregory Hines and Richard Gere, about the titular Harlem nightclub, where legendary black musicians like Cab Calloway, Lena Horne, and Duke Ellington performed for an exclusively white clientele, was always something special, a rousing American entertainment that was both an evocation of the work of such directors as Raoul Walsh and William Wellman and a loving recreation of the period itself. The brilliance of Coppola’s vision is more apparent than ever in this “reawakened” version, The Cotton Club Encore, for which the director recovered lost negatives to bring the film back to its original length and luster, with restored sound and image.

Joker
Dir. Todd Phillips, USA, 122m

The Joker began life on April 25, 1940 as the anarchic enemy of DC Comics’ Batman, and his appearance was possibly inspired by Conrad Veidt’s permanently, demonically smiling face from the 1928 silent film The Man Who Laughs. The Joker has gone through many transformations and iterations, but his origin story has never been as vividly or shockingly imagined and realized as it is here, in one of the most anticipated films of the year. Join us for a special screening and discussion with the creative team behind this stunning, truly disturbing vision, led by director Todd Phillips and his brilliant star, Joaquin Phoenix. A Warner Bros. Pictures, Village Roadshow Pictures and BRON Creative release.

Screenwriting Master Class with Olivier Assayas

Presented by Warby Parker
The amazing and eclectic career of French filmmaker Olivier Assayas has encompassed autobiography (Cold Water, Summer Hours, Something in the Air), contemporary meta-fiction (Irma Vep, demonlover, Clouds of Sils Maria), literary adaptation (Les destinées sentimentales), and in the case of the epic Carlos and his latest film in this year’s festival, the exhilarating Wasp Network, about a ring of Cuban refugees functioning as spies for the Castro government while living in Miami in the early nineties, intimate narratives based on true stories. In this special discussion, Assayas will talk about the process of turning real events into creative fictions. Starring Penélope Cruz and Édgar Ramirez, Wasp Network is based on Fernando Morais’s meticulously researched 2015 book The Last Soldiers of the Cold War.

SHORT FILM DESCRIPTIONS

Program 1: International (TRT: 89m)
A mixture of narrative and documentary, this program showcases bold, new films by emerging and established filmmakers working in international cinema today.
Programmed by Tyler Wilson.

Party Day / Dia de Festa
Sofia Bost, Portugal, 2019, 17m
Portuguese with English subtitles
North American Premiere
A cash-strapped single mother is pulled into an unresolved family conflict as she struggles to host her daughter’s seventh birthday party. Sofia Bost’s 16mm-shot drama, filled with illuminating performances, renders a complicated depiction of motherhood and the inconsolable grievances inherited by each generation.

Blessed Land / Một Khu Đất Tốt
Phạm Ngọc Lân, Vietnam, 2019, 19m
Vietnamese with English subtitles
North American Premiere
Searching for her deceased husband’s grave, a mother wanders with her son through a cemetery that has been partially remade into a golf course. Phạm Ngọc Lân’s intricately staged single-location film merges two disparate time periods, creating unnerving harmony between sociopolitical conspiracy and the natural erosion of memory, spiritual calm and modern decadence.

Circumplector
Gastón Solnicki, Argentina/France, 2019, 3m
U.S. Premiere
Gastón Solnicki’s miniature of Notre-Dame—filmed days before the fire—impressionistically links various media the cathedral evokes, including still-life painting and Baroque music, to present-day footage of work and performance.

San Vittore
Yuri Ancarani, Italy, 2019, 11m
Observing security guards as they search and escort children through Milan’s oldest prison, San Vittore depicts the lingering effects of the institution on its visitors. Visual artist Yuri Ancarani’s short documentary remains firmly immersed in a child’s-eye point of view, evoking the young subjects’ increasing understanding of the institution’s purpose with quiet, disturbing tension.

She Runs / Nan Fang Shao Nv
Qiu Yang, China/France, 2019, 19m
Chinese with English subtitles
U.S. Premiere
Set in Changzhou, a city in China’s southern Jiangsu province, She Runs follows a young student after she tries to quit her school’s aerobic dance team. Eschewing close-ups for long shots—around building corners, or from entirely different rooms—Qiu Yang’s Cannes-winning short follows its protagonist’s mounting desperation, implicating the underlying foundation of Changzhou as much as people inhabiting it.

Shakti
Martin Rejtman, Argentina/Chile, 2019, 20m
Spanish with English subtitles
U.S. Premiere
Not long after his grandmother dies, a twenty-something man in Buenos Aires breaks up with his girlfriend and begins obsessing over her unexpected reaction—but then he meets someone else. The stylistic exactness, narrative shrewdness, and droll pacing emblematic of Martin Rejtman’s cinematic sensibility are perfectly at home in this short comedy of peculiar minutiae and casual digressions.

Program 2: Documentary (TRT: 68m)
This documentary program connects the imperfections of the human experience to the influence of technology and mass media by pairing Pia Borg’s chilling account of the Satanic Ritual Abuse Panic of the 1980s with Theo Anthony’s wry, imaginative essay film about the instant replay system of professional tennis.
Programmed by Tyler Wilson.

Demonic
Pia Borg, Australia, 2019, 30m
North American Premiere
The real and the imagined fold together in Pia Borg’s horror-documentary about the Satanic Ritual Abuse Panic of the 1980s, a mass hysteria during which people around the world “recovered” memories of debauchery and human sacrifices related to satanic cults. Using a cunning combination of archival media coverage, audio footage, and historical recreation by way of computer animation and 16mm, Demonic reframes our current moment of misinformation and distrust, revealing the forces at play between psychiatry, media, and false memory.

Subject to Review
Theo Anthony, USA, 2019, 38m
World Premiere
The latest from Theo Anthony (Rat Film) charts the rise and development of the instant replay system Hawk-Eye in professional tennis, cleverly relating innovative technology and the imperfections of the human experience to the history of cinema, sports entertainment, and humanity’s desire to objectively interpret the world. Featuring music by composer Dan Deacon, Subject to Review is another odd, imaginative, and accessible documentary essay from the Baltimore-based filmmaker.

Program 3: Narrative (TRT: 96m)
From absurdist thrillers and political fantasies to lo-fi sci-fi and body horror, these seven shorts from emerging and established international filmmakers make up this wildly eclectic narrative program.
Programmed by Tyler Wilson.

Automatic
Emma Doxiadi, Greece, 2019, 10m
Greek with English subtitles
North American Premiere
Two young women convince each other they are under threat after accidentally photographing what they believe to be a concealed automatic rifle. Shot in drawn-out, static takes, Emma Doxiadi’s comical mystery comments on Greece’s ongoing refugee crisis in real time, pointing squarely at foolish knee-jerk reactions.

Mthunzi
Tebogo Malebogo, South Africa, 2019, 9m
North American Premiere
While walking home from the store, a young man is prompted to help a seizing woman, and unknowingly demonstrates the danger of doing the right thing. Cape Town–based filmmaker Tebogo Malebogo’s briskly tense script and direction elevate Mthunzi from a simple morality tale into a nervous thriller about implicit biases in unfamiliar circumstances.

Control Plan
Juliana Antunes, Brazil, 2018, 15m
Portuguese with English subtitles
U.S. Premiere
Set shortly after former President Dilma Rousseff’s impeachment, Control Plan follows a young Brazilian woman who uses her cell phone’s teleportation service to flee the country. Politically serious but always funny, this lo-fi sci-fi from Juliana Antunes (Baronesa) is as much a commentary on the fraught paradigm shifts of 2016 as it is a pointed takedown of limited data plans.

Nimic
Yorgos Lanthimos, Germany/UK/USA, 2019, 12m
North American Premiere
Matt Dillon stars as a professional cellist whose seemingly innocent question to a stranger results in weirdly repetitive consequences to his daily routine. Working with cinematographer Diego García (Cemetery of Splendor), Lanthimos lends his distressing, absurdist vision to the instruments, patterns, and lonesome gestures of modern city life.

Please Speak Continuously and Describe Your Experiences as They Come to You
Brandon Cronenberg, Canada, 2019, 9m
Brandon Cronenberg uses only in-camera effects to tell the hilarious, house-of-mirrors horror story of a patient at an experimental psychiatric facility (Deragh Campbell) who receives a brain implant that allows her to revisit dreams.

Austral Fever / Fiebre austral
Thomas Woodroffe, Chile, 2019, 21m
U.S. Premiere
After an injury places a teenager on bed rest, he and his adult caretaker develop an unusual attraction to his wound. Filmed mostly in dimly lit spaces with southern Chile’s mountain range as its backdrop, Austral Fever is a slow-burning, quietly perverse fantasy about cabin fever, addictive pleasures, and the mysteries of the human body.

The Marvelous Misadventures of the Stone Lady / Les Extraordinaires mésaventures de la jeune fille de Pierre
Gabriel Abrantes, France/Portugal, 2019, 20m
North American Premiere
A female sculpture escapes from the Louvre to experience the aggressive streets of contemporary Paris in this fairy-tale pastiche from Gabriel Abrantes. Slyly raising questions of liberation through crisply rendered CGI characters in direct contact with the harsher outside world, Abrantes critiques the power structures of venerable institutions without ever forgoing his ability to entertain.

Program 4: New York Stories (TRT: 98m)
This program, now in its fifth year, showcases work from some of the most exciting filmmakers living and working in New York today, including established names and ones to watch.
Programmed by Madeline Whittle and Tyler Wilson.

Good News
Joe Stankus, USA, 2019, 10m
World Premiere
Novelist Evan is excited to share the news that he’s been accepted to a prestigious summer writers’ colony with his husband and their friends over an intimate dinner party. But the big reveal doesn’t go as planned in this finely calibrated domestic-drama-in-miniature.

Caterina
Dan Sallitt, USA, 2019, 17m
World Premiere
Dan Sallitt intimately crafts a small-scale portrait of an inquisitive and compassionate young woman in this subtly episodic slice of life, following the eponymous protagonist through her ongoing, everyday search for connection among friends, lovers, and fellow travelers.

Moving
Adinah Dancyger, USA 2019, 8m
World Premiere
The act of transporting an old mattress into a new walk-up apartment becomes absurdist, cinematic one-woman choreography in this wordless vignette from Adinah Dancyger, full of humor and pathos, and painfully familiar to city-dwellers.

Foreign Powers
Bingham Bryant, USA, 2019, 17m
World Premiere
A nameless young woman recounts a peculiar dream, set in a mysterious fictional city and populated by her real-world friends and acquaintances, in Bingham Bryant’s vivid, precisely conceived exploration into the uncanny logic and banal strangeness of our subconscious wanderings.

the thing that kills me the most
Jay Giampietro, USA, 2019, 5m
World Premiere
Faces, voices, light: language itself is rendered abstract in this impressionistic fugue about fraught interpersonal dynamics at a weekly social engagement, narrated in retrospect by an exasperated fellow guest.

The Sky Is Clear and Blue Today
Ricky D’Ambrose, USA, 2019, 16m
World Premiere
Ricky D’Ambrose brings his trademark marriage of formalist rigor and sly narrative wit to this faux-documentary account of an American director developing an experimental film for German television about the events of September 11, 2001.

Fit Model
Myna Joseph, USA, 2019, 20m
World Premiere
In Myna Joseph’s deft depiction of a woman fiercely determined to get by on her own terms, Lu Simon (Lucy Owen) is a thirty-something struggling actor navigating day jobs and errands across the city, while juggling negotiations with an unhelpful hospital billing department.

Laying Out
Joanna Arnow, USA, 2019, 5m
World Premiere
This tersely lyrical meditation on sex and gender roles from Joanna Arnow features two fed-up mermaids lounging on a beach, drinks in hand, as they vent and commiserate over underacknowledged frustrations and unspoken desires.

TALKS DESCRIPTIONS

On Cinema: Martin Scorsese

In these annual special events, New York Film Festival Director Kent Jones sits down with world-renowned filmmakers for in-depth talks about films from other directors that have influenced them, their discussion illustrated with film clips. In the first of two On Cinema events that the festival is pleased to present this year, Jones will talk with Martin Scorsese, whose epic crime drama The Irishman is this year’s highly anticipated opening event. Scorsese, known as much for his work as a film historian as for his unparalleled, decades-spanning cinematic career, will guide the audience through a selection of films that inspired this remarkable new work.

On Cinema: Pedro Almodóvar

Among the world’s most beloved auteurs, Pedro Almodóvar has shown films at the New York Film Festival eleven times over the past four decades. This year’s selection is perhaps his most personal film yet: Pain and Glory, starring a Cannes Film Festival–awarded Antonio Banderas in the role of a director—essentially a surrogate Almodóvar figure—who has reached a creative block. As with all of his films, there is a deep wellspring of emotion in Pain and Glory, as well as a rich tapestry of allusions and references to a cinematic past, which this conversation will help elucidate.

Directors Dialogues
The Directors Dialogues are the New York Film Festival’s annual series of intimate conversations, in which a selection of filmmakers from this year’s festival sit down for special Q&As to discuss the ideas and the craft behind their buzzed about newest works. Participating directors include:

Bong Joon-ho

The South Korean filmmaker, whose unpredictable and diverse filmography has taken us from the gonzo monster movie The Host to the intense, bloody melodrama of Mother to the graphic novel action of Snowpiercer, has created perhaps his masterpiece with this year’s Palme d’Or–winner Parasite. Bong will discuss his spring-trap-loaded comedy-drama-thriller with a social conscience—so make sure you see it first to not spoil its many surprises.

Mati Diop

The French-Senegalese director made perhaps the year’s most talked-about debut feature with Atlantics, which earned her the Grand Prix at the Cannes Film Festival. Both ghost and love story, the film feels unlike any other, hypnotic and supernatural yet grounded in the realities of life as it’s experienced by those living in contemporary, working-class Dakar. Diop will be on hand to discuss how she negotiated these registers and how she constructed her singular film.

2019 Toronto International Film Festival: TIFF Tribute Gala honorees include Meryl Streep, Joaquin Phoenix, Taika Waititi, Roger Deakins

August 14, 2019

TIFF logo

Meryl Streep (Photo by Rick Rowell/ABC)

The following are press releases from the Toronto International Film Festival:

Joana Vicente and Cameron Bailey, Co-Heads of TIFF, announced that three-time Academy Award winner ​Meryl Streep​ will be honored with the ​TIFF Tribute Actor  Award​, Sponsored by RBC at this year’s new TIFF Tribute Gala awards event. Taking place on Monday, September 9 at Fairmont Royal York, during the 44th Toronto International Film  Festival, the Gala is an annual fundraiser to support TIFF’s year-round programmes and core  mission to transform the way people see the world through film, and to celebrate the film  industry’s outstanding contributors.

With an extensive film, television, and stage career spanning over 40 years, Streep has won  three Academy Awards — for her roles in ​”Kramer vs. Kramer​,” ​”Sophie’s Choice​,” and ​”The Iron Lady”  — and, in 2018, she set an unsurpassed record with her 21st Oscar nomination for her role in “The Post​.” She has been nominated for 31 Golden Globes, winning eight times, and in 2017 she  was the recipient of the Cecil B. deMille Award. Streep currently stars in the Emmy  Award–winning series ​”Big Little Lies​” and will star with Gary Oldman and Antonio Banderas in  Steven Soderbergh’s upcoming film ​”The Laundromat​,” which will have its North American  Premiere at TIFF this September.

“Meryl Streep is undoubtedly one of the most talented and versatile actors of her generation,”  said Vicente. “Her tremendous contribution to cinema, television, and the stage spans five  decades; from her early roles in ‘​The Deer Hunter​,’ ​’Kramer vs. Kramer​,​’ ​and ​’Sophie’s Choice’​ to later  films including ​’The Devil Wears Prada​,​’ ‘The Iron Lady​,​’ ​and ​’The Post​,’ she has portrayed characters  that are as compelling as they are timeless. TIFF could not be more thrilled to honor such a  skilled and exemplary artist.”

Joaquin Phoenix (Photo by Michael Kovac/Getty Images for Grey Goose Vodka)

Joana Vicente and Cameron Bailey, Co-Heads of TIFF, announced that three-time Academy  Award–nominated actor ​Joaquin Phoenix​ will be honored with one of two ​TIFF Tribute Actor Awards​ at this  year’s TIFF Tribute Gala awards event. Taking place on Monday, September 9 at Fairmont Royal York, during  the 44th Toronto International Film Festival, the Gala is an annual fundraiser to support TIFF’s year-round  programmes and core mission to transform the way people see the world through film, and to celebrate the  film industry’s outstanding contributors.

With a wide-ranging career spanning over 35 years, Phoenix has starred in such films as​ “The Master​,” “Inherent  Vice​,​” “Walk the Line​,” ​”Gladiator​,” “To Die For​,” and “​Her.” ​He has been nominated for three Academy Awards for his  roles as Commodus​ ​in ​”Gladiator​,” Freddie Quell in ​”The Master”​ and Johnny Cash in​ “Walk the Line​,” for which he  won a Golden Globe.​​ This fall, Phoenix portrays the title character in Todd Phillips’ ​”Joker​,” ​a standalone origin  story ​that will have its North American Premiere at TIFF.

“Displaying both raw instinct and consummate technical skill, Joaquin Phoenix is the complete actor, and one  of the finest in contemporary cinema,” said Bailey. “Over three decades, he has brought a piercing truth to each  groundbreaking role. TIFF is thrilled to be celebrating an artist of his caliber with this inaugural award. We can’t  wait for Festival audiences to experience his electric turn in ​Joker​.”

“We’re thrilled that the extraordinarily talented Joaquin Phoenix will be honored at the TIFF Tribute Gala this  September,” said Vicente. “His outstanding contribution to cinema acts as a testament to TIFF’s core mission  to transform the way people see the world through film.”

Director Todd Phillips’ “J​oker​” centers on the iconic arch-nemesis and is an original, fictional story not seen  before on the big screen. Phillips’ exploration of Arthur Fleck, who is indelibly portrayed by Phoenix, is of a man  struggling to find his way in Gotham’s fractured society.

Taika Waititi (Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios/Disney)

Joana Vicente and Cameron Bailey, Co-Heads of TIFF, announced that  Academy Award–nominated New Zealand filmmaker ​Taika Waititi​ will be honored with the  TIFF Ebert Director Award​ at this year’s new TIFF Tribute Gala awards event. The award  recognizes and honors a distinguished filmmaker for their outstanding contribution to cinema. Taking place on Monday, September 9 at Fairmont Royal York, during the 44th Toronto  International Film Festival, the Gala is an annual fundraiser to support TIFF’s year-round  programmes and core mission to transform the way people see the world through film, and to  celebrate the film industry’s outstanding contributors.

“Taika Waititi is one of the most innovative, bold, and exciting filmmakers working in the  industry right now,” said Vicente. “TIFF is thrilled to honor his extraordinary talent with the  inaugural TIFF Ebert Director Award.”

“Taika Waititi is the rock star cinema needs right now,” said Bailey. “His films are full of  razor-sharp humor, faultless style, and boundless generosity. Somehow he manages to stuff  both indie hits and massive crowd-pleasers with big, radical ideas. We’re thrilled to be  premiering his latest, “​Jojo Rabbit​,” at the Festival and to hand over the inaugural TIFF Tribute  Award for direction to this 21st-century master.”

Waititi directed the superhero film ​”Thor: Ragnarok,​” which made over $850 million at the box  office worldwide, and will write and direct the upcoming ​”Thor: Love and Thunder.​” His films as  writer-director also include ​”Boy​” and ​”Hunt for the Wilderpeople​,” and he co-wrote, co-directed, and  co-starred in ​”What We Do in the Shadows​” with Jemaine Clement. He was nominated for an  Academy Award for his short ​”Two Cars, One Night​.” Waititi’s upcoming anti-hate satire “Jojo  Rabbit​,” starring Roman Griffin Davis, Thomasin McKenzie, Rebel Wilson, Stephen Merchant, Alfie  Allen, Sam Rockwell, Scarlett Johansson, and Waititi himself, will have its world premiere at TIFF  and will be released by Fox Searchlight on October 18, 2019.

The ​TIFF Ebert Director Award ​is an evolution of the organization’s former Roger Ebert Golden  Thumb Award, which celebrated a remarkable filmmaker who reflected renowned film critic  Roger Ebert’s passion for cinema. Past recipients include Claire Denis, Martin Scorsese, Ava  DuVernay, Agnès Varda, and Wim Wenders.

Roger Deakins (Photo by Rick Rowell/ABC)

Joana Vicente and Cameron Bailey, Co-Heads of TIFF, announced that Academy  Award-winning cinematographer Roger Deakins will be honored with the ​Variety​ Artisan Award​ at this year’s  TIFF Tribute Gala awards event. The award recognizes a distinguished filmmaker who has excelled at their  craft and made an outstanding contribution to cinema. Taking place on Monday, September 9, at the Fairmont  Royal York, during the 44th Toronto International Film Festival, the Gala is an annual fundraiser to support  TIFF’s year-round programmes and core mission to transform the way people see the world through film, and  to celebrate the film industry’s outstanding contributors. ​Variety​ is proud to be the exclusive trade media  partner on the event.

Deakins won an Academy Award for ​Blade Runner 2049​, and was nominated for an additional 13 Oscars for his  work on films including ​”The Shawshank Redemption”; “O Brother, Where Art Thou?”; “No Country for Old Men”; “Skyfall​” and ​”Sicario​.” His illustrious career, spanning more than 40 years, also includes four ASC Award wins for  Outstanding Cinematography, four BAFTA Awards, and collaborations with directors such as the Coen  brothers, Ron Howard, Martin Scorsese, Angelina Jolie, Sam Mendes and Denis Villeneuve, making him one of  the most sought-after cinematographers in the industry. Deakins’ latest work will be featured in the upcoming  film ​”The Goldfinch.” Directed by John Crowley and starring Ansel Elgort, Oakes Fegley, Aneurin Barnard, Finn  Wolfhard, Sarah Paulson, Luke Wilson, Jeffrey Wright and Nicole Kidman, ​”The Goldfinch”​ will have its World  Premiere at TIFF and will be released by Warner Bros. Pictures on September 13, 2019.

“For nearly half a century, the name Roger Deakins has exemplified both breathtaking cinematic beauty and  fearless cinematic risk-taking,” said Steven Gaydos, EVP of Content at ​Variety​. “From his early-career work on  music docs and small British features through his decades of stellar work for the world’s greatest filmmakers,  Deakins has carved out a unique place in the history of cinematography. Capable of exquisite painterly  flourishes as well as groundbreaking technological advances in the cinematographic arts, his Oscar win for ‘Blade Runner 2049​’ capped a run of nominations that included everything from blockbusters like ​’Skyfall​’ to Best  Picture winners like ​’No Country for Old Men​.’This year, with both ​’The​ ​Goldfinch’​ and ​’1917′ on the horizon,  Deakins continues to dazzle and inspire as he pushes the boundaries of his craft and helps make masterpieces  with equally fearless auteurs.”

TIFF previously announced that ​Participant  Media​ will receive the ​TIFF Impact Award​, accepted by Founder and Chairman Jeff Skoll and CEO David Linde.  The recipient of the inaugural ​Mary Pickford Award​ supported by MGM, honoring a female emerging talent in  the industry in celebration of United Artists’ 100th anniversary, will be announced in the coming days.*

Mati Diop (Photo by Huma Rosentalski)

*August 20, 2019 UPDATE:  Joana Vicente and Cameron Bailey, Co-Heads of TIFF, today announced director ​Mati Diop​ as the  inaugural recipient of the ​Mary Pickford Award​ supported by MGM, to be presented at the TIFF Tribute Gala on  Monday, September 9. The award, named in honor of Toronto native Mary Pickford, recognizes an emerging  female talent who is making groundbreaking strides in the industry. Pickford was the pioneering actor,  producer, and Co-Founder of United Artists, and the award is being launched in conjunction with United Artists’  centennial this year. The creation of the award follows TIFF’s continued commitment to championing women  and diverse voices in front of and behind the camera.

“We’re thrilled to honor the incredible Mati Diop as our inaugural Mary Pickford Award recipient, as United  Artists marks its centennial year,” said Vicente, Executive Director and Co-Head of TIFF. “She is a vibrant and  important new voice within the industry and one to watch closely.”
“Mati Diop’s film ‘Atlantics’ is a profound and unsettling work of art,” said Bailey, Artistic Director and Co-Head  of TIFF. “We know this is just the start for such an original and authentic voice, and we’re delighted to celebrate  her success at this year’s TIFF Tribute Gala.”
“Like Mary Pickford, Mati Diop has demonstrated her trial-blazing influence both in front of and behind the  camera, making her the ideal inaugural awardee.  We look forward to partnering with TIFF to honor Pickford’s  legacy and United Artists in celebration of their 100th year,” said Jonathan Glickman, President of MGM  Studios’ Motion Picture Group.
She has directed the short films ​”Atlantiques​,” “Big in Vietnam​,” and the documentary ​”A Thousand Suns”​ — all of  which played the Festival — as well as ​Snow Canon​ and ​Liberian Boy​. ​”A Thousand Suns”​ was presented by Claire  Denis in 2013 as part of TIFF’s year-round Cinematheque programme. In 2019, Diop became the first Black  female director to screen a film in competition at the Cannes Film Festival with her debut feature ​”Atlantics​,” which was based on the short ​”Atlantiques​” and went on to win the prestigious Grand Prix at the festival. The  film, written by Diop and Olivier Demangel, stars Mama Sané, Amadou Mbow, Ibrahima Traoré, Nicole Sougou,  Amina Kane, Mariama Gassama, Coumba Dieng, Ibrahima Mbaye, and Diankou Sembene. ​”Atlantic”s​ will have its  North American Premiere at TIFF and will be released by Netflix later this year. The film is produced by Les  Films du Bal, Cinekap and FraKas.
Of all Festival titles in this year’s lineup, 36% are directed, co-directed, or created by women, and women  comprise half the Festival’s programming team. Following the organization’s signing of the 50/50×2020 pledge  at last year’s Festival, TIFF has steadfastly worked to integrate responsible data management and practices to  understand the diversity and inclusion of its film programming. TIFF gave filmmakers the opportunity to  self-identify to inform gender representation in the Official Selection. As part of TIFF’s Share Her Journey  campaign, the organization will continue to provide over 120 female creators free access to TIFF’s Industry  Conference and year-round programming. The overall number of speakers at this year’s Conference represents  a 50/50 gender split, as do TIFF Talent Development initiatives such as TIFF Studio, Filmmaker Lab, and TIFF  Rising Stars.
Mary Pickford was the highest-paid actor — male or female — during the late 1910s and was a savvy  businesswoman who helped shape the industry as we know it today. In 1919, she revolutionized film  distribution by partnering with Charlie Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks, and D.W. Griffith to form United Artists.  Pickford, who also went on to co-found what is today the Motion Picture & Television Fund and the Academy of  Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, continued to be a part of United Artists through the early 1950s. The award  will be supported by MGM Studios, whose retains the United Artist library as part of its global film and  television library of content.

The 44th Toronto International Film Festival runs September 5–15, 2019.

For information on purchasing a table for the TIFF Tribute Gala, please contact ​[email protected]​.

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About TIFF 

TIFF is a not-for-profit cultural organization whose mission is to transform the way people see the world  through film. An international leader in film culture, TIFF projects include the annual Toronto International Film  Festival in September; TIFF Bell Lightbox, which features five cinemas, major exhibitions, and learning and  entertainment facilities; and innovative national distribution program Film Circuit. The organization generates  an annual economic impact of $189 million CAD. TIFF Bell Lightbox is generously supported by contributors  including Founding Sponsor Bell, the Province of Ontario, the Government of Canada, the City of Toronto, the  Reitman family (Ivan Reitman, Agi Mandel and Susan Michaels), The Daniels Corporation and RBC. For more  information, visit tiff.net.    About ​Variety  Variety​ has been the seminal voice of the entertainment industry for 114 years and counting. Featuring  award-winning breaking-news reporting, insightful award-season coverage, must-read feature spotlights, and  intelligent analysis of the industry’s most prominent players, ​Variety​ is the trusted source for the business of  global entertainment. Read by a highly engaged audience of industry insiders, ​Variety’s​ multi-platform content  coverage expands across digital, mobile, social, print and branded content, events, and summits.    Follow Variety on Facebook at facebook.com/variety, Twitter @variety, and Instagram @Variety. The Variety  Group — Variety, Variety.com, Variety Insight, and Indiewire — is owned by Variety Media, LLC, a division of  Penske Media Corporation.

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