The Toronto International Film Festival is known to foreshadow the Oscars. The event is also a platform for European cinema - and opens with a double remake of a samurai adventure.
For director Marie Noëlle, the premiere of her movie "Marie Curie" at the Toronto International Film Festival, which runs from September 8-18, is likely to be a special event. The film depicts a few years in the life of the two-time Nobel laureate. Curie is so far the only scientist to have received the Nobel Prize in different fields.
Marie Curie holds Nobel record
Her first award, the Nobel Prize in Physics, was awarded to her together with her husband Pierre in 1903. Three years later, Pierre was killed in a traffic accident. Despite the tragic loss, Currie succeeded in continuing her work in the male-dominated world of science.
The further career of the researcher was then marked by pioneering discoveries in particular in the field of chemistry, for which she was honored a second time in Stockholm in 1911.
The years between the two awards are the focus of the drama. For director Marie Noëlle, the story is also a way of processing a personal tragedy. Three years ago, director Peter Sehr, her longtime husband and work partner, passed away.
Unlike the festivals in Berlin, Cannes and Venice, Toronto doesn't hold a competition with a prestigious grand prize. Nevertheless, the Canadians have succeeded in recent years in catching up with the European festivals. In particular, many major Hollywood production companies like to show their new works in Toronto, which is now regarded as the most important festival on the continent.
Werner Herzog: two festival premieres
The incredibly hardworking German director Werner Herzog will also be presenting two new films in Toronto. Among them is the thriller "Salt and Fire," with the original cast Veronica Ferres, Gael Garcia Bernal and Michael Shannon.
Also running is Herzog's latest documentary, "Into the Inferno," about his journey to active volcanoes around the world.
'Salt and Fire' with an international cast: German actress Veronica Ferres and Mexican actor Gael Garcia Bernal (r.)
'Snowden' presented in Toronto
The film "Snowden" by Oliver Stone was first shown during the Comic-Con Film Fair in San Diego in July, and will open in cinemas worldwide in September. Before that, the portrait of the famous whistleblower will be presented at the festival in Toronto.
Names such as Wim Wenders and Maren Ade remind international film experts of "proper" German cinema. Wenders will present, a few days after the world premiere in Venice, his film "The Beautiful Days of Aranjuez."
And Maren Ade, who has been showered with prizes recently, will present "Toni Erdmann," which has just been nominated as the German Oscar contestant.
Already touted as Oscar nominee: 'Arrival'
From a North American perspective, the new film by Canadian director Denis Villeneuve is eagerly awaited. In "Arrival," Villeneuve tells the story of a linguist who is told by the military to get in touch with aliens.
Villeneuve has proven many times in the past that he can make great movies from seemingly strange topics. "Arrival" stars Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner and is already being considered as a candidate for next year's Oscars. Although the film will premiere in Venice a few days before Toronto, the North American premiere is also expected to get a lot of attention.
And the Oscar goes to…
Toronto has established itself in recent years as a precursor to the Oscars. US films use Toronto to show what's coming to the cinemas in the upcoming weeks and months and which candidates have the strongest chances of an Oscar the following February. Toronto marks the beginning of a large commercial marketing strategy for Hollywood's famous golden statues.
Now in its 41st year, the Toronto International Film Festival will open with the closing film of the festival in Venice - a curious constellation which indicates how heavy the competition between the major international film festivals is nowadays.
Two days before the Lido closes its doors and the audience leans back for a final film in the cinema, "The Magnificent Seven," the Wild West epic by director Antoine Fuqua will be presented in Canada.
In 1954, Japan's master director Akira Kurosawa had shown the story on the big screen for the first time. Then the film heroes weren't cowboys, but samurai warriors. Six years later, director John Sturges turned the material into a Western - including Yul Brunner and the German Horst Buchholz.
The latest "The Magnificent Seven" will ride through the cinema world three times: first in Toronto (September 8), then in Venice (September 10), and in South Korea (September 14). It opens in cinemas worldwide on September 22.