The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) launches its 38th edition today and once again features its customary huge programme of films from around the world – a well-curated offering for every taste, every walk of life, every cultural background. From much-anticipated soon-to-be-huge Hollywood hits to twisted horror flicks, Asian art-house cinema to European romance, long-form documentaries to experimental shorts, TIFF covers the bases for film lovers of every stripe.
Among the TIFF’s many offerings, there is a strong and exciting representation of films from the MENA region. DFI is proud to have supported three of the films on the Arab slate through its grants and co-financing iniatives. Jordanian-Palestinian director Mais Darwazah’s personal essay film ‘My Love Awaits Me by the Sea’ tracks Darzawah’s first-ever visit to her Palestinian homeland, while Tunisian filmmaker Nejib Balkhadi’s ‘Bastardo’ is a combination of film noir and magic realism in which an orphan wrests control of his neighbourhood from local gangs. Syrian auteur Mohamad Malas comes to TIFF with ‘Ladder to Damascus’, a fictional account of 12 young people’s engagement with the ongoing insurgency in Syria.
DFI also co-financed Jasmila Žbanić’s ‘For Those Who Can Tell No Tales’, a searing and challenging exposé of the horrors that occurred in the Bosnian town of Višegrad early in the Bosnian War.
Other films of Arab origin playing at TIFF include Ali Cherri’s short meditation on the geological faultlines that run through his native Lebanon in ‘The Disquiet’; a young boy’s quest to find a companion for a giraffe from a West Bank zoo whose mate is killed in an airstrike in Rani Massalha’s ‘Giraffada’; Oscar nominated Palestinian director Hany Abu-Assad’s psychological thriller ‘Omar’, which won the Un Certain Regard Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival this year.
Rashid Masharawi returns with ‘Palestine Stereo’, a tale of two brothers trying to raise funds to emigrate to Canada; Egyptian director Ahmad Abdalla’s look at the fallout of the Arab Spring in Cairo in ‘Rags and Tatters’; Laïla Marrakchi examines the hypocrisy of the Moroccan middle classes in ‘Rock the Casbah’; and finally, in his debut feature, Moroccan writer Abdellah Taïa chronicles the personal struggles of a Moroccan immigrant in Geneva.
We’ll be taking a look at many of these films over the coming 10 days and the next few months – check back to see our reaction.