TIFF Bell Lightbox is not only headquarters for the festival, it’s a dynamic cultural centre that operates year-round as a film hub showcasing classic cinema as well as art-house and independent films from around the world. This fall, check out some of the festival favourites as they get ready for their close-up at the TIFF Bell Lightbox. 

By Anna Cipollone

Varda by Agnés (above)


This is a stunning retrospective from iconic filmmaker Agnès Varda (Faces Places, Vagabond). The late director turns the camera on herself in this autobiographical documentary reflecting on her own life’s work. Visually captivating, it’s a thoughtful look at the legendary French New Wave auteur’s most compelling films. With plotlines that focus on marginalized characters, Varda developed a distinctive style based in documentary realism, often opting for non- professional actors and shooting on location at a time when neither was customary in 1950s French cinema. Tracing the pivotal moments in her life with her signature humour, Varda presents a portrait of a devoted artist who lived through her films and revelled in her love for the medium. (Opening November 22)

Synonyms


On the heels of its recent premiere at the Berlin International Film Festival, this French-Israeli drama is part of the festival’s Contemporary World Cinema program. A highly charged, emotional film from director Nadav Lapid (The Kindergarten Teacher), it’s an unpredictable tug-of-war between Israeli customs and French culture that culminates in a brilliant yet maddening story. We meet ex-soldier Yoav, played by newcomer Tom Mercier, as he desperately attempts to desert his national identity with a move to Paris. But he struggles to fit in with local mores and French society—and as the audience, we are asked to question our own perceptions of two opposing stereotypes through vignettes that shift between past and present. Winner of the Golden Bear award and FIPRESCI award at the 2019 Berlin festival, Lapid based the screenplay in part on his own experience as an Israeli living in Paris. (Opening November 1)

First Love


In this highly stylized Japanese film from legendary director and known provocateur Takashi Miike (Ichi the Killer, Audition), we meet Leo, an ill-fated boxer, and Monica, the call girl he is compelled to rescue. Leo is stern, a steadfast young boxer unwilling to show emotion, but when he’s unexpectedly knocked out, a gruesome chain of events follows. It ends up as a crime thriller and an action film, as both Leo and Monica become caught in the crossfire of rival gangsters involved in a drug-smuggling scheme. Over the course of a single night in Tokyo, the two face corrupt police officers, the yakuza and a female assassin—in an exhilarating blend of horror and humour that collides in this no-rules genre. (Opening October 4)

The Report


Written and directed by Scott Z. Burns (Contagion), this poignant political thriller stars Adam Driver (BlacKkKlansman, Star Wars: The Last Jedi) as Daniel Jones, an investigator tasked by the United States Senate to lead the inquiry into the CIA’s post-9/11 interrogation tactics. The film follows an exhaustive investigation into torture techniques used on the suspected terorrists, which are found to be both immoral and ineffective. Driver continues to prove himself a versatile dramatic actor in this electric docudrama, and the stellar cast also includes Jon Hamm, Annette Bening, Maura Tierney and Michael C. Hall. With shocking discoveries throughout his six-year mission to uncover disturbing acts of brutality across millions of documents, The Report is a gripping exploration of moral uncertainty. (Opening November 22)

ALL PHOTOS COURTESY OF TIFF