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Our 20 Most-Anticipated 2019 Fall Festival Premieres

Written by on August 26, 2019 

The Personal History of David Copperfield (Armando Iannucci) – TIFF and London FF

The Death of Stalin was the perfect dark comedy for our dark political times, and for his next film Armando Iannucci is taking the unexpected route of adapting Charles Dickens. “I want to make a film that doesn’t feel hidebound by the conventions of a costume drama or a period drama,” the director said of his take on the orphan-turned- author David Copperfield. “I want to start again. I want it to feel real and present, even though it’s set in 1840 in London. I want it to feel immediate and current. And therefore I want the cast to be much more representative of what London looks like now, and I want a lot of the behavior in the film to feel current and contemporary.” Starring Dev Patel, Peter Capaldi, Tilda Swinton, Hugh Laurie, Aneurin Barnard, Ben Whishaw, Morfydd Clark, Gwendoline Christie, and Benedict Wong, it’s set for a world premiere at TIFF before, fittingly, heading to London. – Jordan R.

Proxima (Alice Winocour) – TIFF

Her visually and aurally arresting drama Disorder went painfully overlooked a few years back, but we imagine Alice Winocour will reach a wider audience with her next film. Proxima, starring Eva Green and Lars Eidinger, follows an astronaut who is preparing to go on a journey and must deal with the pending separation from her daughter. Featuring a score from none other than Ryuichi Sakamoto, here’s hoping it stands out amongst the higher-profile astronaut-centered films this fall. – Jordan R.

Saturday Fiction (Lou Ye) – Venice, TIFF, and NYFF

Another rare film stopping at both Venice, TIFF, and NYFF, Lou Ye’s Saturday Fiction marks Gong Li’s first role in years. The meta tale follows the actress as… an actress. On the cusp of the Pearl Harbor attacks, her character is staging a play in the Japanese-occupied Shanghai but fact and fiction start to co-mingle as the attack approaches and the intensity ratchets up. – Jordan R.

Seberg (Benedict Andrews) – Venice and TIFF

With iconic roles in films such as Saint Joan, Breathless, and Paint Your Wagon, the cinematic life of French film icon Jean Seberg would be fascinating enough for its own movie. However, this year’s Seberg will be telling a not widely-known part of Seberg’s life. After donating money and associating with various civil rights groups such as the NAACP and the Black Panther Party–and particularly her involvement with activist Hakin Jamal–the FBI launched an investigation into Seberg, harassing, defaming, and blacklisting her along the way. Directed by Benedict Andrews (Una), Against All Enemies looks to be an eerily relevant exploration of the intersection of art, activism, and the government institutions that rail against them, and providing Kristen Stewart with an incredibly juicy role as Seberg. – Stephen H.

Sound of Metal (Darius Marder) – TIFF

Co-writer of The Place Beyond the Pines, Darius Marder returns to TIFF with his feature narrative debut Sound of Metal, a drama following Riz Ahmed as a noise metal drummer who begins to lose his hearing. From Nightcrawler to City of Tiny Lights to The Sisters Brothers to Una, Ahmed has been a fixture at TIFF and this could be one of his most promising leading roles. – Jordan R.

Synchronic (Aaron Moorhead and Justin Benson) – TIFF and Fantastic Fest

On a tight budget, Aaron Moorhead and Justin Benson have shown they can concoct fantastical worlds of their own mythology with Spring and The Endless. Their latest film pairs Anthony Mackie and Jamie Dornan as New Orleans paramedics who investigate drug-related deaths that start to follow a mysterious, genre-bending pattern. In their most high-profile feature yet we’re intrigued to see what the directing duo have in store, and it should be noted that the film isn’t premiering as part of TIFF’s Midnight Madness section but rather Special Presentations. – Jordan R.

True History of the Kelly Gang (Justin Kurzel) – TIFF

Justin Kurzel’s debut feature Snowtown was one of the most striking true crime dramas of this decade, an impressionistic tour de force of Australia’s most infamous serial murder case from the perspective of the troubled teenager who became killer John Bunting’s reluctant accomplice. Now, Kurzel finally reunites with Snowtown screenwriter Shaun Grant to return to the world of Australian crime, this time traveling all the way back to the 19th century to tell the story of notorious outlaw, bushranger and folk hero Ned Kelly. Aside from being based on the historical novel of the same name by Peter Carey, and featuring a cast of Australian and English cinema’s brightest stars including Russell Crowe and Nicholas Hoult, we don’t know much about the project yet but its subject matter and pedigree suggest a raw, ruthless and evocative journey into the lawless underworld Australia’s own Wild West. – Eli F.

The Truth (Hirokazu Kore-eda) – Venice and TIFF

The film we’ll hear reactions for first on this list is from Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda. Coming off his Palme d’Or winner Shoplifters, he embarked on his French-language debut, featuring two of France’s greatest stars. Led by Juliette Binoche, Catherine Deneuve, and Ethan Hawke, the meta story involves a star of French cinema (Deneuve) and the relationship with her daughter, played by Binoche. With Hawke playing the role of Binoche’s husband, cinematography comes from Eric Gautier, who most recently worked on Jia Zhangke’s Ash Is Purest White. Following the melodramatic first teaser, here’s hoping Kore-eda doesn’t get lost in translation. – Jordan R.

Waiting for the Barbarians (Ciro Guerra) – Venice

This year kicked off with the U.S. release of Birds of Passage, the newest film from Embrace of the Serpent director Ciro Guerra, and before 2019 is over, we’ll be getting another new feature from the director. Notable for its major cast—including Robert Pattinson, Mark Rylance, Joe Alwyn, and Johnny Depp—the story of his newest film follows a Magistrate working in a distant outpost who begins to question his loyalty to the Empire. One imagines a Zama-esque odyssey and with Guerra’s incredible eye, expect something special. – Jordan R.

Wasp Network (Olivier Assayas) – Venice, TIFF, and NYFF

Back just a year after his delightful comedy Non-Fiction debuted on the fall festival circuit, Olivier Assayas returns with Wasp Network. Featuring the impressive ensemble of Penélope Cruz, Edgar Ramírez, Gael García Bernal, Wagner Moura, and Ana de Arma, the French director’s latest film finds him capturing Cuban dissidents in the 1990s following the Soviet Union economic collapse. The last time he embarked on a political thriller with Carlos (also starring Ramírez), it made for one of his most epic, accomplishments. Here’s hoping similar greatness is in store. – Jordan R.

Honorable Mentions

A few films that just premiered at Locarno will also be coming to fall festivals, including Pedro Costa’s Vitalina Varela and Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s To the Ends of the Earth. Makoto Shinkai’s Your Name. follow-up Weathering with You has also already debuted in Japan, but will be hitting TIFF before a 2020 debut.

In terms of fall festival world premieres, we’re also curious about TIFF’s closer Radioactive, directed by Marjane Satrapi and starring Rosamund Pike, Costa-Gavras’ Adults in the Room, the animation No. 7 Cherry Lane, Julie Delpy’s My Zoe, Ordinary Love with Liam Neeson and Lesley Manville, Atom Egoyan’s Guest of Honour, Gabriela Cowperthwaite’s The Friend, Haifaa Al-Mansour’s The Perfect Candidate, and Alejandro Amenábar’s While at War.

And thus far United States film festivals won’t have anything to do with them, but we imagine much ink will be spilled about Roman Polanski, Woody Allen, and Nate Parker’s new films, coming to various European festivals.

Continue Reading: 50 Films to See This Fall

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