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"Wuthering Heights" and infinite sights: #TIFF22 Platform section unveiled

Rising star 𝗘𝗺𝗺𝗮 𝗠𝗮𝗰𝗸𝗲𝘆 plays a famous Brontë sister in "Emily," the opening night film of visionary 𝗣𝗹𝗮𝘁𝗳𝗼𝗿𝗺 section at the 2022 Toronto International Film Festival. And there's a mission to Mars 🚀, too, with the Canadian movie "Viking."

Peter Howell

Movie Critic

Stories from around the world — and out of this world — make up the 10 features of Platform, the Toronto International Film Festival’s competitive program that promotes unique directorial visions.

The 2022 Platform slate unveiled Wednesday by TIFF lives up to the section’s mandate to challenge moviegoers with diverse themes, risk-taking narratives and exceptional performances by established actors as well as newcomers. (TIFF ’22 runs Sept. 8-18.)

The 2022 selections, all world premieres, are from several continents and also places not of this Earth. Two of the films, Cédric Ido’s “The Gravity (La Gravité)” and Stéphane Lafleur’s “Viking,” are sci-fi dramas where the action is influenced by events on other planets.

“We launched Platform to shine a brighter light on some of the most original films and distinct voices at our festival,” TIFF CEO Cameron Bailey said in a press release. “Now in year seven, it’s become a true home for international auteurs on the rise.”

That faith has paid off: Platform selections in previous years have included the eventual Oscar Best Picture winner “Moonlight” as well as a Best Actress nomination for Natalie Portman (“Jackie”) and Best Actor nomination for Riz Ahmed (“Sound of Metal”). It was also here where rising star Florence Pugh first gained wide appreciation for her acting, in the 2016 film “Lady Macbeth.”

Platform’s opening night film, Frances O’Connor’s “Emily,” looks to have another star in the making: Emma Mackey has the title role of Emily Brontë, the author of “Wuthering Heights” and one of the three Brontë sisters of literary acclaim. Mackey also has a major role, as yet undisclosed, in Greta Gerwig’s live-action “Barbie” movie that’s due next summer.

“Emily” marks the feature directing debut of O’Connor, the British/Australian actress who starred in “Mansfield Park,” the Jane Austen novel adapted for the screen by Toronto’s Patricia Rozema.

This year’s Platform roster also includes two Canadian titles: “Riceboy Sleeps” and “Viking.”

Platform is curated by Anita Lee, TIFF’s chief programming officer; Robyn Citizen, TIFF’s director of festival programming; and Ravi Srinivasan, TIFF’s senior manager of festival programming.

The 10 films will compete for the $20,000 Platform Prize, an award selected by an in-person international jury that will be named later this summer. Previous jury members have included Claire Denis, Béla Tarr, Brian De Palma, Mira Nair, Riz Ahmed and Jia Zhang-ke.

Platform’s full 2022 lineup, with programming and/or publicity notes:

"Charcoal” (“When My Life”) (Carolina Markowicz), Brazil, Argentina.

Described as “a deadpan portrait of how the naturalization of the absurd is the new normal,” it’s apparently a dramedy about a crime syndicate that “exchanges” fugitives for people in a vegetative state.

“Emily” (Frances O’Connor), United Kingdom.

A coming-of-age story about one of the famous Brontë sisters. According to publicity notes, the film “imagines the transformative, exhilarating, and uplifting journey to womanhood of a rebel and a misfit, one of the world’s most famous, enigmatic, and provocative writers who died too soon at the age of 30.”

“The Gravity” (“La Gravité)” (Cédric Ido), France.

French-Burkinabe director/writer/actor Ido reportedly delivers a drama that “looks back on how an unprecedented planetary alignment affecting gravity upsets the equilibrium of a specific neighbourhood …”

“Hawa” (Maïmouna Doucouré), France.

The story of a young girl with big dreams, according to publicity notes. Hawa, a 15-year-old girl played by Sania Halifa, lives alone with her gravely ill grandmother. Fearing the authorities who might place her in another home, she devises a plan to get adopted by one of the most powerful women in the world. Co-stars include Grammy-winning singer/songwriter Oumou Sangaré as well as the popular singer Yseult.

“How to Blow Up a Pipeline” (Daniel Goldhaber), U.S.A.

An action movie with a social conscience, according to TIFF programmers: “A ragtag crew of environmental activists execute a daring mission to sabotage an oil pipeline in director Daniel Goldhaber’s taut and timely thriller that is part high-stakes heist, part radical call to action.”

“Riceboy Sleeps” (Anthony Shim), Canada.

“Set in the ’90s, a Korean single mother raises her young son in the suburbs of Canada determined to provide a better life for him than the one she left behind,” publicity notes read. Choi Seung-yoon, Ethan Hwang and Dohyun Noel Hwang star.

“Subtraction (Tafrigh)” (Mani Haghighi), Iran, France.

Iranian director Haghighi’s latest film is appropriately described as a drama/mystery.

“Thunder (Foudre)” (Carmen Jaquier), Switzerland.

Publicity notes for this Swiss drama, set in the summer of 1900: “Elisabeth, 17, returns home from the convent after learning of her sister’s mysterious death. Reunited with her three childhood friends she discovers that faith and desire can sometimes be intertwined.”

“Tora’s Husband” (Rima Das), India.

No plot details yet, but self-taught director Das (“Village Rockstars,” “Bulbul Can Sing”) cites Satyajit Ray, Ingmar Bergman, and Majid Majidi as her filmmaking influences.

“Viking” (Stéphane Lafleur), Canada.

This sci-fi film by the artfully inclined Quebec director of “Tu dors Nicole” and “Continental: A Film Without Guns” is described as being somewhere “between improbable science fiction and modern allegory.” The intriguing official synopsis describes a mission to Mars, in which volunteers are sought to remain on Earth, acting as alter egos to the astronauts headed to the red planet. For a phys. ed teacher named David, this is the chance of a lifetime.

For more information and ticket info, see 🌓

(This column originally ran in the Toronto Star.)



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