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TIFF 2018: The hottest indie hits to get hyped for this year

The annual Toronto International Film Festival is looming, having just released the first slate of its 2018 movie lineup. You don’t have to whack out the bunion-padded shoes just yet though, as the festival’s not starting for another two months (September 6 to 16, to be precise). Until then, get yourself hyped for all the tasty new indie content comprising a number of exciting premieres and previous debuts heading to the big screens of Hogtown this Fall.



Director: Steve McQueen

McQueen’s back with a female-led thriller, set to enjoy its world premiere at the 2018 TIFF. The labyrinthine heist story follows a group of Chicago women who have to complete a robbery put in motion by their dead husbands. However, it goes beyond the confines of a popcorn thriller by incorporating themes of poverty, prejudice, and power in its storyline.

“It’s a genre picture,” mused McQueen. “I liked the idea of going into a genre, but still having social realism involved. Chicago had all the elements that I wanted to investigate, those of race, class, religion, policing . . . It’s such a fertile narrative environment. It has this criminality that goes all the way back to Al Capone.”


Beautiful Boy

Director: Felix Van Groeningen

It seems only fitting that Hollywood’s golden boy Timothée Chalamet stars in a film quite literally titled Beautiful Boy. Continuing his indie run with Van Groeningen’s biographical drama, the actor stars alongside a more serious Steve Carell as father & son David and Nic Sheff, as the pair struggle in their heartbreaking and inspiring journey of survival, relapse, and recovery in a family coping with addiction. It looks like a total tear-jerker – be sure to have the Kleenex ready for this one.


What They Had

Director: Elizabeth Chomko

This Sundance hit is making its way over to Toronto for its Canadian premiere, starring Hilary Swank and Michael Shannon as the concerned adult children of a mother sliding into dementia (Blythe Danner) in this domestic drama about family, home, and being confronted with the past. The movie received warm reviews following its premiere in January, with Variety stating, “Chomko mitigates a fairly heavy narrative agenda with a great deal of humor.”


If Beale Street Could Talk

Director: Barry Jenkins

The Moonlight director is back with what looks set to be another compelling indie hit based on a James Baldwin novel about a love that persists through oppression and racial injustice. Newcomer Kiki Layne will star as Tish – a woman in Harlem who must desperately scramble to prove her fiancé Fonny (Stephan James) innocent of a false rape accusation while carrying their first child. If Moonlight is anything to go by, we have the utmost confidence in Jenkins’s ability to carry this compelling story to the big screen.


The Land of Steady Habits

Director: Nicole Holofcener

In her first film since Enough Said, Holofcener returns with a drama based on the novel of the same name by Ted Thompson. Ben Mendelsohn stars in the lead role as Anders Hill, a man in his mid-fifties who takes his mid-life crisis to another level by leaving his wife, buying a condo, and waiting for the freedom to transform him. However, after being stripped of the comforts of his previous identity, he embarks on a clumsy and heartbreaking journey to reconcile his past with his present.


Monsters and Men

Director: Reinaldo Marcus Green

Winner of this year’s Palme d’Or will also hit the screens of TIFF, much to the delight of indie film lovers who didn’t get to check it out in May. Hirokazu Koreeda’s (Nobody Knows) drama about a poverty ridden family of small-time criminals informally adopting a homeless girl looks meticulous in its character studies and full of deep emotional beats.


Girls of the Sun

Director: Eva Husson

Another Cannes hit making its way to TIFF is Husson’s Girls of the Sun, starring Golshifteh Farahani (Body of Lies) as a Kurdish combatant who leads a battalion of female resistance fighters as they unite to take back their small town that has been taken over by extremists. Although the film didn’t bag the Palme d’Or at this year’s Cannes, it did win over the critics, with one writing, “Eva Husson’s strong-arm approach works well for this powerful, partisan drama based on real-life women driven to fight Isis in 2014.”



Director: Olivier Assayas

We couldn’t be more excited for the premiere of Assayas’s first film since Personal Shopper, about a successful French publisher and one of his trusted authors who are caught in a struggle over the latter’s latest auto-fiction. The publisher’s thoughts? It’s a little outdated, an opinion that does not sit well with the writer’s wife, who thinks it is nothing short of a masterpiece. Starring Juliette Binoche and Guillaume Canet.


High Life

Director: Claire Denis

Quite possibly the most anticipated film on this list, High Life is French auteur Claire Denis’s first English-language flick. This sci-fi production stars none other than Robert Pattinson (Good Time) alongside Patricia Arquette (True Romance) and Mia Goth (Everest) as a group of skilled criminals who trade in facing jail time and capital punishment for agreeing to participate in a likely fatal government space mission. So far it sounds just like the kind of cerebral sci-fi we love – you’d be a fool to miss this premiere when it hits Hogtown in September.


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