Toronto 2019: Documentary Overview

The 44th Toronto International Film Festival

September 5-15

Once again, approximately 40 new works of nonfiction appear out of the nearly 250 features on offer at this powerhouse North American event.


Among the many world premieres in TIFF Docs are several titles focusing on singular individuals, including: Ebs Burnough’s THE CAPOTE TAPES, which draws on newly found interviews conducted by George Plimpton about the socialite author Truman Capote; Alla Kovgan’s CUNNINGHAM, a 3d restaging of the iconic works of Merce Cunningham; Yung Chang’s THIS IS NOT A MOVIE, which focuses on legendary foreign war correspondent Robert Fisk; and Eva Orner’s BIKRAM: YOGI, GURU, PREDATOR, an exposé of the disgraced yoga mogul.


TIFF Docs also debuts several new films from nonfiction masters, including: Barbara Kopple’s DESERT ONE, on the mission to free American hostages during the 1979 Iranian revolution; Alan Berliner’s LETTER TO THE EDITOR, an essay about the power of photography and daily newspapers; and Thomas Balmès’ SING ME A SONG, a follow up to the director’s acclaimed 2014 film HAPPINESS.


Famous names behind the camera of TIFF Docs include Bryce Dallas Howard, with DADS, which surveys celebrities like her father, Ron Howard, about modern-day fatherhood; Ellen Page, who teams with Ian Daniel for THERE’S SOMETHING IN THE WATER, on the impact of ecological racism on Nova Scotia; and Fisher Stevens, who, with Malcolm Venville, directs AND WE GO GREEN, about the environmentally-friendly alternative to Formula One.

THE CAVE | National Geographic

Additional offerings in TIFF Docs include the latest from acclaimed directors like Feras Fayyad, whose film about a female doctor-led underground Syrian hospital, THE CAVE opens the strand; Eva Mulvad, whose LOVE CHILD focuses on an Iranian couple seeking asylum because they have committed adultery; Weijun Chen, whose CITY DREAM follows a grouchy street vendor threatened by nearby development; and Andrew Renzi, whose READY FOR WAR profiles immigrants facing deportation despite having served in the US military.


Outside of this strand, nonfiction claims two Gala slots, including the prime Opening Night position, with Daniel Roher’s ONCE WERE BROTHERS: ROBBIE ROBERTSON AND THE BAND, on the legendary music group; and Thom Zimny and Bruce Springsteen’s concert film, WESTERN STARS. Among the docs in Special Events is Álvaro Longoria’s SANCTUARY, about Greenpeace’s preservation actions in the Antarctic Ocean; and in Wavelengths, Hassen Ferhani’s 143 SAHARA STREET, about a small cafe in the Sahara Desert.

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Filed under Documentary, Film, Film Festivals, Overviews, Recommendations

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