The Toronto International Film Festival is still happening this year, but it is going to look a lot different due to the coronavirus pandemic. This year’s festival will have a combination of in-person and virtual screenings and events. According to the festival, “The 45th edition of the Toronto International Film Festival, taking place September 10–19, is tailored to fit the moment, with physical screenings and drive-ins, digital screenings, virtual red carpets, press conferences and industry talks. This year’s selection comprises a lineup of 50 new feature films, five programs of short films, as well as interactive talks, film cast reunions, and Q&As with cast and filmmakers”
Among the films announced are the Black horsemanship tale, Concrete Cowboy (fka Concrete Cowboys and Ghetto Cowboy) and Halle Berry’s feature directional debut, Bruised. Other films are set to be announced over the coming weeks and months. Reinaldo Marcus Green’s latest film, Good Joe Bell, which stars Jake Gyllenhaal, is also a selection.
Concrete Cowboys stars Idris Elba Caleb McLaughlin, Jharrel Jerome, Lorraine Toussaint, Byron Bowers, and Method Man. The film is inspired by the real-life Fletcher Street Stables, a Black urban horsemanship community in Philadelphia. It follows 15-year-old Cole (McLaughlin) who is taken to live with his estranged father Harp (Elba) in North Philadelphia, where he discovers the city’s vibrant urban cowboy subculture, which flourishes despite the surrounding poverty, violence and encroachment of gentrification.
Bruised stars Berry, Shamier Anderson, Adan Canto, Shelia Atim and Stephen McKinley Henderson. The film “Jackie ‘Justice,” a “disgraced MMA fighter who has failed at the one thing she’s ever been good at – fighting. When 6-year-old Manny, the son she walked out on years ago, returns to her doorstep, Jackie has to conquer her demons, face one of the fiercest rising stars of the MMA world and ultimately fight to become the mother this kid deserves.”
“The pandemic has hit TIFF hard, but we’ve responded by going back to our original inspiration — to bring the very best in film to the broadest possible audience,” said Cameron Bailey, Artistic Director and Co-Head, TIFF. “Our teams have had to rethink everything, and open our minds to new ideas. In countless video calls over the past three months we have rebuilt our Festival for 2020 drawing on our five decades of commitment to strong curation, support for filmmakers and engagement with audiences. We have listened to this year’s urgent calls for greater representation of underrepresented voices. You’ll see that this year at the Festival. And we have watched as audiences have embraced cinema’s ability to transport them through screens of all sizes. You’ll see that too. We’re excited to present thoughtful, high-impact programming this September that reflects our belief that there’s no stopping great storytelling.”
“TIFF has a proud history of programming award-winning films, expanding the conversation to include a multitude of voices, and in creating boundary-pushing initiatives for the industry. And this year we’ve added new innovations and ways to give back to the community. In doing so, we’re aiming to advance what a film festival is capable of delivering — for audiences and the film industry,” said Joana Vicente, Co-Head and Executive Director, TIFF. “We could never have anticipated the global seismic changes we would be facing in 2020. We tapped into the original spirit of the Festival from when it began in 1976 as our guiding light. The distilled edition of TIFF 2020 reflects a deep love of film, passion for our loyal audiences, commitment to the industry and a whole lot of heart.”
Fifty filmmakers and actors have been tapped as ambassadors this year, including Ava DuVernay, Taika Waititi, Anurag Kashyap, Nicole Kidman, Martin Scorsese, Nadine Labaki, Alfonso Cuarón, Tantoo Cardinal, Riz Ahmed, Rian Johnson, Jason Reitman, Isabelle Huppert, Claire Denis, Atom Egoyan, Priyanka Chopra, Viggo Mortensen, Zhang Ziyi, David Oyelowo, Lulu Wang, Rosamund Pike, Sarah Gadon, and Denis Villeneuve.