Toronto Fest 2022: Buzzy Films Up for Grabs

There will be few big sales titles available at Toronto Film Fest this year, but some films packing star power and prestige potential could make waves.

The vast majority of Toronto Festival films already have domestic distribution in place — with studios and indie players like Neon and A24 looking to use the North America festival as an awards season springboard.
What’s left is a smattering of sales titles, Cannes holdovers and a handful of out-of-festival buyers’ screenings to stir up interest.

Still, there are some available films packing serious star power and prestige potential that could make waves.

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

DIRECTOR Aitch Alberto

This LGBTQ coming-of-age drama, based on Benjamin Alire Sáenz’s 2012 YA best-seller, follows two Mexican American teens in 1980s Texas and looks like a sleeper hit. With Lin-Manuel Miranda producing, buyers should be lining up.

Ash

DIRECTOR Flying Lotus

In what seems likely to be a solid piece of high-concept sci-fi from the genre specialists at XYZ, this thriller, which is preselling at TIFF, sees Tessa Thompson play a woman who wakes up on a distant planet to find that the other residents of her space station have been murdered. She must decide whether to trust the man (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) sent to rescue her.

Wildflower

DIRECTOR Matt Smukler

STARS Kiernan Shipka, Jacki Weaver, Jean Smart

This family drama, starring Kiernan Shipka as a young woman who cares for her intellectually disabled parents, supported by diametrically opposed grandmothers Jacki Weaver and Jean Smart, could be a smart sleeper success for the right distributor.

Moving On

DIRECTOR Paul Weitz

SALES UTA

Prisoner’s Daughter

Kate Beckinsale and Brian Cox in Catherine Hardwicke’s Prisoner’s Daughter. COURTESY OF PRISONERS DAUGHTER LLC

DIRECTOR Catherine Hardwicke

Hardwicke’s pedigree as the director of Twilight and sleeper hit Thirteen should convince buyers they are in safe hands with this drama-thriller, featuring Brian Cox as a dying convict with a violent past trying to connect with his daughter (Kate Beckinsale) and the grandson he’s never known.

Patrick and the Whale

DIRECTOR Mark Fletcher

With shades of My Octopus Teacher, the feature doc delves into how whales interact and express emotions by following veteran marine videographer Patrick Dykstra’s relationship with a sperm whale named Dolores.

War Pony

DIRECTORS Gina Gammell, Riley Keough

A solid bet for specialty distributors, this feature debut of actress-turned-director Keough, who co-helms with Gammell, won over Cannes audiences — and snagged the best first feature Camera d’Or (plus the Palm Dog for its canine star, a poodle named Brit) — with its moving portrayal of two Lakota boys growing up on Pine Ridge Reservation.

The Grab 

DIRECTOR Gabriela Cowperthwaite

THE BUZZ The first nonfiction feature from Cowperthwaite since 2013’s Blackfish is part globe-trotting thriller and part investigative piece about the global food chain and the fight for the last free farmable land on Earth.

Dalíland

DIRECTOR Mary Harron

STARS Sir Ben Kingsley, Barbara Sukowa, Christopher Briney

Sukowa plays Gala, Dalí’s wife and muse.

What’s Love Got to Do With It?

DIRECTOR Shekhar Kapur

A cross-culture rom-com to appeal to mainstream indie viewers, the latest from director Shekar (Elizabeth) Kapur features Yesterday and Pam & Tommy star Lily James as a documentary filmmaker who follows her childhood friend (Penny Dreadful breakout Shazad Latif) as he seeks arranged marriage.

StudioCanal