The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

Toronto Film Festival

Amid the gazes of thousands of spectators, film stars from around the globe greet the entrance to one of the world’s most prestigious film festivals. This year, the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) premiered at its Toronto headquarters on September 5, highlighting 38 years of celebrating a mixed international array of films. During the 10 day viewing from September 5-15, many fledgling actors and actresses were given the chance to be recognized for their role in a breakthrough performance.

However, it hasn’t always been this way. Back in 1976, the TIFF started as “the best of the best,” featuring award winning films from other festivals. The TIFF has since propelled into one of North America’s foremost film festivals.

With past successes for its People’s Choice Awards such as “Slumdog Millionaire,” “The King’s Speech” and “Silver Linings Playbook,” the Toronto Film Festival is recognized as second only to the Cannes Film Festival in terms of influence and significance.

The Fifth Estate
Among one of the film festival’s most controversial premieres is Bill Condon’s “The Fifth Estate” which stars English actor Benedict Cumberbatch as Julian Assange, founder of notorious website WikiLeaks. “The Fifth Estate” is a drama thriller film based on “Inside WikiLeaks: My Time with Julian Assange and the World’s Most Dangerous Website” by Daniel Domscheit-Berg. The film focuses on Assange’s partnership with Domscheit-Berg which results in a platform that allows whistleblowers to anonymously publish government secrets. Naturally, WikiLeaks gains access to many highly sensitive documents. However, when Assange and Domscheit-Berg begin to quarrel over a set of particularly controversial information, a fallout ensues. “The Fifth Estate” will appeal to techies, teens, adults and fans of Benedict Cumberbatch. It is set to release on October 18.

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Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom
“Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom” is a biography of Nelson Mandela, detailing his events starting with his childhood in a rural village to his rise to power as the first democratically elected president of South Africa. Written by William Nicholson and directed by Justin Chadwick, this film stars Idris Elba as Mandela and Naomie Harris as Mandela’s wife. As a biographical drama, anyone who has enjoyed Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln” will likely find “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom” just as entertaining. “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom” is set to release on November 29.

The Railway Man
In this real-life based war film on Eric Lomax’s autobiography “The Railway Man,” Eric Lomax, a lieutenant in the British Army, is captured by the Japanese during WWII and is forced to build the Burma-Siam Railroad. During this time, he is tortured by a Japanese officer after being discovered with a hidden radio. When released from captivity, memories of the war, especially of torture, still haunt him. Half a century later, an elderly Lomax is still quite shaken by his past. When Lomax discovers that his tormentor is still alive, he takes the opportunity for a face to face encounter that changes his life. Directed by Jonathan Teplitzky, “The Railway Man,” starring Colin Firth as Lomax, is scheduled to be released to the public in December 2013. “The Railway Man” will appeal more to history enthusiasts.

12 Years a Slave
Another notable film debut is Steve McQueen’s “12 Years a Slave.” It is based on an 1853 autobiography following the life of Solomon Northup. In 1841, Northup, a free black man, was kidnapped in Washington, D.C. and sold into slavery. For 12 long years, he was forced to work on a Louisiana plantation before finally being released. This film stars Chiwetel Ejiofor as Northup, Brad Pitt and Benedict Cumberbatch. “Django Unchained” fans will enjoy “12 Years a Slave,” which is scheduled for an October 18 release.

“Gravity” is a science-fiction thriller about an experienced astronaut, Matt Kowalsky and a medical engineer, Dr. Ryan Stone, who become stranded in space after their shuttle is destroyed beyond repair by satellite debris. Without communication or any means of outside help, Kowalsky and Stone are forced to work together in deep dark space in order to survive. Directed by Alfonso Cuaron, “Gravity” stars Sandra Bullock as Dr. Ryan Stone and George Clooney as Matt Kowalsky. “Gravity” is scheduled to be released on October 4.

“Rush” is an biographical sports drama that centers around the 1976 rivalry between two professional racecar drivers, James Hunt and Niki Lauda. Hunt is a rash British playboy, while Lauda, who hails from Australia, is cool and calculating. Although they were, at one point, roommates and friends, the two become main competitors with each trying to best the other for the ultimate Formula 1 World Championship. “Rush” stars Chris Hemsworth as James Hunt and Daniel Bruhl as Niki Lauda. Its release date is September 27.

Abuse of Weakness
“Abuse of Weakness” is the film adaptation of Catherine Breillat’s autobiography of the same name. It begins in 2004, when Maude Schoenberg (Breillat’s character) suffered a stroke, then details her relationship with conman Vilko Piran (Christophe Rocancourt’s character) a few years after. The film explores the peculiarity of the self; no one knows why Breillat kept writing checks to Rocancourt and neither does she, which is made evident in her film. “Abuse of Weakness” is akin to Claire Denis’s “The Intruder” as it shows the body turning against itself. Written and directed by Breillat, featuring Isabelle Huppert as Schoenberg and Kool Shen as Piran.

Blind Detective
Detective Johnston Chong See Tun was forced to retire from service after being blinded on duty. Making a living by solving cold cases, he meets hit team inspector Goldie Ho Ka Tung who is troubled because a childhood friend went missing after Tung refused to go out with her a decade earlier. Ho notices Chong’s acute sense of hearing and smell, and invites him to help her solve the case of her missing friend. “Blind Detective” is a romantic comedy directed by Johnnie To, starring Andy Lau as Chong and Sammi Cheng as Ho.

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