Toronto: Sarah Gavron’s ‘Rocks’ To Open Platform Sidebar, Pietro Marcello’s ‘Martin Eden’ To Close As Festival Unveils Lineup


The Toronto International Film Festival has set a slew of films for its Platform strand including the world premiere Sarah Gavron’s Rocks, which will open the programme, and bookened by Pietro Marcello’s Martin Eden.

Suffragette and Brick Lane director Gavron’s Rocks stars Bukky Bakray as a teenager who suddenly finds herself struggling to take care of herself and her younger brother. A film about resilience, joy, and the spirit of girlhood, Rocks follows a teenager who fears that she and her little brother will be forced apart if anyone finds out they are living alone. With the help of her friends, she evades the authorities and navigates the most defining days of her teenage life. Fable Pictures produces.

Rocks brilliantly reimagines the coming-of-age narrative with a pathos and precision we rarely see,” said Cameron Bailey, Platform Co-Curator and TIFF Artistic Director and Co-Head. “Across only two features, Gavron has already proven herself as a distinct voice in world cinema, and we are proud to open this year’s Platform section with her remarkable third directorial effort, an affecting celebration of empathy and an urgent reminder of the essential value of friendship.”

“I am so honoured and excited that Rocks will open Platform, a section that has included films by some of my recent cinema heroes,” said Gavron. “With Rocks we set out to collaborate with the young people in the cast, working in a way I have never worked before to create a film that feels true to the contemporary teenage girl experience. Like the London of our film, Toronto is filled with people from all walks of life, and the Festival has, in my experience, the most passionate audiences. It is very special for us to be invited with the cast for their first film premiere.”

Closing the festival will be the international premiere of Marcello’s Martin Eden, an adaptation of the 1909 novel. It follows Marcello’s debut, Lost and Beautiful, and features a sailor (Luca Marinelli) trying to remake himself as a writer, in this passionate and timeless story of class consciousness and failed ideals.

“With shades of Roberto Rossellini, Luchino Visconti, and other great Italian masters, Martin Eden is a captivating literary adaptation that confirms Marcello as one of the most talented directors of his generation,” said Platform Co-Curator Andréa Picard. “Shot in Super 16mm, the film’s formal brilliance makes it a standout in an already stellar year for the programme. We are delighted to be closing Platform with such an exciting, remarkable epic.”

Martin Eden was a complex film to make, as a director and as a producer,” said Marcello. “We started from one of the great novels of American literature and brought it to Italy, across the ocean, and across the entire20th century with the sailor that is our title character. We are happy to return across the Atlantic with him to Toronto. Being selected at the Festival, and particularly in the Platform competition, fills us all with pride and the hope that the film will get the international attention to carry it around the world.”

Elsewhere, TIFF has unveiled the 10 features that will comprise the competition with 40% of its slate directed by women.

“With a dynamic, international slate that assembles some of brightest cinematic voices of today and tomorrow, this year’s lineup distills the essence of the Festival,” added Bailey. “These films tackle some of the most urgent concerns of our day using original, exciting cinematic language.”

Films include the world premieres of Wet Season by Singapore-based director and producer Anthony Chen, the follow-up to his breakout debut Ilo Ilo, Julie Delpy’s My Zoe, a genre-bending tale of a mother’s navigation of grief that stars Delpy alongside Richard Armitage and Daniel Brühl and Alice Winocour’s Proxima, a drama following an astronaut and mother as she faces an impossible decision, featuring performances by Eva Green, Lars Eidinger, Matt Dillon, and Sandra Hüller.

Feature debuts include Darius Marder’s Sound of Metal, starring Riz Ahmed alongside Olivia Cooke and Mathieu Amalric, as a professional drummer whose life is thrown into freefall when he begins to lose his hearing and Workforce, by Mexican filmmaker David Zonana, that follows a group of construction workers who seek justice after a workplace accident.

Also included are the world premieres of Anne at 13,000 ft by Kazik Radwanski, The Moneychanger from Federico Veiroj and The Sleepwalkers from Paula Hernández.

The 44th Toronto International Film Festival runs September 5–15, 2019.

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