TIFF18’s first batch (from BuffaloSpree.com)

Beautiful Boy; courtesy of TIFF

We are now less than one month away from the start of the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival. My coverage began with a pre-opening announcements post at BuffaloSpree.com, and here is a follow-up. More to come!

In about six weeks, film fans, movie stars, filmmakers, industry types, and critics (like myself) will head to Canada for the Toronto International Film Festival. The hype for this, the forty-third festival, began on Tuesday as TIFF (September 6 to 16) announced its first forty-seven films.

Here are some initial thoughts on this first round of galas and special presentations.

Check out those world premieres: Part of what makes fall film festival announcements so fun is deciphering what entries will play elsewhere. A Canadian premiere, for example, means a stop in Telluride before Toronto. (Examples: Damien Chazelle’s First Man, Jason Reitman’s The Front Runner, and Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma.) That’s par for the course, as is a premiere in Venice. But TIFF18 has some very strong world premieres: Steve McQueen’s Widows, Timothée Chalamet-starrer Beautiful Boy, and Moonlight director Barry Jenkins’s If Beale Street Could Talk, to name a few.

Missing in action: It was a surprise to see two Venice biggies, Suspiria and The Favourite, not on the list. Both could still be added later, of course. (Suspiria would be a killer Midnight Madness selection.) Also missing is Mary Queen of Scots, with Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie, which seems tailor-made for Toronto; Ronan and Robbie were standouts last year with Lady Bird and I, Tonya.

Returning heavyweights: Some TIFF favorites from past years are back – the aforementioned McQueen, Jenkins, and Cuarón, and also Olivier Assayas (Non-Fiction), Mia Hansen-Løve (Maya), Jacques Audiard (The Sisters Brothers), Hirokazu Kore-eda (Shoplifters), and Asghar Farhadi (Everybody Knows).

High-profile women behind the camera: Thirteen of the announced films are directed by women. At the top of the list has to be High Life, the highly anticipated new film from Claire Denis. Robert Pattinson and Juliette Binoche star in the Beau Travail director’s sci-fi drama.

My predictions were … pretty good, actually: The piece I wrote on Monday for BuffaloSpree.com mentioned ten possible selections. Of those ten, eight were part of Tuesday’s announcements. Unfortunately, the two that were not listed are major-leaguers: The Favourite and Mary Queen of Scots.

There is, of course, lots more to come. The next few weeks will see the announcement of the Canadian lineup (fingers crossed for Xavier Dolan’s The Death and Life of John F. Donovan), the Masters program, Midnight Madness, Platform, and more. After all,  in 2017 the festival included more than 250 features.

TIFF18 is looking fantastic, but let’s hope for some comedy in the next announcements, as this is a rather somber bunch …