Historical epic ‘Death of Stalin’ to compete at TIFF – DuVernay to receive directing prize at Britannia’s Award

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LOS ANGELES, Aug 6, (RTRS): The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) announced on Thursday the dozen films that will compete as part of the Platform slate.

The world premiere of historical epic “The Death of Stalin”, from Armando Iannucci, will open the section, and “Sweet Country”, a period western from Australian filmmaker Warwick Thornton will serve as the closing film.

“The twelve titles exemplify bravery, dynamism and a unique voice in storytelling that we look for when curating the Platform programme”, said Piers Handling, the festival’s director and CEO.

TIFF’s artistic director Cameron Bailey added, “Platform is the place to look for the distinct stamp of today’s most interesting directors as they establish their reputations. It’s important that the Platform jury also reflects original thinking in cinema”.

Chen Kaige, Malgorzata Szumowska, and Wim Wenders make up the jury for the category.

Last year’s Platform lineup included William Oldroyd’s “Lady Macbeth”, Pablo Larrain’s “Jackie” and Barry Jenkins’s best picture-winner “Moonlight”.

All films competing the section are world premieres, apart from “Custody” and “Sweet Country”, which are North American debuts. See the complete list of film on the Platform slate below.

“Beast”, Michael Pearce, UK; “Brad’s Status”, Mike White, US; “Custody”, Xavier Legrand, France; “Dark River”, Clio Barnard, UK; “The Death of Stalin”, Armando Iannucci, France/UK/Belgium; “Euphoria”, Lisa Langseth, Sweden/Germany; “If You Saw His Heart”, Joan Chemla, France; “Mademoiselle Paradis”, Barbara Albert, Austria/Germany; “Razzia”, Nabil Ayouch, France; “The Seen and Unseen”, Kamila Andini, Indonesia; “Sweet Country”, Warwick Thornton, Australia; “What Will People Say”, Iram Haq, Norway/Germany/Sweden.

The British Academy of Film and Television Arts Los Angeles has selected Ava DuVernay as the recipient of its John Schlesinger Britannia Award for excellence in directing.

She joins previously announced honoree Dick Van Dyke, who will receive the award for excellence in television. The awards will be presented on Oct 27 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.

“Ava is both a fearless director and a champion of talent, who has used her platform to shed light on some of the most important issues facing the world today”, said Kieran Breen, chairman of BAFTA Los Angeles. “She has brought together talents from the US and UK for her projects, and successfully crafted work that resonates with audiences around the globe, making her incredibly deserving of this honor”.

Past recipients include Ang Lee, Sam Mendes, Mike Newell, Danny Boyle, Christopher Nolan, David Yates, Quentin Tarantino, and Kathryn Bigelow.

DuVernay has been nominated for an Oscar the documentary “13th” and for eight Golden Globes. She is in post-production on Disney’s “A Wrinkle in Time”. She won the 2012 Sundance Film Festival’s best director prize for “Middle of Nowhere” and directed 2015’s “Selma”. She also created and exec produces the drama series “Queen Sugar” for OWN.

WestEnd Films has sealed a raft of deals for “Hostages”, Rezo Gigineishvili’s fictionalized retelling of a real-life 1980s hijacking, which screened at this year’s Berlinale.

Kinovista has landed the rights for France, where the film was released this week. Elsewhere, rights went to Lucky Dogs in Scandinavia, Merlino in Italy, Karma in Spain, and Jushi in China. HBO Europe has taken pay-TV rights for its channels in Eastern Europe.

The movie’s international trailer has just been released, ahead of its screening at the Sarajevo Film Festival. It is also in the lineups of the Melbourne and New Zealand film festivals.

“Hostages” is a Georgia-Russia co-production. It was produced by Gigineishvili through NEBO Film Company, with Russia’s Mikhail Fenogenov, independent Georgian producer Tamara Tatishvili, and Vladimer Katcharava through Georgia’s 20 Steps Productions. Ewa Puszczynska (“Ida”) is also on board through Poland’s Extreme Emotions.

The film is set in Soviet-controlled Georgia in 1983 and follows the attempts of a young couple, Nika and Ana, and their friends to escape the Communist regime. The group puts its plan into action on Nika and Ana’s wedding day, hijacking a plane bound for Turkey, with unforeseen consequences. The hijacking is based on a true story.

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