Toronto - Day Five (2017)

Today was a day for films about people stirring things up in their families and communities, and about British films stirring things up here at the festival.

I managed to squeeze in two world premieres today, but not before one of my favourite films of the trip so far, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. It already has the best and most expletive trailer of the year that you should watch immediately (finish reading this, first - don't be rude!). But I'm happy to say it still delivers above and beyond the marketing - and even if you've giggled at moments in the trailer - you'll laugh harder when you meet them again in the feature. Martin McDonagh (In Bruges) writes and directs, but not to be confused with his brother, John Michael McDonagh (big bro's last film was the potty mouthed War On Everyone, so I'm imagining a breakfast table challenge was issued at some point between the siblings as to who could make the sweariest movie). It's the story of a small town mom, played with both toughness and sensitivity by Francis McDormand, who erects billboards criticising the local police for their lack of progress finding her daughter's killer. 'Three Billboards' is a comedy about grief and resentment, but its grapefruit bitterness peels back to reveal an emotional soft centre, a film that is that is both laugh-out-loud funny and deeply moving. 

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Our team shuffled in anxiously to take up just a few of the 2,000 seats in the beautiful Prince of Wales Theatre tonight for the world premiere of Sebasti├ín Lelio's Disobedience. We were seeing the talented Chilean director's new film, his first in the English language, for the first time after we acquired it earlier this year for the Curzon 2018 slate. We weren't disappointed, nor were The Guardian, giving it a positive 4-star review. Like Lelio's Berlin Silver Bear-winning A Fantastic Woman (which is out next March) it's a drama about the price of disapproved love. After the death of her rabbi father, New York photographer (Rachel Weisz) returns home to the Hasidic neighbourhood in North London that she abandoned years before, instigating anxiety among old friends and relatives, and rekindling an old forbidden passion. Like Apostasy (see Day Three) Disobedience is another drama that pulls the curtain back on a religious community that we live alongside but know too little about. 

Finally, congratulations to one of the UK's most talented directors, Clio Barnard of The Arbor and The Selfish Giant, for garnering critical acclaim for Dark River, which premiered tonight with Clio, actress Ruth Wilson and collaborators in attendance. Arrow will release in the UK next year. With God's Own Country playing so well across Curzon Cinemas, the wind-blown landscape of Yorkshire is proving fecund territory for British filmmakers right now. Taking the same starting point as Lelio's Jewish drama,Barnard's story is also instigated by a paternal passing, with sheep farmer Ruth Wilson, who is electrifying in this movie, returning to the family farm 15 years after she escaped from under the shadow of an abusive father. 

Jon Wood