Toronto Film Festival: best films for sale


Don’t forget to prepare your wallet.

Hollywood is hitting the Toronto International Film Festival this week in hopes of landing the next animated breakout. After two years of virtual or reduced-capacity gatherings as a COVID-era franchise, the movie industry is back in full force, and that means deals, deals and more deals.

Here’s a look at some of the hottest movies on offer — the kinds of splashy projects that could lead to the next big sell-out.

Aristotle and Dante discover the secrets of the universe

Director: Aich Alberto

Cast: Max Pelayo, Reese Gonzales, Eugenio Derbez, Eva Longoria, Veronica Falcon, Kevin Alejandro

Sales agent: UTA

Buzz factor: This touching story of two teenagers in 1987 El Paso whose friendship deepens and is surprisingly challenged will leave audiences reaching for the tissues. It also marks the feature debut of Alberto, an exciting new talent as a filmmaker, who skillfully adapts Benjamin Alire Sáenz’s award-winning 2012 novel and gets two impressive performances from Max Pelayo and Reese Gonzales in the title roles. Plus, no less a star Lin Manuel-Miranda signed on as a producer, a major endorsement. If the reviews match the initial buzz, Alberto should leave TIFF with plenty of great deals.

people’s joker

Director: Vera Drew

Cast: Vera Drew, Lynn Downey, Kane Distler, Nathan Faustyn, David Liebe Hart

Sales agent: UTA

Buzz factor: Anyone with a vague knowledge of Hollywood knows that superhero movies are all the rage. So he’s bold about “People’s Joker” because “it’s not the comic book movie we deserve – it’s the one we desperately need.” Still, the coming-of-age movie about a transgender clown named Joker covers just about everything that’s often overlooked in today’s comic book adventures. Always funny, often bizarre, the satirical “People’s Joker” seeks to connect with audiences (even those who remain indifferent to Spandex-wearing vigilantes).


Director: Zachary Wigon

Cast: Christopher Abbott, Margaret Qualley

Sales agent: UTA

Buzz factor: The ground sells itself: an heir (Abbott) and the dominatrix who groomed him for success (Qualley) clash in a hotel room as he tries to cut ties. But she knows she deserves more than the door for her efforts, and she’s not willing to walk away quietly. Cue the blackmail. Think “Succession”, but make it sexy.


Director: Mary Haron

Cast: Sir Ben Kingsley, Barbara Sukowa, Christopher Briney, Rupert Graves, Ezra Miller

Sales agent: AAC

Buzz factor: Kingsley brings the panache needed to portray the late great surrealist artist in “Daliland,” which focuses on the mustachioed, mercurial painter and his curious relationship with his wife Gala. Told through the eyes of a young assistant trying to make a name for herself in the art world, “American Psycho” director Mary Harron paints a unique portrait of the glamor that surrounds Dali. Sometimes appearances can be deceiving.

Other people’s children

Director: Rebecca Zlotowski

Cast: Virginie Efira, Roschdy Zem

Sales agent: Wild Bunch International

Buzz factor: The romantic drama, about a teacher whose new relationship with a single father becomes complicated when she begins to hook up with his 4-year-old daughter, will draw viewers in for a handkerchief. As Rachel, a 40-year-old woman who wants to be a mother, Efira paints a compelling portrait of the complex feelings that grow for her boyfriend’s child – and the boundaries that can never be crossed.

Kit Harington and Noémie Merlant in “Baby Ruby”


Baby Ruby

Director: Bess Wohl

Cast: Noémie Merlant, Kit Harington, Meredith Hagner, Jayne Atkinson

Sales agent: FilmNation Entertainment

Buzz factor: In a very different take on the new motherhood, playwright Bess Wohl’s disturbing “Baby Ruby” tackles the uncomfortable truths about becoming a parent. The film, directed by ‘Portrait of a Lady on Fire’ actress Noémie Merlant and ‘Game of Thrones’ star Kit Harington, begins as they bring their newborn baby home from the hospital. But the psychological thriller quickly turns into a fever dream, one that will feel all too familiar to anyone who has ever had dark and disturbing thoughts about loved ones.

prisoner’s daughter

Director: Catherine Hardwicke

Cast: Kate BeckinsaleBrian Cox

Sales agent: UTA

Buzz factor: While viewers are desperately in love with Logan Roy, Brian Cox takes a different twist in this emotional thriller about a reformed con man trying to reconnect with the family he never knew. His history of violence, however, has lingering consequences. The combination of Kate Beckinsale and beloved Cox should attract buyers, especially with veteran director Catherine Hardwicke at the wheel.


Director: Tim’s story

Cast: Grace Byers, Jermaine Fowler, Melvin Gregg, X Mayo, Yvonne Orji, Dewayne Perkins, Jay Pharoah, Antoinette Robertson, Sinqua Walls

Sales agent: MRC movie

Buzz factor: “Ride Along” franchise director Tim Story delivers an enhanced version of writer and producer Tracy Oliver’s comedy-horror (“Girls Trip”). While unafraid to discuss black and intersectional identities in the context of a cabin-in-the-woods slasher, the biggest incentive for buyers is how seriously the film refuses to take itself. The solid set and the script that laughs at the minute doesn’t hurt either.


Director: John Hyam

Cast: Gideon Adlon, Dylan Sprayberry, Beth Million, Jane Adams

Sales agent: Miramax

Buzz factor: Horror films generally sell out easily, especially at the high-profile festivals of the past decade. This particular film, a claustrophobic slasher with pandemic flair, should be particularly hot thanks to its screenwriter Kevin Williamson (father of the evergreen “Scream” franchise).

“Saint Omer” by Alice Diop

“Saint Omer” (Courtesy of Srab Films)

Saint Omer

Director: Alice Diop

Cast: Kayije Kagame, Guslagie Malanda, Valérie Dréville, Aurélia Petit

Sales agent: Wild Bunch International

Buzz factor: As one of the highest rated films at this year’s Venice Film Festival, Diop’s project continues to devastate audiences with its emotion. A courtroom drama about infanticide and the uneasiness of a new mother watching the proceedings, the documentary filmmaker’s debut story will be a sensation in Toronto.

The Grab

Director: Gabriela Cowperthwaite

Sales agent: WME

Buzz factor: Cowperthwaite is no stranger to movies that make headlines, having pulled back the curtain on animal cruelty at SeaWorld with “Blackfish.” Now she’s delving back into the world of whistleblowers and truth seekers with “The Grab,” which follows journalist Nathan Halverson and his team at the Center for Investigative Reporting as they examine how governments seek to control food and water. outside their borders to prepare for shortages. The search was sparked after a Chinese company bought Smithfield Foods, the world’s largest pork producer, giving China control of one in four American pigs. At a time of heightened geopolitical tensions, “The Grab” seems tailor-made to make sense of the escalating battle for scarce resources.

Wild flower

Director: Matt Smukler

Cast: Kiernan Shipka, Dash Mihok, Charlie Plummer, Alexandra Daddario, Jean Smart

Sales agent: CAA, Sierra/Infinity (eOne) and WME

Buzz factor: The coming-of-age movie seems guaranteed to tug at the strings of even the toughest of hearts. It features Shipka, a star from her role in ‘Mad Men,’ as a young woman who must balance her responsibility to care for her mentally challenged parents with her desire for an independent life and going to college. . The film, said to be funny and compassionate, bears a resemblance to “CODA,” which sparked a bidding war at Sundance that ultimately led to a Best Picture win at the Oscars.


Director: Saim Sadiq

Cast: Ali Junejo, Rasti Farooq, Alina Khan, Sarwat Gilani, Salmaan Peerzada, Sohail Sameer, Sania Saeed

Sales agent: WME

Buzz factor: Pakistani writer-director Sadiq’s feature debut, a look at transgender desire, caused a stir at Cannes, where it won the Un Certain Regard Jury Prize and the Palme Queer. The film’s timely story of love and identity should resonate with independent studios looking for arthouse success.

Maya and the wave

Director: Stephanie Johnes

Sales agent: 30 west

Buzz factor: This documentary about Brazilian surfer Maya Gabeira has it all. An inspiring story about a world champion athlete who dreams of competing at the highest level, as well as a look at the sexism and chauvinism she was forced to overcome in a male-dominated sport. The film, said to be visually stunning, follows Gabeira on his quest to break a world record in the Portuguese town of Nazaré. His perseverance in the face of death-defying odds seems like another non-fiction success in the “Free Solo” vein.

Sympathy for the Devil

Director: Yuval Adler

Cast: Nicolas Cage, Joel Kinnaman

Sales agent: Global capstone

Buzz factor: Cage is enjoying a resurgence in his career thanks to his critically acclaimed roles in “Pig” and “The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent.” And “Sympathy for the Devil,” which finds Cage as the mysterious passenger of Kinnaman’s chauffeur, sounds like a big old slice of pulp. It’s the kind of banquet Cage has served with delight over the years.

sleeping dogs

Director: Adam Cooper

Cast: Russell Crowe

Sales agent: Highland Film Group

Buzz factor: Talk about a twisted premise. Crowe stars as a detective with Alzheimer’s disease who must figure out if he’s put the wrong man away when a death row inmate he arrested 10 years before begins to proclaim his innocence. It sounds like a meaty role for the Oscar winner and the kind of crackling mystery that should have buyers looking for some of the action.

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