Welcome to the first in a series of posts highlighting the films the Cinetopia team thinks are “DO NOT MISS” at this year’s festival.

First up: Sam Ankenbauer, Cinetopia programming committee member.

DO NOT MISS – Sam’s recommendations

Complicity: Every year, I go to the Toronto International Film Festival. At Scotiabank, I saw Complicity and really enjoyed myself; it warmed my heart. The full-length debut of Kei Chikaura, Complicity is a unique China-Japan co-production detailing the life of an illegal Chinese immigrant in Japan, who finds a job at a traditional Japanese soba restaurant. It’s a film that feels comfortable letting its ideas play out and it’s filled with lovely details, such as a bike with a soba-noodle-carrying contraption for delivery orders. It’s a charming film about identity and trust and it features a great lead performance and this beautiful, alive secondary performance from Japanese screen icon Tatsuya Fuji (In the Realm of the Senses).

Complicity plays Wednesday May 15th at 8:45 PM at the State Theatre, and Thursday May 16th at 4:15 PM at the Emagine Royal Oak. Tickets can be purchased here.

The Third Wife: Ash Mayfair made such a stately, rich film, you can hardly believe The Third Wife is her debut feature. The Third Wife is a beautiful work set in rural 19th century Vietnam, about a 14 year-old girl who has become the third wife of a wealthy landowner. In this new, unknown space, she navigates the family’s dynamics while questioning her personal independence and growth. The film is quietly devastating and delicate, with special attention paid to framing and sound design (Ash Mayfair has also worked in sound design and the care with which streams flow and steps fade is a testament to that). Also, I should mention that the acting is fabulous, especially Nguyễn Phương Trà My as May. (Fun fact: Ash Mayfair was a recipient of the Spike Lee Production Fund for her screenplay.)

The Third Wife plays Saturday May 11th at 6pm at The State Theatre and Sunday May 19th at 11:30am at Emagine Theatres. Tickets can be purchased here.

Leto: I love the Soviet band Kino and its co-founder Viktor Tsoi. So did everyone in the Soviet Union—their popularity at the time was coined “Kinomania”. This film is about the scene in which Kino grew. If you know and like Kino: see Leto. If you don’t know and like Kino: see Leto. It’s worth it for anyone, to see a movement grow, to watch life under Soviet rule, to witness the creation of the Leningrad Rock Club. The film competed for the Palme d’Or at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival and won the festival’s soundtrack award (the soundtrack features songs by Iggy Pop, Velvet Underground, T.Rex, and more). Also, might I suggest listening to the Kino album Blood Type? (Fun fact: champion Olympic speed-skater Viktor An took his first name as a tribute to Viktor Tsoi!)

Leto plays Monday May 13th at 3:45pm at the State Theatre (with a special guest appearance!) and Friday May 17th at 9:15pm at the Emagine Royal Oak. Tickets can be purchased here.

Wild Rose: Wild Rose is a film about a Glaswegian country singer who dreams of leaving Scotland for Nashville, Tennessee, to further her country music career. It’s a charmingly ragged underdog story that’s truly affecting and heartfelt. Jessie Buckley plays our lead, Rose-Lynn Harlan, and she’s so good. If you saw Beast or Taboo, you know what you’re in for with Jessie Buckley, she’s such a star. Also, Sophie Okonedo (from Dirty Pretty Things, Hotel Rwanda, and Skin) plays her posh benefactor Susannah and when the two share scenes, they both radiate such energy, the screen glows. It’s the kind of film where you want everyone to succeed. Also, hey, look who makes a special appearance: BBC’s own Bob Harris, from Old Grey Whistle Test! What a charmer.

Wild Rose plays Saturday May 11th at 6:30pm at Angell Hall, and Saturday May 18th at 2:45pm at Emagine Royal Oak. Tickets can be purchased here.

Other films you might catch Sam watching during Cinetopia:

-I haven’t seen it yet but In Fabric is written and directed by Peter Strickland, who made my favorite movie of 2015, The Duke of Burgundy. Also, Marianne Jean-Baptiste from Secrets & Lies is in it… I mean, if that’s not enough for you, I don’t know what is.

Our Time Machine is a documentary about the wonderful Chinese artist Maleonn reconnecting with his father who has Alzheimer’s. Maleonn’s work is stunning to me. Watch the trailer and you will want to see it.

To Dust is a dark (dark) comedy/drama that rests on the shoulders of Géza Röhrig, the main actor in the 2016’s Best Foreign Language Film, Son of Saul. Just like in Son of Saul, he’s a magnet, you’re with him and won’t leave him.

Sam Ankenbauer is a member of the Cinetopia programming committee, former State Theatre employee, and writer. You can read his work for Bright Lights Film Journal here.

Check out the full schedule of films here

Check out the festival guide here

Buy a pass here