Docs

TIFF ’19: Feras Fayyad’s “The Cave” to launch TIFF Docs selection

The latest documentaries from Alex Gibney, Fisher Stevens and Feras Fayyad are among those slated to premiere at the 44th annual edition of the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). The projects ...
August 8, 2019

The latest documentaries from Alex Gibney, Fisher Stevens and Feras Fayyad are among those slated to premiere at the 44th annual edition of the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF).

The projects were among the 25 feature-length non-fiction films announced on Thursday (Aug. 8) as part of this year’s TIFF Docs program, 18 of which serve as world premieres. In addition, one-third of the films in this year’s TIFF Docs lineup are directed or co-directed by female filmmakers.

“This year’s program captures characters you’ll never forget: lovers, fighters, dancers, athletes, despots, rebels, hustlers, and heroes,” said TIFF Docs programmer Thom Powers, in a statement. “We’ll be talking about these films for a long time to come.”

The TIFF Docs selection will open with the world premiere of the National Geographic documentary The Cave (pictured) from Last Men in Aleppo director Feras Fayyad. The film follows 30-year-old Doctor Amani, as she becomes the appointed leader of a team of 130 medical practitioners in a secret hospital that serves the 400,000 civilians in the besieged city of Al Ghouta.

Other world premieres include Barbara Kopple‘s Desert One, chronicling a perilous mission to rescue hostages in Iran; Fisher Stevens and Malcolm Venville’s And We Go Green, produced by Academy Award winner Leonardo DiCaprio, profiling the drivers of Formula E, a class of motorsport that only uses electric-powered cars; Eva Orner‘s Bikram: Yogi, Guru, Predator, about the controversial yoga teacher accused of multiple sex offenses; and Alex Gibney’s Citizen K, which documents oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky and his defiance of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

With Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election and tensions surrounding xenophobia and border security, politics and immigration also occupy a considerable portion of the doc slate. Eva Mulvad’s Love Child follows a refugee couple facing execution for their love affair, while Ready for War, directed by Andrew Renzi and executive produced by Drake, Future, and David Ayer, follows immigrants to the U.S., deported after serving in the nation’s military. Meanwhile Gabe Polsky’s Red Penguins looks at the rise of capitalism in Russia, when American hustlers brought NHL-style hockey to Moscow, and Alex Gibney’s Citizen K profiles the oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky and his turn against Russian president Vladimir Putin.

First-time documentarians have a strong presence too, with the fest featuring some prominent figures new to the doc game: Bryce Dallas Howard’s Dads explores fatherhood through leading comedians and her own father, director and producer Ron Howard; Alla Kovgan’s Cunningham, shot in 3D, captures the artistry of dancer Merce Cunningham; and Ebs Burnough, who previously served in the Obama administration, makes his debut with The Capote Tapes, a biography of American writer Truman Capote.

As previously reported, Canadian features enjoying screen time within the TIFF Docs tract include Alan Zweig‘s Coppers, Ellen Page and Ian Daniel’s There’s Something in the Water and Yung Chang‘s This Is Not a Movie.

The 44th Toronto International Film Festival runs Sept. 5–15, 2019.

Films screening as part of the TIFF Docs program include: 

And We Go Green Fisher Stevens, Malcolm Venville | USA
World Premiere 

The Australian Dream Daniel Gordon | Australia/United Kingdom
International Premiere 

Bikram: Yogi, Guru, Predator Eva Orner | USA
World Premiere 

The Capote Tapes Ebs Burnough | United Kingdom
World Premiere

 The Cave Feras Fayyad | Syria/Denmark/Germany/USA/Qatar
World Premiere | TIFF Docs Opening Film 

Citizen K Alex Gibney | USA/United Kingdom
North American Premiere 

Collective ( Colectiv ) Alexander Nanau | Romania/Luxembourg
North American Premiere 

Coppers Alan Zweig | Canada
World Premiere 

The Cordillera of Dreams ( La Cordillera de los Sueños ) Patricio Guzmán | France/Chile
North American Premiere 

Cunningham Alla Kovgan | Germany/France/USA
World Premiere 

Dads Bryce Dallas Howard | USA
World Premiere 

Desert One Barbara Kopple | USA
World Premiere 

I Am Not Alone Garin Hovannisian | Armenia/USA
World Premiere 

Ibrahim: A Fate to Define Lina Al Abed | Lebanon/Palestine/Denmark/Qatar/Slovenia
North American Premiere 

The Kingmaker Lauren Greenfield | USA
Canadian Premiere 

Letter to the Editor Alan Berliner | USA
World Premiere 

Love Child Eva Mulvad | Denmark
World Premiere 

My English Cousin Karim Sayad | Switzerland/Qatar
World Premiere 

Paris Stalingrad Hind Meddeb | France
International Premiere 

Ready for War Andrew Renzi | USA
World Premiere 

Red Penguins Gabe Polsky | USA/Russia
World Premiere 

Sing Me A Song Thomas Balmès | France/Germany/Switzerland
World Premiere 

There’s Something in the Water Ellen Page, Ian Daniel | Canada
World Premiere 

This Is Not a Movie Yung Chang | Canada/Germany
World Premiere 

Women Make Film: A New Road Movie Through Cinema Mark Cousins | United Kingdom
World Premiere

Main photo courtesy National Geographic

About The Author
Barry Walsh is editor and content director for realscreen, and has served as editor of the publication since 2009. With a career in entertainment media that spans two decades, prior to realscreen, he held the associate editor post for now defunct sister publication Boards, which focused on the advertising and commercial production industries. Before Boards, he served as editor of Canadian Music Network, a weekly music industry trade, and as music editor for HMV.com. As content director, he also oversees the development of content for the brand's market-leading events, the Realscreen Summit and Realscreen West, as well as new content initiatives.

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