With the 2022 Toronto International Film Festival fast approaching, most of the attention will be on the high-profile premieres and their stars. And while these Hollywood titles will be hoping to garner buzz for the marquee Oscar categories, several non-English language films will also be hoping to generate excitement at TIFF as they vie for their country’s selection and ultimately, the Academy’s nomination for Best International Feature. Here are 15 such films we’ll be keeping an eye on at TIFF 2022.
After back-to-back wins for A Fantastic Woman and Roma, Latin American films have been notably absent from the Oscar nominations in the years since. This time, a handful of films from this year’s TIFF lineup will hope to get the region’s cinema back in favor with the Academy. Among them is Chile’s My Imaginary Country, a sober reflection on Chile’s recent social unrest, as a youth and women-led movement rises up in the aim of constitutional reform. Already shortlisted by Chile’s selection committee, the film is the latest from 81-year old documentarian Patricio Guzman, known for his probing examinations of Chilean society.
Further north, a pair of Central American countries will be seeking their first ever Oscar wins. Nicaragua is expected to submit Laura Baumeister’s Daughter of Rage, which boasts the distinction of being the country’s first feature film directed by a woman. Meanwhile, Domingo and the Mist is the likely submission from Costa Rica. This drama is directed by Ariel Escalante, whose debut feature The Sound of Things was submitted in 2017.
While Latin America has taken a backseat in recent Oscar races for Best International Feature, Asia has emerged with the breakout successes of Parasite and Drive My Car. Expectations are therefore high for this year’s Korean and Japanese submissions, in the form of TIFF picks Park Chan-wook’s Decision to Leave and Chie Hayakawa’s Plan 75 respectively. Park Chan-wook’s fans will be counting on an overdue narrative to take hold for Decision to Leave during the awards season, following its Best Director triumph at Cannes. And in the case of Plan 75 – about a dystopian society where the elderly are encouraged to die voluntarily after age 75 – Japan will aim for the same support that propelled other late-life narratives such as 2012’s Amour.
On the topic of overdue Oscar hopefuls, Israel will be eager to reverse their fortunes as the nation with the most nominations without a win. As is typical, they will automatically select the Best Picture winner of their national Ophir Awards, which includes Cinema Sabaya, Karaoke, 35 Downhill, Where Is Anne Frank and TIFF selection Valeria Is Getting Married. Directed by Michal Vinik, this contained drama follows a tension-filled day as a young woman begins to reconsider an arranged marriage. Matters of the heart are also central to Pakistan’s award-winning Joyland, which sees a young man fall in love with a transgender fellow dancer, thereby upending his father’s expectations. Though it’s subject matter may be dismissed by the country’s conservative influences, its Cannes Jury Award and Queer Palm laurels may help to persuade Pakistan’s decision.
And finally, Leonor Will Never Die is also another possibility for Asia. This imaginative homage to classic Filipino action films will surely be a favorite of TIFF’s Midnight Madness crowd. Featuring a lovable lead performance from Sheila Francisco as a screenwriter who becomes transported to the world of one her unfinished scripts, Leonor Will Never Die is truly a movie about movie lovers, for movie lovers.
Unsurprisingly, the Academy’s favorite continent will be well represented at TIFF this year, with numerous European films hoping to convert festival buzz to Oscar glory. Netflix will certainly be bullish about the prospects for Germany’s All Quiet on the Western Front. Reinterpreting the classic anti-war story that won Best Picture for 1930, this Daniel Brühl-starrer will launch on the streamer on August 28. Poland has also announced their submission by way of Cannes darling EO by Jerzy Skolimowski, which follows the life of a donkey as it makes its way through our world.
Other Cannes favorites Holy Spider and Corsage could also be in the mix if submitted for Denmark and Austria. Both films won Best Actress trophies in their respective Palme d’Or and Un Certain Regard competitions. And from Czech Republic and Romania, Michal Blaško Victim and Cristian Mungiu’s R.M.N. could be Oscar contenders after being shortlisted by their countries’ selection committees. Both films explore issues surrounding racism and xenophobia fuelled by immigrant-related tensions.
Be sure to follow Awards Radar for coverage of these and more titles at the 2022 Toronto International Film Festival.