TIFF 2019: what Ireland brought to Toronto

Date: 3 October, 2019

How is Irish cinema doing these days? Apparently very well, as proved by the four films presented as part of the Discovery programme at the latest edition of TIFF, Toronto International Film Festival. This strong showing at the most important festival in North America speaks to the continuing strength of the domestic industry.

The Discovery programme presents work by first- and second-time directors and has launched the careers of several directors as Christopher Nolan, Yorgos Lanthimos, Barry Jenkins and Alfonso Cuarón. Screen Ireland (formerly the Irish Film Board) offered support for all those films.

Sea Fever*

“Sea Fever” by director Neasa Hardiman (”Happy Valley” and “Jessica Jones”) stars Hermione Corfield, Connie Nielsen and Dougray Scott. “Sea Fever” is a science-fiction (horror) movie about a marine-biology student confronting a mysterious organism on an Atlantic trawler. The film was at TIFF for its world première and gathers the contemporary-society big themes of climate change, the outsider and the struggle to connect with the others. A phenomenal cast reflects the diverse, transnational crews that sail and work in the deep Atlantic ocean.

Calm with Horses

Cosmo Jarvis and Barry Keoghan play together in Nick Rowland’s movie “Calm with Horses,” a drama about an ex-boxer trying to raise an autistic son while acting as enforcer for a drug gang in rural Ireland.
Based on Colin Barrett’s acclaimed story collection, Rowland’s directorial debut is alternately brutal and poignant. Calm With Horses draws us into a world where every home can feel like a trap — and escape requires a brand of courage that can’t be expressed with one’s fists.

Sweetness in the Belly

Zeresenay Mehari’s “Sweetness in the Belly” features Dakota Fanning and Wunmi Mosaku and tells the story of an African refugee making a new life in England.
Fanning stars in this vivid adaptation of Camilla Gibb’s bestseller, set in England and Ethiopia, about an altruistic and devout young woman with a nomadic past seeking to reconnect with the man she loves.
Adapted from Canadian author Camilla Gibb’s award-winning novel, this tale of religion, politics, and love moves between Ethiopia during the final years of Haile Selassie’s reign and England on the cusp of Thatcherism.
Director Zeresenay Berhane Mehari and screenwriter Laura Phillips gracefully translate Gibb’s sweeping narrative into a well-organized, emotionally rich cinematic experience. Though set in the past, Sweetness in the Belly speaks pointedly to our present refugee crisis.

A Bump Along the Way

Shelly Love’s delightful “A Bump Along the Way,” developed with Northern Ireland Screen, also plays in the Discovery programme.
When a fun-loving, middle-aged single mom accidentally gets pregnant, her prim teenage daughter is scandalized. But mother and daughter slowly reverse roles as the pregnancy progresses, in this delightful, insightful Northern Irish dramedy.
The feature debut of director Shelly Love and screenwriter Tess McGowan is a smart, heartwarming double coming-of-age story. Set in Derry, Northern Ireland, A Bump Along the Way follows a mother and daughter on turbulent journeys in search of the best versions of themselves.



*Partly adapted from tiff.net