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Listlessness, difficulty seeing in bright light, troubles related to a newly popcorn-free diet — all are grave symptoms of the film-fest withdrawal that besets local moviegoers in the days after TIFF’s closing night. Thankfully, the fall is filled with many more events that may not boast the same scope as the big kahuna but still contain a wealth of new-world cinema.
Up first is the eighth annual Toronto Palestine Film Festival, a celebration of Palestinian culture in its many forms. Screenings take place all weekend at TIFF Bell Lightbox and AGO’s Jackman Hall. Highlights include The Wanted 18, an ingenious and amusing documentary that uses a mix of stop-motion animation and interviews to relate the strange but true tale of the efforts to sustain a secret dairy farm in the West Bank during the First Intifada. Directors Amer Shomali and Paul Cowan discuss their film with viewers after the screening on Sept. 25 at 6:30 p.m. at Lightbox. The directorial debut by screenwriter Suha Arraf (The Syrian Bride), Villa Touma is another TPFF selection that has already won much acclaim on the festival circuit with its story of three sisters in a Christian household in Ramallah. Inside Out co-presents the screening on Sept. 26 at 7 p.m.
The TPFF finishes off its slate of features, docs and shorts with On the Bride’s Side, a documentary about a group of Syrian and Palestinian refugees hoping to slip into Sweden by assuming the guise of a wedding party. You can learn whether their scheme succeeds when it plays Lightbox on Sept. 27 at 7 p.m.
It’s hard to tell how many Pink Floyd diehards have a jones for classic R&B and gospel but surely some viewers will have a tough time deciding between the two music-movie events on Sept. 29. Returning to the Bloor after a warm reception at Hot Docs, Mavis! is director Jessica Edwards’ tribute to Mavis Staples, a music legend whose career spans from her days in the Staples Singers through her contributions to the civil rights movement and her hits in the ’70s and ’80s. Presented in the Bloor’s Music on Film series with the Royal Conservatory of Music, it plays at 6:30 p.m. with a post-screening discussion and performance by singer Stacey Kay and pianist Bill King. An epic-scaled concert flick that debuted at TIFF 2014, Roger Waters The Wall was filmed at a variety of stops on the former Pink Floyd mainman’s three-year-long solo tour in which he performed his band’s 1979 megaseller. Co-directed by Waters and Sean Evans, the film plays a one-night engagement at select Cineplex theatres at 8 p.m.
Surely the most exhilarating series in Lightbox’s fall programming slate, Beyond Badass: Female Action Heroes celebrates women who’ve battled male dominance and made their mark in the action movie genre. The program showcases such XX-centric thrillers as Alien, Kill Bill and La Femme Nikita. None other than Pam Grier will be on hand to open the retrospective on Oct. 1 and provide intros for screenings of Quentin Tarantino’s Jackie Brown and her Blaxploitation-era classics Coffy and Foxy Brown.
An American indie movie about rising tensions between a straight-arrow law-school grad and his hot mess of an older brother, The Mend won some love for lead actor Josh Lucas and first-time writer-director John Magary at the SXSW festival last year. It opens for a Toronto run Sept. 25 at the Carlton.
The Stanford Prison Experiment
Also opening this weekend at Lightbox, The Stanford Prison Experiment is a dramatic recounting of the infamous social experiment by Stanford University professor Philip Zimbardo, who enlisted a group of students to play the roles of guards and inmates in a mock prison in August of 1971. The experiment was slated to last up to two weeks but such was the extremity of the events that unfolded, the professor halted it after only six days. Billy Crudup plays Zimbardo in the fact-based drama by director Kyle Patrick Alvarez, which won two major prizes at Sundance in January. Its Toronto run begins Sept. 25.