Toronto International Film Festival 2016

#IrishAbroad: Brain on Fire and Handsome Devil added to Toronto International Film Festival

The Toronto International Film Festival has added a number of new titles to its lineup for 2016, including two Irish films Gerard Barrett’s Canadian co-production Brain on Fire and John Butler’s Handsome Devil. The lineup also includes Loach’s Palme d’Or-winning I, Daniel Blake, which had Irishman Robbie Ryan as cinematographer.


Irish co-production Brain on Fire sees Kerry native Gerard Barrett move away from Ireland to film Canada with an international crew of Hollywood stars. Barrett adapted the screenplay for the film from the titular memoir by Susannah Cahalan. The plot follows a rising journalist who mysteriously starts having seizures and hearing voices. As weeks go by, she moves inexplicably from violence to catatonia — but a last-minute intervention by one doctor finally gives her a diagnosis and hope to rebuild her life. Chloë Grace Moretz plays the lead, with The Hobbit‘s Richard Armitage and The Matrix‘s Carrie-Anne Moss as her parents, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl‘s Thomas Mann as her boyfriend, and Gone Girl‘s Tyler Perry as her boss. Filming took place in Vancouver last July and August, with Sing Street cinematographer Yaron Orbach as DoP. Big Eyes editor JC Bond and Barrett are overseeing the post-production process, and The Maze Runner‘s John Paesano is providing the score. Brain On Fire is produced by Charlize Theron, Beth Kono, and A.J. Dix for Denver & Delilah Films, Rob Merilees and Lindsay Macadam for Foundation Features, and Gabriel and Daniel Hammond for Broad Green Pictures. Barrett is a co-producer through Blank Page Production. Funding came from the Irish Film Board/Bord Scannán na hÉireann, Mister Smith, Broad Green Pictures, and Screen Scene.

Handsome DevilIn Handsome Devil, two very different boys are forced to share a room together at their rugby-mad boarding school. Ned’s an effete, sensitive musician and Conor the star outhalf on the rugby team. Over the course of the school year, the boundaries between them are eroded as they become friends. Two teachers fight for the souls of the boys, Moe Dunford playing the rugby coach Pascal and Andrew Scott playing Mr Sherry, an inspirational English teacher. Each has their own agenda. The project reunites Butler and Scott, who starred in Butler’s debut feature film The Stag, with lead roles for Dunford (Vikings,Patrick’s Day) and Michael McElhatton (Game of Thrones). The young cast is led by Fionn O’Shea and Nick Galitzine (one of the Screen Stars of Tommorrow in 2015), with support from Ruairi O’Connor, Jay Duffy, Mark Lavery, and Jamie Hallahan. The film also features cameo performances from Ardal O’Hanlon, Amy Huberman, Norma Sheahan, Mark Doherty, and Hugh O’Conor. Post-production took at Windmill Lane Pictures with The Stag editor John O’Connor. Rebecca O’Flanagan and Rob Walpole of Treasure Entertainment produce, with cinematography from Cathal Watters (Viva), production design from Ferdia Murphy, costume design from Kathy Strachan, and sound recording from Hugh Fox, all of whom worked with Butler on The Stag. Casting was by Louise Kiely. Funding came from the Irish Film Board/Bord Scannán na hÉireann.

Commenting on the selection director John Butler said:

Leaving TIFF after my 1st film premiered there in 2013, a silent wish was made to get back someday with Handsome Devil. I’m ecstatic to be presenting this tender coming-of-age story to a passionate audience that always turns their cellphones off and never leaves for toilet breaks. Toronto is the best.

Producers Rebecca O’Flanagan and Rob Walpole added:

We are thrilled to be heading back to Toronto with Handsome Devil. We are very proud of the film and we LOVE working with John. We had a wonderful time with The Stag at TIFF and we are really looking forward to our return next month.

These two join 7 previously announced Irish titles: The Journey, The Secret Scripture, Maudie, Unless, Without Name, Forever Pure, and animated short Second to None. The TIFF Talent Campus participants for 2016 were announced a few weeks ago and includes Mark Noonan (You’re Ugly Too).

The 2016 Toronto International Film Festival runs September 8th to 18th.

New Additions


Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer – Joseph Cedar, USA/Israel, International Premiere
The Promise – Terry George, USA/Spain, World Premiere

Special Presentations

(Re)Assignment – Walter Hill, Canada, World Premiere
150 Milligrams (La Fille de Brest) – Emmanuelle Bercot, France, World Premiere
The Bleeder – Philippe Falardeau, USA, North American Premiere
Brain on Fire – Gerard Barrett, Ireland/Canada, World Premiere
Burn Your Maps – Jordan Roberts, USA/Mongolia, World Premiere
Christine – Antonio Campos, USA, Canadian Premiere
The Duelist – Alexey Mizgirev, Russia, World Premiere
The Exception – David Leveaux, United Kingdom, World Premiere
I, Daniel Blake – Ken Loach, United Kingdom/France/Belgium, North American Premiere
In Dubious Battle – James Franco, USA, North American Premiere
The Long Excuse (Nagai Iiwake) – Miwa Nishikawa, Japan, World Premiere
Rage – Sang-il Lee, Japan, World Premiere
Voyage of Time: Life’s Journey – Terrence Malick, Germany, North American Premiere
Wakefield – Robin Swicord, USA, International Premiere

Contemporary World Cinema

A Decent Woman (Los Decentes) – Lukas Valenta Rinner, Austria/South Korea/Argentina, North American Premiere
After Love (L’économie du couple) – Joachim Lafosse, France/Belgium, North American Premiere
The Animal’s Wife (La Mujer del Animal) – Víctor Gaviria, Colombia, International Premiere
Apprentice – Boo Junfeng, Singapore/Germany/France/Hong Kong/Qatar, North American Premiere
Aquarius – Kleber Mendonça Filho, Brazil/France, North American Premiere
Ayiti Mon Amour – Guetty Felin, Haiti/USA, International Premiere
Brooks, Meadows and Lovely Faces (Al Ma’ wal Khodra wal Wajh al Hassan) – Yousry Nasrallah, Egypt, North American Premiere
Clair Obscur (Tereddüt) – Ye?im Ustao?lu, Turkey/Germany/Poland/France, World Premiere
Death in Sarajevo (Smrt u Sarajevu) – Danis Tanovi?, Bosnia and Herzegovina/France, North American Premiere
Ember (Kor) – Zeki Demirkubuz, Turkey/Germany, International Premiere
The Fixer (Fixeur) – Adrian Sitaru, Romania/France, World Premiere
Handsome Devil – John Butler, Ireland, World Premiere
Heaven Will Wait (Le ciel attender) – Marie-Castille Mention-Schaar, France, North American Premiere
In Between (Bar Bahr) – Maysaloun Hamoud, Israel/France, World Premiere
Indivisible (Indivisibili) – Edoardo de Angelis, Italy, International Premiere
Marie Curie, The Courage of Knowledge – Marie Noëlle, Germany/France/Poland, World Premiere
Mister Universo – Tizza Covi and Rainer Frimmel, Austria/Italy, North American Premiere
Past Life – Avi Nesher, Israel, World Premiere
The Patriarch (Mahana) – Lee Tamahori, New Zealand, North American Premiere
Pyromaniac (Pyromanen) – Erik Skjoldbjærg, Norway, International Premiere
The Rehearsal – Alison Maclean, New Zealand, North American Premiere
The Road to Mandalay – Midi Z, Taiwan/Myanmar/France/Germany, North American Premiere
Santa & Andres (Santa y Andrés) – Carlos Lechuga, Cuba/Colombia/France, World Premiere
Soul on a String – Zhang Yang, China, International Premiere
Tamara and the Ladybug (Tamara y la Catarina) – Lucía Carreras, Mexico/Spain, World Premiere
Tramps – Adam Leon, USA, World Premiere
Vaya Akin – Omotoso, South Africa, World Premiere
We Are Never Alone (Nikdy nejsme sami) – Petr Vaclav, Czech Republic/France, North American Premiere
The Wedding Ring (Zin’naariyâ!) – Rahmatou Keïta, Niger/Burkina Faso/France, World Premiere
White Sun (Seto Surya) – Deepak Rauniyar, Nepal/USA/Qatar/Netherlands, North American Premiere
The Women’s Balcony (Ismach Hatani) – Emil Ben Shimon, Israel, World Premiere
Za?ma: Blindness – Ryszard Bugajski, Poland, World Premiere
Zoology (Zoologiya) – Ivan I. Tverdovsky, Russia/France/Germany, North American Premiere


After the Storm – Hirokazu Kore-eda, Japan, North American Premiere
Afterimage (Powidoki) – Andrzej Wajda, Poland, World Premiere
The Beautiful Days of Aranjuez (Les Beaux Jours d’Aranjuez) – Wim Wenders, France/Germany, North American Premiere
Certain Women – Kelly Reichardt, USA, Canadian Premiere
Fire at Sea (Fuocoammare) – Gianfranco Rosi, Italy/France, Canadian Premiere
Graduation (Bacalaureat) – Cristian Mungiu, Romania, Canadian Premiere
Hissein Habré, A Chadian Tragedy – Mahamat-Saleh Haroun, France/Chad, North American Premiere
J: Beyond Flamenco (JOTA) – Carlos Saura, Spain, World Premiere
Julieta – Pedro Almodóvar, Spain, North American Premiere
Land of the Gods (Dev Bhoomi) – Goran Paskaljevi?, India/Serbia, World Premiere
Ma’ Rosa – Brillante Ma Mendoza, Philippines, North American Premiere
The Net (Geumul) – Kim Ki-duk, South Korea, North American Premiere
Never Ever (À jamais) – Benoît Jacquot, France/Portugal, North American Premiere
Once Again (Pinneyum) – Adoor Gopalakrishnan, India, International Premiere
Personal Shopper – Olivier Assayas, France, North American Premiere
A Quiet Passion – Terence Davies, United Kingdom/Belgium, North American Premiere
Safari – Ulrich Seidl, Austria, American Premiere
Sieranevada – Cristi Puiu, Romania, North American
Sweet Dreams (Fai bei sogni) – Marco Bellocchio, Italy, North American Premiere
The Unknown Girl (La Fille inconnue) – Luc Dardenne and Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Belgium/France, North American Premiere
Yourself and Yours (Dangsinjasingwa dangsinui geot) – Hong Sang-soo, South Korea. World Premiere

City to City

76 – Izu Ojukwu, Nigeria, World Premiere
93 Days – Steve Gukas, Nigeria, World Premiere
The Arbitration – Niyi Akinmolayan, Nigeria, International Premiere
Green White Green – Abba Makama, Nigeria, World Premiere
Just Not Married – Uduak-Obong Patrick, Nigeria, International Premiere
Okafor’s Law – Omoni Oboli, Nigeria, World Premiere
Oko Ashewo (Taxi Driver) – Daniel Emeke Oriahi, Nigeria, North American Premiere
The Wedding Party – Kemi Adetiba, Nigeria, World Premiere, City to City Opening Night Film