Hansal Mehta’s Omerta, starring Rajkumar Rao, will have its world premiere at the prestigious Toronto International Film Festival (September 7-17). The film has been inspired by the life of Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, the British-born terrorist who was involved in several high-profile cases, including the kidnapping of three tourists in Delhi in 1994 and the execution of Wall Street Journal correspondent Daniel Pearl in Pakistan in 2002.
Two other Indian films will be premiered there: Anurag Kashyap’s boxing drama Mukkabaaz and Bornila Chatterjee’s The Hungry, which adapts William Shakespeare’s play Titus Andronicus to a wedding in Delhi.
The Toronto festival is often seen as an early pointer to how the Hollywood awards season will shape up. This year is no different. The event will be inaugurated with Greta Gerwig’s directorial debut Lady Bird and will close with Egyptian director Amr Salama’s Sheikh Jackson, reported Indiewire.
Of the 45 films announced, 12 have been directed by women, which is part of a concerted effort to include a diverse range of films. “The film industry is making a concerted effort to wake up and acknowledge women have been underrepresented behind the camera and writing and producing,” Cameron Bailey, the festival’s artistic director, told the New York Times. “We’re seeing more great films from women to choose from, and we are making an effort not just at the festival but across the board to open up space.”
Some of the eagerly awaited projects are also scheduled to make an appearance. Four years since the critically acclaimed Nebraska (2013), Alexander Payne will premier the Matt Damon-starring comedy Downsizing. Another exciting project is Requiem for a Dream director Darren Aronofsky’s secretive project mother!, starring Javier Bardem and Jennifer Lawrence. Acclaimed Irish playwright-turned-director Martin McDonagh’s third film Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri and George Clooney’s Suburbicon are also scheduled to premiere at the festival.
The Galas section includes Breathe, the directorial debut of mo-cap king Andy Serkis, alongside Game of Thrones star Maisie Williams’s next project, the years-in-production Mary Shelley. Joe Wright’s Darkest Hour, a WWII drama starring Gary Oldham as Winston Churchill, will be screened at the festival, as will be tennis drama Battle of the Sexes, starring Emma Stone as Billie Jean King.
Other titles to look forward to include David Gordon Green’s Stronger, which stars Jake Gyllenhaal and has been inspired by the Boston Marathon bombings, and The Mountain Between Us, a survival drama with Kate Winslet and Idris Elba. Angelina Jolie’s Cambodian drama First They Killed My Father, which will eventually release on Netflix, will also be shown at TIFF. There’s also Angela Robinson’s Professor Marston & the Wonder Women, which is based on the true story of the superhero and her creator.