Every Biography and Story Movie Breakdown

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The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) presents exciting new films this year in what will be a massive return after two years of Covid-19. For 10 days, September 8-18, Toronto will host some of the most anticipated films of the year across a wide range of genres. There is a wide variety of biographical and historical films world premiering at the festival, and these are the films that focus on real lives and true stories around the world.

Biographical and Historical Films at TIFF

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Bodice

Marie Kreutzer connects insightful films on women’s relationships with each other and on social institutions (Gruber go, we used to be cool, the ground under my feet) with the new movie Bodice. The Austrian filmmaker’s already acclaimed Cannes escape stars Vicky Krieps (from old and ghost yarnlisten)) as the 19th-century Austrian Empress Elisabeth. With visually stunning cinematography from Judith Kaufmann and an incongruous but beautiful score from Camille, the lavish, lightly fictionalized picture details the extravagant lifestyle of an older, elite class, albeit with a wicked sense of humor.

Daliland

In what is surely one of the most bizarre cinematic combinations of the year, American psycho director Mary Harron stars as Ben Kingsley and Ezra Miller as older and younger Salvador Dalí in Daliland. The film will focus more exclusively on the famed surrealist painter’s relationship with his wife Gala, played by the legendary Barbara Sukowa. Rupert Graves and Suki Waterhouse co-star in what is sure to be an interesting biopic.

Always Deadly

Always Deadly is a biographical documentary film about recent Polaris Prize-winning musician Tanya Tagaq. Produced by the National Film Board of Canada, the film is co-created by Tagaq with always upbeat filmmaker Chelsea McMullan (My Prairie Home), which features concert footage, interviews and experimental footage in Nunavut, along with delightful animations by Inuk artist Shuvinai Ashoona. The film will be a vibrant combination of these styles as a meditation not just on the history of the Tagaq family, but on Indigenous culture, music and Canada.

Mariupolis 2

Screening for Mariupolis 2, the latest documentary from Lithuanian filmmaker and anthropologist Mantas Kvedaravičius, promises to be one of TIFF’s most touching and soulful moments. Kvedaravičius was an intrepid researcher and documentarian, often immersing himself in war zones; he returned to the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol (after filming there in 2016) to make a follow-up film during the siege, when Russian troops invaded.

Related: Ukrainian Movies: Some of the Best Movies Ever Made

During filming Mariupolis 2, he was tragically shot and killed, and his beloved wife Hanna Bilobrova took his film home to finish it. A melancholic poem about war and death, Mariupolis 2 will be a sad swan song to a brilliant cut short career and a stark insight into the horrors of Russia’s war against Ukraine.

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North of normal

Canadian filmmaker Carly Stone continues her sweet film The New Romantic with this adaptation of Cea Sunrise Person’s memoir North of normal. Person grew up in the Canadian wilderness with a perpetually stoned young mother in the 1970s, and the film follows its path out of the woods and into Paris, where Person has become a famous runway model. The great Sarah Gadon stars in North of normal alongside Amanda Fix, Robert Carlyle and James D’Arcy, and is marked by the warm synth-pop group Electric Youth.

Pray for our sinners

Irish journalist and documentary filmmaker Sinéad O’Shea follows up on her powerful but painful film A mother brings her son to be shot with the new documentary Pray for our sinners. Compiling interviews with a wide range of people across Ireland, the film builds a damning narrative about the abuse of women and children in the country, focusing on some ‘normal’ citizens who face violence and the trauma of the homes for babies and women where so much brutality occurs.

The female king

Filmmaker Gina Prince-Bythewood has built her marvelous career so far at TIFF – intimate explorations of sexuality and the black experience in Love & Basketball and Beyond the Lightsin the management of castings for women in The secret life of beesand finally master the action with Cloak and Dagger and The old guard.

Related: Best movies directed by black women

Now she helmed the epic historical action movie The female king, which tells the story of the Agojie, an all-female group of militaristic warriors who ruled the African kingdom of Dahomey. Often compared to mythical Amazon women, the Agojie were a fearless matriarchal group who are wonderful subjects for a great film like this. Viola Davis plays Nanisca, a 19th century female warrior training new troops of the Agojie Regime as they prepare for war.

Bizarre: the story of Al Yankovic

The title says it all. After four decades in the music and film industry, the great Weird Al Yankovic gets a true musician biopic, even if it promises to be almost as parodic as his music, especially since it highlights featured incongruously Harry Potter himself, Daniel Radcliffe. Bizarre: the story of Al Yankovic is actually a feature variation on a 2010 short Funny or Die, which hilariously starred Aaron Paul as Yankovic in Paul’s heyday breaking Bad fame (Paul was supposed to reprise the role, but came down with Covid-19 just before production).

It remains to be seen if the film holds up to a full runtime, but given Radcliffe and Yankovic’s popularity, it’s sure to be a delight. It also marks the most popular and anticipated release from The Roku Channel, which puts its hat in the streaming services ring with this fun, festival-ready big movie. Weird: The Al Yankovic could be a brilliant good time in the midst of many darker, more serious films at TIFF.


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