14 Buzziest Films for Sale at Toronto 2022, From ‘Dalíland’ to ‘Butcher’s Crossing’ (Photos)

·6-min read

Back in person for the first time since before the pandemic, the Toronto International Film Festival will make its grand return with a slate that builds on its expansion from previous years. The 2022 lineup boasts the world premieres of several high-profile films, including Steven Spielberg’s “The Fabelmans,” Sam Mendes’ “Empire of Light,” Rian Johnson’s “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery” and the Billy Eichner comedy “Bros.” However, there are a number of hot titles due to screen at the festival that have yet to be acquired. Documentaries by the likes of “Blackfish” director Gabriela Cowperthwaite and narrative features led by stars such as Margaret Qualley, Brian Cox and Tessa Thompson just may incite a bidding war. Here are 15 buzzy sales titles to watch.

“Sanctuary”

After leading Claire Denis’ Cannes prizewinner “The Stars at Noon,” Margaret Qualley continues to shine bright with “Sanctuary.” In this Special Presentations showing, she plays a dominatrix named Rebecca who has helped prime a hotel empire heir (Christopher Abbott) to take over for his father. When Hal abruptly decides to end their relationship, Rebecca refuses to walk away empty-handed, and a dramatic confrontation ensues. Zachary Wigon directs from a script by “Homecoming” writer Micah Bloomberg.

“Butcher’s Crossing”

Debuting as part of the Gala Presentations program, “Butcher’s Crossing” stars Nicolas Cage as a 1870s buffalo hunter who talks a naive Harvard dropout (“The White Lotus” actor Fred Hechinger) into joining him on a dangerous expedition through the Colorado Rocky Mountains. Miller’s greed for the lucrative buffalo hides is tested by the elements in a classic tale of nature versus man and American capitalism. Gabe Polsky, a documentary director known for “Red Army,” is making his narrative feature debut on the film based on John Williams’ 1960 novel.

“Prisoner’s Daughter”

Brian Cox and Kate Beckinsale are father and daughter in this tale of forgiveness and family trauma. Directed by “Twilight” and “Thirteen” filmmaker Catherine Hardwicke, the drama follows a criminal on his deathbed (Cox) who uses his compassionate release from prison to try and patch things up with his daughter (Beckinsale) and stranger of a grandson. However, the violence of his past proves more difficult to leave behind.

“How to Blow Up a Pipeline”

Daniel Goldhaber has turned Andreas Malm’s 2021 non-fiction book of the same name (about how sabotage should be viewed as a vital part of the fight against climate change) into a snappy thriller that is described as “part high-stakes heist, part radical exploration of the climate crisis.” Ariela Barer plays a recently orphaned climate change activist who mounts a desperate mission to destroy a West Texas pipeline. (Barer also wrote the script with Goldhaber and Jordan Sjol.) Goldhaber’s last movie, the Blumhouse horror movie “Cam,” showcased his ability to mix social commentary with edge-of-your-seat thrills, a combination he’ll undoubtedly explode with “How to Blow Up a Pipeline.”

“Moving On”

“Grace and Frankie” this is not. This time, Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin co-star as best friends who launch a revenge plot against their estranged friend’s ex-husband (played by Malcolm McDowell). A dark comedy that occasionally oscillates towards something much darker, “Moving On” is written and directed by Paul Weitz, whose last film was the Kevin Hart comedy “Fatherhood.” The supporting cast includes Richard Roundtree and Catherine Dent.

“The Grab”

Gabriela Cowperthwaite, the filmmaker behind “Blackfish,” is back with a documentary meant to infuriate and motivate in equal measure. To make “The Grab,” the filmmaker embarked on a seven-year journey following journalist Nathan Halverson and his team at the Center for Investigative Reporting as they dig into a story following an explosive leak of documents. The title refers to the way that governments and corporations are attempting to amass food and water amidst dwindling global resources. Both grim and gripping, the doc could become a hot-button awards season contender.

“Allelujah”

“Allelujah” is the latest film from director Richard Eyre (“Notes on a Scandal”) and stars Judi Dench as one of several geriatric residents of a Yorkshire hospital on the verge of closing down. The film is a heartwarming comedy about how the elderly patients invite a camera crew to observe their preparations for a concert in honor of one of the hospital’s most distinguished nurses.

“Dalíland”

Though part of the buzz for “Dalíland” has to do with the fact that TIFF selectively excluded Ezra Miller from the cast listing upon announcing it as their closing night film, he’s only a small part of the movie playing a young Salvador Dalí. The rest of Mary Harron’s film stars Sir Ben Kingsley as the Spanish artist in 1974 New York and aims to capture the same surrealism, humor and inventive restlessness in its visuals that Dalí would approve of.

“North of Normal”

Sarah Gadon and Robert Carlyle star in this film making its premiere in the Contemporary World Cinema program at TIFF and is based on a memoir of a young woman, Cea Sunrise Person, who grew up in the wilderness and off the grid alongside her pot-smoking teen mom. “North of Normal” is also a natural for TIFF as it features a Toronto-based director Carly Stone and is set in 1970s Western Canada.

“Wildflower”

Starring Kiernan Shipka alongside Jacki Weaver and Jean Smart as her two grandmothers, “Wildflower” has earned comparisons to “CODA” as a touching, topical and funny coming-of-age story about a young woman living with and caring for two neurodivergent parents. But in a twist very unlike “CODA,” “Wildflower” begins inside the head of Shipka’s character while she’s stuck in a coma and unsure if she’ll regain consciousness. And the film is likewise based on a true story of a young woman who was ultimately reluctant to leave her family behind.

“Aristotle & Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe”

Boasting both Lin-Manuel Miranda and Eugenio Derbez as producers, “Aristotle & Dante” is a YA novel adaptation from first-time filmmaker Aitch Alberto about two Mexican American teenagers on a coming-of-age journey in 1987 El Paso, Texas. The director Alberto said in a statement that the film draws from films like “Stand By Me,” “The Virgin Suicides” and “Badlands” and was a book that helped his own “journey and exploration around gender and masculinity” as a Latinx storyteller.

“The Blackening”

“The Blackening” is a horror comedy satire based on a 2018 Comedy Central sketch that had the premise that Black cast members in horror films are always the first to die, but what happens when a killer is on the loose and everyone is Black? Tim Story directed the film premiering in Midnight Madness and written by Tracy Oliver (“Girls Trip”) and Dewayne Perkins, who also stars in a reunion of his Chicago based comedy troupe 3-PEAT.

“The People’s Joker”

While DC may ultimately have some thoughts, “The People’s Joker” is generating a lot of heat as a satirical, LGTBQ twist on Todd Phillips’ 2019 blockbuster “Joker” as written, directed by and starring filmmaker Vera Drew. The film is playing in the Midnight Madness selection and is about a Gotham City where comedy shows have been criminalized and where our anti-hero dreams of being on the only sketch comedy series sanctioned by the government.

“Theatre of Thought”

Now at 80 years old, Werner Herzog returns with “Theatre of Thought,” yet another introspective and experimental documentary, this time probing the inner workings of the human brain. Herzog teams with another scientist, Rafael Yuste, who used his own psychedelic trips to build high-tech brain scanners that allow Herzog to ask the big existential questions that have made his past films so mesmerizing.