TIFF Adds Docs in Wavelengths Line-up

State Funeral
Courtesy of TIFF

By Pat Mullen

The Toronto International Film Festival’s boundary-pushing Wavelengths programme added a quartet of feature documentaries to the festival’s 2019 doc slate. Wavelengths, curated again by Andrea Picard, offers four North American premieres of non-fiction works exploring new terrain in film form. Highlights include Thomas Heise’s 218-minute opus Heimat is a Space in Time – a relatively brief ride compared to Mark Cousins’ 14-hour Women Make Film announced in last week’s TIFF Docs line-up. Festival favourite Sergei Loznitsa is also back with a new film in his trilogy about archives, memory, and the failures of both to capture history. The festival also announced a slew of short docs in Wavelengths. No feature docs were included in the announcement for the Masters programme outside of Alanis Obomsawin’s Jordan River Anderson, The Messenger, which was unveiled in last month’s Canadian line-up.

The Wavelengths feature docs are:

142 Sahara Street
Dir. Hassen Ferhani | Algeria | North American Premiere

Hassen Ferhani’s quiet documentary about an off-the-grid café in the Sahara Desert is an intimate portrait of its proprietor and her guests — as well as the landscape, and Algeria.

Heimat is a Space in Time
Dir. Thomas Heise | Germany | North American Premiere

In this immersive film essay, master documentarian Thomas Heise (Fatherland) delves into four generations of his own family archives to trace the profound cultural and political upheaval of Germany’s last century.

State Funeral
Dir. Sergei Loznitsa | Netherlands/Lithuania | North American Premiere

Part of his informal trilogy of historical correctives, Sergei Loznitsa’s latest compiles unique, unseen, or long-forgotten archival footage of Joseph Stalin’s 1953 funeral, and is the director’s most visually stunning film to date.

Un Film Dramatique
Dir. Éric Baudelaire | France | North American Premiere

Acclaimed French artist and filmmaker Éric Baudelaire’s latest is a collective project with students at a junior high school in a Paris suburb, about friendship, emancipation, trust, and the act of filmmaking for a generation raised by selfies and YouTube.

Short docs announced for Wavelengths are:

Amusement Ride
Dir. Tomonari Nishikawa | Japan | World Premiere

Black Sun (Sol Negro)
Dir. Maureen Fazendeiro | Portugal/France | International Premiere

Underscored by French film legend Delphine Seyrig’s evocative recitation of a Henri Michaux poem, Maureen Fazendeiro’s film is a mysterious, multi-textured portrait of eclipse spectators in Portugal.

Heavy Metal Detox
Dir. Josef Dabernig | Austria | World Premiere

The heavy metal detox becomes an aesthetic paraphrase on the removal of dental fillings in the latest film by Austrian artist and filmmaker Josef Dabernig.

Hrvoji, Look at You From the Tower
Dir. Ryan Ferko | Canada/Serbia/Croatia/Slovenia | World Premiere

An unconventional, tone-shifting travelogue that stitches together nations of the former Yugoslavia through chance encounters, 1970s rock music, architecture, and inventive editing, Ryan Ferko’s Hrvoji, Look at You From the Tower locates traces of the past in an increasingly fractured present.

A Topography of Memory
Dir. Burak Çevik | Turkey/Canada | North American Premiere

In Burak Çevik’s quietly unnerving film, audio of a family voting in the June 2015 Turkish general elections is layered over CCTV footage of dawn in a seemingly placid Istanbul, the morning after.

Vever (for Barbara)
Dir. Deborah Stratman | Guatemala/USA | Canadian Premiere

Deborah Stratman’s intergenerational tribute to feminist icons of experimental film features wedding footage shot by the late Barbara Hammer in Guatemala in the 1980s, with a personal voicemail from Hammer and field recordings by Maya Deren.

Who’s Afraid of Ideology? Part 2
Dir. Marwa Arsanios | Lebanon/Kurdistan/Syria | North American Premiere

A generous and lyrical continuation of Lebanese artist Marwa Arsanios’ interest in the ties between ecology, feminism, and collective organization, this documentary showcases the radical politics of a Lebanese farming cooperative and the citizens of Jinwar, a women-only village in the north of Syria.

TIFF runs Sept. 5 to 15.