(Toronto) Three of the films premiering this weekend at the Toronto International Film Festival are the work of actors with some, some long-time, stints behind the camera – Taika Waititi, Michael Keaton and Tony Goldwyn.
Going from indie hits to big Hollywood productions, Oscar 2020 for best screenplay for Jojo Rabbit, New Zealand filmmaker Taika Waititi, 48, was applauded in Toronto for his sports comedy, A dream team.
The film tells the story of the American Samoa football team which entrusts its fate to Dutch coach Thomas Rongen, played by Michael Fassbender, after having accumulated defeats and in the hope of qualifying for a World Cup.
The team, which was the subject of a British documentary in 2014, included an obese midfielder, a player who smoked in training and the first transgender player recognized by FIFA, Jaiyah Saelua, born John Saelua.
Saelua is a “fa’afafine” according to Polynesian tradition – a person born male, but who most often cross-dresses and occupies a woman’s place in society.
“I wanted to tell this story because it’s heartwarming,” the Jewish-Maori filmmaker said on the red carpet. “I had never tried to do a sports movie, I just wanted to challenge myself and get out of my comfort zone.”
Jojo Rabbit, where he played Hitler, won the audience award at the Toronto festival in September 2019.
“For me, the most important thing is to put ourselves on the screen – I mean Polynesians, Pacific Islanders, because we are often overlooked when it comes to diversity,” he said. he continued.
Michael Keaton, with Knox Goes Away which stars Al Pacino, shows with dark humor the ravages of memory loss in a hitman.
Due to the film and television actors’ strike that began in July in Hollywood, Keaton and other artists associated with the project did not attend the film’s premiere, in solidarity with their colleagues at the Screen Actors Guild.
Tony Goldwyn, known for Ghost (1990) and the ABC series Scandal where he starred from 2012 to 2018, is also an accomplished director with multiple films to his credit.
This time, he hired Robert De Niro, Bobby Cannavale and Rose Byrne for Ezra, a fast-paced family drama based on his friend Tony Spiridakis’s experience of raising an autistic son, who wrote the screenplay.
Goldwyn praised William Fitzgerald, himself autistic, who plays Ezra on Saturday night. “We knew we wouldn’t be making a movie if we didn’t have Ezra,” he said.
The largest film festival in North America opened Thursday and will end next Sunday.