TV shows headed to TIFF have big-screen cachet with stars like Julia Roberts


TORONTO — The TV lineup for this year’s Toronto International Film Festival has big-screen cachet, with Amazon Studios’ upcoming series “Homecoming” starring Julia Roberts.

Based on the podcast of the same name, “Homecoming” stars Roberts as a caseworker at a facility helping soldiers transition back to civilian life.

Festival organizers say four episodes of the psychological thriller will be in the Primetime program, which features projects that are bound for the small screen.

The Primetime lineup has five titles in total, including Facebook Watch’s dark comedy “Sorry For Your Loss,” starring Elizabeth Olsen, and the French sci-fi series “Ad Vitam.”

Other series with international appeal in the lineup are “Folklore: A Mother’s Love & Pob,” a multi-lingual horror anthology helmed by six Asian directors that tackles superstitions and mythologies from each director’s respective country. There’s also “Stockholm,” about four friends covering up the death of their Nobel Prize-nominated friend.

“Cinematic television has provided a new lane for the consumer’s experience of cinematic art,” Michael Lerman, Primetime programmer at TIFF, said in a statement.

“These series not only push the boundaries of what can be presented, but also demonstrate how it can transcend culture, visual arts, and communications.”

Cinematic TV has grown in recent years as more big-screen stars and filmmakers tackle small-screen projects, including Quebec director Jean-Marc Vallee with his acclaimed HBO series “Big Little Lies” and “Sharp Objects.”

Vallee made each series like a film, shooting the entire project before cutting, rather than going episode by episode as is often the case.

“I don’t see any difference except that (TV) is longer and we have more time to explore and develop these characters,” Vallee said in a recent interview.

The festival, which runs Sept. 6 to 16, has also announced actress Tantoo Cardinal as well as filmmakers Taika Waititi and Werner Herzog will be among the speakers at the TIFF Industry Conference.

Cardinal will discuss her four-decade career, which includes three films at this year’s festival.

The talk heralds the new Betty-Ann Heggie Speaker Series, a Share Her Journey initiative dedicated to bringing to light the challenges women face in the screen industry.

Waititi, who recently directed “Thor: Ragnarok,” will chat about subjects including cinematic inspiration, superheroes, and portraying marginalized characters in films.

Herzog will speak at the TIFF Doc Conference about his new film, “Meeting Gorbachev.”

More than 150 speakers will be featured in the six-day TIFF Industry Conference at the Glenn Gould Studio.

Panels will touch on everything from the craft of filmmaking to the imbalance of power, diversity and new trends.

Dr. Stacy L. Smith, author of the inclusion rider and the founder and director of the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, will give a keynote on inclusion and diversity.

Producer Nina Yang Bongiovi, who co-founded Significant Productions with Forest Whitaker, will discuss her career and ambitions for a more globally inclusive film industry.

“This is a pivotal moment in recognizing the unsung heroes in the industry,” Kathleen Drumm, TIFF industry director, said in a statement.

Victoria Ahearn, The Canadian Press