Toronto Film Festival: Best Films for Sale


Don’t forget to pack your wallet.

Hollywood is heading to the Toronto International Film Festival this week in hopes of its next blockbuster breakthrough. As a COVID-era concession, after two years of virtual or reduced-capacity gatherings, the movie business is back up and running, which means deals, deals, and more deals.

Here are some of the hottest movies – high-profile items that could lead to the next big sale.

Aristotle and Dante discover the secrets of the universe

Director: Archie Alberto

Throw: Max Pelayo, Reese Gonzales, Eugenio Derbez, Eva Longoria, Veronica Falcón, Kevin Alejandro

Agent sales: Uta

Hum factor: This moving tale of the friendship of two teenage boys in El Paso in 1987 is both deepened and challenged in surprising ways that will have viewers reaching for a tissue. It also marks the feature film debut of Alberto, an exciting new filmmaking talent who deftly adapts Benjamin Alire Sáenz’s award-winning novel 2012 , and scored two impressive performances in leads Max Pelayo and Reese Gonzales. Plus, signing Lin-Manuel-Miranda as a producer is just as important, it’s an important endorsement. If the reviews match the early buzz, Alberto should have plenty of compelling deals for TIFF.

people clown

Director: Vera Drew

Throw: Vera Drew, Lynn Downey, Kane Distler, Nathan Faustin, David Liebe Hart

Agent sales: Uta

Hum factor: Anyone with a vague knowledge of Hollywood knows that superhero movies are all the rage. Hence the bold promotion of “The People’s Clown” as “not the comic book movie we deserve – it’s what we desperately need.” However, a queer coming-of-age film about a transgender clown named Joker pretty much covers today’s comic book adventures All that is often overlooked. The sarcastic “The People’s Clown” is always funny and weird, and seems to keep in touch with the audience (even those indifferent to the spandex-clad vigilantes).


Director: Zachary Vigon

Throw: Christopher Abbott, Margaret Cooley

Agent sales: Uta

Hum factor: The pitch sells himself: An heir (Abbott) and the sadist (Qualley) who prepares him for success have a problem in a hotel room as he tries to sever the relationship. But she knows that her efforts have not only won the door, and she is not willing to leave quietly. Tips for extortion. Think “inheritance,” but make it sexy.


Director: Mary Harlan

Throw: Sir Ben Kingsley, Barbara Sukova, Christopher Bryony, Rupert Graves, Ezra Miller

Agent sales: Civil Aviation Administration

Hum factor: Kingsley brings the necessary flamboyance to portray the late great surrealist artist “Da Leland,” which centers on the bearded, capricious painter and his curious relationship with his wife, Gala. Narrated by a young assistant trying to make a name for himself in the art world, “American Psycho” director Mary Harlan paints a unique portrait surrounding Dali’s charisma. At times, appearances can be deceiving.

other people’s children

Director: Rebecca Zlotowski

Throw: Virginie Ephra, Roshdi Zem

Agent sales: Ye Tuan International

Hum factor: This romantic drama about a teacher’s new relationship with a single father complicates when she begins to bond with his 4-year-old daughter, and will have audiences snapping up handkerchiefs. Rachel, 40, just wanted to be a mother, Efira convincingly portrays the complex feelings of her boyfriend’s child—and the boundaries that can never be crossed.

Toronto Film Festival: Best Films for Sale babyruby 01

Kit Harington and Nomi Merlant in ‘Baby Ruby’

International Film Festival

baby ruby

Director: Beth Wall

Throw: Nomi Merlant, Kit Harington, Meredith Hagner, Jayne Atkinson

Agent sales: Film Kingdom Entertainment

Hum factor: Playwright Bess Wohl’s disturbing “Baby Ruby” tells the truth about parenthood in a very different way. The film, led by “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” actor Nomi Merlant and “Game of Thrones” star Kit Harington, begins when they bring their newborn home from the hospital. But the psychological thriller quickly turns into a frenetic dream that’s all too familiar to anyone who’s ever had dark, disturbing thoughts about a loved one.

prisoner’s daughter

Director: Katherine Hardwick

Throw: Kate Beckinsale, Brian Cox

Agent sales: Uta

Hum factor: While TV audiences love Logan Roy a lot, Brian Cox takes a different turn in this emotional thriller about a reformed con man trying to reconnect with a family he never knew. However, his history of violence has lingering consequences. The combination of Kate Beckinsale and beloved Cox should attract buyers, especially under veteran director Katherine Hardwicke.


Director: Tim’s story

Throw: Grace Byers, Jermaine Fowler, Melvin Gregg, X. Mayo, Yvonne Olgi, Dwayne Perkins, Jay Farrow, Ann Tovanette Robertson, Singhwa Walls

Agent sales: MRC Movies

Hum factor: “Tailwind” series helmer Tim Story has updated writer-producer Tracy Oliver’s horror comedy (“Girl’s Journey”). While not afraid to discuss blackness and intersectional identities in the context of Forest Lodge, the biggest incentive for buyers is the extent to which the film refuses to take itself seriously. The strong ensemble and Laugh Minute script didn’t hurt either.


Director: John Hymes

Throw: Gideon Adlon, Dylan Sprayberry, Beth Million, Jane Adams

Agent sales: Miramax

Hum factor: Horror movies are often easy to sell, especially at high-profile film festivals over the past decade. This particular movie is a claustrophobic with a pandemic and should be especially hot thanks to its writer Kevin Williamson (father of the evergreen cash cow “The Scream” series).

Toronto Film Festival: Best Films for Sale SAINT OMER Still 2

“Saint Omar” by Alice Diop

“Saint Omer” (Courtesy of Srab Films)

St. Omar

Director: Alice Diop

Throw: Kayije Kagame, Guslagie Malanda, Valérie Dréville, Aurélia Petit

Agent sales: Ye Tuan International

Hum factor: One of the most acclaimed films at this year’s Venice Film Festival, Diop’s project continues to destroy audiences in its poignant way. This courtroom drama about infanticide and the unease of a new mother watching the proceedings, the documentary’s narrative debut is sure to make a splash in Toronto.


Director: Gabriella Copperthwaite

Agent sales: WME

Hum factor: No stranger to high-profile films, Cowperthwaite pulled back the curtain on animal cruelty in the sea world with “Blackfish.” Now, she revisits the world of whistleblowers and truth seekers with “The Grab,” following journalist Nathan Halverson and his team at the Center for Investigative Reporting as they examine the ways governments are seeking to control food and water beyond their borders Prepare for shortages. The search was sparked after a Chinese company bought Smithfield Foods, the world’s largest pork producer, giving China control of a quarter of U.S. pigs. “The Grab” appears tailor-made for understanding the escalating battle for scarce resources at a time of deteriorating geopolitical tensions.


Director: Matt Smuckler

Throw: Kiernan Shipka, Dash Mihawk, Charlie Plummer, Alexandra Daddario, Jean Smart

Agent sales: CAA, Sierra/Infinity (eOne) and WME

Hum factor: This coming-of-age movie seems sure to touch the hardest of hearts. It features Shipka, who came to the fore in her role on “Mad Men” as a young woman who must balance the responsibilities of caring for an intellectually disabled parent with the desire to live an independent life and attend college. The film, which is said to be funny and compassionate, sounds a bit like “The Epilogue,” which sparked a bidding war at Sundance that ended up winning Best Picture at the Oscars.


Director: Sam Sadik

Throw: Ali Junejo, Rustifalooq, Alina Khan, Sarwat Gilani, Salmaan Peerzada, Sohail Sameer, Sania Saeed

Agent sales: WME

Hum factor: Pakistani screenwriter and director Sadiq’s debut, Trans Desire, was a hit at Cannes, winning the Un Certain Regard Jury Prize and the Queer Palm. The film’s timely story of love and identity should resonate with indie studios looking for a work of art.

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Maya and the waves

Director: Stephanie Jones

Agent sales: 30 West

Hum factor: This documentary about Brazilian surfer Maya Gabera has it all. An inspiring story of a world champion athlete’s dreams of competing at the highest level and the sexism and chauvinism she was forced to overcome in a male-dominated sport. The film, said to be visually stunning, tells the story of Gabella’s quest to break the world record in the Portuguese town of Nazaré. Her perseverance in the face of life-or-death possibilities may sound like another nonfiction smash in the “Free Solo” vein.

sympathy for the devil

Director: Yuval Adler

Throw: Nicolas Cage, Joel Kinnaman

Agent sales: pinnacle global

Hum factor: Cage’s acclaimed roles in “The Pig” and “The Unbearable Huge Talent” are seeing a resurgence in his career. And “Sympathy for the Devil,” which finds Cage as the mysterious passenger of Kinnaman’s driver, sounds like a hunk of old pulp. This is the banquet that Cage has featured the scenery for over the years.

sleeping dog

Director: Adam Cooper

Throw: Russell Crowe

Agent sales: Highland Film Group

Hum factor: Talk about a tortuous premise. Crowe plays a detective with Alzheimer’s who must figure out if he’s misplaced when a death row inmate arrested 10 years ago begins to claim his innocence. It sounds like a big role for the Oscar winner, and this kind of debunked mystery should have buyers looking for a piece of it.

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