Toronto Film Festival: Daniel Radcliffe’s ‘Weird: The Al Yankovic Story’ to Open Midnight Madness

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The Toronto Film Festival’s Midnight Madness sidebar will open with Weird: The Al Yankovic Story, with Daniel Radcliffe playing the prolific musician behind humorous songs like “Eat It” and “Amish Paradise.”

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Eric Appel directs the biopic for The Roku Channel that also stars Evan Rachel Wood and will have a world premiere Sept. 8 at TIFF at the Royal Alexandra Theater.

“I couldn’t have hoped for a more appropriate opening night film than Weird: The Al Yankovic Story — a beautifully deranged biopic made in the great Midnight movie tradition of challenging conventions and forging one’s own path, no matter how weird,” Midnight Madness curator Peter Kuplowsky said in a statement Thursday.

The latest additions to the Toronto Film Festival also include the lineups for the Discovery and Wavelengths programs unveiled Thursday.

The gore-filled Midnight Madness program has world bows for Tim Story’s horror comedy The Blackening, starring Dewayne Perkins and Grace Byers; John Hyams’ Sick, a pandemic-era drama co-written by Kevin Williamson where best friends quarantine at a family lake house alone, or so they think; and Vera Drew’s The People’s Joker, which reimagines the comic book villain franchise as a queer coming-of-age pic.

Other world premieres for the Midnight Madness program include V/H/S/99, a new film from the found footage anthology franchise V/H/S, this time directed by Flying Lotus, Johannes Roberts, Maggie Levin, Tyler MacIntyre, Vanessa Winter and Joseph Winter; Kim Hongsun’s genre actioner Project Wolf Hunting; Spanish horror veteran Jaume Balagueró’s Venus, starring Ester Expósito; and Jalmari Helander’s Second World War action film Sisu, already picked up by Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions.

The Midnight Madness program will close with Leonor Will Never Die, directed by Martika Ramirez Escobar, while there’s a North American premiere for Ti West’s Pearl after a SXSW debut. A24’s prequel horror flick has Mia Goth playing a young woman lusting for fame and wielding a pitchfork on her family’s isolated farm.

TIFF also announced that its Discovery sidebar will open with Elegance Bratton’s narrative directorial debut The Inspection, starring Gabrielle Union and Jeremy Pope in a drama about a young gay man enlisting in the Marines to win his mother’s approval.

The sidebar for emerging directors is also giving world bows to Sophie Kargman’s dark comic thriller Susie Searches, starring Kiersey Clemons; Bess Wohl’s Baby Ruby, where a mother battles postpartum depression and her baby’s apparent hostility; Marian Mathias’ Runner, a relationship drama set in the U.S. Midwest; Aitch Alberto’s Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, which stars Max Pelayo, Reese Gonzales, Eva Longoria and Eugenio Derbez; and Benjamin Millepied’s Carmen, a modern-day retelling of the popular opera that stars Paul Mescal (Normal People).

Also booked into the Discovery program is Laura Baumeister’s Daughter of Rage; the first Nicaraguan feature directed by a woman; Basil Khalil’s satire A Gaza Weekend; Davit Pirtskhalava’s A Long Break; Return to Seoul, directed by Davy Chou; Angela Wanjiku Wamai’s Shimoni; Selcen Ergun’s Snow and the Bear; Jub Clerc’s Sweet As; The Taste of Apples is Red, directed by Ehab Tarabieh; and Malou Reymann’s Unruly.  

The Discovery sidebar will also play a slew of films by up-and-coming Canadian directors, including Chandler Levack’s I Like Movies, about a self-obsessed teenager pursuing his dreams and testing relationships in 1990s suburban Ontario; Joseph Amenta’s Pussy; Gail Maurice’s Rosie; V.T. Nayani’s This Place; Sophie Jarvis’ Until Branches Bend; When Morning Comes from Kelly Fyffe-Marshall and starring Djamari Roberts and Shaquana Wilson; Sheila Pye’s The Young Arsonists, about teenage girls having their relationships tested and strengthened; and Something You Said Last Night, directed by Luis De Filippis, whose short film For Nonna Anna earned a Special Jury Prize at Sundance.

Elsewhere, Toronto’s Wavelengths program for experimental work booked a world bow for Antoine Bourge’s Concrete Valley, a drama about a doctor from Syria, played by Hussam Douhna, who struggles along with his wife and son to adjust to a new life in Canada while living and working in Toronto’s Thorncliffe Park neighborhood.

There are North American debuts for De Humani Corporis Fabrica, by directors Véréna Paravel and Lucien Castaing-Taylor; Joana Pimenta and Adirley Queiros’ Dry Ground Burning; Albert Serra’s Pacification; and Queens of the Qing Dynasty, directed by Ashley McKenzie.

The Toronto Film Festival, set to run Sept. 8-18, earlier announced that the Working Title and Netflix drama The Swimmers, Sally El Hosaini’s drama about real-life sisters on an inspiring odyssey as refugees from war-torn Syria to the 2016 Rio Olympics, will open the 2022 edition.

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