PROGRAMMER’S CHOICE: Great Art Direction at TIFF ’10

I asked 5 TIFF Programmers via Twitter to recommend their favourite films with the best art direction at the Toronto International Film Festival this year and to my delight, they answered!

Art Departmental: “Which films have the best art direction this year at #tiff10 ?”

Cameron Bailey

Co-Director and Programmer of the Toronto International Film Festival

@cameron_tiff: “For great art direction at #TIFF10 try LITTLE SISTER, THE HOUSEMAID, BLACK SWAN, NEVER LET ME GO, MADE IN DAGENHAM”


Little Sister- Feature Film (2010)

Director: Richard Bowen | Production Designer: Zhai Tao

Film Description: “Based on one of the earliest versions of the beloved story of Cinderella comes a beautifully crafted film filled with wonder and magic that reveals the Chinese origins of this widely known fairy tale.”

Official Film Trailer: Watch the trailer on the TIFF website.

Programme: Sprockets Family Zone | Country: China, USA | Runtime: 96 min

OF NOTE: Little Sister was also recommended by Jane Schoettle (@jane_tiff) for great art direction at TIFF ’10. See below.


Director: Im Sang-soo | Production Designer: Lee Ha-jun

Film Description: “In this erotic thriller, the housemaid of an upper-class family becomes entangled in a dangerous tryst. A satirical look at class structure, reminiscent of the work of Claude Chabrol, this sexy soap opera is a story of revenge and retribution.”

Programme: Gala Presentations | Country: South Korea | Runtime: 107 min


Director: Darren Aronofsky | Production Designer: Thérèse DePrez | Art Director: David Stein | Set Decorator: Tora Peterson

Film Description: “A psychological thriller set in the world of New York City ballet, Black Swan stars Natalie Portman as Nina, a featured dancer who finds herself locked in a web of competitive intrigue with a new rival at the company. Black Swan takes a thrilling and at times terrifying journey through the psyche of a young ballerina whose starring role as the duplicitous swan queen turns out to be a part for which she becomes frighteningly perfect. Black Swan also stars Vincent Cassel, Mila Kunis, Barbara Hershey and Winona Ryder.”

Programme: Gala Presentations | Country: USA | Runtime: 103 min


Director: Mark Romanek | Production Designer: Mark Digby | Art Director: Paul Cripps | Set Decorator: Michelle Day

Film Description: “Kathy (Carey Mulligan), Tommy (Andrew Garfield) and Ruth (Keira Knightley) spent their childhood at a seemingly idyllic boarding school. When they leave the shelter of the school, the terrible truth of their fate is revealed and they must confront the deep feelings of love, jealousy and betrayal that threaten to pull them apart.”

Programme: Special Presentations | Country: United Kingdom | Runtime: 103 min



Director: Nigel Cole | Production Designer: Andrew McAlpine | Art Director: Grant Armstrong | Set Decorator: Anna Lynch-Robinson

Film Description: “Sally Hawkins stars as Rita O’Grady, the catalyst for the 1968 Ford Dagenham strike by 187 sewing machinists which led to the advent of the Equal Party Act. Working in extremely impoverished conditions for long, arduous hours, the women at the Ford Dagenham plant finally lose their patience when they are reclassified as “unskilled.” With humour, common sense and courage, they take on their corporate paymasters, an increasingly belligerent local community, and finally the government itself. The film also stars Bob Hoskins, Miranda Richardson, Geraldine James and Rosamund Pike.”

Programme: Special Presentations | Country: United Kingdom | Runtime: 113 min

Giovanna Fulvi

Asian Programmer for the Toronto International Film Festival

@giovanna_tiff: “Anpo is a hidden gem at #tiff10. One of the hottest topics in Japan and has stunning art direction.”


Director: Linda Hoaglund 

Film Description: “ANPO depicts resistance to U.S. military bases in Japan through an electrifying collage of paintings and photographs, as well as animated, narrative and documentary films by Japan’s foremost contemporary artists.”

Programme: Real to Reel | Country: Japan, USA | Runtime: 89 min

Jane Schoettle

International Programmer of the Toronto International Film Festival

@jane_tiff:#tiff10 To best art direction picks question: Look, Stranger;Wasted On The Young;Easy A; Little Sister; Blame;–all good choices!”


Director: Arielle Javitch | Production Designer: Nevena Mijuskovic | Art Director: Gus Powell | Set Decorator: Predrag Petrovic

Film Description: “An elegant, spare and powerful telling of one young woman’s journey through a wartorn landscape in an effort to get back home.”

Official Trailer: None Found. More photos here.

Programme: Discovery | Country: USA | Runtime: 83 min



Wasted on the Young Feature Film- 2010

Director: Ben C. Lucas | Production Designer: Sam Hobbs

Film Description: “When a high school party goes dangerously off the rails, one teenager finds that revenge is just a computer click away. Wasted on the Young plays like a cross between Gus Van Sant’s Elephant and the upper-crust teen drama of Gossip Girl. Visually innovative, deeply disturbing and boundary-pushing in both content and form, Ben C. Lucas’s debut feature explores the dangerous possibilities of social networking, as practiced with both cruelty and cunning by high schoolers on the verge of adulthood.”

Official Trailer: None Found. More photos here.

Programme: Discovery | Country: Australia | Runtime: 97 min


Director: Will Gluck | Production Designer: Marcia Hinds | Art Director: Bo Johnson | Set Decorator: Karen Agresti

Film Description: “After a little white lie about losing her virginity gets out, a clean-cut high school girl (Emma Stone) sees her life paralleling Hester Prynne’s in The Scarlet Letter, which she is currently studying in school – until she decides to use the rumour mill to advance her social and financial standing.”

Programme: Special Presentations | Country: USA | Runtime: 93 min



Director: Michael Henry | Production Designer: Clayton Jauncey | Art Director: Emma Fletcher

Film Description: “A group of young vigilantes seeking revenge for a sexual betrayal fall far from grace. When the truth is out, they find themselves on the dark side of justice.”

Programme: Discovery | Country: Australia | Runtime: 89 min

Agata Smoluch Del Sorbo

Co-Programmer of Canadian Features for the Toronto International Film Festival

@agata_tiff: “Lots of good ones. check out YOU ARE HERE, HEARTBEATS, INCENDIES, CRYING OUT and DAYDREAM NATION from the Canadian line up.”


Director: Daniel Cockburn | Production Designer: Nazgol Goshtasbpour | Art Director: Stephanie Chris | Set Decorator: Sophia Chirovsky

Film Description: You Are Here is a smartly-crafted commentary on our modern day existence. Comprised of interconnected mini-narratives, the film’s characters find themselves trapped in bizarre social experiments of their own making. The film features Tracy Wright and Nadia Litz.”

Programme: Canada First! | Country: Canada | Runtime: 78 min




Director: Xavier Dolan | Production Designer: Xavier Dolan

Film Description: “Wunderkind filmmaker Xavier Dolan returns with his second feature – a sophisticated comedy about close friends, Francis and Marie, who pursue their mutual obsession with a young man. As they face off in competition, cracks in their friendship begin to appear with both comic and tragic results.”

Programme: Special Presentations | Country: Canada | Runtime: 102 min



Director: Denis Villeneuve | Production Designer: André-Line Beauparlant

Film Description: “After their mother Nawal’s death, twins Simon and Jeanne embark on a journey to the Middle East that shines a disturbing light on their mother’s past and culminates in a shocking revelation. Based on the acclaimed play by Wajdi Mouawad and directed by Genie and Jutra award-winner Denis Villeneuve (Polytechnique).”

Programme: Special Presentations | Country: Canada/France | Runtime: 130 min




Director: Robin Aubert | Production Designer: David Pelletier

Film Description: “Three generations of men from the same family drunkenly careen across the Québécois countryside in an emotionally powerful journey through the past from one of Québec’s most intriguing young filmmakers.”

Programme: Contemporary World Cinema | Country: Canada | Runtime: 115 min



Director: Mike Goldbach | Production Designer: Renee Read

Film Description: “Seventeen year-old Caroline Wexler (Kat Dennings) has just moved to a tiny, nowhere town where an industrial fire burns ceaselessly and a serial killer is claiming young victims. When Caroline realizes she has nothing in common with the permanently stoned kids that populate her new school, she pursues the one person she connects with — her handsome young teacher, Mr. Anderson (Josh Lucas). A bizarre love triangle ensues between Caroline, Mr. Anderson, and a stoner classmate (Reece Thompson). A mash up of genres and tones, Daydream Nation is a coming of age story for the 21st century.”

Programme: Canada First! | Country: Canada | Runtime: 98 min

Colin Geddes

Midnight Madness, Real to Real, Visions, and Vanguard Programmer for the Toronto International Film Festival

(AKA- Programmer of everything, creepy, shocking, gross and awesome)

@mmadnesstiff: “Best art direction of my picks?  BUNRAKU is pretty rad as is RED NIGHTS. A HORRIBLE WAY TO DIE also worth noting #TIFF10


Director: Guy Moshe | Production Designer: Chris Farmer | Set Decorator: Malcolm Stone

Film Description: “In a world with no guns, a mysterious drifter (Josh Hartnett), a young samurai and a bartender (Woody Harrelson) plot revenge against a ruthless leader (Ron Perlman) and his army of thugs, headed by nine diverse and deadly assassins. This visually stunning film is filled with uniquely choreographed action sequences of a new style that melds east with west and old school with new. The film also stars Demi Moore.”

Official Trailer: None Found. More photos here.

Programme: Midnight Madness | Country: USA | Runtime: 118 min


Director: Julien Carbon & Laurent Courtiaud | Production Designer: Horace Ma

Film Description: “This shocking debut by director duo Carbon and Courtiaud is a seductive cat-and-mouse thriller set in Hong Kong, about a woman’s obsessive desire to own a rare object that hides a deadly and perverse secret.”

Programme: Midnight Madness | Country: Hong Kong/China/France Runtime: 98 min



Director: Adam Wingard

Film Description: “When a serial killer escapes from prison, the dangerous past of a young woman dealing with alcoholic rehab quickly begins to catch up with her.”

Programme: Vanguard | Country: USA | Runtime: 85 min

Will you be attending any of these films? Do you agree with the programmers based on the trailers and photos? Which do you think looks like it has the best art direction? Which films are you looking forward to?

Rose Lagacé | @artdepartmental

Posted by Rose Lagacé

Rose Lagacé is a production designer for film & television by day and an emerging filmmaker by night. Rose is also the creator and editor of Art Departmental where she celebrates the art and craft of production design.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.