The Toronto Film Festival has tapped Spanish auteur Pedro Almodóvar, Hong Kong multihyphenate Andy Lau and Korean superstars Lee Byung-hun and Park Seo-jun to topline its In Conversation With… series next month.
Almodóvar, earlier announced to receive the Jeff Skoll Award in Impact Media from Participant at TIFF, has been among the most successful European directors since his 1988 melodrama Woman on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, winning two Oscars for All About My Mother in 1999 and Talk to Her in 2002.
Lau ranks near the top of China’s A-list as both an actor and a pop performer and will also be in Toronto for the world premiere of Ning Hao’s The Movie Emperor, where he plays a movie star seeking relevance via a film festival–baiting art-house role.
And Lee Byung-hun and Park Seo-jun, co-stars of the disaster epic Concrete Utopia, will also be in Toronto to discuss their careers in Korean film and TV. Park Seo-jun is set to appear in The Marvels later this year.
“TIFF’s 2023 In Conversation With… series exemplifies our belief that film can ignite perspectives and fuel transformation. We are delighted to welcome a powerhouse lineup of international iconoclasts from Spain, South Korea and Hong Kong for film lovers of all genres,” Anita Lee, TIFF chief programming officer, said Friday in a statement.
Besides casting a net worldwide to illustrate an expanding entertainment landscape as part of its In Conversation With… series, the choices of the international film icons for TIFF allow the festival to get round the uncertainty cast by the ongoing Hollywood actors strike on which American film stars can walk its red carpet in Toronto next month.
SAG-AFTRA restrictions require actors not to promote any film that’s from a member of the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, meaning any streamer, major legacy studio or a specialty division such as Sony Pictures Classics, Searchlight or Focus Features (which are owned by Sony, Disney and Universal, respectively).
The Toronto Film Festival, set to run Sept. 7 to 17, earlier announced it would open its 2023 edition with Japanese anime legend Hayao Miyazaki’s much anticipated final film, The Boy and the Heron.