Steven Spielberg is getting ready for a visit to the Great White North. The Toronto International Film Festival announced on Friday that they will play host to the world premiere of Spielberg’s hotly anticipated new picture, The Fabelmans. This marks the first time the renowned director will debut a movie at TIFF—indeed, Variety says it is his first time at the festival in general. The back-to-school-timed gathering (September 8 through 18) is one of the primary on-ramps for awards season speculation.
While specifics concerning the movie are still closely guarded, we know that it is a rarity from Spielberg in its autobiographical nature, with story elements rooted in the 75-year-old filmmaker’s own childhood. TIFF’s release called it “a deeply personal portrait of 20th Century American childhood” and “a coming-of-age story about a young man’s discovery of a shattering family secret and an exploration of the power of movies to help us see the truth about each other and ourselves.”
The project was co-written by Tony Kushner, with whom Spielberg has worked with on Munich, Lincoln, and West Side Story. The only other features in Spielberg’s directorial resume in which he has any kind of screenplay credit are Close Encounters of the Third Kind and A.I.: Artificial Intelligence. (He shares a screenwriter credit on Tobe Hooper’s Poltergeist, and “story by” credit on his early film The Sugarland Express, and on Richard Donner’s The Goonies.)
Michelle Williams and Paul Dano play stand-ins for Spielberg’s parents in The Fabelmans, with Seth Rogen as a beloved uncle figure, and Jeannie Berlin and Judd Hirsch representing the older generation. Gabriel LaBelle plays Sammy, a version of young Spielberg in this recollection (some might call it a fable!) with Julia Butters as one of Sammy’s sisters. Somehow David Lynch will work his way into the action, too.
Recently, Universal announced that the movie would get a platform release on November 11 in New York and Los Angeles, one week before the previously announced wide release, a move that further indicates the studio smells a winner.