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The most intriguing titles at this year’s TIFF celebrate geographical diversity while homing in on social issues of modern life. Whether the characters are in Brazil or Croatia or Japan, or the filmmakers are from Romania, India or China, their stories feature the struggles of everyday people, some of whom have become familiar with brutality and darkness. There is much despair and desperation, but it is occasionally tempered by moments of poignancy or hilarity. Here are five titles of note, and a mention of one of TIFF’s top Japanese stars.

This is Romanian filmmaker Adrian Sitaru’s newest feature, created almost simultaneously with the widely acclaimed “Illegitimate,” which took the Berlin Film Festival by storm earlier this year. “The Fixer” follows a Romanian journalist working in Paris, pursuing a story on human trafficking. He’s intent on televising the life of a 14-year old prostitute (also from Romania) but the assignment goes badly. The job begins to poison the journalist’s personal life, even jeopardizing the relationship with his young son.

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