The fest today revealed an impressive roster of helmers and thesps planning to boost their latest work in Toronto next month. And with the critical four-day opening weekend packed exclusively -- as per the new fest policy -- with world premieres and North American premieres of studio awards contenders, buzzy acquisition titles, and hot U.S. and international arthouse fare, you can expect media frenzies, flash mobs of buyers, and intense afterparty rivalries like never before.
TIFF Kids were also unveiled today, as were a handful of late-breaking adds to other programs, bringing this year's grand total to 393 films, 285 of them features. Of those features, 143 are world premieres, 34 international, and 73 North American. (Last year saw 103 North American preems and 146 world preens.)
Mavericks, a program of onstage discussions, will screen the world preem of David Thorpe's feature bow, "Do I Sound Gay?," followed by a live conversation between Thorpe and sex-advice columnist Dan Savage, one of its many celeb voices. "The 50 Year Argument," Martin Scorsese and David Tedeschi's docu tribute to the New York Review of Books, and Julie Taymor's "A Midsummer Night's Dream," a film of her acclaimed stage production shot at Brooklyn's new Polonsky Center in 2013, will both screen with follow-up chats.
"The Equalizer" star Denzel Washington and director Antoine Fuqua; "Clouds of Sils Maria" star Juliette Binoche; double threat Reese Witherspoon ("Wild" and "The Good Lie"); Richard Gere ("Time Out of Mind"); and Robert Duvall ("The Judge") will also discuss their careers and current work in the program. And Jon Stewart will take the Mavericks stage with Canadian journalist Maziar Bahari, whose book chronicling his five-month imprisonment in Iran inspired the "Daily Show" host's feature bow, "Rosewater," which is making its international premiere in Toronto.
Special Presentations has added the world preems of "St. Vincent" (the Weinstein Co., pictured), Theodore Melfi's tale of a boozy, gambling retired curmudgeon (Murray) who provides highly unusual afterschool care to his new neighbor's 12-year-old son, and the road-trip docu odyssey "Roger Waters the Wall"; and the North American preem of James Franco's screen adaptation of Faulkner's "The Sound and the Fury."
Masters adds four, including the world preems of Krzysztof Zanussi's "Foreign Body," a tale of a dashing Italian caught between two very different women, and Raoul Peck's "Murder in Pacot," a post-Haitian-earthquake drama of manners.
Contemporary World Cinema has added the world premiere of "Tigers," a fact-based drama from "No Man's Land" helmer Danis Tanovic, and the international preem of TV helmer-thesp Matt Shakman's Montana-set "Cut Bank."
Discovery, a section devoted to first and second features, has added 29 titles (U.S. helmer Ross Katz' "Adult Beginners" among the 19 world preems) from around around the globe. Ten Canadian pics were previously announced.
TIFF Docs has added the North American preems of "The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness," Mami Sunada's docu about famed Japanese animation house Studio Ghibli, and "The Years of Fierro," Santiago Esteinou's story about the oldest Mexican prisoner on death row in the U.S.
TIFF Kids has added four films, including the world preem of "Song of the Sea," the latest animation from "The Secret of the Kells" helmer Tomm Moore.
The festival also released its official schedule and provided details of the cavalcade of multidisciplinary amusements at the new public street festival that will shut down a stretch of King Street (the festival corridor) for the first four days. For buyers and journos pushing through between screenings, the good news is: food trucks.
The Toronto Film Festival runs Sept. 4-14.
MAVERICKS"The 50 Year Argument," Martin Scorsese, David Tedeschi, U.S., Canadian Premiere
The world of New York intellectuals has often been memorialized in books, but rarely on film. Martin Scorsese teams up with David Tedeschi (editor on several Scorsese documentaries) to direct "The 50 Year Argument," a documentary tribute to the New York Review of Books whose 50-year history saw it frequently on the frontlines of cultural and political debate. The film features a wide array of interviews with the magazine's international contributors, all of whom exemplify the power of language to provoke, illuminate and effect change. Sitting at the helm is Bob Silvers, who has edited the magazine for its entire history, having done so alongside Barbara Epstein until her death in 2006.
"Do I Sound Gay?," David Thorpe, U.S., World Premiere
In his feature-length documentary debut "Do I Sound Gay?" journalist David Thorpe embarks on a hilarious and touching journey of self-discovery, confronting his anxiety about "sounding gay." Enlisting acting coaches, linguists, friends, family, total strangers and celebrities, he quickly learns that many people -- both gay and straight -- often wish for a different voice. His personal journey uncovers layers of cultural baggage concerning sexuality, identity, and self-esteem, gaining frank and funny perspectives from public figures such as comedian Margaret Cho, actor George Takei, sex-advice columnist Dan Savage, fashion guru Tim Gunn and writer David Sedaris.
"A Midsummer Night's Dream," Julie Taymor, U.S., International Premiere
Of all Shakespeare's plays, "A Midsummer Night's Dream" is the most phantasmagorical, with fairies, spells, and hallucinatory lovers. His flights of fancy are well matched to the talents of Julie Taymor, who turns out a production that's visually breathtaking, funny, sexy, and darkly poetic. This immersive, inventive cinematic experience took place during Taymor's highly acclaimed inaugural stage production of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" at the new Polonsky Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., in 2013. Characteristic of Taymor, the feats of visual imagination are ingenious and plentiful, but beating at the center of the film is an emotionally moving take on the deeper human aspects of this beloved tale.