THE 2011 TORONTO FILM FESTIVAL LINE UP


This article is written by GRADY SMITH at EW

THE TORONTO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL, which has become an increasingly important platform for awards seeking titles in recent years (both BLACK SWAN and THE KING’S SPEECH played there in 2010), announced its line up Tuesday.

The 11 day fest, set to kick off SEPTEMBER 8, will feature the world premieres of MONEYBALL, a baseball drama starring BRAD PITT; ALEXANDER PAYNE’S THE DESCENDANTS, a drama starring GEORGE CLOONEY; BUTTER, a butter carving satire featuring JENNIFER GARNER, HUGH JACKMAN and OLIVIA WILDE; ALBERT NOBBS, an Irish set period drama starring GLENN CLOSE and FRANCIS FORD COPPOLA’S murder mystery TWIXT, among others.

Other notable pictures playing at TIFF: MARC FORSTER’S religious drama MACHINE GUN PREACHER, starring GERARD BUTLER; MADONNA’S W.E., a romantic drama; GEORGE CLOONEY’S directorial effort THE IDES OF MARCH and CAMERON CROWE’S music doc PEARL JAM TWENTY.

Here are the most intriguing films from the slate…

GALAS

ALBERT NOBBS
COWRITTEN BY GLENN CLOSE & JOHN BANVILLE
STARRING GLENN CLOSE, JONATHAN RHYS MEYERS, BRENDAN GLEESON, MARIA DOYLE KENNEDY, JANET McTEER, PAULINE COLLINS, BRENDA FRICKER

A witty Irish set period drama about the lives of staff at Dublin’s most luxurious hotel: the illegitimate child of a maid, two beautiful people’s impossible love and ALBERT (GLENN CLOSE)…a woman who pretends to be a man to survive.

Nineteenth century Ireland: for a woman to be independent and single, she must deceive everyone — by pretending to be a man. ALBERT, a shy butler who keeps to himself, has been hiding a deep secret for years — he is a woman who has had to behave as a man all her life in order to escape a life of poverty and loneliness.

When a handsome painter HUBERT PAGE arrives at the hotel, ALBERT is inspired to try and escape the false life she has created for herself. She gathers her nerve to court beautiful saucy young maid HELEN in whom she thinks she’s found a companion – but HELEN’S eye is on a new arrival: handsome bad boy JOE, the new handyperson. As ALBERT dares to hope that she might one day live a normal life, we catch a glimpse of a free spirited woman who is caught in the wrong time…

BUTTER
JENNIFER GARNER, HUGH JACKMAN, OLIVIA WILDE, ASHLEY GREENE, ALICIA SILVERSTONE, ROB CORDDRY, TY BURRELL

Set in the highly competitive world of championship butter carving, BUTTER blends social commentary, outrageous comedy and heartfelt drama in telling the story of the ambitious LAURA PICKLER (JENNIFER GARNER), the self anointed First Lady Of Butter Carving. Refusing to accept that her husband (TY BURRELL) wants to step down after his 15 year run as the Iowa State Butter Carving Champion and therefore end the family’s reign in the spotlight, LAURA takes a stab at the title herself.

But her bid for glory is complicated when two unlikely contestants enter the race — one, her husband’s hard living mistress (OLIVIA WILDE) and the other a 10 year old foster child named DESTINY (YARA SHAHIDI).

Enlisting the help of her high school sweetheart BOYD (HUGH JACKMAN), LAURA will stop at nothing to be crowned champion, even if it means resorting to sabotage. Part political satire, part Capraesque comedy, BUTTER is a story about what it means to win at all costs and against all odds.

A HAPPY EVENT
LOUISE BOURGOIN

She turned my life upside down, drove me into a corner, pushed me beyond my limits. She taught me about self renouncement, tenderness and sacrifice in their most extreme forms. Why didn’t my mother ever tell me? Why doesn’t anyone ever mention this?

A HAPPY EVENT breaks the taboo of pregnancy through the tragicomic diary of a young woman who becomes a mother.

THE IDES OF MARCH
DIRECTED BY GEORGE CLOONEY
WRITTEN BY GEORGE CLOONEY & GRANT HESLOV
GEORGE CLOONEY, RYAN GOSLING, MARISA TOMEI, PHILIP SEYMOUR HOFFMAN, EVAN RACHEL WOOD, PAUL GIAMATTI, JEFFREY WRIGHT, MAX MINGHELLA

THE IDES OF MARCH takes place during the frantic last days before a heavily contested Ohio presidential primary, when an up and coming campaign press secretary (RYAN GOSLING) finds himself involved in a political scandal that threatens to upend his candidate’s shot at the presidency.

THE LADY
DIRECTED BY LUC BESSON
DAVID THEWLIS, MICHELLE YEOH

THE LADY is the extraordinary story of AUNG SAN SUU KYI and her husband MICHAEL ARIS. It is also the story of the peaceful quest of the woman who is at the core of Burma’s democracy movement. Despite distance, long separations and a dangerously hostile regime, their love endures until the very end. It’s a story of devotion and human understanding set against a backdrop of political turmoil that continues today. THE LADY was written over a period of three years by REBECCA FRAYN. Interviews with key figures in AUNG SAN SUU KYI’S entourage enabled her to reconstruct for the first time the true story of Burma’s national hero.

MONEYBALL
DIRECTED BY BENNETT MILLER
WRITTEN BY STEVEN ZAILLIAN & AARON SORKIN
BRAD PITT, PHILIP SEYMOUR HOFFMAN, ROBIN WRIGHT, TAMMY BLANCHARD

Based on a true story, MONEYBALL stars BRAD PITT as BILLY BEANE, the general manager of the OAKLAND As and the guy who assembles the team, who has an epiphany: all of baseball’s conventional wisdom is wrong. Forced to reinvent his team on a tight budget, BILLY will have to outsmart the richer clubs. The onetime jock teams with an Ivy League grad in an unlikely partnership, recruiting bargain players that the scouts call flawed, but all of whom have an ability to get on base, score runs and win games. It’s more than baseball, it’s a revolution — one that challenges old school traditions and puts BILLY in the crosshairs of those who say he’s tearing out the heart and soul of the game.

PEACE, LOVE & MISUNDERSTANDING
DIRECTED BY BRUCE BERESFORD
JANE FONDA, CATHERINE KEENER, CHACE CRAWFORD, JEFFREY DEAN MORGAN, KYLE McLACHLAN, ROSANNA ARQUETTE, ELIZABETH OLSEN

Directed by two time ACADEMY AWARD nominated BRUCE BERESFORD, PEACE, LOVE & MISUNDERSTANDING stars two time ACADEMY AWARD winning JANE FONDA, two time ACADEMY AWARD nominated CATHERINE KEENER, international heartthrob CHACE CRAWFORD and SUNDANCE’S breakout star ELIZABETH OLSEN.

The film is a comedy about an uptight New York City lawyer who takes her two spirited teenagers to her hippie mother’s farmhouse in the countryside for a family vacation. What was meant to be a weekend getaway quickly turns into a summer adventure of romance, music, family secrets and self discovery.

W.E.
DIRECTED BY MADONNA
WRITTEN BY MADONNA & ALEK KESHISHIAN
ABBIE CORNISH, ANDREA RISEBOROUGH, JAMES FOX, LAURENCE FOX, LOLA LEON

W.E. is a romantic exploration of the mysterious connection across decades between two women confronting the consequences of desire. Caught in a loveless Manhattan marriage, abused and frustrated WALLY (ABBIE CORNISH) obsesses over WALLIS SIMPSON (ANDREA RISEBOROUGH), the stylish American divorcee who captured the heart of EDWARD THE VIII (JAMES D’ARCY) who abdicated the throne as King Of England.

As THE DUCHESS OF WINDSOR, WALLACE spends the rest of her life in the glare of celebrity exile. Inspired by THE DUCHESS’ determination to pursue love in the face of social exile, WALLY escapes into the arms of another man (OSCAR ISAAC) whose love sets her free. MADONNA and a world class team of collaborators present a passionate tale of the search for love and the meaning of happiness. W.E. (for WALLIS and EDWARD, forever entwined in the love story of the 20th century) is a rich cinematic portrayal of two strong women resolved to find romance.

SPECIAL PRESENTATIONS

THE ARTIST
MALCOLM McDOWELL, JOHN GOODMAN, JAMES CROMWELL, PENELOPE ANN MILLER

Hollywood 1927. GEORGE VALENTIN is a very successful silent movie star. The arrival of talking pictures will mark the end of his career. PEPPY MILLER, a young woman extra, becomes a major movie star.

AMERICANO
SALMA HAYEK, GERALDINE CHAPLIN, CHIARA MASTROIANNI, CARLOS BARDEM

When MATHIEU was little, his name was MARTIN and he lived in Los Angeles. MARTIN grew up and lives in Paris. When he loses his mother back in California, MARTIN must return to the city of his childhood to deal with the formalities surrounding his inheritance. Unable to face up to his mom’s death, MARTIN takes off to Tijuana on the trail of LOLA, a Mexican woman he used to know and who held a special place in his mother’s life. To make his own peace, MARTIN delve into his past.

ANONYMOUS
RHYS IFANS, DAVID THEWLIS, VANESSA REDGRAVE, JOELY RICHARDSON

Set in the political snake pit of Elizabethan England, ANONYMOUS speculates on an issue that has for centuries intrigued academics and brilliant minds, namely: who actually created the body of work credited to WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE? Experts have debated, books have been written and scholars have devoted their lives to protecting or debunking theories surrounding the authorship of the most renowned works in English literature. ANONYMOUS poses one possible answer, focusing on a time when scandalous political intrigue, illicit romances in Royal Court and the schemes of greedy nobles lusting for the power of the throne were brought to light in the most unlikely of places: the London stage.

A BETTER LIFE
GUILLAUME CANET

YANN, a cook, and NADIA, a server and mother of a nine year old child, decide to risk everything on the purchase of a restaurant. With plenty of talent, energy, love and dreams, but no finances of their own, they find themselves forced into a jungle of financing and bank loans that quickly overwhelms them. To bail them out, NADIA has to take a job in Canada, while YANN is forced to stay behind to save the restaurant. Together, he and the child confront a relentless avalanche of creditors, an uncaring system and the daily grind from which there is no respite. YANN finally understands that his only chance of salvation lies in joining his lover – as well as reuniting mother and child – by following NADIA to Canada and a better life.

BURNING MAN
MATTHEW GOODE, RACHEL GRIFFITHS, KERRY FOX, GIA CARIDES

Why is TOM behaving so badly? Six women and an eight year old boy are fighting, in very different ways, to help. But for TOM, it seems, there are no rules. BURNING MAN is the reckless, provocative and moving story of a father and son’s journey back to happiness.

CORIOLANUS
DIRECTED BY RALPH FIENNES
RALPH FIENNES, GERARD BUTLER, BRIAN COX, JESSICA CHASTAIN, VANESSA REDGRAVE

CORIOLANUS (RALPH FIENNES), a hero of Rome, is a great soldier but despises the people. His extreme views ignite a mass riot and he is banished from Rome. CORIOLANUS allies with a sworn enemy (GERARD BUTLER) to take his revenge on the city.

THE DEEP BLUE SEA
RACHEL WEISZ

HESTER COLLYER (ACADEMY AWARD winner RACHEL WEISZ) leads a privileged life in 1950s London as the beautiful wife of high court judge SIR WILLIAM COLLYER (SIMON RUSSELL BEALE). To the shock of those around her, she walks out on her marriage to move in with young ex RAF pilot FREDDIE PAGE (TOM HIDDLESTON), with whom she has fallen passionately in love.

THE DESCENDANTS
DIRECTED BY ALEXANDER PAYNE
WRITTEN BY ALEXANDER PAYNE & NAT FAXON
GEORGE CLOONEY, JUDY GREER, BEAU BRIDGES, ROBERT FORSTER

From ALEXANDER PAYNE, the creator of the OSCAR winning SIDEWAYS, set in Hawaii, THE DESCENDANTS is a sometimes humourous, sometimes tragic journey for MATT KING (GEORGE CLOONEY), an indifferent husband and father of two girls, who is forced to re examine his past and embrace his future when his wife suffers a boating accident off of Waikiki. The event leads to a rapprochement with his young daughters while MATT wrestles with a decision to sell the family’s land handed down from Hawaiian royalty and missionaries.

ELLES
JULIETTE BINOCHE

ANNE (JULIETTE BINOCHE), a well off Paris based mother of two and investigative journalist for ELLE, is writing an article about university student prostitution. Her meetings with two fiercely independent young women, ALICIJA (JOANNA KULIG) and CHARLOTTE (ANAIS DEMOUSTIER), are profound and unsettling, moving her to question her most intimate convictions about money, family and sex.

THE EYE OF THE STORM
DIRECTED BY FRED SCHEPISI
GEOFFREY RUSH, CHARLOTTE RAMPLING, JUDY DAVIS

In the Sydney suburb of Centennial Park, two nurses, a housekeeper and a solicitor attend to ELIZABETH HUNTER as her expatriate son and daughter convene at her deathbed. But in dying, as in living, Ms. Hunter remains a powerful force on those who surround her. Based on the novel by NOBEL PRIZE winner PATRICK WHITE, THE EYE OF THE STORM is a savage exploration of family relationships – and the sharp undercurrents of love and hate, comedy and tragedy, which define them.

FRIENDS WITH KIDS
WRITTEN & DIRECTED BY JENNIFER WESTFELDT
MEGAN FOX, KRISTEN WIIG, MAYA RUDOLPH, CHRIS O’DOWD, JON HAMM, EDWARD BURNS, JENNIFER WESTFELDT

FRIENDS WITH KIDS is a poignant ensemble comedy about a close knit circle of friends at that moment in life when children arrive and everything changes. There are big laughs and unexpected emotional truths as the last two singles in the group, out of step with their married pals, resolve to have a kid together…and date other people.

HABEMUS PAPAM
DIRECTED BY NANNI MORETTI
WRITTEN BY NANNI MORETTI, FRANCESCO PICCOLO & FEDERICA PONTREMOLI
MICHEL PICCOLI, NANNI MORETTI

The newly elected Pope suffers a panic attack just as he is due to appear on St Peter’s balcony to greet the faithful, who have been patiently awaiting the conclave’s decision. His advisors, unable to convince him he is the right man for the job, seek help from a renowned psychoanalyst (and atheist). But his fear of the responsibility suddenly thrust upon him is one that he must face on his own.

THE HUNTER
WILLEM DAFOE, SAM NEILL

Based on the acclaimed novel by JULIA LEIGH, THE HUNTER is a powerful psychological drama that tells the story of MARTIN (WILLEM DAFOE), a mercenary sent from Europe by an anonymous biotech company to the Tasmanian wilderness on a dramatic hunt for the last Tasmanian Tiger. Against his wishes, MARTIN’S only option is to stay at a base camp house with the despondent wife and spirited children of a missing zoologist. Drawn deeper into the wild landscape in his search for the mysterious Tiger,
MARTIN’S unexpected connection to the family and the majestic wilderness around him, forces him to confront the reality of his work and personal morality, with dramatic consequences.

KILLER JOE
DIRECTED BY WILLIAM FRIEDKIN
EMILE HIRSCH, MATTHEW McCONAUGHEY, THOMAS HADEN CHURCH, GINA GERSHON, JUNO TEMPLE

When 22 year old drug dealer CHRIS (EMILE HIRSCH) has his stash stolen by his mother, he has to come up with six thousand dollars quick or he’s dead. Desperate, he turns to KILLER JOE (MATTHEW McCONAUGHEY) when he finds out that his mother’s life insurance policy is worth $50,000. Although JOE usually demands cash up front, he finds himself willing to bend the rules in exchange for CHRIS’ attractive younger sister DOTTIE, who will serve as sexual collateral until the money comes in…if it ever does.

LIKE CRAZY
ANTON YELCHIN, FELICITY JONES, JENNIFER LAWRENCE, ALEX KINGSTON, FINOLA HUGHES, CHRIS MESSINA

LIKE CRAZY is a film from and about the heart. JACOB, an American and ANNA, who is British, meet at college in Los Angeles and fall madly in love. It’s the purest kind of romance – they’re each other’s first significant attachment. When ANNA returns to London, they are forced into a long distance relationship. Their perfect love is tested, and youth, trust and geography become their biggest enemies. An original, contemplative look at first love, LIKE CRAZY strikes a universal chord as it explores the bittersweet beauty and impermanence of relationships.

MACHINE GUN PREACHER
DIRECTED BY MARC FORSTER
GERARD BUTLER, MICHAEL SHANNON, KATHY BAKER

This inspirational true story, MACHINE GUN PREACHER is about SAM CHILDERS, a former drug dealing criminal who undergoes an astonishing transformation and finds an unexpected calling as the savior of hundreds of kidnapped and orphaned children. GERARD BUTLER delivers a searing performance as SAM in GOLDEN GLOBE nominated director MARC FORSTER’S (MONSTER’S BALL, FINDING NEVERLAND) moving story of violence and redemption.

MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLENE
ELIZABETH OLSEN, SARAH PAULSON, JOHN HAWKES, HUGH DANCY

MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLENE is a powerful psychological thriller starring ELIZABETH OLSEN as MARTHA, a young woman rapidly unravelling amidst her attempt to reclaim a normal life after fleeing from a cult and its charismatic leader (JOHN HAWKES). Seeking help from her estranged older sister LUCY (SARAH PAULSON) and brother in law (HUGH DANCY), MARTHA is unable and unwilling to reveal the truth about her disappearance. When her memories trigger a chilling paranoia that her former cult could still be pursuing her, the line between MARTHA’S reality and delusion begins to blur.

THE ORANGES
LEIGHTON MEESTER, HUGH LAURIE, ALIA SHAWKAT, CATHERINE KEENER, ADAM BRODY, ALLISON JANNEY, OLIVER PLATT

The Ostroff and Walling families are best friends and neighbours, living across the street from each other on Orange Drive. Prodigal daughter NINA OSTROFF (LEIGHTON MEESTER) returns home for Thanksgiving dinner after a five year absence, newly broken up with her fiancé ETHAN (SAM ROSEN). Rather than developing an interest in the successful son of her neighbours TOBY WALLING (ADAM BRODY), which would please both families, it’s her parents’ best friend DAVID WALLING (HUGH LAURIE) that captures NINA’S attention.

When the romantic attraction between NINA and DAVID becomes too great to ignore, the lives of the two families are thrown into upheaval. It is not long, however, before the ramifications of the affair begin to work on the other family members in unexpected, hilarious and even positive ways, leading everyone to reassess what it means to be happy and how to find happiness with – and perhaps in spite of – your own family and friends.

PEARL JAM TWENTY
DIRECTED BY CAMERON CROWE

PEARL JAM TWENTY chronicles the years leading up to the band’s formation, the chaos that ensued soon after their rise to megastardom, their step back from centre stage, and the creation of a trusted circle that would surround them – giving way to a work culture that would sustain them. Told in big themes and bold colours with blistering sound, the film is carved from over 1,200 hours of rarely seen and never-before seen footage spanning the band’s career. PEARL JAM TWENTY is the definitive portrait of PEARL JAM: part concert film, part intimate insider hang and part testimonial to the power of music and uncompromising artists.

SALMON FISHING IN THE YEMEN
DIRECTED BY LASSE HALLSTROM
WRITTEN BY SIMON BEAUFOY
EWAN McGREGOR, EMILY BLUNT, KRISTIN SCOTT THOMAS

Stuffy government fisheries scientist FRED is asked by a fishing obsessed Arab Sheik to do the seemingly impossible – introduce British salmon to the wadis of the Yemen. Despite considerable trepidation, FRED is finally won over by the charismatic Sheik, who reveals that fishing brings him closer to God and he hopes it will have the same effect on his country people. FRED also begins to fall for the Sheik’s beautiful legal representative HARRIET and so he rises to the Sheik’s eccentric challenge, casting off his English reserve on a transformative journey of self discovery and late blooming love.

THE SKIN I LIVE IN
WRITTEN & DIRECTED BY PEDRO ALMODOVAR
ANTONIO BANDERAS

Ever since his wife was burned in a car crash, DR. ROBERT LEDGARD (ANTONIO BANDERAS), an eminent plastic surgeon, has been interested in creating a new skin with which he could have saved her. After twelve years, he manages to cultivate a skin that is a real shield against every assault. In addition to years of study and experimentation, ROBERT needed a further three things: no scruples, an accomplice and a human guinea pig. Scruples were never a problem. MARILIA, the woman who looked after him from the day he was born, is his most faithful accomplice. And as for the human guinea pig…

TAKE SHELTER
MICHAEL SHANNON, JESSICA CHASTAIN, KATHY BAKER, LISA GAY HAMILTON

CURTIS lives in Ohio with his wife SAMANTHA and daughter HANNAH. When he begins having dreams about an encroaching apocalyptic storm, he channels his anxiety into building a shelter in their backyard. Though his obsessive behaviour provokes intolerance in his community, CURTIS confides in SAMANTHA, testing their bond against the highest possible stakes.

TRISHNA
DIRECTED BY MICHAEL WINTERBOTTOM
FREIDA PINTO

Starring FREIDA PINTO and RIZ AHMED and based on THOMAS HARDY’S novel TESS OF THE D’URBERVILLES, the film is set in contemporary India and tells the tragic love story between the son of a wealthy property developer and the daughter of a rickshaw driver.

TWIXT
WRITTEN & DIRECTED BY FRANCIS FORD COPPOLA
VAL KILMER, BRUCE DERN, BEN CHAPLIN, ELLE FANNING, JOANNE WHALLEY, DAVID PAYMER, DON NOVELLO

A writer with a career in decline arrives in a small town as part of his book tour and gets caught up in a murder mystery involving a young girl.

TYRANNOSAUR
WRITTEN & DIRECTED BY PADDY CONSIDINE
PETER MULLAN, OLIVIA COLMAN, EDDIE MARSAN

JOSEPH is a man plagued by violence and rage that is driving him to self destruction. As JOSEPH’S life spirals into turmoil, a chance of redemption appears in the form of HANNAH, a Christian charity shop worker. Their relationship develops to reveal that HANNAH is hiding a secret of her own which has devastating results on both of their lives.

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN
DIRECTED BY LYNN RAMSAY
WRITTEN BY LYNN RAMSAY & RORY KINNEAR
TILDA SWINTON, JOHN C. REILLY

A suspenseful and psychologically gripping exploration into a parent dealing with her child doing the unthinkable, WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN is the highly anticipated third feature from director LYNNE RAMSAY and features a tour de force performance by TILDA SWINTON.

WOMAN IN THE FIFTH
KRISTIN SCOTT THOMAS, ETHAN HAWKE

American writer TOM RICKS (ETHAN HAWKE) comes to Paris desperate to put his life together again and win back the love of his estranged wife and daughter. When things don’t go according to plan, he ends up in a shady hotel in the suburbs, having to work as a night guard to make ends meet. Then MARGIT (KRISTIN SCOTT THOMAS), a beautiful mysterious stranger walks into his life and things start looking up. Their passionate and intense relationship triggers a string of inexplicable events…as if an obscure power is taking control of his life.

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