With only a few summer blockbusters left in the tank, all eyes are now turning towards the fall festival season, with the two biggest events, the Toronto International Film Festival and the Venice Film Festival unveiling their line-ups this week. Venice comes in a couple of days, but this morning brought Toronto's press conference, with a big chunk of the films for the festival that's matched only by Cannes and Sundance in its importance in the calendar. So, what's in the first wave?
Co-director Cameron Bailey announced four titles before the conference over Twitter: "360," the latest film from Fernando Mereilles, director of "City of God," with Rachel Weisz and Anthony Hopkins, Luc Besson's biopic of Burmese leader Aung San Suu Kyi, "The Lady," with Michelle Yeoh and David Thewlis, Korean flick "Countdown" and Michael Winterbottom's latest Thomas Hardy adaptation, "Trishna," a contemporary version of "Tess of the D'Ubervilles" starring Riz Ahmed and Frieda Pinto.
The conference also revealed that U2 documentary "From The Sky Down" will open the festival -- a surprise announcement, as the film wasn't on anyone's radar before now. It's directed by "An Inconvenient Truth" helmer Davis Guggenheim, and it's the first time in 36 years that a documentary has opened the festival. World premieres will also be held for Jim Field-Smith's star-studded comedy "Butter," with Jennifer Garner and Hugh Jackman, the Brad Pitt starrer "Moneyball," Bruce Beresford's "Peace, Love & Understanding" with Catherine Keener, Jane Fonda, Chace Crawford, Elizabeth Olsen and Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Rémi Bezancon's "A Happy Event," and Sarah Polley's "Take This Waltz," starring Michelle Williams and Seth Rogen (the latter has long been expected to bow at the festival).
Big U.S. films also making appearances include Jonathan Levine's "50/50" with Rogen and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Roland Emmerich's Shakespearean thriller "Anonymous," Alexander Payne's "The Descendants," which stars George Clooney, whose directorial effort "The Ides of March" will also make its North American premiere after opening Venice, "Friends With Kids," directed by Jennifer Westfeld and starring Megan Fox, Jon Hamm, Kristen Wiig, Adam Scott, Maya Rudolph and Edward Burns, the Duplass Brothers' "Jeff Who Lives At Home," with Jason Segel and Ed Helms, and the Gerard Butler Oscar-tipped drama "Machine Gun Preacher," while Channing Tatum vehicle "Ten Year," Oren Moverman's "Rampart" and Lasse Hallstrom's "Salmon Fishing In The Yemen" will also play according to the festival's website.
Also appearing are Madonna's royal drama "W.E," the Chloe Moretz/Blake Lively drama "Hick," Cedric Kahn's "A Better Life," Francis Ford Coppola's "Twixt," fresh from Comic-Con, Todd Solondz's "Dark Horse," William Friedkin's "Killer Joe," Steve McQueen's "Shame," Terence Davies' "Deep Blue Sea," Cameron Crowe's Pearl Jam documentary, Pawel Pawlikowski's "Woman in the Fifth," Hugh Laurie indie drama "The Oranges," Rodrigo Garcia's "Albert Nobbs," Chinese helmer Wang Xiaoshuai's "11 Flowers," Finnish thriller "Headhunters," from best-selling author Jo Nesbo, Marjane Satrapi's "Persepolis" sequel "Chicken With Plums," Andy Lau starrer "A Simple Life," Mathieu Demy's "Americano," and a trio of Australian films: comedy "Burning Man" with Matthew Goode, Fred Schepsi's "Eye of the Storm," starring Geoffrey Rush, and Daniel Nettheim's "The Hunter," with Sam Neill and Willem Dafoe.
And as ever, a selection of festival favorites from across 2011 will also play Toronto, with "The Artist," "Drive," "Melancholia," "Like Crazy," "Take Shelter," "Martha Marcy May Marlene," "Tyrannosaur," "The Skin I Live In," "Coriolanus," "Where Do We Go Now," "Habemus Papam" and "We Need To Talk About Kevin" all re-appearing. The festival will run from September 8th to the 18th, and we will, as ever, be there in force.