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Toronto title wave

Film fest adds eight world preems to its sked

TORONTO — The Toronto Film Festival announced the addition Tuesday of a slew of new titles that promise to be hot commodities with acquisitions folk attending the fest, which runs Sept. 8-17.

Eight of the nine titles are world premieres, and five have been programmed as special presentations.

One of the special presentations is Adam Rapp’s “Winter Passing,” starring Ed Harris, Zooey Deschanel and Will Ferrell, making its world premiere at the fest. Deschanel plays a young woman returning home to visit her reclusive novelist father (Harris) for the first time in seven years.

Another home-to-papa film is Joshua Stern’s world-preeming “Neverwas,” with Nick Nolte, Aaron Eckhart, Ian McKellen, Brittany Murphy and Alan Cumming, in which Eckhart plays a psychiatrist who comes to work where his author-father (Nolte) was committed years earlier.

Also a world premiere, David Ayer’s “Harsh Times” stars Christian Bale and Freddy Rodriguez as unemployed friends who go in search of excitement and adventure in South Central L.A., with disastrous results.

In Rowan Woods’ “Little Fish” (an international premiere), Cate Blanchett plays a woman who becomes embroiled in a dangerous drug deal. Sam Neill and Hugo Weaving also star.

Another special presentation making its world premiere is the France/Italy/Belgium/Japan co-production “L’Enfer,” directed by Danis Tanovic (“No Man’s Land”) and starring Emmanuelle Beart. Pic chronicles the lives of three sisters who witnessed an act of violence in their childhood. Script was penned by Krzysztof Piesiewicz, who developed the film as part of a trilogy with the late Krzysztof Kieslowski.

‘Extremely high standard’

“The reason why we program these movies is because of their extremely high standard of excellence, and we feel that our audience here in Toronto will respond to them,” said fest co-director Noah Cowan. “But more and more, these films that satisfy those criteria have no distributor and want to come to Toronto for their world premiere.”

Cowan said the Toronto market is enhanced by the presence of an increasing number of U.S. films for sale with major talent attached, and a sense in Europe and Asia that a North American distribution deal will help them get better deals at home.

Shot in Saskatchewan, Terry Gilliam’s “Tideland” has been added to the masters program. The adaptation of the Mitch Cullin novel takes viewers into the fantasy world created by a child (Jodelle Ferland) to escape the grim realities of her life. Janet McTeer, Brendan Fletcher, Jeff Bridges and Jennifer Tilly also star.

The world preem of “Sorry, Haters” from Jeff Stanzler joins the fest’s discovery lineup. In the psychological drama, filmmaker Abdel Kechiche (“The Magic Box,” “A Vampire in Paradise”) portrays an Arab taxi driver who forges a relationship with a troubled professional woman (Robin Wright Penn) who gets into his cab. Cast also includes Sandra Oh.

Also in the discovery program is the world premiere of Lorene Machado’s “Bam Bam and Celeste,” written by and starring Margaret Cho. Best friends Celeste and Bam Bam (Cho and Bruce Daniels) journey across Middle America in the hope of becoming reality-TV makeover contestants.

Joining the visions program is the world premiere of Keith Fulton and Louis Pepe’s mockumentary “Brothers of the Head,” in which conjoined twins (Luke and Harry Treadaway) are groomed by a music promoter in the 1970s to forge the link between rock and punk.

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