Film festival announces Midnight pics, Special Presentations

Clint Eastwood’s “Hereafter,” Danny Boyle’s “127 Hours,” Matt Reeves’ “Let Me In” and Dan Rush’s “Everything Must Go” are among several world preems joining the Toronto Film Festival’s Special Presentations program, while Massy Tadjedin’s “Last Night,” about a married couple’s night apart, starring Keira Knightley and Eva Mendes, will close the fest.

Midnight Madness’ 10-pic slate delivers an unprecedented nine world preems, including new chillers from John Carpenter, Brad Anderson and James Gunn, while six independent American titles are up for grabs.

“This is our most star-studded lineup by far,” said Midnight Madness programmer Colin Geddes on Monday night, after getting a shoutout from Eli Roth, who was onstage at the Toronto After Dark festival introducing “The Last Exorcism.” Geddes programmed Roth’s low-budget feature bow, “Cabin Fever,” which became the 2002 fest’s biggest sale.

While Midnight Madness has proven an acquisitions hot spot in recent years, Geddes assures his programming aesthetic is about bringing the world’s best high-octane action, horror and comedy pics to Toronto auds.

The festival will also put Istanbul in the spotlight for the sophomore version of its City to City program, with 10 features (mostly North American preems) and seven shorts.

U.S. pics world preeming in Toronto include “Super,” helmer James Gunn’s (“Slither”) dark vigilante tale starring Liv Tyler, Kevin Bacon, Rainn Wilson and Ellen Page; “The Ward,” starring Amber Heard (“All the Boys Love Mandy Lane”) as a terrorized mental patient, marks Carpenter’s long-awaited return to the bigscreen; Brad Anderson’s (“The Machinist”) apocalyptic thriller “Vanishing on 7th Street” puts Hayden Christensen, Thandie Newton and John Leguizamo in the dark; Josh Hartnett and Woody Harrelson battle Ron Perlman in Guy Moshe’s martial-arts actioner “Bunraku”; “Saw” director-writer James Wan revamps haunted-house horror in “Insidious,” starring Barbara Hershey and Patrick Wilson; and Jim Mickle’s “Stake Land” follows a vampire hunter on the road in post-apocalyptic America.

In director Wuershan’s martial-arts comedy “The Butcher, the Chef and the Swordsman,” the first pic from mainland China to world preem in Midnight Madness, a deadly kitchen cleaver is a coveted prize, and Hong Kong-France co-production “Red Nights,” from Julien Carbon and Laurent Courtiaud, is a cat-and-mouse thriller.

The North American preem of Dante Lam’s explosive urban actioner “Fire of Conscience” closes Midnight Madness, while Canuck director Michael Dowse’s hoser comedy “Fubar II” is the previously announced program opener. For the second year, Midnight Madness and Real to Real will offer aud awards.

Tadjedin’s fest closer “Last Night” and Gilles Pacquet Brenner’s “Sarah’s Key,” starring Kristin Scott Thomas as an American journalist in 1942 France, will world preem as Galas.

Special Presentations adds Rush’s “Everything Must Go,” starring Will Ferrell as a motivational speaker who turns a lawn sale into a new life strategy; Boyle’s “127 Hours,” starring James Franco as mountain climber Aron Ralston; and Eastwood’s morality tale “Hereafter,” with Matt Damon, Bryce Dallas Howard, Cecile de France and Derek Jacobi.

Also receiving their world preems are John Sayles’ “Amigo,” set during the Philippine-American War; Reeves’ “Let Me In,” a remake of Swedish film “Let the Right One In”; Guillem Morales’ murder mystery “Julia’s Eyes”; Mitch Glazer’s modern fable “Passion Play,” starring Mickey Rourke and Bill Murray; Milcho Manchevski’s investigative chiller “Mothers”; Christ Kraus’ WWI-era family drama “The Poll Diaries”; Jonathan Nossiter’s expat romp “Rio Sex Tale”; Jeanne Labrune’s romance “Special Treatment”; and Dustin Lance Black’s small-town psychological actioner “What’s Wrong With Virginia.”

Special Presentations also adds Benoit Jacquot’s vagabond tale “Deep in the Woods”; Casey Affleck’s docu “I’m Still Here,” following actor Joaquin Phoenix’s pursuit of a hip-hop career; Stefano Incerti’s “Gorbaciof — The Cashier Who Loved Gambling”; Alex de la Iglesia’s “The Last Circus”; Pasquale Scimeca’s “The House By The Medlar Tree”; and John Turturro’s “Passion.”

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