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Toronto Fest piled with preems

25th anniversary event to screen 329 films

TORONTO — “How to Kill Your Neighbor’s Dog,” a comedy written and directed by Michael Kalesniko, will close this year’s Toronto Intl. Film Festival.

Pic, which tells the tale of a playwright fallen on hard times and his broody spouse, stars Kenneth Branagh, Robin Wright-Penn and Lynn Redgrave. It was among the remainder of festival’s 25th anniversary lineup announced by fest director Piers Handling Tuesday in Toronto.

World premieres added to the fest’s slate are “Sexy Beast,” the feature debut of John Glazer, starring Ben Kingsley and Ray Winstone; “The Dish,” directed by Rob Sitch (“The Castle”), with Sam Neill and Patrick Warburton (“Seinfeld”); and 19th century period pic “Pandaemonium,” directed by Julien Temple and starring John Hannah, Linus Roache, Samantha Morton and Emily Woolf.

‘Mirth’ preem

Fresh from its world preem at the Locarno film fest, Terence Davies’ Edith Wharton adaptation “The House of Mirth” is slated for its North American bow in Toronto. Pic stars Gillian Anderson, Dan Aykroyd and Elizabeth McGovern. “It’s one of the best adapted screenplays I’ve ever seen,” Handling said.

Fest’s Special Presentation lineup features 22 films this year, including Joel Schumacher’s “Tigerland,” set during the war in Vietnam; “Chinese Coffee,” based on the play of the same name by Ira Lewis, directed by and starring Al Pacino; and “Ivansxtc (To Live and Die in Hollywood),” based on Leo Tolstoy’s “The Death of Ivan Ilyich” set in contemporary Hollywood and written and directed by Bernard Rose.

Other pics on the list are Francois Ozon’s “Sous le Sable”; “Innocence,” written, directed and co-produced by Paul Cox; and Cannes entries “Faithless,” directed by Liv Ullmann and written by Ingmar Bergman, and director James Gray’s “The Yards.”

Also announced was the Contemporary World Cinema slate, which boasts 93 features and three shorts from 39 countries, including “Billy Elliot,” Stephen Daldry’s film shown at Cannes as “Dancer.” Names on the list include Hong Kong’s Fruit Chan (“Little Cheung,” a recent prize winner in Locarno, and “Durian Durian”); Sogo Ishii ( “Gojoe”); Amos Gitai (Cannes entry “Kippur”); and the latest Dogma 95 film, “The King Is Alive,” from helmer Kristian Levring.

In all, 329 films are to run at this year’s fest, 178 of them world and North American premieres. The Toronto Intl. Film Festival runs Sept. 7-16. For more on the Toronto fest lineup.

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