From veteran documaker Barbara Kopple to two-time Oscar nominee Lucy Walker to first-person doc aficionado Nina Davenport, TIFF has a long history of spotlighting female nonfiction helmers. But this year, the fest ratchets its femme focus up a notch: Three of the highest-profile documentaries — arguably among the highest-profile films at the entire festival — were helmed by women.

The trio consists of Liz Garbus’ “Love, Marilyn” and Shola Lynch’s “Free Angela and All Political Prisoners” plus Maiken Baird and Michelle Major’s “Venus & Serena,” an inside look at the lives of the tennis superstars, which premieres as a Special Presentations film.

Each pic has both a high-profile subject and an unusually large budget.

Another Special Presentation is Sarah Polley’s “Stories We Tell,” about finding out that her father is not her biological dad.

Last fall Garbus and Studiocanal signed a co-financing deal in the low-to-medium seven-figures while Baird and Major were able to make “Venus & Serena” in the same budget range. Lynch secured just under $1 million for “Free Angela.”

Joining Garbus, Lynch, Baird and Major are Davenport (“First Comes Love”) Treva Wurmfeld (“Shepard & Dark”) Susan Lacy (“Inventing David Geffen”) Sophie Fiennes (“The Pervert’s Guide to Ideology”) and Amy Berg (“West of Memphis”).

Toronto Int’l Film Festival 2012
Indie opportunities await at Toronto | Themes weave throughout diverse lineup | Toronto’s raffish hub gets posh hotels, grub | Focus stays downtown as docs get new home | Four spas offer pause to festgoers | Pic promoters blaze many trails to happy endings | Toronto giving docus Gala treatment | TIFF ratchets up femme focus in docs