Toronto Festival Checklist: Special Events and Highlights

There will be cake.
With a tweaked logo, new programs and extra extracurriculars, the festival’s 40th is a clear focal point for celebration. Free screenings light up public parks. TIFF Cinematheque unspools restorations of modern classics, including “The Mask (Eyes of Hell),” the first Canadian horror feature (in 3D!). An archival photo exhibition at the Lightbox includes festival red-carpet and party pics from 1976 to 1999.

Opening-night mojo
Opening-night ignites with “Demolition” (Fox Searchlight), starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Naomi Watts and helmed by Canadian Jean-Marc Vallee (“Wild”), whose diverse ouevre has delighted fest auds since his Best Canadian Feature-winning “C.R.A.Z.Y.” (2005).

Jury duty
Excitement is building around new competish Platform, fashioned a la Palme d’Or, and with an eye to rising international auteurs. Named after the 2000 film by Chinese auteur Jia Zhang-ke (serving on the inaugural jury, alongside Claire Denis and Agnieszka Holland), Platform sees 12 pics vie for a CAN$25,000 prize.

London calling
The seventh edition of City to City shines the spotlight on a vibrant cultural capital that needs no introduction. Eight adventurous films (musicals, coming-of-agers, conflict stories from home and abroad) from hot emerging directorial talent complement high-profile pics in the wider program (“The Martian,” “The Program,” “The Danish Girl,” etc.) that feature U.K. locations and talent. Look out for London House, an event space (open Sept. 11-16) hosting panel discussions and fun.

She’s gotta have it
Pics from Catherine Hardwicke, Deepa Mehta, Jocelyn Moorhouse, Alice Winocour, Julie Delpy and Anna Boden (with Ryan Fleck) grace the Gala screen, while titles spanning the fest point to a banner year for female-driven cinema, showcasing global talent on both sides of the camera. New sidebar In Conversation With … features onstage chats with Sarah Silverman (“I Smile Back”), Salma Hayek (“Septembers of Shiraz”) and Julianne Moore (“Freeheld,” Rebecca Miller’s “Maggie’s Plan”).

Taking care of business
The CBC Conference Centre and nearby Glenn Gould Studio are the hub of the industry confab, which now integrates the Asian Film Summit and Doc Conference. The inaugural Upfront series focuses on gender in media; high-profile female execs weigh in on biz realities of female-led projects. The press and industry screening library is now fully digital.

Patricia Rozema makes a welcome return to the fest with “Into the Forest,” co-starring and co-produced by Ellen Page. Look for new pics from vets Vallee, Villeneuve, Mehta, Philippe Falardeau, and Atom Egoyan, from star auteurs Guy Maddin and Nicolas Pereda, and from up-and-comers Kazik Radwanski, Igor Drljaca, and Andrew Cividino. And then there’s those
Sutherland boys: Donald and Kiefer star in the Western “Forsaken,” Rossif in “Hyena Road,” “River” and “Hellions.”

Really big screen TV
Are you ready for Primetime? Ecocrime-fighting in the wetlands of Argentina, the dead walking in a village, an unidentified human torso in Iceland and Keith Richards jamming in the studio are among six cinematic small-screen wonders in the inaugural TV sidebar, which also features episodes of “Heroes Reborn” and Jason Reitman-helmed sibling comedy “Casual.”

Political maneuvers in the dark
Michael Moore’s highly anticipated return to Toronto, with the world premiering “Where to Invade Next,” kick starts an array of rabble-rousing cinema — from newsroom dramas “Spotlight” and “Truth” and true-story retellings “Our Brand Is Crisis,” “Rabin, The Last Day” and “Talvar” to docs digging into climate change (“This Changes Everything”), the Ukrainian Revolution (“Winter on Fire”) and the attacks on Charlie Hebdo (“Je suis Charlie”).

Put it up to 11
Toronto pumps up the volume in 2015. Stories of Keith Richards, “Miss Sharon Jones!,” Yo-Yo Ma and Silk Road Ensemble, Janis Joplin, Arcade Fire and “Arab Idol” winner Mohammad Assaf unfold. “Born to Be Blue” reimagines the life of jazz trumpeter Chet Baker (Ethan Hawke), “I Saw the Light” of Hank Williams (Tom Hiddleston). “London Road” brings the National Theatre musical to the screen. The Canadian Music Cafe invites industry badge-holders to check out sync-ready acts.

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