|The stars are aligning for the Toronto International Film Festival, with Angelina Jolie, George Clooney, Drake, Emma Stone, Jennifer Lawrence and Idris Elba among the celebrities expected to hit the red carpet.|
CBC News-Other stars confirmed to attend include Matt Damon, Nicole Kidman, Jessica Chastain, Liam Neeson, Helen Mirren, Javier Bardem and Priyanka Chopra.
Organizers say the A-listers are among hundreds of guests booked for the 11-day movie marathon, set to open Sept. 7.
“What I like about our festival is that we have celebrities from all over the world,” TIFF artistic director Cameron Bailey told CBC News on Tuesday.
“People who love movies love to see their favourite stars come to town … it’s an opportunity to connect with them as human beings,” he said, whether on a red carpet or at a Q&A after a movie screening.
“We see them larger than life on the big screen. We see them enact our greatest fantasies sometimes. But it’s important to remember these are artists who are trying to tell stories … I think that encounter can be really important.”
Jolie will be promoting First They Killed My Father, which she directed, produced and co-wrote, and The Breadwinner, which she produced. Drake is an executive producer on the basketball documentary The Carter Effect about former Toronto Raptor Vince Carter.
Clooney directed Damon in the comedy Suburbicon, while Stone stars in the historical tennis drama Battle of the Sexes, Lawrence is the lead actress in mother! and Elba stars in the survival tale The Mountain Between Us.
Chastain stars in Molly’s Game, Kidman is back at TIFF with The Killing of a Sacred Deer, and Neeson is an anonymous tipster in Mark Felt — The Man Who Brought Down the White House.
“Films are never a direct reflection of what’s going on in the direct political climate … but over time you do see some resonance,” Bailey said.
“We did notice that there are a lot of films we ended up choosing that are stories of survival,” he added.
“There is an intensity to some of the films this year, that is about people under great pressure. It’s not about winning necessarily, it’s about getting through it. It’s about surviving.”
Discussing their craft
Film and television actor and producer Chopra is slated to headline TIFF’s annual pre-festival fundraiser, with this year’s proceeds going to Share Her Journey, a new campaign supporting increasing participation and opportunities for women in film.
Meanwhile, the festival also announced on Tuesday that Mirren and Bardem will discuss their craft onstage as part of the “In Conversation With” lineup, which also includes Gael Garcia Bernal.
Mirren heads to the fest with The Leisure Seeker, Bardem can be seen in mother! and Loving Pablo, and Bernal stars in If You Saw His Heart.
Noticeably absent in the guest list is Tragically Hip frontman Gord Downie, who stars in the concert documentary Long Time Running. His bandmates Rob Baker, Paul Langlois, Gord Sinclair and Johnny Fay are slated to attend, as are directors Jennifer Baichwal and Nicholas de Pencier. The doc follows the band in the wake of Downie’s public announcement that he has been diagnosed with terminal brain cancer.
Despite the celebrity heft, the festival is considerably smaller this year.
Organizers say the slates includes 255 features, down from 296 last year, and 84 shorts, down from 101 last year.
The slim-down includes Canadian films, with just 28 homegrown features making the cut, including co-productions. Last year saw 38 features. The number of Canadian shorts is down to 29, from 38 last year.