Rian Johnson's 'Looper' to Open Toronto International Film Festival

7:05 AM PST 07/24/2012 by Etan Vlessing

Also in the TIFF mix this year: the latest films by Robert Redford, Mira Nair, Ben Affleck, David O. Russell, Neil Jordan, Thomas Vinterberg, Takeshi Kitano and Terrence Malick.

TORONTO – Rian Johnson’s futuristic thriller Looper is to open the 37th Toronto International Film Festival on September 6, organizers said Tuesday.

Also set for a trip up the red carpet at Roy Thomson Hall for a world premiere: Ben Affleck's Argo; Billy Bob Thornton’s Jayne Mansfield’s Car; David O. Russell’s Silver Linings Playbook; Shola Lynch’s Free Angela & All Political Prisoners; and Love, Marilyn, from director Liz Garbus, as American films have a strong presence in front of stargazers and paparazzi in Toronto this year.

Looper will mark its world premiere at the festival. The action thriller from TriStar Pictures, FilmDistrict and Endgame Entertainment stars Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

"Rian Johnson is a film auteur known for combining different genres to give his projects an original spin," TIFF director and CEO Piers Handling said after he and his team settled on a Hollywood crowd-pleaser to open the event.

VIDEO: Comic-Con 2012: 'Looper' Star Joseph Gordon-Levitt on Getting Kicked in the Head by Bruce Willis

Johnson’s The Brothers Bloom had its world bow at Toronto in 2008, and his high school noir Brick previously impressed TIFF programmers and the indie film world.

The sci-fi action film also stars Emily Blunt, Paul Dano, Noah Segan, Piper Perabo and Jeff Daniels.

Looper opening's slot assures major Hollywood star wattage to kick off this year’s festival, ahead of the film's wide release on September 28.

Toronto programmers in recent years have strayed from a tradition of giving opening night to a Canadian film, with the U2 documentary From The Sky down by American director Davis Guggenheim handed the prestigious slot in 2011, and Jon Amiel's Creation opening in 2009.

Holding a press conference in Toronto Tuesday, fest organizers also booked world bows in Roy Thomson Hall for Affleck’s Argo from Warner Bros. Pictures, about militants storming the U.S. embassy in 1979 Tehran, and starring Affleck, Bryan Cranston, John Goodman and Kyle Chandler; the documentary Love, Marilyn, which recalls the late Marilyn Monroe with an ensemble cast that includes Lindsay Lohan, Elizabeth Banks, Evan Rachel Wood and Ben Foster; and British filmmaker Mike Newell’s Great Expectations adaptation, timed for Charles Dickens' bicentenary.

VIDEO: 'Looper' Trailer Puts Joseph Gordon-Levitt in a Tough Spot: Killing Bruce Willis

There’s also red carpet treatment and world premieres for Lynch's documentary Free Angela & All Political Prisoners, about 1960s U.S. political activist Angela Davis; Indian director Gauri Shinde’s English Vinglish, starring acting giant Sridevi; and two Canadian films, Ruba Nadda’s political thriller Inescapable, which stars Marisa Tomei, Fringe’s Joshua Jackson and Alexander Siddig; and Deepa Mehta’s Midnight's Children, an adaptation of the Salman Rushdie novel that stars Seema Biswas and Rajat Kapoor.

There’s also world bows for British director Roger Michell’s Hyde Park on Hudson, starring Bill Murray as a wry U.S. president Franklin D. Roosevelt; Silver Linings Playbook, starring familiar faces like Hunger GamesJennifer Lawrence and Hangover’s Bradley Cooper; and Sergio Castelitto’s Twice Born, top-lined by Penelope Cruz and Emile Hirsch.

Elsewhere, Mira Nair’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist, which stars Kate Hudson, will receive a North American bow in Toronto at Roy Thomson Hall, after opening Venice on August 29.

Also getting North American bows: Jayne Mansfield’s Car, a 1960s period drama that stars Kevin Bacon and Robert Duvall, and which bowed in Berlin; Robert Redford’s The Company You Keep, which stars Shia LaBeouf and Chris Cooper and is set to bow in Venice; and Chinese director Hur Jin-ho’s Dangerous Liaisons, which debuted in Cannes as part of the Directors’ Fortnight.

Also receiving red carpet treatment in Toronto are Hideki Takeuchi’s Thermae Romae, a top-grossing film in Japan that bowed in Udine, and A Royal Affair, by Nikolai Arcel and starring Mads Mikkelsen and Alicia Vikander.

Toronto also announced a slew of titles for its Special Presentations sidebar, including world bows for Neil Jordan’s Byzantium; Costa-Gavras’ Capital, which stars Gabriel Byrne; the Tom Hanks and Halle Berry-starrer Cloud Atlas, by directors Tom Tykwer, Andy Wachowski and Lana Wachowski; and David Ayer’s End of Watch, featuring Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena as young Los Angeles police officers.

There’s also world bows in the Special Presentations slate for Noah Baumbach’s Frances Ha; Imogene, by directors Robert Pulcini and Shari Springer Berman, and starring Annette Bening and Kristen Wiig; J.A. Bayona’s true-life drama The Impossible, starring Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor; Yaron Zilberman’s A Late Quartet, the Philip Seymour Hoffman and Christopher Walken drama about a classical music quartet; and Joss Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing, a modern take on the Shakespeare comedy.

Elsewhere, Derek Cianfrance first showed buyers footage of the Ryan Gosling and Bradley Cooper-starring generational thriller The Place Beyond the Pines at last year’s Toronto festival.

This year, the high-profile indie title, which also stars Rose Byrne and Eva Mendes, gets its world bow in Toronto, as will Dustin Hoffman’s Quartet, which stars Maggie Smith, Stuart Blumberg’s Thanks for Sharing, starring Mark Ruffalo and Gwyneth Paltrow, and the Josh Boone feature directing debut Writers, with Greg Kinnear and Jennifer Connelly headlining.

Other world bows in the Special Presentations section by some familiar TIFF faces: Ramin Bahrani’s At Any Price; Ziad Doueiri’s The Attack; Nishikawa Miwa’s Dreams for Sale, from Japan; Baltasar Kormakur’s The Deep; Laurent Cantet’s Foxfire; Sally Potter’s Ginger and Rosa, starring Elle Fanning and Annette Bening; Margarethe von Trotta’s Hannah Arendt, starring Janet McTeer; and Francois Ozon’s Kristin Scott Thomas-starrer In The House.

And Terrence Malick will receive a North American bow for To the Wonder, which stars Ben Affleck and Javiar Bardem, while there's a world premiere for the Maiken Baird documentary Venus & Serena, about the sisters and tennis legends Serena Wiliams  and  Venus Williams.

Also in the Toronto mix this year are festival favorites like Joe Wright with Anna Karenina; Thomas Vinterberg and The Hunt; Ariel Vromen and The Iceman; Andrew Adamson and Mr. Pip; Takeshi Kitano and Outrage Beyond, the sequel to the yakuza drama Outrage to be released by Warner Bros. in October; and the Cannes titles Jacques Audiard’s Rust and Bone, starring Marion Cotillard, and Matteo Garrone’s Reality.

The Toronto International Film Festival, which is set to run from September 6-16, will make additional programming announcements in the coming weeks.

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