Stars, politics mix in Toronto program

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TORONTO -- Don Cheadle, Woody Allen, Liam Neeson and Michael Douglas are among the names lending star wattage to a group of politically charged documentaries at the upcoming Toronto International Film Festival, organizers said Tuesday.

Unveiling its Real to Reel documentary program, composed entirely of world premieres, Toronto said it has booked Ted Braun's "Darfur Now," a film in which Cheadle and five others issue a call to action to help stop the genocide in Darfur.

Also Toronto-bound is Nina Davenport's "Operation Filmmaker," in which Liv Schreiber invites a young Iraqi film student to intern on the "Everything Is Illuminated" film shoot, and Peter Askin's "Trumbo," which uses spoken-word performances from Neeson, Douglas, Donald Sutherland and Joan Allen to recount the life of blacklisted Hollywood screenwriter Dalton Trumbo.

Other world premieres include Ellen Spiro and Phil Donahue's "Body of War," a film about a severely wounded American soldier back from Iraq, and "Glass: A Portrait of Philip in Twelve Parts," a biopic on minimalist composer Philip Glass that features musical collaborations with Chuck Close, Ravi Shankar and Woody Allen.

Other documentaries joining the Real to Reel party include Werner Herzog's "Encounters at the End of the World"; Kevin Macdonald's "My Enemy's Enemy"; Algerian filmmaker Jean-Pierre Lledo's "Algerie, histoires a ne pas dire"; Dutch director Klaartje Quirijns' "The Dictator Hunter"; and "Dinner With the President: A Nation's Journey" from Pakistan's Sabiha Sumar and Sachithanandam Sathananthan.

Also booked are U.S. director Arthur Dong's "Hollywood Chinese"; "Iron Ladies of Liberia," from American filmmakers Siatta Scott Johnson and Daniel Junge; Todd McCarthy's "Man of Cinema: Pierre Rissient"; and Parvez Sharma's "A Jihad For Love," an investigation into Islam and homosexuality.

Rounding out the Real to Reel lineup is "My Kid Could Paint That" from American filmmaker Amir Bar-Lev; Neil Ortenberg and Daniel O'Connor's "Obscene"; Chinese filmmaker Weijun Chen's "Please Vote for Me"; Doug Pray's "Surfwise"; French director Barbet Schroeder's "Terror's Advocate"; and David Schisgall's "Very Young Girls," a film about teenage prostitution in New York City.

Toronto additionally rolled out eight titles for its Vanguard program Tuesday. The sidebar, which spotlights innovative filmmaking, will include Gus Van Sant's "Paranoid Park," a portrait of a teenage skateboarder that showed in Cannes; Juan Antonio Bayona's "The Orphanage"; "Deficit," the directorial debut from Mexican actor Gael Garcia Bernal; French director Julien Leclercq's action feature debut "Chrysalis"; and Belgian director Koen Mortier's "Ex Drummer," another debut feature popular on the festival circuit.

Rounding out the sidebar is Taiwanese actor Lee Kang-sheng's "Help Me Eros"; Rafa Cortes' directorial debut "Me"; U.S. filmmaker Jessica Yu's "Ping Pong Playa"; and "XXY," an Argentina/Spain/France co-production from Lucia Puenzo.

Toronto programrs also announced that Dario Argento's "The Mother of Tears" and Japanese director Takash Miike's "Sukiyaki Western Django" have been added to the Midnight Madness program.
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