Toronto fills calendar with global diversity

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TORONTO -- The Toronto International Film Festival gave world cinema the stage Wednesday as it announced slots for the latest films from Ang Lee, Manoel de Oliveira and Francois Ozon.

Toronto, which considers itself a barometer for international cinema, also announced a high-profile slot at Roy Thomson Hall for Alexi Tan's Chinese-language period drama "Blood Brothers," scheduled to debut at the Venice Film Festival.

The 32nd annual Toronto International Film Festival runs Sept. 6-15.

Fortissimo Films' "Brothers" was produced by John Woo and Terence Chang and portrays three friends in 1930s China who move from the countryside to a life of crime in Shanghai.

Toronto also booked a Roy Thomson Hall sendoff for Bengali director Rituparno Ghosh's "The Last Lear," which stars Bollywood legend Amitabh Bachchan in her first leading English-language role.

Other Toronto titles unveiled Wednesday that will head here after Venice include Lee's "Lust, Caution" from Focus Features, Ken Loach's "It's a Free World" and "The Sun Also Rises," Jiang Wen's China-Hong Kong co-production.

"Not only does this international presence speak to the diversity of the city of Toronto, but seeing ourselves reflected in films from other countries, we see how the art of filmmaking unites us all," festival co-director Noah Cowan said in making the announcement.

Joining the Special Presentations sidebar is Ozon's "Angel," a period drama starring Sam Neill and Charlotte Rampling that bowed at the Berlin International Film Festival; Julio Medem's "Chaotic Ana"; Jan Schutte's "Love Comes Lately"; Lee's "Lust, Caution"; Sergei Bodrov's "Mongol," the Genghis Khan epic from Picturehouse; and Hans Weingartner's "Reclaim Your Brain."

Also joining the Special Presentations party is Milcho Manchevski's "Shadows"; Sony Pictures Classics' animated "Persepolis," from French filmmakers Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud; and "Chacun son cinema," a series of three-minute films about the movie theater that helped celebrate the Festival de Cannes' 60th anniversary.

The Masters section will feature the latest from veteran director de Oliveira, "Christopher Columbus: The Enigma"; Amos Gitai's "Desengagement," starring Juliette Binoche; Adoor Gopalakrishnan's "Four Women"; Loach's "Free World"; Hector Babenco's "The Past"; and Buddhadeb Dasgupta's "The Voyeurs."

Other foreign-language films in the sidebar include Eric Rohmer's "Les amours d'Astree et de Celadon"; Kwon-taek Im's 100th career film, "Beyond the Years"; Spanish director Carlos Saura's "Fados," a history of the fado music form; and the Claude Chabrol thriller "La fille coupee en deux."

In the Contemporary World Cinema program, Toronto has added Ventura Pons' "Barcelona (un mapa)"; documentary filmmaker Nick Broomfield's "Battle for Haditha"; Sarah Gavron's "Brick Lane," from Sony Pictures Classics; Philippe Faucon's "Dans la vie"; and Nobuhiro Yamashita's "A Gentle Breeze in the Village."

Other films in the sidebar include "Jellyfish," Israeli directors Etgar Keret and Shira Geffen's Camera d'Or winner at Cannes, and two U.S. indie pictures: Mike Cahill's "King of California," starring Michael Douglas and Evan Rachel Wood, and Frank Whaley's "New York City Serenade," which stars Freddie Prinze Jr. and Chris Klein.

In addition, with interesting peaking in Romania cinema, Toronto added Cristian Mungiu's Cannes Palme d'Or winner "4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days" to its Visions sidebar and "California Dreamin' (Endless)," the Cannes award winner from late Romanian director Cristian Nemescu, to its Contemporary World Cinema program.
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