Toronto galas for Canada veterans

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David Cronenberg's "Eastern Promises," starring Naomi Watts and Viggo Mortensen, and Denys Arcand's "Days of Darkness" will receive the red-carpet treatment at the Toronto International Film Festival, organizers said Tuesday.

The latest work from veteran Canadian directors Arcand — whose film closed the Festival de Cannes in May — and Cronenberg will receive galas at Roy Thomson Hall.

Unveiling the Canadian contingent in Toronto, festival organizers said they have booked Special Presentations slots for Francois Girard's Keira Knightley starrer "Silk," from Picturehouse and New Line International; Roger Spottiswoode's Rwandan drama "Shake Hands With the Devil"; and Clement Virgo's boxing tale "Poor Boy's Game," starring Danny Glover.

Also joining the Special Presentations program is Adam Vollick's "Here Is What Is," a portrait of famed record producer Daniel Lanois, and Guy Maddin's "My Winnipeg," billed as a "docu-fantasia" about the filmmaker's hometown.

Canadian films unspooling as part of Toronto's Contemporary World Cinema section include Leonard Farlinger's "All Hat"; Bruce Sweeney's "American Venus," starring Rebecca De Mornay; Bernard Emond's "Contre toute esperance," which also will screen in Locarno; and Carl Bessai's Carrie-Anne Moss starrer "Normal."

Also joining the CWC party is Laurie Lynd's "Breakfast With Scot," Denis Cote's "Nos vies privees" and Kari Skogland's "The Stone Angel," the big-screen adaptation of the classic Margaret Laurence novel starring Ellen Burstyn.

First-time Canadian filmmakers getting their titles into Toronto's Canada First! sidebar include Martin Gero's "Young People Fucking," Richie Mehta's "Amal," Stephane Lafleur's "Continental" and Robert Cuffley's "Walk All Over Me."

High-profile Canadian films overlooked by Toronto programmers Tuesday include veteran documentary maker Stuart Samuel's "27," a music-driven portrait of Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Jim Morrison, and Paolo Barzman's "Emotional Arithmetic," a Quebec-Ontario co-production toplined by Gabriel Byrne, Roy Dupuis, Christopher Plummer, Susan Sarandon and Max von Sydow.

Canadian documentaries that did make it into the festival's Real to Reel sidebar include Peter Raymont's "A Promise to the Dead," a portrait of Chilean writer and playwright Ariel Dorfman; Suroosh Alvi and Eddy Moretti's "Heavy Metal in Baghdad," a film about Iraq's only heavy metal band; and John Zaritsky's "The Wild Horse Redemption."

Canadian filmmaker Jeremy Podeswa's "Fugitive Pieces" was announced earlier as the opening-night film at the Sept. 6-15 fest.
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