Toronto: Emile Hirsch Starrer 'Freaks,' More Canadian Films Join Lineup

Courtesy of Toronto Film Festival
'Freaks'

Xavier Dolan will also be bringing 'The Death and Life of John F. Donovan,' which stars Kit Harington and Natalie Portman, to TIFF for a world premiere.

The Toronto Film Festival on Wednesday unveiled its Canadian film lineup, including world premieres for the latest films by Maxime Giroux, Zach Lipovsky, Adam Stein and Thom Fitzgerald.

TIFF also announced that Xavier Dolan's The Death and Life of John F. Donovan will also receive a world premiere in Toronto after it bypassed Cannes. Set in the early 2000s, Dolan's seventh film centers on an American TV star, played by Kit Harington, and his correspondence with a young actor-to-be (Jacob Tremblay) living with his mother (Natalie Portman) in England.

The French Canadian auteur for artistic reasons edited Jessica Chastain out of his English-language debut during the last stages of post production, while retaining an ensemble cast that includes Ben Schnetzer, Susan Sarandon, Kathy Bates and Thandie Newton.

Dolan earlier said he would not submit The Death and Life of John F. Donovan to the Cannes Film Festival to avoid what he saw as personal attacks from film critics that greeted his 2016 film It’s Only the End of the World, before it earned the Grand Jury Prize on the Croisette.

Additionally, the festival will host world premieres for the Will Sasso starrer The Grizzlies, directed by Miranda de Pencier; The Great Darkened Days, starring Sarah Gadon and The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story breakout Cody Fern, and helmed by Giroux; and Freaks, a science-fiction drama from writer-directors Lipovsky and Stein that features Emile Hirsch and two-time Oscar nominee Bruce Dern.

Toronto also booked first looks for Thom Fitzgerald's Splinters, featuring Bitten star Sofia Banzhaf; the French-language drama The Fireflies Are Gone, by director Sebastien Pilote; and Jasmin Mozaffari's Firecrackers, which stars Mary Kills People actress Karena Evans. There will be a Toronto premiere for Oscar winner Denys Arcand's The Fall of the American Empire, a follow-up to his 1986 Oscar nominee The Decline of the American Empire, which has already been picked up by Sony Pictures Classics. 

Other world premieres include Bruce Sweeney's Kingsway, starring Gabrielle Rose and Camille Sullivan; the Haida-language drama Edge of the Knife, by directors Gwaai Edenshaw and Helen Haig-Brown; Darlene Naponse's Falls Around Her, starring Tantoo Cardinal; and Akash Sherman's Clara.

On the Canadian documentary front, Toronto will screen Anthropocene, by directors Jennifer Baichwal, Nicholas de Pencier and Edward Burtynsky; Ron Mann's Carmine Street Guitars, set for a North American bow in Toronto after debuting at Venice; Igor Drljaca's The Stone Speakers; and Barry Avrich's Prosecuting Evil: The Extraordinary World of Ben Ferencz.

There's also a special screening for Sharkwater Extinction, the final work by the late director Rob Stewart, who died last year off the Florida Keys after he went missing during a scuba dive. Stewart is best known for his 2006 documentary Sharkwater, which debuted at the Toronto Film Festival and explored global shark hunting and its impact on the ocean ecosystem.

Also booked into Toronto is Accidence, a short film by Guy Maddin, Galen Johnson and Evan Johnson, as well as Alison Snowden and David Fine’s Animal Behavior, which marks the Academy Award-winning duo’s first short film collaboration with the National Film Board of Canada in 20 years.

TIFF earlier unveiled plans to screen films by other Canadian directors, including Kim Nguyen's thriller The Hummingbird Project, featuring Salma Hayek, Alexander Skarsgard and Jesse Eisenberg; Patricia Rozema's Mouthpiece and Keith Behrman's Giant Little Ones, which stars Maria Bello and Kyle MacLachlan.

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

Aug. 1, 12 p.m. Updated with news that Xavier Dolan's The Death and Life of John F. Donovan will have a world bow in Toronto.