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The Toronto Film Festival on Thursday unveiled its documentary lineup, which includes world premieres for Michael Moore’s anti-Trump film Fahrenheit 11/9, Netflix’s Quincy Jones doc and Alex Gibney’s Roger Ailes project.
The TIFF Docs sidebar also booked a North American debut for Errol Morris’ Steve Bannon doc, American Dharma, after it screens out of competition in Venice. The doc section will open on Sept. 6 with a high-profile screening of Moore’s film about Donald Trump and his presidency ahead of its Sept. 21 theatrical release.
“People should not come expecting that it will 90 minutes of jokes about Donald Trump,” TIFF Docs programmer Thom Powers told The Hollywood Reporter, while adding Fahrenheit 11/9 is also timely as it comes before the U.S. midterm elections. “There’s a critique of Donald Trump, but there’s a broader critique of the American political system that will surprise many people,” he added.
There’s also a first look for Tom Donahue’s This Changes Everything, about gender politics in Hollywood and with appearances by Geena Davis, Meryl Streep, Jessica Chastain, Shonda Rhimes, Reese Witherspoon and Sandra Oh. “For people who feel they know the subject, they’re going to learn a lot more in the history presented. We see different feminist filmmaking movements in the 1960s and 1980s that were earlier trying to campaign for the same gender equity that has more momentum today,” Powers said.
There’s also world premieres for Alexis Bloom’s Divide and Conquer: The Story of Rogers Ailes, from Gibney and his Jigsaw Productions; and the documentary Quincy, about the music icon Jones that is directed by Rashida Jones, the actress and writer who is also Jones’ daughter, and Alan Hicks.
Powers said political-themed films in this year’s lineup like the Bannon and Ailes portraits go beyond incessant daily headlines to deeper themes and issues. “These films are happening two years after the presidential election, and two years is the time needed for a great documentary-maker to synthesize and analyze and distill the ingredients to make really satisfying films,” he insisted.
Toronto also booked world bows for Victoria Stone and Mark Deeble’s The Elephant Queen, about a mother elephant and her herd, and narrated by Chiwetel Ejiofor; Billy Corben’s Screwball, a true-crime comedy about doping in Major League Baseball; Alex Holmes’ Maiden, which chronicles the first all-women’s crew in the world’s toughest round-the-world yacht race; Naziha Arebi’s Freedom Fields; and Janus Metz and Sine Plambech’s Heartbound.
There’s an international premiere for John Chester’s The Biggest Little Farm, which follows a couple trying to run a regenerative farm without a dominant crop. And Toronto booked North American premieres for Frederick Wiseman’s Monrovia, Indiana; Margarethe von Trotta’s Searching for Ingmar Bergman, about the famed Swedish auteur; and Mark Cousins’ Women Make Film: A New Road Movie through Cinema, a four-hour historical survey of female directors narrated by Tilda Swinton, and eventually to encompass a 16-hour project.
On the sales front, Powers predicts a strong market in Toronto for feature docs, as bigger players like Endeavour Content, ICM, UTA and CAA shop documentaries at the festival, alongside boutique agencies like Cinetic Media and Submarine. He points to strong acquisition titles like The Elephant Queen, The Biggest Little Farm, Screwball and Maiden.
“Every year there’s a flurry of discoveries at TIFF and a flurry of films that show up looking for distribution, but this year that group is bigger than ever,” Powers said. Toronto also unveiled its Midnight Madness sidebar of genre pics, including world premieres for two franchise sequels, Shane Black’s The Predator, which sees the titular alien species resume the hunt first started in 1987’s Arnold Schwarzenegger vehicle, Predator, and David Gordon Green’s Halloween, which stars Jamie Lee Curtis.
Also booked for first looks in Toronto are the Monica Bellucci-starrer Nekrotronic, by director Kiah Roache-Turner; Emma Tammi’s The Wind; The Standoff at Sparrow Creek, directed by Henry Dunham; Peter Strickland’s In Fabric; and Vasan Bala’s The Man Who Feels No Pain, the first Indian film booked into Midnight Madness.
The sidebar for midnight screenings will close with the North American premiere of Diamantino, directors Gabriel Abrantes and Daniel Schmidt’s genre-bending film that bowed in Cannes. There’s also a North American debut for Gaspar Noee’s Climax, and a Canadian premiere for Assassination Nation, directed by Sam Levinson.
The Toronto Film Festival is set to run Sept. 6-16.
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