Hunt, Auburn Toronto's first-time helmers


TORONTO -- The Toronto International Film Festival said Thursday that its Special Presentations sidebar will host the directorial debuts of Helen Hunt and screenwriter David Auburn ("Proof") as well as world premieres for the latest work by helmers John Sayles and Craig Gillespie.

Toronto said it has booked Auburn's "The Girl in the Park," a drama in which Sigourney Weaver plays a mother traumatized by the disappearance of her 3-year-old daughter, who later takes a troubled girl (Kate Bosworth) under her wing. The psychological drama also stars Alessandro Nivola, David Rasche, Elias Koteas and Keri Russell.

Also in the Toronto lineup is Sayles' "Honeydripper," an Emerging Pictures release for late 2007 that stars Danny Glover as a down-on-his-luck owner of an Alabama juke joint who enlists a guitar-playing drifter, played by newcomer Gary Clark Jr., to help save his club.

And Gillespie is bringing "Lars and the Real Girl," a comedy about a shy Midwestern office worker, played by Ryan Gosling, who meets the girl of his dreams: a made-to-order life-size doll. The comedy, from writer Nancy Oliver ("Six Feet Under"), set for a fall release by MGM, also stars Emily Mortimer, Paul Schneider, Kelli Garner and Patricia Clarkson.

Hunt also has snagged a Special Presentations slot for her directorial debut, "Then She Found Me," a Killer Films drama about a talk show host, played by Bette Midler, who bullies her way into the life of a daughter (Hunt) she gave up for adoption years before.

The movie, based on Elinor Lipman's first novel, also stars Matthew Broderick and Colin Firth.

Rounding out the Special Presentations additions is an international premiere for "Romulus, My Father," from Australian actor-turned-director Richard Roxburgh. Eric Bana plays the part of Romulus, who along with wife Christina (Franka Potente), attempts to raise a son in the face of great adversity.

The Toronto festival runs Sept. 6-15.