Michael B. Jordan, Jamie Foxx, Kerry Washington Set to Keynote Toronto Film Fest

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Antonio Banderas, Allison Janney and Javier Bardem will also hold informal conversations about their latest movies.

Toronto Film Festival organizers on Tuesday finalized the lineup for their 44th edition by announcing keynote conversations by Michael B. Jordan, Jamie Foxx and Kerry Washington.

As TIFF unveiled a festival slate of 244 features from 84 countries, Toronto programmers announced their high profile In Conversation With... series of A-list actors discussing their careers and latest movies screening at the Canadian festival. Jordan and Foxx will do an informal discussion as Just Mercy, their civil rights film based on the best-selling memoir by defense attorney Bryan Stevenson, gets a world premiere in Toronto.

The drama, directed by Destin Daniel Cretton and also starring Brie Larson, has Jordan playing Stevenson as he goes to Alabama to defend the disenfranchised and wrongly condemned, including Walter McMillian (Foxx), a man sentenced to death despite evidence proving his innocence.

Civil rights will also figure when Washington discusses her latest movie, American Son in which the Scandal star reprises the role she originated on Broadway in Kenny Leon's adaptation of Christopher Demos-Brown's play about an interracial couple whose 19-year-old son may have died at the hands of police — which will also get a first look in Toronto.

Allison Janney will do a keynote conversation around Bad Education, Cory Finley's dramedy about a real-life infamous school larceny scandal that also stars Hugh Jackman and Ray Romano. And Antonio Banderas will sit down for an informal conversation as he brings two movies to Toronto — Pedro Almodovar's Pain and Glory, which bowed in Cannes, and The Laundromat, Steven Soderbergh's Panama Papers drama.

Elsewhere, Toronto's Special Events program will see the folk rock band The Lumineers bring III, a visual companion to their upcoming third record of the same name, along with a live performance for the festival audience after a post-screening Q&A; a TIFF showing for Varda by Agnes, the final work from the late French filmmaker Agnes Varda; and a screening for Sanctuary, which stars Javier Bardem and brother Carlos Bardem and follows their submarine journey to explore the coldest sea on earth and their attempt to raise awareness about Greenpeace's conservation efforts.

On the short film front, Toronto programmers booked for the Short Cuts sidebar a North American premiere for Nimic, a drama by Yorgos Lanthimos (The Favourite, The Lobster) that stars Matt Dillon as a professional cellist whose life takes a very strange turn. Other shorts headed to TIFF include Yona Rozenkier's Butterflies; Teemu Nikki’s All Inclusive; and Casey Wilson's Daddio, starring Michael McKean.

TIFF artistic director and co-head Cameron Bailey told The Hollywood Reporter that audiences in Toronto next month should recognize more fresh directorial voices in the 2019 lineup after he gave his lead film programmers — half of whom are women — a stronger voice in shaping the character and tone of their sections.

Bailey recalled when first joining the Toronto festival as a programmer during the 1990s that standout film pickers like Kate Armitage, Noah Cowan and David Overby were as passionate as film lovers as they were strident in defending their movie choices. So Bailey has attempted to restore some of the scrappy passion among his programmers as TIFF continues to grow as a major festival from its early roots.

"As we've grown larger, I've wanted to maintain we retain some of that unique, individual personality of programmers. We were a younger, scrappier festival back then. But it doesn't mean that now we can't have those strong voices at the table," Bailey said.

TIFF has also named Mati Diop — who is bringing her debut feature, Netflix's Atlantics, to Toronto — to receive the inaugural Mary Pickford Award at the Tribute Gala on Sept. 9.

The Toronto Film Festival, set to run Sept. 5-15, will open this year at Roy Thomson Hall with a world bow for the Robbie Robertson documentary Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and The Band, and will close with the Rosamund Pike-starrer Radioactive, the Marie and Pierre Curie biopic directed by Marjane Satrapi.