'Religulous' will be baptized in Toronto

Larry Charles' docu slated for world premiere at the festival

TORONTO -- A year after providing festgoers with glimpses of his work-in-progress, Larry Charles is headed back to the Toronto International Film Festival with "Religulous," this time for the film's world premiere.

The Lionsgate documentary follows Bill Maher on an irreverent whistle-stop tour of world religious shrines, and festival organizers expect Maher's take on religious extremism to get people talking.

"The film's a chance to laugh about the thing that we hold very sacred and that, in a way, remains a taboo in our society to question," festival documentary programmer Thom Powers said Thursday.

Toronto also has booked Fox Searchlight Pictures' "Secret Life of Bees," by U.S. director Gina Prince-Bythewood, and Paramount Vantage's Keira Knightley starrer "The Duchess" for high-profile world premieres at Roy Thomson Hall.

Toronto, which in recent years has become a launching-pad for Oscar contenders, also rolled out a slew of world and North American premieres for its Special Presentations sidebar that already have U.S. distribution deals in place.

These include David Koepp's "Ghost Town" from Paramount, which stars Ricky Gervais and Gregg Kinnear; Wong Kar Wai's "Ashes of Time Redux" from Sony Pictures Classics; Miramax's Mike Leigh title "Happy-Go-Lucky"; and the Guy Ritchie crime thriller "RocknRolla" from Warner Bros.

James Stern and Adam Del Deo's theatrical documentary "Every Little Step," which is to receive a world premiere, has yet to snag U.S. distribution.

Toronto also unveiled some Masters and Contemporary World Cinema titles Thursday, including world premieres for Jan Troell's "Everlasting Moments," Francois Velle's "The Narrows" and Yesim Ustaoglu's "Pandora's Box."