Toronto slates environmental docus

'Food, Inc.,' 'Edge of the World' among those screening

TORONTO -- The Toronto International Film Festival will go green in September with world premieres for Robert Kenner's "Food, Inc." and Dan Stone's "At the Edge of the World," a profile of Canadian eco-warrior Paul Watson's fight with Japanese whaling vessels in the Antarctica Sea.

Toronto also has booked a North American premiere for German filmmaker Ben Kempas' "Upstream Battle," a look at a Northern California water battle by American Indians of the Hoopa tribe.

U.S.-based Kenner's "Food, Inc.," based on reporting by Eric Schlosser ("Fast Food Nation") and Michael Pollan, is backed by Jeff Skoll's Participant Media, which was behind Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth."

Of the 26 documentaries unveiled by Toronto programmers Tuesday, 14 hail from the U.S., underlining increasing equity financing and other private investment in American documentaries, according to Thom Powers, the festival's documentary programmer.

"There's much activity around that's giving filmmakers bigger budgets, and allowing more production out of the U.S. than anywhere else," Powers said.

Other U.S. docus bound for Toronto include Matthew Kaufman's "American Swing" from Magnolia, a portrait of the notorious sex club Plato's Retreat; Matt Tyrnauer's fashion biopic "Valentino: The Last Emperor"; and Oscar winner Davis Guggenheim's "It Might Get Loud," a celebration of the electric guitar.

Toronto also booked a North American premiere for French director Agnes Varda's "Les Plages d'Agnes" as well as world premieres for Austrian helmer Nikolaus Geyrhalter's Dakar rally film "After the Race," Chinese filmmaker Weijun Chen's "The Biggest Chinese Restaurant in the World," and "Citizen Juling," a film about an Islamic insurgency in southern Thailand from Ing K. Kraisak Choonhavan and Manit Sriwanichpoom.