Toronto's glitz and gore titles unveiled

Announces more premieres, Midnight Madness lineup

TORONTO -- The Toronto International Film Festival turned up the star wattage Tuesday with bookings for the latest work by Clint Eastwood, Danny Boyle and John Carpenter.

A long-awaited theatrical release date for Miramax's "Last Night" may also be at hand with Toronto giving a plum Roy Thomson Hall slot to the Keira Knightley and Eva Mendes-starring romancer from director Massy Tadjedin.

Knightley and Sam Worthington play a married couple spending a night apart as the husband takes a business trip with a colleague, played by Mendes, to whom he's attracted. Meanwhile, while he resists temptation, his wife encounters a past lover, played by Guillaume Canet.

Fox Searchlight Pictures' "127 Hours," from director Danny Boyle and starring James Franco, is also Toronto-bound in the Special Presentations sidebar.

Boyle's Oscar-winning "Slumdog Millionaire" began its awards-season success after it picked up the 2008 People's Choice Award in Toronto, voted on by festival audiences, following a world premiere here. The mountain-climbing drama also stars Clemence Poesy, Amber Tamblyn and Kate Mara.

Toronto also booked a gala slot at Roy Thomson Hall for French director Gilles Paquet Brenner's "Sarah's Key," a Kristin Scott Thomas-starrer about an American journalist on the brink of making big life decisions regarding her marriage and her unborn child. The film also stars Niels Arestrup, Frederic Pierrot, Michel Duchaussoy and Aidan Quinn.

Other world premieres include John Sayles' "Amigo," Spanish director Guillem Morales' "Julia's Eyes," starring Belen Rueda and Lluis Homar, and Mitch Glazer's "Passion Play," which sees Mickey Rourke play a down-on-his-luck jazz trumpet player who forms a bond with a young woman in a carnival sideshow attraction, played by Megan Fox. Bill Murray also stars as a local gangster.

There's also a North American bow for John Turturro's "Passion," which journeys through Napoli, one of the biggest jukeboxes in the world with a treasure chest of songs from the 1200s to present day.

Other Special Presentations picks include the Will Ferrell-starrer "Everything Must Go" from Temple Hill Entertainment.

Dan Rush's low budget dramedy, based on a Raymond Carver short story, sees Ferrell play a recovering alcoholic who falls off the wagon, is tossed from both his job and home, and must survive on his front lawn by selling his belongings in a yard sale.

Toronto also booked Clint Eastwood's "Hereafter," already picked to close the New York Film Festival.

The drama stars Matt Damon as a blue-collar American with a special connection to the afterlife, while a French journalist, played by Cecile De France, has a near-death experience that shakes her reality.

Eastwood's latest project, which has a late-October theatrical date, also stars Jay Mohr, Bryce Dallas Howard, Marthe Keller, Thierry Neuvic and Derek Jacobi.

There's also festival berths for "I'm Still Here," Casey Affleck's directorial debut and portrayal of one year in the life of actor Joaquin Phoenix as he transitions to becoming a hip hop musician, Matt Reeves' "Let Me In," starring Chloe Moretz and Kodi Smit-McPhee, and "What's Wrong With Virginia," the Dustin Lance Black drama that stars Jennifer Connelly, Ed Harris and Emma Roberts.

Other Special Presentations titles: festival favorite Benoit Jacquot's "Deep in the Woods," "Mothers," from Milcho Manchevski, a Macedonia/France/Bulgaria co-production, and Chris Kraus' World War I drama "The Poll Diaries."

Toronto also unwrapped its Midnight Madness sidebar, with star-turns from Demi Moore, Ellen Page, Josh Hartnett, Liv Tyler, Hayden Christensen, Kevin Bacon, Thandie Newton, John Leguizamo, Rainn Wilson, Woody Harrelson and Rose Byrne.

John Carpenter is making a long-awaited return to the big screen with the world premiere in Toronto of "The Ward," a thriller about a young woman, played by Amber Heard, in a 1960s mental institution who becomes terrorized by malevolent unseen forces.

Also Toronto-bound is Guy Moshe's action noir movie "Bunraku," starring Josh Hartnett, Ron Perlman, Demi Moore and Woody Harrelson, two Hong Kong films, director Wu Ershan's "The Butcher, The Chef and the Swordsman," and Dante Lam's action film "Fire of Conscience," starring Leon Lai, and James Wan's "Insidious," a chiller from the director and writer of "Saw" that stars Rose Byrne, Barbara Hershey and Patrick Wilson.

"From the streets of Hong Kong to a post-apocalyptic, vampire-plagued United States, from a town run by Kung Fu killers to the oil fields of Alberta, this year's Midnight Madness selection will take audiences into worlds that are sure to excite, shock and thrill," Colin Geddes, TIFF's Midnight Madness programmer, said of this year's offering.

Also receiving world premieres as part of the gore-zombie-filled Midnight Madness program is Julien Carbon and Laurent Courtiaud's "Red Nights," a cat-and-mouse thriller set in Hong Kong, and Jim Mickle's "Stake Land."

Rounding out the Midnight Madness lineup is James Gunn's "Super," starring Liv Tyler, Kevin Bacon, Ellen Page and Rainn Wilson, and "Vanishing on 7th Street," Brad Anderson's apocalyptic thriller that stars Hayden Christensen, Thandie Newton and John Leguizamo as survivors of a massive power blackout.

The Toronto International Film Festival is set to run from Sept. 9 to 19.
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