The 30th Toronto International Film Festival released more details of its September event, including the North American premiere of “Wallace & Gromit – The Curse of the Were-Rabbit,” screening as a festival gala, and this year’s participants in the fest’s signature “Mavericks” series as well as other special programs.
Directed by Nick Park, the original creator of the Oscar-winning claymation shorts and Steve Box, “Wallace & Gromit – The Curse of the Were-Rabbit” stars Peter Sallis (who has been the voice of Wallace in all of the shorts), as well as Ralph Fiennes and Helena Bonham Carter in the first feature-length film of the British duo Wallace and his dog Gromit. In the film, Wallace and Gromit’s neighborhood is about to celebrate its annual Giant Vegetable Competition as the pair go about chasing in their pest-control outfit, “Anti-Pesto,” which humanely dispatches the rabbits that try to invade the sacred gardens. The community is peaceful until a mysterious vegetable-ravaging “beast” terrorizes the neighborhood, attacking the town’s best plots at night. The festival’s hostess, Lady Tottington (Carter) commissions Anti-Pesto to catch the beast and save the event, but Lady Tottington’s snobby would-be suitor Victor Quartermaine (Fiennes) is determined to shoot the beast and win himself both local praise and Lady Tottington’s hand. Dreamworks will distribute the film worldwide, and the feature will screen in Toronto at Roy Thomson Hall.
Once again slated for this year’s TIFF is the fest’s Mavericks series, separate sessions by “leaders and innovators in the world of cinema.” The program, which was previously limited to industry delegates attending the festival only, will be opened this year to “committed cinephiles.” This year’s Mavericks speakers include producer/director Ivan Reitman (“Dave“), who is currently producing “Trailer Park Boys: The Movie” (directed by Mike Clattenburg), seminal documentarian Albert Maysles (“Grey Gardens“), performance artist/poet/photographer Laurie Anderson, and “Wallace & Gromit – The Curse of the Were-Rabbit” co-director Nick Park. The program, according to the festival, provides audiences with “in-depth access to leading film artists as they share revealing anecdotes, the secrets of their success, and previews of their most recent and upcoming projects.”
Director Guy Maddin, actress Isabella Rossellini, singer/actress Liza Minnelli, musician Nick Cave and director John Hillcoat, director Tsai Ming-liang, as well as directors Larry Clark and Michael Almereyda and Stuart Samuels will headline Toronto’s “Dialogues: Talking with Pictures” program. Director Guy Maddin (“The Saddest Music in the World”) and Isabella Rossellini will present the world premiere of “MY Dad is 100 Years Old,” written and starring Rossellini to commemorate the centenary of the birth of her father, Italian director Roberto Rossellini. They will also present a screening of the senior Rossellini’s 1945 neo-realist, “Rome, Open City.”
Singing sensation Liza Minnelli will be on hand to introduce the world premiere of the newly restored “Liza with a ‘Z’” (1972), the first concert filmed live for television, directed by Bob Fosse (“Cabaret“). Musician Nick Cave and filmmaker John Hillcoat, meanwhile, will present “Ghosts… of the Civil Dead” (1988), centered on a maximum security prison that is a commentary on a repressive political climate. Cave and Hillcoat’s “The Proposition” will have its world premiere in TIFF’s Visions section this year.
Director Tsai Ming-liang will introduce a screening of Wang Tianlin’s 1960 feature, “The Wild, Wild Rose,” an adaptation of Bizet’s opera, “Carmen.” Along with Ming-liang’s “Rebels of the Neon God” (1992), “Rose” was recently named one of Hong Kong’s best 100 films at the Hong Kong Film Awards. “Kids” writer/director Larry Clark and filmmaker Michael Almereyda will present William Eggleston‘s “Stranded in Canton” (1973), about Eggleston’s friends, family and other Southerners, capturing intimate comments as well as the quiet beauty and drug-fuelled revelry of the night. Almereyda’s doc, “William Eggleston in the Real World” will have its Canadian debut in the Dialogues program.
Finally, filmmaker Stuart Samuels will introduce the Canadian premiere of his film, “Midnight Movies: From the Margin to the Mainstream” in the Dialogues program. The feature chronicles the behind-the-scenes story of classic B-movies from the late ’60s and 70s, including George Romero‘s “Night of the Living Dead” (1968), Alejandro Jodorowsky‘s “El Topo” (1970), Perry Henzell‘s “The Harder They Come” (1972), John Waters‘ “Pink Flamingos” (1972), Jim Sharman‘s “The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975), and David Lynch‘s “Eraserhead” (1977).
TIFF will present “Art Project: The Ghosts of Woodrow” September 12 and 13 at the Church of the Redeemer at Bloor and Avenue Roads from 12pm to 8pm. The event spotlights Saskatchewan-based stop-animation artist Graeme Patterson‘s shorts inspired by his family history on the Canadian Prairies and focuses on the “crumbling legacy of the Canadian farm.” The five shorts presented in the program are “Romancing the Farm,” “The Games Room: Bowling, ” “The Games Room: Horseshoes,” “Monkey and Deer,” and “Lafleche vs. Woodrow 1972.”
The 30th Toronto International Film Festival, presented by the Toronto International Film Festival Group, takes place in the Ontario capital September 8 – 17.