With less than a month to go before the 30th Toronto International Film Festival kicks off, organizers announced 29 documentaries to be included in the festival lineup. Among them are 13 world, two international and five North American premieres from 16 countries. Highlights include the world premieres of Sydney Pollack's "Sketches of Frank Gehry," Ashim Ahluwalia's "John & Jane" and Mariusz Pilis and Marcin Mamon's "The Smell of Paradise." International premieres include Tomas Gislason's "Overcoming" and Christian Frei's "The Giant Buddhas.
Pollack's "Gehry" is one of several docs venturing into the lives of artists and their individual sources for inspiration. The intimate portrait of the world-famous architect, chronicles both his life and unique architectural process. Similarly, Lian Lunson's "Leonard Cohen I'm Your Man," examines the life and music of the baritone singer, featuring performances by Cohen, Nick Cave, Rufus Wainwright and U2. "A Conversation With Basquiat," directed by Tamra Davis, carries the theme further, featuring rare interview footage of the New York City artist, Jean Michel Basquiat. Both Gisalons' "Overcoming" and Ward Serrill's "The Heart of the Game" delve into the world as seen through the eyes and bodies of athletes. "Overcoming" follows Danish pro-cyclist Bjarne Riis and his team as they strive to win the Tour de France. "The Heart of the Game" is the six-year journey of a girl's high school basketball team as they are lead to victory by a new coach.
Other films such as Ahluwalia's "John & Jane," tackle international social and political issues. Following six "call agents" working for American companies in Bombay, Ahluwalia explores the nature of personal identity in the age of 21st century global technology. "The Smell of Paradise" directed by Pilis and Mamon, explores the tenuous relationship between faith and violence in world where people fight against the Western World with the Koran in one hand a rifle in the other. Frei's "Giant Buddhas" also attempts to define the line between fanaticism and faith, after the destruction of two Buddha statues in Afghanistan.
Other docs on tap for Toronto '05 include Alex Hinton's "Pick Up The Mic" about queer rappers, Josh Gilbert's "A/K/A Tommy Chong" about the conviction of Chong, Micha Peled's "China Blue" about globalization labor issues, Erin Wagenhofer's "We Feed The World" about the global food industry, Philip Groning's "Into Great Silence" about the Grande Chartreuse monastery, Doug Block's "51 Birch Street" about his parent's marriage, Thomas Allen Harris' "Twelve Disciples of Nelson Mandela" about the death of his stepfather and another man who raised him, Pumin Chinaradee's "3 Friends" about three friends in Thailand, and Taghreed Elsanhouri's "All About Darfur".
Also included in the lineup are: Eugene Jarecki's "Why We Fight", Kim Longinotto and Florence Ayisi's "Sisters In Law," Pedro Gonzalez-Rubio and Carlos Armella's "Black Bull", Michael Glawogger's "Workingman's Death", Dan Geller and Dayna Goldfine's "Ballets Russes", Jeff Feuerzeig's "The Devil and Daniel Johnston", and Kristian Petri's "The Well".
Doc titles already announced include Allan King's "Memory For Max, Charlie, Ida and Company", Sam Dunn, Scot McFayden, and Jessica Joy Wise's "Metal: A Headbanger's Journey", Robin Neinstein's "Souvenir Of Canada", and Astra Taylor's "Zizek!"
[Eugene Hernandez contributed to this report.]