By Peter Knegt | Indiewire July 21, 2009 at 3:27AM
"This year's documentaries have a sense of immediacy like never before," said Thom Powers, the Toronto International Film Festival's documentary programmer, regarding this year's slate of docs. "Current events are getting a fresh perspective in films about the post-crash economy, Iran, Berlusconi, surrogate mothers, U.S. Army veterans and more. These films are sure to generate a lot of debate."
The festival announced a program of seventeen documentaries (with more to come), that will screen as part of the 34th edition of the Festival. Across four programs - Vanguard, Real to Reel, Special Presentations and Sprockets Family Zone - the docs take on topics such as revelations in the realms of politics, justice, religion and arts to probing explorations of cultural phenomena and the natural world.
Last year, recent box office hits like "Every Little Step," "Food, Inc.," and "Valentino: The Last Emperor" all screened in Toronto.
The announced films are listed below, by program, and with descriptions provided by the festival:
The White Stripes Under Great White Northern Lights
Emmett Malloy, USA World Premiere
An intimate look inside The White Stripes' cross-Canada tour, as Jack and Meg White touch down in remote northern communities and surprising city venues.
Real to Reel
The Art of the Steal
Don Argott, USA World Premiere
This art-world whodunit investigates what happened to the Barnes collection of Post-Impressionist paintings--valued in the billions--that fell prey to a power struggle after the death of owner Albert Barnes.
Mehran Tamadon, Iran/France/Switzerland International Premiere
For three years, Mehran Tamadon immersed himself into the very heart of the most extremist supporters of the Islamic republic of Iran (the Bassidjis) to understand their ideas.
Andrew James and Joshua Ligairi, USA World Premiere
The Mormon religion preaches against the content of R-rated films, so several Utah-based entrepreneurs started offering "clean" versions of Hollywood movies at specialty DVD stores. But the thriving industry runs into legal problems and its own sex scandal.
Chris Smith, USA World Premiere
From the acclaimed director of American Movie, this portrait of radical thinker Michael Ruppert explores his apocalyptic vision of the future, spanning the crises in economics, energy, environment and more.
Carter Gunn and Ross McDonnell, Ireland World Premiere
Several beekeepers around the U.S. cope with colony collapse disorder - the phenomenon that has caused millions of bees to mysteriously disappear - in this beautifully shot debut from a gifted directing duo.
Zippi Brand Frank, Israel International Premiere
In India, the latest form of outsourcing is surrogate mothers who carry embryos for couples who can't have a child. Director Zippi Brand Frank follows an entrepreneur who proposes a new service - baby production for western customers.
How to Fold a Flag
Michael Tucker and Petra Epperlein, USA World Premiere
The makers of Gunner Palace follow U.S. soldiers as they create new lives post-Iraq--from a Congressional candidate in Buffalo to a cage fighter in Louisiana--set against the backdrop of the 2008 election.
L'Enfer de Henri-Georges Clouzot
Serge Bromberg and Ruxandra Medrea, France North American Premiere
Film archivist Serge Bromberg uncovers a treasure trove of imagery from an unfinished film called L'Enfer starring Romy Schneider and directed by the French master Henri-Georges Clouzot, known for Wages of Fear and Diabolique.
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The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers
Judith Ehrlich and Rick Goldsmith, USA World Premiere
Daniel Ellsberg was a valued strategist inside the American government until he leaked the Pentagon Papers and exposed the lies of the Vietnam War. This thrilling documentary chronicles this momentous chapter in history and how Richard Nixon's obsession over the case brought down his own government.
Roberto Hernandez and Geoffrey Smith, Mexico World Premiere
Two young Mexican attorneys attempt to exonerate a wrongly convicted man by making a documentary. In the process, they expose the contradictions of a judicial system that presumes suspects guilty until proven innocent.
Schmatta: Rags to Riches to Rags
Marc Levin, USA World Premiere
Veteran filmmaker Mark Levin (Slam) looks at the past and present of New York's garment district, from its heyday as a base for immigrant labour and unions to its recent decline.
Vikram Jayanti, USA/United Kingdom International Premiere
Rachael Scdoris, a blind 23-year-old, doesn't let her disability stop her from competing in one of the most gruelling endurance contests in the world: the Iditarod dogsled race traversing 1,100 miles of Alaska's most rugged terrain. But being blind is only the start of her challenges.
The Topp Twins: Untouchable Girls
Leanne Pooley, New Zealand North American Premiere
Fun, disarming and musically provocative, the Topp Twins are New Zealand's finest lesbian country-and-western singers and the country's greatest export since rack of lamb and the Lord of the Rings movie trilogy.
Erik Gandini, Sweden North American Premiere
This penetrating look at the media empire of Italy's prime minister Silvio Berlosconi reveals how his reality TV shows full of bikini-clad women enriched his friends and beguiled a nation.
Jeff Stilson, USA Canadian Premiere
Rendered speechless by his daughter's question--"Daddy, how come I don't have good hair?"--comedian Chris Rock embarks on a quest to understand African American hair culture.
Sprockets Family Zone
Turtle: The Incredible Journey
Nick Stringer, United Kingdom/Austria/Germany Canadian Premiere
Join a logger heard turtle on an extraordinary journey through the fascinating underwater world and witness how changes in the oceans are affecting marine life in this beautiful and spectacular ocean adventure.