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by Peter Knegt
August 17, 2010 3:00 AM
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Toronto Sets "Last" Closer; Adds Boyle, Eastwood, Midnight Madness (UPDATED)

A scene from Dustin Lance Black's "What's Wrong With Virginia?" Image courtesy of TIFF.

With opening night just over three weeks away, the Toronto International Film Festival continued its rollout of a program that's expected to near 300 films when all is said and done. Forty-four new films joined the 35th edition of the fest in an extensive announcement today that included news on the second City To City program, 18 Special Presentations, 9 selections for the Midnight Madness program, 3 Sprockets Family Zone entries, and two Galas - including the festival's closing night film.

Missy Tadjedin's "Last Night," a US-France co-production, will close down Toronto on September 19th. Starring Keira Knightley, Sam Worthington, Eva Mendes and Guillaume Canet, the film follows a married couple who each spent a night with a tempting other person. Its cast is a sort of TIFF "all-stars," well-represented throughout the festival. Knightley stars in both "Never Let Me Go" and "London Boulevard"; Worthington is in "The Debt," and Canet's directorial effort "Little White Lies" is also debuting in Toronto.

The nine additions to the Special Presentations program include a varied array of largely American productions, many of which should come as no surprise. Two films recently announced as other festival's closing night films will head to Toronto beforehand, with Danny Boyle's James Franco-starrer "127 Hours" (closing the London Film Festival) and Clint Eastwood's supernatural "Hereafter " (just announced as the New York Film Festival's closer) are both set for for the fest. Meanwhile, Eastwood's upcoming J. Edgar Hoover biopic screenwriter Dustin Lance Black will premiere his directorial debut "What's Wrong With Virginia?," and Casey Affleck will also screen his first feature with "I'm Still There," the much discussed "portrayal" of a year in the life of Joaquin Phoenix.

Other announced Special Presentations include John Sayles's Philippine-American War film "AMIGO," Benoit Jacquot's "Deep in the Woods," coming to Toronto after Locarno debut earlier this month, Dan Rush's drama "Everything Must Go," starring Will Ferrell as an alcoholic who loses his wife and his job, and "Let Me In," Matt Reeves' anticipated American take on Swedish book/film "Let The Right One In."

A scene from James Gunn's "SUPER." Image courtesy of TIFF.

Following last week's announcement of "Fubar II" as its opening film, Toronto also started rolling out its genre-fueled Midnight Madness section. Filmmakers John Carpenter (mental institution horror film "The Ward"), "Saw"s James Wan (Rose Byrne and Patrick Wilson starrer "Insidious"), Brad Anderson (apocalyptic thriller "Vanishing on 7th Street"), Dante Lam (Hong Kong action film "Fire of Conscience"), and James Gunn (Rainn Wilson and Ellen Page superhero film "SUPER") will all partake in the Madness, which for the second year will have its own separate audience award.

“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,” said Colin Geddes, TIFF programmer, in a statement.

After its controversial inaugural edition last year that focused on Tel Aviv, Cameron Bailey, Co-Director of the festival, confirmed today that the city of Istanbul, Turkey, will be highlighted in the festival's second City to City programme.

“This has been a hard secret to keep! When we began discussions about a short list of possible cities back in January, Istanbul quickly emerged as a leading candidate,” said Bailey in a statement. “Most people know Istanbul as a dynamic city with a rich history, but its film scene is less well-known. Over the past five years, filmmakers from this vibrant metropolis have been winning awards at Cannes and Berlin. Now, some are making the leap to festivals outside of Europe. We’re so pleased to feature films from Istanbul this year: audiences will have access to strong emerging filmmakers, at the moment just before they're sure to be discovered somewhere else.”

The ten feature-length films and seven short films that comprise this year’s programme present a mix of brand-new and retrospective titles from the city.

In addition, a panel session entitled “Istanbul – A Conversation” will feature several guests, including Richard Florida, author of The Great Reset and Who’s Your City? director, Martin Prosperity Institute, University of Toronto and founder, Creative Class Group; Reha Erdem, director of "My Only Sunshine"; Pelin Esmer, director of "10 to 11"; and Seren Yüce, director of The Majority. This panel will be open to the public and will take place on Thursday, September 16 at 7 p.m. at the Art Gallery of Ontario’s Jackman Hall. Admission is free.

The festival also announced industry programming and plans for its 35th birthday celebration, details of which can be found here. You can also check out a complete list of all titles announced today, as well as the 100 films previously announced here.

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