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by Brian Brooks
August 6, 2009 5:56 AM
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"Young Victoria" to Reign Over Toronto's Closing Night; Fest Adds 28 More Films

A scene from Jean-Marc Vallee's "The Young Victoria," which will close the Toronto International Film Festival.

The North American premiere of French-Canadian director ("C.R.A.Z.Y.") Jean-Marc Vallee's "The Young Victoria" will close the 34th Toronto International Film Festival on September 19th. Written from a script by Academy Award-winning Julian Fellowes ("Gosford Park"), the film chronicles Queen Victoria's ascension to the throne, spotlighting the early years of her reign and her romance and marriage to Prince Albert. Emily Blunt portrays Victoria, who reigned over Great Britain during the heyday of the British Empire. Also in the cast are Rupert Friend ("Pride and Prejudice"), Paul Bettany ("The Da Vinci Code"), Miranda Richardson ("Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire"), Jim Broadbent ("Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull"), Mark Strong ("Body of Lies") and Thomas Kretschmann ("King Kong").

Set between 1836, the year before her ascension, to 1840, the year she married Prince Albert, "The Young Victoria" presents a contrasting image of the woman whose image is widely held as an elderly widow dressed in black. According to a TIFF description, in addition to being a love sotry and family drama, the film explores the idea of instant celebrity - one minute Victoria is living under virtual house arrest, the next she is the most famous woman in the world.

In addition to the closing film, TIFF has added two world premieres from Canadian directors Atom Egoyan ("Chloe") and Dilip Mehta ("Cooking with Stella") as well as the North American debut of "The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus" to its list of galas as well as a host of Canadian titles set to screen as Special Presentations. In all, 28 new titles from homegrown filmmakers were announced Tuesday.

TIFF Canadian additions in various sections with descriptions provided by the festival


Galas

"Chloe" by Atom Egoyan, France/Canada, World Premiere
Catherine (Julianne Moore), a successful doctor, suspects her husband David (Liam Neeson), a handsome music professor, is cheating on her. To lay her suspicions and fears to rest, she hires an irresistible young woman, Chloe (Amanda Seyfried), to test David's fidelity. Chloe's torrid tales of her encounters with David lead Catherine on a journey of sexual and sensual re-discovery. But by opening the door to temptation, she puts her family in great danger.

"Cooking with Stella" by Dilip Mehta, Canada, World Premiere
A warmhearted social satire about a Canadian diplomat (Lisa Ray) and her chef husband Michael (Don McKellar) who are posted to New Delhi. Upon arrival they inherit a household of Indian servants headed by the charming, totally inspiring - and wily - cook, Stella (Seema Biswas). When Stella agrees to become Michael's cooking guru, to teach him traditional Indian dishes, little does he know that she's cooking up a scheme of her own.

"The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus" by Terry Gilliam, United Kingdom/Canada, North American Premiere
This fantastical morality tale tells the story of Dr. Parnassus and his travelling show, the extraordinary 'Imaginarium'. Blessed with the remarkable gift of guiding the imaginations of others, Dr. Parnassus is cursed with a dark secret. An inveterate gambler, thousands of years ago he made a bet with the devil, Mr. Nick, and won immortality. Centuries later, on meeting his one true love, Dr. Parnassus made another deal with the devil, trading his immortality for youth, on the condition that when his daughter reached her sixteenth birthday, she would become the property of Mr. Nick.


Special Presentations

"Cairo Time by Ruba Nadda, Canada/Ireland, World Premiere
Juliette (Patricia Clarkson), a magazine editor, arrives in Cairo to meet her husband Mark (Tom McCamus), a UN official in Gaza. When he is unavoidably delayed, Mark sends his friend and former security officer Tareq (Alexander Siddig) to show her around the city. As she gets used to the customs and rhythm of life in Cairo, Juliette finds herself falling not only for the city's charms, but for Tareq as well.

"Defendor" by Peter Stebbings, Canada, World Premiere
Reality intersects with delusion in the mind of Arthur Poppington (Woody Harrelson), a regular man who adopts a superhero persona known as Defendor, and combs the city streets at night in search of his arch-enemy, Captain Industry. In his attempts to combat crime and bring down Captain Industry, a drug and weapons dealer who he mistakenly blames for the death of his mother, Defendor ends up befriending a young prostitute, Katerina Debrofkowitz (Kat Dennings). Armed with unconventional weapons of mass confusion, aided by his new friend, and putting his life on the line, Defendor proves that everyone is capable of making a difference.

"Hugh Hefner: Playboy, Activist and Rebel" by Brigitte Berman, Canada, World Premiere
An intimate look at the outspoken, flamboyant founder of the Playboy empire. With humour and insight, the film captures Hefner's fierce battles with the government, the religious right and militant feminists. Rare footage and compelling interviews with a remarkable who's who of 20th Century American pop culture, present a brilliant and entertaining snapshot of the life of an extraordinary man and the controversies that surrounded him.

"J'ai Tue Ma Mere" by Xavier Dolan, Canada, English Canada Premiere
Hubert, a brash 17-year-old, is confused and torn by a love-hate relationship with his mother that consumes him more and more each day. After distressing ordeals and tragic episodes, Hubert will find his mother on the banks of Saint Lawrence river, where he grew up, and where a murder will be committed: the murder of childhood.

"The Trotsky" by Jacob Tierney, Canada, World Premiere
Leon Bronstein (Jay Baruchel) is not your average Montreal West high school student. For one thing, none of his peers can claim to be the reincarnation of early 20th century Soviet iconoclast and Red Army hero, Leon Trotsky. When his father (Saul Rubinek) sends Leon to public school as punishment for starting a hunger strike at Papa's clothing factory, Leon quickly lends new meaning to the term "student union," determined as he is to live out his pre-ordained destiny to the fullest and change the world.

[Vanguard, Real to Reel, Contemporary World Cinema, Masters, Family and Canada First TIFF additions continued on second page]

Vanguard

"Carcasses" by Denis Cote
North American Premiere
Quebec auteur Denis Cote brings us a beautiful story about an elderly man who lives in a junkyard surrounded by the detritus of culture and who is paid a surprise visit by a group of youths.

"Leslie, My Name Is Evil" by Reginald Harkema
World Premiere
Perry, a sheltered chemist, falls in love with Leslie, a former homecoming princess, when he is selected to be a jury member at her hippie, death-cult murder trial. When Perry and Leslie lock eyes in court, Perry is forced to confront his deepest, darkest urges.

A scene from Reginald Harkema's "Leslie, My Name is Evil." Image courtesy of the filmmaker.

Real to Reel

"Genius Within: The Inner Life of Glenn Gould" by Peter Raymont and Michele Hozer
World Premiere
An enigmatic musical poet and world-renowned pianist, Glenn Gould continues to captivate international audiences twenty-six years after his early death. An intimate look at the man alongside the myth, Glenn Gould: The Inner Life casts a new light on a genius whose ideas were as controversial, and his private life as passionate as his music.

"Petropolis: Aerial Perspectives on the Alberta Tar Sands" by Peter Mettler
North American Premiere
Filmmaker and visual artist Peter Mettler takes audiences on an eye-opening aerial tour of Alberta's tar sands in this beautiful, haunting and vital documentary. This film is co-presented by Short Cuts Canada.

"Reel Injun" by Neil Diamond
World Premiere
Neil Diamond's documentary Reel Injun is a long-needed corrective to the wildly inaccurate portrayals of native peoples in Hollywood films and filled with revealing and often poignant interviews with key players like actors Wes Studi, Adam Beach and Sacheen Littlefeather.


Contemporary World Cinema

"A Gun to the Head" by Blaine Thurier
World Premiere
A reformed criminal escapes his wife's dinner party for a quick beer with his cousin and former partner in crime. Over the course of one wild night, he's dragged back into a world of drugs, women, guns and gangsters; endangering the lives of those he loves the most.

"Cole" by Carl Bessai
World Premiere
Cole (Richard de Klerk) wants to write his way out of small-town Lytton, B.C. and his job at the family gas station. A new romance with Serafina (Kandyse McClure), a woman from his writing class, offers a chance for both of them to change their lives in this emotional and intense drama.

"Excited" by Bruce Sweeney
World Premiere
Writer-director Bruce Sweeney returns with a romantic comedy about a man who may have just met the woman of his dreams, but their romance is complicated by his meddling, officious mother and his inability to confront or discuss his sexual hang-ups.

"High Life" by Gary Yates
North American Premiere
Two drug-addled brothers go for one last major score in writer-director Gary Yates's energetic and funny crime comedy.

"Passenger Side" by Matthew Bissonnette
Canadian Premiere
In writer-director Matthew Bissonette's intimate and amusing road movie Passenger Side, two talkative brothers tour Los Angeles while trying to reconcile their romantic lives.

"Suck" by Robert Stefaniuk
World Premiere
A rock'n'roll vampire comedy about a down-and-out band that will do anything for a record deal. Their humdrum image radically changes when the bass player disappears one night with a hip vampire and emerges with a sexually charged charisma that drives the audiences wild. Featuring cameos by Alice Cooper, his daughter Calico Cooper, Alex Lifeson, Moby, Iggy Pop, Carole Pope and Henry Rollins.


Masters

"La Donation" by Bernard Emond
North American Premiere
Dr. Rainville, an aging country doctor with a deep attachment to his patients, is about to retire and is looking for a successor. Jeanne Dion, an emergency room doctor from Montreal, agrees to go to Normetal to replace him for a few weeks, with no plans for an extended stay. When Dr. Rainville suddenly dies, Jeanne must decide if she'll take over the job, and its inherent responsibilities, for the long-term.


Sprockets Family Zone

"A Shine of Rainbows" by Vic Sarin, Canada/Ireland
North American Premiere
An extraordinary woman helps an orphan boy find self-acceptance and love through her unique gifts of colour and magic. Set in a small village on wind-swept Corrie Island, just off the coast of Ireland, A Shine of Rainbows is a story about the transformational power of love, finding acceptance, discovering magic and realizing that rainbows are all around you and within you, too.


Canada First!

"Year of the Carnivore" by Sook-Yin Lee
World Premiere
Year of the Carnivore is a romantic-comedy-drama about a girl with an unrequited crush on a boy who thinks she's bad in bed, so she goes out to get more 'experience.'

"All Fall Down" by Philip Hoffman
North American Premiere
Local legend Philip Hoffman's formally adventurous and emotionally devastating documentary looks at the tortured last years of Toronto writer George Lachlan Brown, setting the account against a backdrop of regional myths and conspiracies.

"Crackie" by Sherry White
North American Premiere
Mitsy (Meghan Greeley) just wants to escape her life in Newfoundland and her overbearing grandmother (Mary Walsh), but a visit from her mother and an affair with the take-out guy (Joel Thomas Hynes) may sidetrack her dreams of becoming a beautician in writer and director Sherry White's emotional and insightful debut Crackie.

"George Ryga's HUNGRY HILLS" Rob King
World Premiere
"George Ryga's HUNGRY HILLS" is a beautifully dark adaptation of the acclaimed Canadian novel about one teenager's struggles to revive the family farm in the foothills of northern Alberta during the Depression.

"Machotaildrop" by Corey Adams and Alex Craig, Canada/USA
World Premiere
Equal parts surreal comedy, fantasy and indictment of our logo-glutted culture, Corey Adams and Alex Craig's Machotaildrop follows teen skateboarder Walter as he's recruited by a legendary company to be their next big star.

"The Wild Hunt" by Alexandre Franchi
World Premiere
Fantasy and reality meet in The Wild Hunt when an ancient ritual is reborn in the woods north of Montreal.

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