Do I get to say now that I called this one? The moment that the North American release of Aronofsky's The Fountain was pushed back to November a good number of us up here immediately stopped and said, "Oh, they must be launching it at TIFF." And they are.
The Toronto Film Festival have just announced their lineup of Special Presentations and The Fountain is definitely the big gun in the list. Read on for the full announcement.
MAJOR FILMS, MAJOR STARS AND MAJOR FILMMAKERS
Toronto - Seven world premieres and one North American premiere have been added to the Special Presentations lineup for the 31st Toronto International Film Festival. These highly-anticipated films feature some of cinema's biggest names, including Pierce Brosnan, Liam Neeson, Reese Witherspoon, Christina Ricci, Catherine O'Hara, Hugh Jackman, Rachel Weisz, Ellen Burstyn, Will Ferrell, Emma Thompson, Dustin Hoffman, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Queen Latifah, Peter O'Toole, Marc Anthony, Jennifer Lopez, Zach Braff, Rachel Bilson, Blythe Danner, and Tom Wilkinson. Limited Festival Passes and Coupon Books are still available. For more information call 416-968-FILM or click, bell.ca/filmfest.
EL CANTANTE Leon Ichaso, USA World Premiere
It has been said that Hector Lavoe was to salsa what Frank Sinatra was to pop music. Pioneering a sound that blended Puerto Rican and American influences, Lavoe's humble beginnings as a teenaged singer in Puerto Rico to his days as a Latin idol living in New York City are chronicled in this soulful film combining vibrant, sizzling musical numbers with heart-wrenching drama. Chart-topping pop star Marc Anthony gives a dazzling performance as Lavoe, pulled by stardom to the United States in the early 1960s, quickly capturing the praise and attention of local musicians and New York au diences. When Lavoe meets Puchi (Jennifer Lopez) - a tough-talking beauty who becomes both Hector's muse and his true love - she gives him the confidence to dive head first into the music business. Recording albums, selling-out shows and producing hit after hit, Lavoe gets bitten hard by the fame bug, succumbing to a serious drug and alcohol addiction brought on by the endless tragedy that has shrouded his life for years - an addiction dead set on destroying everything he has worked so hard to achieve.
STRANGER THAN FICTION Marc Forster, USA World Premiere
Fiction and reality collide in this inventive comedy by filmmaker Marc Forster (FINDING NEVERLAND, MONSTER'S BALL). After ten years of painstaking work, novelist Karen Eiffel (Emma Thompson) is nearing completion on her latest, and potentially finest, book. Her only remaining challenge is to figure out how to kill off her main character, Harold Crick. Little does she know that Harold Crick (Will Ferrell) is inexplicably alive-and-well in the real world, and suddenly aware of her words. The bewildered and hilariously resistant Harold hears what she has in mind and realizes he must find the author and persuade her to change her (and his) ending. The all -star cast includes Dustin Hoffman, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and Queen Latifah.
PENELOPE Mark Palansky, USA/UK/Germany World Premiere
A modern-day fairy tale about love and self-acceptance, director Mark Palansky's feature filmmaking debut tells the story of young Penelope (Christina Ricci), born into a wealthy, society family, who is afflicted by a secret curse that can only be broken when she is loved by one of her own kind. When a willing mate cannot be found, a mischievous reporter hires Max (James McAvoy) to pose as a prospective suitor, in hopes of snapping a photograph of the mysterious Penelope who lives her life out of the public eye, hidden away in her majestic but prison-like home. Max finds himself drawn to Penelope and doesn't want to expose her, so instead he runs away. Fed up, and determined to live life on her own terms, Pene lope breaks free from her family, and goes out into the world in search of adventure. Produced by Reese Witherspoon, written by Leslie Caveny, and co-starring Catherine O'Hara, Richard E. Grant, and Peter Dinklage, PENELOPE is a whimsical story of a young woman's self-discovery.
THE LAST KISS Tony Goldwyn, USA World Premiere
From actor-turned-director Tony Goldwyn and celebrated Canadian screenwriter Paul Haggis comes a contemporary drama (garnished with dustings of comedy) about life, love, infidelity, forgiveness, marriage, friendship. and coming to grips with turning 30. With the tragic demise of his twenties fast approaching, Michael (Zach Braff) gets a fistful of reality when his long-time girlfriend Jenna (Jacinda Barrett) becomes pregnant. Toiling with the idea of settling in to a life of husbandry and fatherhood, Michael gets a surprise side order of confusion when an instant and irrefutable attraction forms between him and 18-year-old Kim (Rachel Bilson of "The OC"). While Michael's best friends (Casey Affleck, Michael Weston, and Eric Christian Olsen ) weigh their own responsibilities against the desire to take a trip to South America, Jenna's parents (Blythe Danner and Tom Wilkinson) attempt to navigate the rough waters of their fatigued marriage. A remake of Gabriele Muccino's Italian box office smash of the same name, a Gala presentation at the Festival in 2001, THE LAST KISS trails three generations of characters grappling with life's many ups and downs.
SERAPHIM FALLS David Von Ancken, USA World Premiere
This epic action thriller is set five years after the end of the American Civil War. Deep within the cold mountains of the American West, Gideon (Pierce Brosnan) sits pensively in front of a fire, shocked back into reality by a bullet to the shoulder. So begins the initiation of Colonel Morsman Carver's (Liam Neeson) excruciating and relentless revenge. Simultaneously confronting the caverns of their past and the recesses of their souls, these two men are launched into a deadly battle amidst an unforgiving wilderness - a wilderness at once breathtakingly beautiful and wholly treacherous, and remarkably shot by gifted cinematographer John Toll (BRAVEHEART, VANILLA SKY).
VENUS Roger Michell, UK World Premiere
From the filmmaking team behind the acclaimed 2003 Festival film THE MOTHER, director Roger Michell and writer Hanif Kureishi reunite with this wry, affectionate coming of very-old-age story. Maurice (Peter O'Toole) and Ian (Leslie Phillips) are old friends and veteran English actors who never got their big break. Now in their seventies, the two enjoy a quiet routine - one that is broken suddenly by the arrival of Ian's grand-niece Jessie (Jodie Whittaker). Jessie quickly tries her great-uncle Ian's patience, while on the other hand, Maurice is quite taken by her. Proceeding to expose Jessie to the culture and sights of London, Maur ice tries to impart his infinite wisdom onto the young girl, soon realizing that said wisdom might not be so infinite after all. O'Toole, Phillips and newcomer Whittaker share the screen with Richard Griffiths and Vanessa Redgrave.
THE MAGIC FLUTE Kenneth Branagh, UK World Premiere
Coinciding with the 250th anniversary of Mozart's birth, Kenneth Branagh brings one of the composer's most beloved operas to the big screen. Translating the score from Mozart's native German into English, and replacing the fairytale world setting with that of the First World War, Branagh brings an accessible mainstream quality to the classic art of opera. In this impassioned adaptation, Tamino (Canadian tenor Joseph Kaiser) is set out on a mission to save Pamina (Amy Carson), whose image in a photograph causes him to fall in love at first sight. He is accompanied by Papageno (Benjamin Jay Davis), a bird keeper checking for gas in the trenches. Branagh draws fervent performances from a cast of cl assical music stars unaccustomed to acting in front of a camera, including René Pape, Lyubov Petrova, and Tom Randle. With a newly-adapted libretto by Stephen Fry, musical direction by James Conlon, and a score performed by the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, THE MAGIC FLUTE will receive a unique simultaneous world premiere in both Toronto and at Venice's La Fenice as part of the Venice Film Festival.
THE FOUNTAIN Darren Aronofsky, USA North American Premiere
Pairing Darren Aronofsky's unique sense of visual artistry with dramatic science fiction, THE FOUNTAIN is an odyssey of one man's eternal struggle to save the woman he loves. Thomas Creo's (Hugh Jackman) epic journey begins in 16th- century Spain, where as a conquistador he commences his search for the Tree of Life, the legendary entity believed to grant immortality. In present day, Tommy is a scientist desperately struggling to find a cure for the cancer that is killing his beloved wife Isabel (Rachel Weisz). Traveling hundreds of years forward and through deep space, Tom, a 26th-century astronaut, begins to gras p the mysteries of life that have consumed him for more than a millennium. Ellen Burstyn also stars.