George Clooney, Angelina Jolie films headed to TIFF

TORONTO — A provocative comedy-drama directed by George Clooney, a Tragically Hip documentary, and an Angelina Jolie-helmed biographical thriller are among the projects headed to this year’s Toronto International Film Festival.

On Tuesday, organizers revealed just under a quarter of the slate of films set to screen at the annual celebration of cinema, which runs from Sept. 7 to 17.

Clooney’s “Suburbicon,” written by the Coen brothers, stars Matt Damon and Julianne Moore in a tale of a suburban home invasion.

“It’s a disturbing film, it’s not an easy film,” said Piers Handling, CEO and director of TIFF.

“It’s a kind of social satire that really cuts at the heart of the U.S.,” added Cameron Bailey, artistic director of TIFF.

The Tragically Hip documentary “Long Time Running,” directed by Canadians Jennifer Baichwal and Nicholas de Pencier, will have a gala opening. It documents the lead-up to the beloved Canadian band’s 2016 tour for their “Man Machine Poem” album after frontman Gord Downie announced he had incurable brain cancer.

Bailey said the filmmakers are in touch with the band and hope to have the whole group at the fest.

Jolie’s “First They Killed My Father,” which she also co-wrote, is based on Cambodian human rights activist Loung Ung’s memoir.

“This is a film that’s set in Cambodia about the Khmer Rouge and all the events that went on in the ’70s, the massacres, the genocide, and it’s shot in the native language with subtitles,” said Handling.

“So she’ll obviously be here to support the film.”

Other films on the docket include David Gordon Green’s Boston Marathon bombing drama “Stronger,” starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Regina native Tatiana Maslany.

Darren Aronofsky’s psychological thriller ”Mother!” stars Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem in a story the TIFF directors said will “be a real talking point.”

“Suburbicon,” “Mother!” and Alexander Payne’s satire “Downsizing,” which also stars Damon, are among several edgy films from big-name directors in the lineup.

“It’s great to see adventurous, challenging work being done by these major filmmakers at this particular point in time, when I think there’s such an instinct and a move towards … not taking risks — especially at the studio level, they’re moving more into the franchise movies, the comic-book films,” said Handling.

The schedule also has a slew of star-packed biopics, including “Darkest Hour,” starring Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill, and “I, Tonya,” starring Margot Robbie as ice skater Tonya Harding. In “Battle Of The Sexes,” Steve Carell and Emma Stone star in a story inspired by the 1973 tennis match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs.

“The Catcher Was A Spy” stars Paul Rudd as Major League Baseball player Moe Berg, who was a spy for the Office of Strategic Services. “Mary Shelley” stars Elle Fanning as the “Frankenstein” author and Canada’s own Michael Greyeyes stars as Sitting Bull alongside Jessica Chastain and Sam Rockwell in the “Woman Walks Ahead,” based on a true story.

The comedy “C’est la vie!” — written and directed by Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano — will be the closing night film. The opening-night title hasn’t been announced.

Cinephiles have been wondering whether Quebec director Denis Villeneuve’s much-anticipated “Blade Runner” sequel will be at the festival but it was not in the lineup announced on Tuesday.

“I’m not sure the stars, to be honest, are going to align this year when it comes to ‘Blade Runner,’” said Handling.

Earlier this year, the festival announced it’s cutting two programs and reducing the overall number of titles it will screen for this year’s edition by 20 per cent.

Here are some other highlights of the 2017 festival:

— Hany Abu-Assad’s “The Mountain Between Us,” starring Kate Winslet and Idris Elba as plane-crash survivors.

— Andy Serkis’s “Breathe,” a biographical drama starring Andrew Garfield as a paralyzed polio survivor who becomes an advocate for the disabled.

— Scott Cooper’s period drama “Hostiles,” starring Christian Bale, Rosamund Pike, Adam Beach and Ben Foster.

— Guillermo Del Toro’s romantic horror “The Shape Of Water,” starring Sally Hawkins, Michael Shannon, and Octavia Spencer

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