Stars come out for festival

Celeb watchers will have a field day at next month’s Toronto International Film Festival, with George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Jane Fonda, Ryan Gosling, Jon Hamm and Keira Knightley among the stars set to attend the glitzy bash.

Keira Knightley

Keira Knightley

TORONTO — Celeb watchers will have a field day at next month’s Toronto International Film Festival, with George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Jane Fonda, Ryan Gosling, Jon Hamm and Keira Knightley among the stars set to attend the glitzy bash.

Festival organizers revealed a high-wattage guest list Tuesday that also includes a hefty contingent of pop and rock heroes, all with cinematic projects: Madonna, Neil Young, Pearl Jam and Irish supergroup U2.

Festival co-director Cameron Bailey said the lineup — which includes 268 features and 68 shorts — is a reflection of how welcoming Canada has been to stars in the past.

“When the big stars come to this festival I think what they really like is that it’s a public festival,” said Bailey.

“Unlike some of the big industry festivals in Europe, they can actually really connect with the fans here. And the Toronto fans are cool — they’re not going to go crazy with them but they really admire and appreciate their work.”

Other luminaries expected to walk the red carpet include Catherine Deneuve, Glenn Close, Geoffrey Rush, Ralph Fiennes, Hugh Laurie, James Gandolfini, Gerard Butler, Salman Rushdie and Jason Reitman.

Then there’s Clive Owen, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Rachel Weisz, Seth Rogen, Evan Rachel Wood, Viggo Mortensen and Gael Garcia Bernal, along with dozens more actors, musicians and filmmakers.

Bailey said he was pleased to see a mix of veteran and emerging stars bound for the movie marathon, which runs Sept. 8 to 18.

“It’s always great to have a legend like Jane Fonda coming back and young stars who I think are going to have breakout years like Ryan Gosling, who has two films at the festival this year: Drive and The Ides of March. And he’s Canadian. He’s coming home in a way, that’s always great.”

For the first time in its history, the fest will open with a documentary, Davis Guggenheim’s look at U2 entitled From the Sky Down.

More screenings were also announced Tuesday, including the final instalment in Jonathan Demme’s documentary trilogy about legendary rocker Young; a cinematic take on Christopher Plummer’s tour-de-force stage turn in Barrymore; and a sneak peak at Deepa Mehta’s adaptation of the Rushdie novel Midnight’s Children. The screenings will be paired with onstage conversations as part of the festival’s Mavericks program.

Organizers say the Mavericks program will also feature talks with director Francis Ford Coppola, actress Tilda Swinton, and Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed, whose first year in office is the focus of the film The Island President.

Bailey said he’s particularly excited to see Coppola, the acclaimed director of The Godfather and Apocalypse Now.

“He’s a legend, one of the greatest filmmakers ever,” said Bailey, who will moderate a conversation with Coppola on Sept. 11.

“It’s great to have him in Toronto.”