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It was revealed today that Bill Condon's "The Fifth Estate," starring Benedict Cumberbatch as WikiLeaks found Julian Assange, will be the opening night film of this year's Toronto International Film Festival, which kicks off on Sept. 5. The closing night film will be Daniel Schecter's "Life of Crime" with John Hawkes, Mos Def and Jennifer Aniston.
Also announced were a slew of titles expected to figure into the upcoming awards season. Steve McQueen's "12 Years a Slave" and John Wells' "August: Osage County" will see their world premieres at the fest, and in the case of the former, the revelation that it's skipping Venice leads me to suspect more than ever that it could pop up at Telluride first (as I speculated yesterday). Making the trip to Colorado from Venice can be difficult (though McQueen did it two years ago with "Shame"), but dropping as a sneak preview in Telluride before heading up to Toronto is easy enough, and as noted yesterday, Fox Searchlight has plenty of history with the festival. (NOTE: See below in the comments for an explanation of why a film can premiere at Telluride but still maintain its "world premiere" status at Toronto.)
In the case of "August: Osage County," I'm a little surprised to see it take the festival approach if only because of its late-December release date. Films like "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom" and "Grace of Monaco" make more sense given their positioning in the season, and indeed, "Mandela" was also part of today's announcement: it will receive its official world premiere at the fest. Another Weinstein film, Stephen Frears' "Philomena," was part of the announcement, too, though it was only noted as a North American premiere, so I wouldn't be surprised if we discover later this week that it receives its world premiere at Venice.
It's no surprise that Jason Reitman's "Labor Day" was also announced as a world premiere for Toronto, but as with "Juno" and "Up in the Air," it could easily show up at Telluride first. Reitman sees that particular trajectory as a good luck charm of sorts, though with "Young Adult" a few years ago, an entirely different strategy of pop-up screenings was employed. Ron Howard's "Rush," meanwhile, is also set for Toronto. Given that it is Universal's best shot at awards attention (and given what I've heard of the film), could be a definite Best Picture play later this year.
Alfonso Cuarón's "Gravity" will make the trip from Venice's opening night to Toronto (no surprise -- here's hoping for a Telluride pitstop, though it doesn't really read as that kind of film). Palme d'Or winner "Blue is the Warmest Color" will play, as well as Jonathan Glazer's "Under the Skin" (with Scarlett Johansson -- really interested in that one) and Mike Myers' "Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon," a project we reported on yesterday.
Others announced include one of a handful of films still looking for distribution that I've been keeping an eye on, Jonathan Teplitzky's "The Railway Man" (with Colin Firth and Nicole Kidman), Jean-Marc Vallée's "Dallas Buyers Club" (a potential Best Actor play for Matthew McConaughey), Denis Villeneuve's "Prisoners" (with Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal) and Ralph Fiennes' latter-life Charles Dickens biopic "The Invisible Woman." The film on the list that most grabbed my attention, though? David Gordon Green's "Joe" with Nicolas Cage and Tye Sheridan.
For more a full list of the line-up, click over to the next page.
The 2013 Toronto Film Festival runs Sept. 5 - 15. HitFix will be there giving you the latest as it unfolds.
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