The world premiere of Jon Amiel’s “Creation” will open the 2009 Toronto Film Festival, which begins Sept. 10, the festival announced on Tuesday.
Also announced were four Gala Presentations and 18 Special Presentations for the festival, which runs through Sept. 19.
Included are works from filmmakers Jane Campion, Lu Chuan, Raoul Peck, Steven Soderbergh and Johnnie To, starring Mariah Carey, Abbie Cornish, Matt Damon, Michael Douglas, Robert Duvall, Colin Farrell, Ricky Gervais, Eva Green, Bill Murray, Edward Norton, Clive Owen, Kristin Scott Thomas, Sissy Spacek and Ben Whishaw.
Part ghost story, part romance, "Creation" is the story of Charles Darwin (Paul Bettany), who is torn between his love for his deeply religious wife Emma (Jennifer Connelly) and his growing belief in a world where God has no place.
Written by John Collee and based on the Randal Keynes biography of Darwin, "Annie’s Box," it was produced by Jeremy Thomas and co-developed by Recorded Picture Company with BBC Films and the UK Film Council.
“We are honoured to open the Festival with Jon Amiel’s latest feature,” Cameron Bailey, Co-Director of the Toronto International Film Festival, said. “By telling a story on many levels, weaving scenes from past and present, this depiction of Darwin promises to deeply move audiences by drawing them into the conflicted mind of a man who presented a concept that changed the world.”
Following is the full list of films scheduled for the festival:
"Get Low." Aaron Schneider, USA , World Premiere. Inspired by the true story of Felix “Bush” Breazeale, this frontier drama stars Robert Duvall as a backwoods eccentric who stages his own funeral — while still alive. Also starring Bill Murray, Sissy Spacek and Lucas Black.
"The Invention of Lying." Ricky Gervais and Matthew Robinson, USA, World Premiere. This satire takes place in an alternate reality where lying — even the concept of a lie — does not even exist. But when a down-on-his-luck loser named Mark (Gervais) suddenly develops the ability to lie, he finds that dishonesty has its rewards.
"Max Manus," Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg, Norway/Denmark/Germany, North American Premiere. Based on the true story of Norway’s most colourful resistance fighter Max Manus, and follows him from the outbreak of World War II until the summer of peace in 1945.
"Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire Lee Daniels," USA, Canadian Premiere. Set in 1987 Harlem, it is the story of an illiterate African-American teenager who jumps at the chance to enroll in an alternative school where she encounters a teacher who will start her on a journey from pain and powerlessness to self-respect and determination. The film stars Mo’Nique, Paula Patton, Mariah Carey, Sherri Shepherd, Lenny Kravitz and introduces Gabourey Sidibe.
"The Boys Are Back," Scott Hicks, Australia/United Kingdom, World Premiere. After the untimely passing of his second wife, the ill-prepared Joe (Clive Owen), who is dealing with his own loss, is confronted with the daily challenges of parenthood while coping with his young son Artie’s expressions of grief. They are soon joined by Harry, Joe’s teenage son from his first marriage, who brings his own personal “baggage” into the mix. Also starring Laura Fraser and Emma Booth.
"Bright Star," Jane Campion, United Kingdom/Australia. North American Premiere. A drama based on the secret love affair between 23-year-old English poet John Keats (Ben Whishaw) and the girl next door, Fanny Brawne (Abbie Cornish).
"City of Life and Death," Lu Chuan, China, International Premiere. A devastating and controversial epic film based on the most atrocious holocaust in Chinese history, the Nanjing Massacre.
"Cracks," Jordan Scott, Ireland, World Premiere. In an austere and remote girls’ boarding school, the most elite clique of girls are the illustrious members of the school’s diving team. As they compete for the attention of their glamorous teacher (Eva Green), the arrival of a beautiful Spanish girl disrupts the delicate social balance.
"Hadewijch," Bruno Dumont, France, World Premiere. Hadwijch is a religious novice whose ecstatic, blind faith leads down a dangerous path.
"The Informant!," Steven Soderbergh, USA, North American Premiere. Mark Whitacre (Matt Damon), a rising star at agri-industry giant Archer Daniels Midland (ADM), suddenly turns whistleblower. Unfortunately for the FBI, he hasn’t been quite forthcoming about helping himself to the corporate coffers. Based on the true story of the highest-ranking corporate whistleblower in U.S. history.
"Leaves of Grass," Tim Blake Nelson, USA, World Premiere. An Ivy League classics professor, returns to rural Oklahoma to bury his dangerously brilliant identical twin brother who had remained in their native state to grow hydroponic pot. Featuring Edward Norton in the role of each twin.
"London River," Rachid Bouchareb, United Kingdom/France/Algeria/North American Premiere. A Muslim man and a Christian woman are drawn to the British capital when their children go missing on the day of the 2005 British bombings.
"Mao’s Last Dancer," Bruce Beresford, Australia/USA/China/World Premiere. The true story of a Chinese-trained ballet dancer who, subjected to years of vigorous training and threatened during the Cultural Revolution, decides to leave China at great risk to himself and those he loves, for an uncertain future.
"Moloch Tropical," Raoul Peck, Haiti/France, World Premiere. A democratically elected “President” and his closest collaborators are getting ready for a state celebration. But in the morning of the event, he wakes up to find the country inflamed and the streets in turmoil.
"Mother Bong Joon-ho," South Korea, North American Premiere. A noir thriller that digs into the secrecy surrounding a terrible murder and the mystery of a mother’s primal love for her son.
"Ondine," Neil Jordan, Ireland/USA, World Premiere. A modern fairy tale that tells the story of Syracuse (Colin Farrell), an Irish fisherman whose life is transformed when he catches a beautiful and mysterious woman (Alicja Bachleda) in his nets.
"Partir," Catherine Corsini, France, International Premiere. Suzanne (Kristin Scott Thomas) is a well-to-do married woman and mother in the south of France. After going back to work as a physiotherapist, she falls for the man hired to build a consulting room for her in their backyard.
"Scheherazade Tell Me a Story," Yousry Nasrallah, Egypt, North American Premiere. Hebba is the host of a successful political talk show in present-day Cairo. Karim, her husband, is deputy editor-in-chief of a government-owned newspaper. When Party big shots imply his wife is meddling with opposition politics, Karim convinces her to start a series of talk shows around issues involving women.
Solitary Man," Brian Koppelman and David Levien, USA, World Premiere, Ben Kalmen (Michael Douglas) is a former mogul with a chain of car dealerships, until legal troubles knocked him out of business. He now keeps a grip on the world through his relationships with women — many women. The cast also includes Susan Sarandon, Danny DeVito, Mary Louise Parker and Jenna Fischer.
"Valhalla Rising," Nicolas Winding Refn, Denmark/United Kingdom, World Premiere. It is 1000 AD. For years, One Eye, a mute warrior of supernatural strength, has been held prisoner by the Norse chieftain Barde. Aided by Are, a boy slave, One Eye slays his captor and together he and Are escape, beginning a journey into the heart of darkness.
"Vengeance," Johnnie To, Hong Kong/France, North American Premiere. A father comes to Hong Kong to avenge his daughter, whose family was murdered. Stars French pop icon Johnny Hallyday.
"The Vintner’s Luck," Niki Caro, New Zeland/France, World Premiere. Set in early 19th century France, the story of an ambitious young peasant winemaker the three loves of his life — his beautiful and passionate wife Celeste, the proudly intellectual baroness Aurora de Valday and Xas, an angel who strikes up an unlikely friendship with Sobran.