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George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Madonna Coming to Toronto Film Fest

Key fall festival will kick off with U2 documentary “From the Sky Down”

George Clooney's "The Ides of March," Madonna's "W.E." and David Cronenberg's "A Dangerous Method" (with Viggo Mortensen, photo below) are among the films that will screen at the 2011 Toronto Film Festival, the key fall festival that often serves as the unofficial kickoff to Oscar season.

Following the success of last year's gala world premiere of the Bruce Springsteen documentary "The Promise," the festival will open with Davis Guggenheim's U2 doc "From the Sky Down."

Viggo MortensenBennett Miller's "Moneyball" (with Brad Pitt), Alexander Payne's "The Descendants" (with Clooney) and Sarah Polley's "Take This Waltz" (with Michelle Williams) will also receive world premieres at the 11-day festival, which announced a star-studded and wide-ranging first batch of movies at a press conference in Toronto on Tuesday morning.

Other directors who will be represented with world premieres include Fernando Meirelles ("360"), Michael Winterbottom ("Trishna"), Luc Besson ("The Lady") and Korean Huh Jong-ho ("Countdown").

Cameron Crowe's Pearl Jam documentary "Pearl Jam Twenty," Ralph Fiennes' Shakespeare adaptation "Corolianus" and Francis Ford Coppola's "Twixt" were also announced by festival director/CEO Piers Handling and co-director Cameron Bailey.

A large number of films that made a splash at earlier festivals will also attempt to launch Oscar campaigns in Toronto; this group includes the Cannes entries "The Artist," "We Need to Talk About Kevin," "Drive" and Lars von Trier's controversial "Melancholia," and the Sundance favorites "Like Crazy" and "Martha Marcy May Marlene."

The festival begins on September 8 and runs through September 18 at several different theaters in the Canadian city.

The 50-plus films announced on Tuesday represent only a small portion of the full TIFF slate. Additional films, programs and special guests will be announced in the coming weeks.

Toronto is the first of the fall's major film festivals to announce its lineup, with the Venice Film Festival (which takes place just prior to Toronto, and will likely screen a number of TIFF films) set to reveal its slate on Thursday.

Last year's festival provided a key launching pad for the Oscar Best Picture winner "The King's Speech," and for Darren Aronofsky's "Black Swan" and Danny Boyle's "127 Hours."

The films announced on Tuesday (world premieres indicated with asterisk):

Opening Night:
"From the Sky Down," Davis Guggenheim *

Galas:
"Albert Nobbs," Rodrigo Garcia *
"Butter," Jim Field Smith *
"A Dangerous Method," David Cronenberg
"A Happy Event," Remi Bezancon *
"The Ides of March," George Clooney
"The Lady," Luc Besson *
"Moneyball," Bennett Miller *
"Peace, Love and Misunderstanding," Bruce Beresford *
"Take This Waltz," Sarah Polley *
"W.E.," Madonna

Special presentations:
"Americano," Mathieu Demy *
"Anonymous," Roland Emmerich *
"The Artist," Michel Hazanivicius
"A Better Life," Cedric Khan *
"Burning Man," Jonathan Teplitzky *
"Chicken With Plums," Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud
"Corolianus," Ralph Fiennes
"Countdown,"Huh Jong-ho *
"Dark Horse," Todd Solondz
"Deep Blue Sea," Terence Davies *
"The Descendants," Alexander Payne *
"Drive," Nicolas Winding Refn
"11 Flowers," Wang Xiaoshuai *
"Elles," Malgoska Szumowska *
"The Eye of the Storm," Fred Schepisi
"50/50," Jonathan Levine *
"Friends with Kids," Jennifer Westfeldt *
"Habemus Papam," Nanni Moretti
"Headhunters," Morten Tyldum
"Hick," Derick Martini *
"The Hunter," Daniel Nettheim *
"Jeff, Who Lives at Home," Jay Duplass and Mark Duplass *
"Killer Joe," William Friedkin
"Like Crazy," Drake Doremus
"Machine Gun Preacher," Marc Forster *
"Martha Marcy May Marlene," Sean Durkin
"Melancholia," Lars von Trier
"The Oranges," Julian Farino *
"Pearl Jam Twenty," Cameron Crowe *
"Rampart," Oren Moverman *
"Salmon Fishing in the Yemen," Lasse Hallstrom *
"Shame," Steve McQueen
"A Simple Life," Ann Hui
"The Skin I Live In," Pedro Almodovar
"Take Shelter," Jeff Nichols
"Ten Year," Jamie Linden *
"360,"Fernando Meirelles *
"Trishna,"Michael Winterbottom *
"Twixt," Francis Ford Coppola *
"Tyrannosaur," Paddy Considine
"We Need to Talk About Kevin," Lynne Ramsay
"Where Do We Go Now?," Nadine Labaki
"Woman in the Fifth," Pawel Pawlikowski *