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Toronto Film Festival Tops Off With Mark Wahlberg, Isabelle Huppert

”The Red Turtle“ and ”My Life as a Courgette“ are among the new films that bring TIFF’s total to nearly 400


The Toronto International Film Festival wrapped up its programming announcements on Tuesday with the addition of more than 40 new films, five virtual-reality experiences and onstage conversations with Mark Wahlberg, Isabelle Huppert, Sonia Braga and others.

The new titles, the last batch of additions to the TIFF lineup, bring the total number of feature films to 296, with 101 shorts bringing the total number of films to 397.

Out of that number, 138 films are world premieres, and another 97 are North American premieres.

According to Toronto Film Festival figures, this year’s films come from 83 different countries and were selected from 6,933 submissions.

The Discovery program, which is devoted to films from first- and second-time directors, unveiled 35 new films, including Michael Dudok de Wit’s animated fable “The Red Turtle,” Juho Kuosmanen’s Cannes hit “The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Mäki,” about a real-life Finnish boxer, Wayne Roberts’ “Katie Says Goodbye,” the character study of a truck-stop waitress, and “Park,” Greek director Sofia Exarchou’s drama about Athenian teens during a raucous summer.

Documentaries about software mogul John McAfee, Chicago guitarist Terry Kath and the history of Palestine were also added to the Toronto lineup.

The TIFF Kids section will consist of four features suitable for families, including Otto Bell’s documentary “The Eagle Huntress,” a Sony Classics release about a 13-year-old Mongolian girl who wants to become the first female eagle hunter, and “My Life as a Courgette,” a drama about a young boy taken to a foster home and Switzerland’s official submission in the Oscar foreign-language category.

Toronto’s In Conversation With… series will feature Q&As with Palestinian actor/director Hiam Abbass (“Paradise Now”), Nigerian actor Genevieve Nnaji and director Kunle Afolayan, Brazilian actress Sonia Braga, French actress Isabelle Huppert, Bollywood producer/writer/actor/costume designer Karan Johar, American actor Mark Wahlberg and Chinese actress Zhang Ziyi.

The POP VR section consists of five virtual-reality experiences, ranging from “Jafri,” an observational piece about an African Australian man who stands in a busy Melbourne intersection every day, to “Invasion!,” an interactive sci-fi adventure narrated by Ethan Hawke in which the viewer plays one of two bunnies who are trying to save the earth from an alien invasion.

Also part of POP VR: “Ch’aak’ S’aagi (Eagle Bone),” a point-of-view documentary based on Native American teachings; “KÀ The Battle Within,” a martial arts saga based on a Cirque du Soleil theatrical production; and “Right to Pray,” a film about female activists demanding an end to repressive patriarchal policies at an ancient Hindi temple.

The TIFF Next Wave Committee picked 10 previously-announced festival titles from different sections of the festival to make up the TIFF Next Wave program, which is dedicated to films that are youth-driven and will appeal to young audiences. The films are Houda Benjamina’s “Divines” and Stephan Streker’s “Noces,” from the Discovery section; Kelly Fremon Craig’s “The Edge of Seventeen,” a gala presentation and the festival’s closing-night film; John Butler’s “Handsome Devil” and Rahmatou Keïta’s “The Wedding Ring,” both from Contemporary World Cinema; Ann Marie’s Fleming’s “Window Horses (The Poetic Persian Epiphany of Rosie Ming),” a Special Presentation; Miike de Jong’s “Layla M.” and Barry Jenkins’ “Moonlight,” from the Platform program; Richie Mehta’s “India in a Day,” from TIFF Docs; and Dash Shaw’s “My Entire High School Sinking Into the Sea,” from Vanguard.

The festival also announced that King Street West, the street that runs in front of the festival’s TIFF Bell Lightbox headquarters, will be closed to vehicle traffic on the first weekend, September 8 through 11.

This marks the third consecutive year that the Toronto street has become a pedestrian corridor for the festival’s first weekend. Last year, TIFF Artistic Director Cameron Bailey said in a statement, 100,000 people came to the street over the four days.

The Slaight Music Stage on the street will include musical performances as well as free screenings of “Labyrinth” and “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.”

The 41st Toronto Film Festival runs September 8 to 18.

The new programming:

“Blessed Benefit” (“Inshallah Estafadet”), Mahmoud al Massad, Jordan/Germany/Netherlands (World Premiere)
“Boys in the Trees,” Nicholas Verso, Australia (North American Premiere)
“Divines,” Houda Benyamina, France/Qatar (North American Premiere)
“The Empty Box” (“La caja vacía”), Claudia Sainte-Luce, France/Mexico (World Premiere)
“The Fury of a Patient Man” (“Tarde para la ira”), Raúl Arévalo, Spain (North American Premiere)
“The Giant” (“Jätten”), Johannes Nyholm, Sweden/Denmark (World Premiere)
“GODLESS” (“Bezbog”), Ralitza Petrova, Bulgaria/Denmark/France (North American Premiere)
“Guilty Men” (“Pariente”), Iván D. Gaona, Colombia (North American Premiere)
“The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Mäki” (“Hymyilevä Mies”), Juho Kuosmanen, Finland/Germany/Sweden (North American Premiere)
“Heartstone” (“Hjartasteinn”), Guomundur Arnar Guomundsson, Iceland/Denmark (North American Premiere)
“Hunting Flies,” Izer Aliu, Norway (World Premiere)
“In the Blood” (“I blodet”), Rasmus Heisterberg, Denmark (World Premiere)
“In the Radiant City,” Rachel Lambert, USA (World Premiere)
“Jeffrey,” Yanillys Perez, Dominican Republic/France (World Premiere)
“Jesús,” Fernando Guzzoni, France/Chile/Germany/Greece/Colombia (International Premiere)
“Joe Cinque’s Consolation,” Sotiris Dounoukos, Australia (International Premiere)
“Kati Kati,” Mbithi Masya, Kenya/Germany (World Premiere)
“Katie Says Goodbye,” Wayne Roberts, USA (World Premiere)
“Le Ciel Flamand” (“Flemish Heaven”), Peter Monsaert, Belgium (World Premiere)
“The Levelling,” Hope Dickson Leach, United Kingdom (World Premiere)
“Little Wing” (“Tyttö nimeltä Varpu”), Selma Vilhunen, Finland/Denmark (World Premiere)
“Mad World” (“Yat Nim Mou Ming”), Wong Chun, Hong Kong (World Premiere)
“Marija,” Michael Koch, Germany/Switzerland (North American Premiere)
“Noces,” Stephan Streker, Belgium/France/Luxembourg/Pakistan (International Premiere)
“Park,” Sofia Exarchou, Greece/Poland (World Premiere)
“The Red Turtle,” Michael Dudok de Wit, France/Belgium/Japan (North American Premiere)
“Sámi Blood” (“Sameblod”), Amanda Kernell, Sweden/Denmark/Norway (North American Premiere)
“Sand Storm” (“Sufat Chol”), Elite Zexer, Israel (Canadian Premiere)
“Wùlu,” Daouda Coulibaly, France/Senegal (International Premiere)

“Gringo: The Dangerous Life of John McAfee,” Nanette Burstein, USA (World Premiere)
“Off Frame AKA Revolution Until Victory,” Mohanad Yaqubi, Palestine/France/Qatar (World Premiere)
“The Terry Kath Experience,” Michelle Sinclair, USA (World Premiere)

“The Eagle Huntress,” Otto Bell, USA (Canadian Premiere)
“The Day My Father Became a Bush” (“Toen mijn vader een struik werd”), Nicole van Kilsdonk, Netherlands/Belgium/Croatia (World Premiere)
“My Life as a Courgette” (“Ma Vie de Courgette”), Claude Barras, Switzerland/France (North American Premiere)
“Miss Impossible” (“Jamais contente”), Emilie Deleuze, France (North American Premiere)

TIFF Next Wave
“Divines,” Houda Benyamina, France/Qatar (Discovery)
“The Edge of Seventeen,” Kelly Fremon Craig, USA (Gala Presentations)
“Handsome Devil,” John Butler, Ireland (Contemporary World Cinema)
“India in a Day,” Richie Mehta, India/United Kingdom (TIFF Docs)
“Layla M.,” Mijke de Jong, Netherlands/Belgium/Germany/Jordan (Platform)
“Moonlight,” Barry Jenkins, USA (Platform)
“My Entire High School Sinking Into the Sea,” Dash Shaw, USA (Vanguard)
“Noces,” Stephan Streker, Belgium/France/Luxembourg/Pakistan (Discovery)
“The Wedding Ring” (“Zin’naariyâ!”), Rahmatou Keïta, Niger/Burkina Faso/France (Contemporary World Cinema)
“Window Horses (The Poetic Persian Epiphany of Rosie Ming),”
Ann Marie Fleming, Canada (Special Presentations)

“Ch’aak’ S’aagi” (“Eagle Bone”), Tracy Rector, USA (International Premiere)
“Invasion!,” Maureen Fan, Eric Darnell, Michael Hutchinson, USA (Canadian Premiere)
“Jafri,” Michael Beets, Australia (North American Premiere)
“KÀ The Battle Within,” Felix & Paul Studios/Cirque du Soleil Media, Canada (World Premiere)
“Right to Pray,” Memesys Culture Lab, India (World Premiere)