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tiff 2011

A scene from the Dardenne brothers' "The Kid with a Bike"

More than a whistle stop on the way to the Hollywood's awards season, TIFF is also a showcase for the best in world cinema, with has a particularly strong concentration in this year's Masters program.

Leading the way is The Kid with a Bike, the latest film from Belgium's Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne. Belgian filmmakers, offering what they call their "fairy tale" about a 12-year-old delinquent boy and the young hairdresser (Cécile de France) who reaches out to him.

The Dardennes' film shared Cannes Grand Prize with another Masters selection, Turkish director Nuri Bilge Ceylan's Once Upon a Time in Anatolia, which follows a small-town doctor on a night with the police, in the aftermath of a murder.

Another Cannes competition highlight is Finnish director Aki Kaurismaki's Le Havre, a deadpan comedy about a bohemian shoeshine man and a young African refugee, set in the French port city of the film's title.

Three more films, picked from Cannes' Un Certain Regard program, include: Gus van Sant's latest teen drama, Restless, about the bond between a boy and a terminally-ill girl; French self-styled "mystic atheist" Bruno Dumont's new film, Outside Satan, tracing the relationship between a reclusive poacher and a farm girl; and Marseilles-based director, Robert Guédiguian's The Snows of Kilimanjaro (not related to the Hemingway story), about a middle-class couple reaching out to orphaned children.

In yet another film about children, Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-Eda's offers I Wish, about sibling brothers separated by divorce and geography.

Three other dramas focus on history and literature including Almayer's Folly, based on Joseph Conrad's Malaysian-set novel. Hungarian director Béla Tarr's Berlin competition film, The Turin Horse, follows a drama inspired by an incident in the life of philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche and a horse he tried to save from a beating. Finally, Alexander Sokurov's version of Faust, represents the culmination of the Russian director's tetralogy on the corrupting effects of power.

Previously announced Masters titles include Hard Core Logo II (Bruce McDonald), Pina (Wim Wenders) and This is Not a Film (Jafar Panahi and Mojtaba Mirtahmasb), made surreptitiously while Panahi was under house arrest.