Toronto's King Street West will take on the air of Beverly Hills's Rodeo Drive next month as a massive contingent of celebrities heads to the Toronto International Film Festival. Denzel Washington, Casey Affleck, Natalie Portman, Lupita Nyong'o, Ryan Gosling, Anne Hathaway and Jake Gyllenhaal are just a few of the hundreds of actors and filmmakers set to attend this year's festival, organizers announced Tuesday.
The announcement was the final part of TIFF's summer-long series of lineup reveals, and included 35 new films from the Discovery program, which highlights first and second features from directors across the world.
Notably, this year's festival – which encompasses 296 full-length features, up nine from last year – includes work from 83 different countries, a TIFF record.
"The team's done a great job this year, and we take our responsibility to highlight international cinema very seriously," said Piers Handling, director and CEO of TIFF. "We have everything from films that will go deep into the awards season to films that will never be seen again in this country."
Handling was also eager to note that almost 30 per cent of this year's films are directed by women – a marked contrast from other international festivals such as Cannes, which this past spring featured only three women-helmed features in competition (though the French fest also screens a fraction of what TIFF ends up programming).
"We're moving in the right direction – we've moved the needle from 22 per cent last year," said Handling. "Seven of our galas are directed by women, and we have some of the most talented filmmakers in the world coming here: Andrea Arnold, Mira Nair, Deepa Mehta, Kelly Reichardt."
TIFF also on Tuesday unveiled the lineup for its In Conversation With … program, which this year will feature onstage talks with everyone from Isabelle Huppert (in town with three TIFF films) to Mark Wahlberg (who will be promoting the oil-rig disaster movie Deepwater Horizon).
Finally, the festival revealed details of its first-ever virtual-reality program, which will include five immersive, interactive projects played consecutively for viewers. The program, POP VR, will run during the final days of the fest, Sept. 16 to 18, for 12 hours each day.
"It's still an open question as to what place VR, or any kind of 360-degree video, will have in the film world, but right now it's a moment of experimentation – and we want to show our audience those experiments," said Cameron Bailey, TIFF's artistic director.
The 41st edition of TIFF runs Sept. 8 to 18 at various Toronto venues (more information at tiff.net).