Author Salman Rushdie will come to the Toronto International Film Festival with filmmaker Deepa Mehta to give a sneak preview of scenes from the film adaptation of his celebrated novel Midnight's Children – as part of a program of star-laden public talks during the festival.
TIFF programmer Thom Powers described the slate, announced Tuesday, as the "most ambitious Mavericks section we've ever presented, with movie-making legends, timely topics, celebrated artists from music and literature and even a sitting president."
The political leader is Mohamed Nasheed, President of the Maldives, who will appear in a public discussion about the new documentary The Island President, which deals with the threat to his nation from rising sea levels.
Director Francis Ford Coppola will come to talk about his famous (and famously turbulent) film career, including his new film Twixt, showing at the festival. Meanwhile, actor Christopher Plummer will also give a career-spanning discussion following the screening of Barrymore, the film of his Broadway hit.
And whereas Bruce Springsteen stole the show with his TIFF appearance last year, Neil Young will be coming to the festival next month to discuss his latest performance film by director Jonathan Demme. The film's highlight is Young's return to Massey Hall, a key venue in the singer-songwriter-rocker's long career.
It's all part of TIFF's effort to make the biggest filmmakers and stars accessible to the public. Even with the announcement of the major celebrities coming to the festival to be shuttled to premieres and press conferences, TIFF organizers paid equal attention Tuesday to the various talks and the last-minute additions to the schedule open to the public.
"Whereas Cannes is a big industry event, TIFF is very much a public event," said Cameron Bailey, the festival's co-director. "At Cannes, if you're a man, you have to have a tuxedo. A woman has to have an evening dress and high heels. In Toronto, you're probably better off with a good pair of walking shoes and a bottle of water.
"That's how people do the festival here. They are serious about watching movies. They want to watch four or five or even six movies a day, and they go at it hard," Bailey said.