Pedro Almodovar, James Franco films flesh out TIFF 2016 lineups

A Pedro Almodovar film based on Alice Munro's stories, James Franco's adaptation of a John Steinbeck novel and movies starring Richard Gere, Christian Bale and Naomi Watts are the latest additions to the 2016 TIFF lineup.

Movies starring Richard Gere, Naomi Watts, Jacob Tremblay, Bryan Cranston set for fest

James Franco directs and stars in the film In Dubious Battle, based on John Steinbeck's novel about migratory workers who rise up in a labour dispute. It's one of the latest additions to the TIFF 2016 lineup. (TIFF)

A Pedro Almodovar film based on Alice Munro's stories, James Franco's adaptation of a John Steinbeck novel and movies starring Richard Gere, Christian Bale and Naomi Watts are the latest additions to the 2016 TIFF lineup.

The Toronto International Film Festival unleashed a fresh wave of movies Tuesday, including new galas and special presentations, movies from master auteurs, bold offerings for its City to City spotlight, contemporary world cinema titles and features slated for the experimental wavelength program.

Just a few of the actors expected to join their films at TIFF this fall (from left): Naomi Watts in The Bleeder, Richard Gere in Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer, James Franco in In Dubious Battle and Michelle Rodriguez in (Re)Assignment. (TIFF)

A pair of galas joins the high-profile slate: the star-studded tale Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer, starring Gere, and historical wartime drama The Promise, set against the final days of the Ottoman Empire and featuring Bale and Oscar Isaac.

Walter Hill's assassin story (Re)Assignment, a Canadian production, is among the films added to the special presentations, along with Brain on Fire, Gerard Barrett's Irish-Canadian film about a woman's battle against a sudden and mysterious neurological illness, lifesaving diagnosis and recovery.

Bryan Cranston will be seen at TIFF 2016 in several films, including Wakefield, in which he plays a man who goes into hiding in his garage attic after a nervous breakdown. (TIFF)

Other special presentations include:

  • Quebec director Phillip Falardeau's The Bleeder, about the real-life boxer who inspired the Rocky films and starring Watts, Liev Schreiber and Elisabeth Moss. 
  • I, Daniel Blake, British filmmaker Ken Loach's Palme d'Or-winning contemporary drama about an aged carpenter unable to work after a heart attack, but blocked from medical benefits due to bureaucracy.
  • In Dubious Battle, the labour conflict-migrant worker tale directed and starring Franco alongside Vincent D'Onofrio, Selena Gomez, Ed Harris, Sam Shepard, Robert Duvall and Bryan Cranston.
  • Terrence Malick's Voyage of Time: Life's Journey, a visual effects-laden exploration of the universe and natural phenomena narrated by Cate Blanchett.
  • Burn Your Maps, featuring young Canadian actor Jacob Tremblay (Room) as a young boy convinced he is actually a Mongolian goat herder.  
Pedro Almodovar's latest, Julieta, is based on three of Canadian Alice Munro's short stories. (TIFF)

Acclaimed Spanish director Almodovar's Julieta, part of the Masters lineup, adapts three of Canadian Nobel Prize-winner Munro's short stories into a "time tripping tale" about a mother-daughter relationship.

Other auteurs bringing films to TIFF this fall include Wim Wenders (The Beautiful Days of Aranjuez), Kelly Reichardt (Certain Women), Cristian Mungiu (Graduation), Brillante Ma Mendoza (Ma' Rosa), Olivier Assayas (Personal Shopper), Terence Davies (A Quiet Passion) and Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne (The Unknown Girl).

Lagos takes the spotlight for the festival's City to City program this year, with eight "Nollywood" titles to screen and up-and-coming actors OC Ukeje and Somkele Iyamah Idhalama — rising stars from Nigeria's largest city — invited to participate in special events, seminars and workshops. 

TIFF 2016 runs Sept. 8-18.