Entertainment

TIFF 2015: Julianne Moore, Benedict Cumberbatch among stars expected

TIFF 2015's galas and premieres to include films by Jean-Marc Vallée, Michael Moore, Ridley Scott. Stars like Matt Damon, Johnny Depp, Jake Gyllenhaal and Idris Elba are expected.

Jean-Marc Vallée's Demolition, starring Jake Gyllenhaal, to open the festival

Benedict Cumberbatch, seen here greeting fans in 2014, is among the stars expected at TIFF 2015 (David Donnelly/CBC)

TIFF 2015 is going back to its Canadian roots for its 40th birthday, opening the festival with Quebec director Jean-Marc Vallée's Demolition. After critical successes such as Wild and Dallas Buyers Club, Vallée will kick off the festival with Demolition, starring Jake Gyllenhaal. 

Gyllenhaal is just one of the A-list stars who have become fan favourites at the festival, returning to Toronto year after year. After her Oscar-winning turn in Still Alice, Julianne Moore will walk the red carpet again for Freeheld, a movie she starts in alongside Canadian Ellen Page. The film focuses on the real-life love story and fight for justice by two New Jersey women and is likely to be especially poignant in a year where same-sex marriage became legal in the United States.

Director Tom Hooper (King's Speech) is also returning to TIFF with a film dealing with a topical subject: the rights of transgender people. In The Danish Girl, Oscar-winner Eddie Redmayne plays Lili Elbe, the first known recipient of sexual reassignment surgery. 

Benedict Cumberbatch fans may get a chance to see their idol for a third year in a row: the British actor is expected to attend the festival as part of the star-studded film Black Mass. Directed by American Scott Cooper, the mob thriller co-stars Johnny Depp, Kevin Bacon and Joel Edgerton.

Bacon confirmed he will attend the festival as well.

"I look forward to going," he told CBC. "TIFF's a great place. I've been there a bunch of times. It's become a little bit of a cliché but there's a real, real great appreciation for good films and good filmmakers there. It's a little bit less of a scene and a little bit more of just crowds that really, really dig movies."

Festival-goers can also expect to catch a glimpse of Matt Damon and Jessica Chastain. After co-starring in Insterstellar, the actors are back in space in iconic director Ridley Scott's new film The Martian

Focus on Canadian directors 

Vallée is not the only Canadian director to be featured at the festival

Other well-known Canadian filmmakers are in the spotlight, too. Deepa Mehta's Beeba Boys, about gang violence among young Indo-Canadian men, will be highlighted, as will Remember, a film by Atom Egoyan, another longtime friend of the festival.

After a strong showing at Cannes, Dennis Villeneuve's Sicario will have its North American premiere at TIFF 2015. The film, starring Emily Blunt and Benicio Del Toro, is about a young FBI agent drawn into a violent war on drugs on the U.S.-Mexican border. 

Festival at Forty

All that star power, homegrown and international, will help TIFF usher in its fifth decade. When the event first unrolled its red carpet in 1976, it was called the Festival of Festivals. In its early years, it mostly featured Canadian films. But through the decades, the festival's reputation has grown, eventually making it one of the go-to stops for the biggest international stars and directors on the road to the Oscars.

TIFF 2015 will unveil its full slate of Canadian films on August 5.

This year's festival runs September 10-20, with the coveted audience award handed out on the closing day.

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