Toronto film fest unveils docs, horror and Athens lineup additions

The Toronto International Film Festival's latest lineup additions include fresh horror from Eli Roth, docs exploring topics from Egypt's turmoil to Penthouse founder Bob Guccione and a restored print of David Cronenberg's classic Shivers.

Doc on Penthouse founder, Daniel Radcliffe horror join festival program

Filthy Gorgeous: The Bob Guccione Story, Canadian filmmaker Bary Avrich's portrait of the Penthouse magazine founder, is among the latest additions to the TIFF 2013 lineup. (TIFF)

The Toronto International Film Festival's latest lineup additions include fresh horror from Eli Roth, docs exploring topics from Egypt's turmoil to Penthouse founder Bob Guccione and a restored print of David Cronenberg's classic Shivers.

Organizers fleshed out the offerings for several TIFF programs Tuesday, including TIFF Docs, Midnight Madness, Cinematheque (restored films), City to City and Vanguard lineups.

Nine films were unveiled for the Midnight Madness 25th anniversary bill, including Roth's The Green Inferno, an Amazon-set tale of cannibalism, a sex comedy from Japanese filmmaker and performer Hitoshi Matsumoto (R100) and the dark, vampire-themed directorial debut of Hong Kong pop singer Juno Mak (Rigor Mortis). The program will open with All Cheerleaders Die, directed by Lucky McKee and Chris Sivertson.

A host of non-fiction titles will join previously announced films such as Errol Morris' Donald Rumsfeld doc The Unknown Known. Highlights include:

Daniel Radcliffe appears in the Vanguard program title Horns, a supernatural thriller. (TIFF)
  • Iconic Canadian documentarian Alanis Obomsawin's Hi-Ho Mistahey!, about a teen First Nations education activist.
  • Filthy Gorgeous, Canadian filmmaker Barry Avrich's portrait of Penthouse magazine founder Guccione.
  • The Square, Jehane Noujaim's account of the Egyptian uprising.
  • Tim's Vermeer, illusionists Penn and Teller's film about a man researching the artistic technique of 17th century Dutch Master Johannes Vermeer.
  • Beyond the Edge, a 3D film that retraces Sir Edmund Hillary's first ascent of Mount Everest

The provocative Vanguard lineup includes boundary-pushing, convention-defying titles, including horror director Alexandre Aja's Horns, a supernatural thriller starring Juno Temple and Daniel Radcliffe.

The Cinematheque program will screen a new digital restoration of Cronenberg's Shivers — ahead of TIFF's upcoming film exhibit devoted to the Canadian filmmaker — as well as six other classics from around the globe.

Athens in focus

Artistic director Cameron Bailey also unveiled on Tuesday the 10-film lineup for this year's City to City program, which has set its sight on recent titles shot in tumultuous Athens.

"I'm always looking for the right city at the right moment, so it's not just that there are good films, but it has to be the right time," Bailey told CBC News.

"As the financial crisis has hit [Athens], we've seen filmmakers react...and doing it in perhaps surprising ways. It's not just a matter of running out onto the street with a video camera and shooting what's happening, capturing the protests and turning that into a movie -- although we've seen some of that, too. I think more interesting is to watch artists absorb the instability that has been visited upon Greece through the financial crisis and to see how they react to that instability. It's always interesting when artists are forced to deal with flux and change." 

Unlike previous years, where filmmakers from chosen cities worked in a diversity of film genres, the current crop from Athens surprisingly offered a consistent tone, formality and restraint in their films — no matter the topic — that really drew the program together, Bailey added.

"These are films that are often dealing with social conditions that arose from the economic crisis, people who don't have a lot and are struggling, but the approach is not simply to show that in a bid for audience sympathy. Instead, you're getting almost a stark absurd drama or a stark, absurd comedy that reminded me of a lot of Beckett ... or some of the great playwrights of the 20th century."

The program has also seen some real-world benefits for featured filmmakers, for instance the independent Indian directors from last year's Mumbai showcase, Bailey said.

[For the international community], it's hard to get beyond Bollywood, it’s so blinding and dazzling you don’t see anything else... The Mumbai spotlight really helped identify and show the significance of independent filmmaking that is not Bollywood, he noted.

On a trip back to Mumbai last month, Bailey saw some of last year's City to City filmmakers "working on new projects, now plugged into the international film world, getting invitations to other festivals, getting written about by critics outside of India and who feel like they’re part of the global film world and international stage. I do think City to City helped in a small way."

Further lineup announcements are expected in August. The 2013 Toronto International Film Festival takes place Sept. 5-15.