Jul 24, 2012 10:36 AM ETLooper, the sci-fi action thriller from U.S. director Rian Johnson, will open the Toronto International Film Festival, organizers announced in Toronto on Tuesday.
The anticipated film, which was teased for fans at Comic-Con, reteams Johnson with actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt, the increasingly prominent young actor who starred in his ambitious debut feature, the teen noir Brick. The cast of the futuristic tale also includes Bruce Willis and Emily Blunt.
Several years ago, festival organizers changed their policy of only selecting Canadian films to open the festival, and for the past three editions, international titles landed the first-night slot. The choice of Looper sets "a very different" and "a very important" tone for this year's event, TIFF chief executive Piers Handling told media Tuesday morning.
"It’s a genre film. It’s a very smart genre film. It’s a film that deals with cinema. It mixes a couple of genres — science fiction and the gangster movie. It’s a young filmmaker, who I think is a filmmaker for us to watch," he said of Johnson, who brought both Brick and his sophomore effort, the conman caper film The Brothers Bloom, to past editions of TIFF.
For opening night, "you want a film that actually commands the screen, is entertaining, that people really, really enjoy and [that] gets their heads into the rest of the festival," Handling added.
Handling and TIFF artistic director Cameron Bailey unveiled on Tuesday a long list of more than 60 star-studded North American and international films that will screen at this fall's event, including new titles by top filmmakers such as David O. Russell, Mira Nair, Costa-Gavras, Joss Whedon, Robert Redford, Laurent Cantat and Mike Newell.
Notable entries include Deepa Mehta's eagerly awaited adaptation of Salman Rushdie's novel Midnight's Children, Ben Affleck's 1970s-set CIA thriller Argo and To the Wonder, the latest from Terrence Malick (also starring Affleck).
Follow-up to Cairo TimeAlong with Mehta, another Canadian filmmaker on the initial sched is Ruba Nadda with Inescapable, her follow-up to Cairo Time and a thriller about a Syrian expat's desperate search for his missing journalist daughter in the Middle East.
"These are our galas and special presentations, so they are typically our biggest red carpet films — featuring some of the biggest stars in the world, but not just Hollywood stars. It’s a very diverse mix of galas in particular this year, from more than six countries" including Denmark, China, Japan and Italy, Bailey told reporters.
"Usually when a film premieres, [the stars] attend, but we don’t announce that until later in August," he added.
"I think you can expect most of the people on this list to want to be here in Toronto," Handing quipped immediately afterward.
The announcement also included a trio of documentaries from American filmmakers: the Liz Garbus production Love, Marilyn; Maiken Baird's Venus & Serena, about the sibling tennis stars; and Free Angela & All Political Prisoners, Shola Lynch's film about activist and former Black Panther Angela Davis. A longer nonfiction slate is forthcoming later this summer, along with further film titles.