TORONTO - Canadian heavyweights Jay Baruchel, Bruce McDonald, Guy Maddin and Jean-Marc Vallee are among the filmmakers bringing their latest projects to the Toronto International Film Festival, with several features boosted by international stars including Vanessa Paradis, Jason Patric, Liev Schreiber and Rob Lowe.

McDonald will be at the fest with "Hard Core Logo II," the highly anticipated sequel to his 1996 cult classic while Maddin brings his black-and-white offering, "Keyhole," starring Patric and Isabella Rossellini.

"It's an attempt at a hybrid, I've always wanted to make a gangsters-meets-ghosts picture so I sort of got my chance," Maddin said Tuesday at an afternoon news conference packed with fellow filmmakers.

"Along the way I decided I also wanted to make a Bowery Boys movie as if written by Homer. It didn't turn out that way at all. I'm not sure what it is but I hope you check it out."

Vallee, whose previous projects include the acclaimed "C.R.A.Z.Y." and "The Young Victoria," will be in Toronto with the love story "Cafe de Flore" after it visits the Venice Film Festival.

The Canadian slate features several homegrown luminaries, including comedian Russell Peters who appears in Robert Lieberman's "Breakaway." The hockey drama is set in Toronto's Indo-Canadian community and also stars Lowe.

"Rob Lowe is just so handsome, I had a big crush on him," "Breakaway" co-star Al Mukadam, who plays goalie Inderjit Singh, joked after the announcement. "I'll say that out loud, I don't care. I'm proud of that, Rob Lowe is a handsome man."

Star Vinay Virmani, who plays a young man torn between his family's expectations and dreams of hockey stardom, also admitted to being a bit starstruck.

"We were all in awe because it's 'Youngblood,"' said Virmani, referring to Lowe's 1986 hockey film.

"To see 'Youngblood' come back and to be our coach, it was amazing."

Baruchel stars and co-writes another hockey-related offering, "Goon," about a bouncer-turned-hockey bruiser. Helmed by "Fubar" director Mike Dowse, it also stars Seann William Scott, Alison Pill, and Schreiber.

"Trailer Park Boys" director Mike Clattenburg, meanwhile, directs Nick Stahl in "Afghan Luke," the story of a journalist who is disappointed when his story about Afghanistan is buried and returns to the country to get more information.

Also of note is Mary Harron's "The Moth Diaries," with Scott Speedman, the historical drama "Edwin Boyd," also starring Speedman and helmed by Nathan Morlando, and "Billy Bishop Goes to War," directed by Barbara Willis-Sweete and starring "Corner Gas" alum Eric Peterson.

Canadian programmer Steve Gravestock says this year's homegrown selection of films "addresses a wide range of pressing social issues."

Maddin said the festival's Canuck category appears to be coming of age.

"It's getting to be more of a glitzy, in the right way, glitzy hybrid of art and showbiz and myth-making," said Maddin, sporting a full white beard and joking he was now known as "Captain Scruffy."

"It's a myth-making machine now, it's fantastic. And the Canadian film section has been caught up in the machinery I think, finally. I often wondered what it would take for Canadian film to be considered part of the myth-making machinery of Hollywood and I think TIFF's been doing its bit."

"The crowds are big, there's a sense of drama, my red carpet has gone from being more of a placemat to something like semi-long runner over the years. And its red now, it really is red."

Two other high-profile Canadian galas -- Sarah Polley's "Take This Waltz" and David Cronenberg's "A Dangerous Method" have already been announced.

Another Canadian gala announced Tuesday was Ken Scott's "Starbuck," starring Quebec actor Patrick Huard as a 42-year-old man who discovers he's the biological father of 533 children.

First-time filmmakers at the fest include Quebec's Guy Edoin, with "Wetlands," about a drought-parched dairy farm in the Eastern Townships.

The festival runs Sept. 8 to 18.

For the first time, it's set to open with a documentary, Davis Guggenheim's look at Irish rockers U2 entitled "From The Sky Down."