TIFF to feature films starring Ryan Gosling, Julia Roberts, Bradley Cooper
Ryan Gosling arrives on the red carpet for the film 'La La Land' during the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival in Toronto on Monday, Sept. 12, 2016. (THE CANADIAN PRESS / Chris Young)
Victoria Ahearn, The Canadian Press
Published Tuesday, July 24, 2018 11:08AM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, July 24, 2018 2:34PM EDT
TORONTO -- Bradley Cooper's directorial debut featuring Lady Gaga, a Julia Roberts family addiction drama, and Ryan Gosling's turn as astronaut Neil Armstrong are among the projects bound for the Toronto International Film Festival.
On Tuesday, organizers unveiled the galas and special presentations set for this year's fest, which runs Sept. 6-16.
The list includes Cooper's romantic drama "A Star is Born," which the four-time Oscar-nominated actor co-wrote and stars in, playing an alcoholic country musician who falls in love with a singer played by Gaga.
In Peter Hedges' "Ben is Back," Roberts plays a mother whose son (played by Lucas Hedges of "Manchester by the Sea") returns home for the holidays with substance abuse issues.
The theme of recovery continues with Felix van Groeningen's "Beautiful Boy," starring Steve Carell and Timothee Chalamet as his son who's battling a methamphetamine addiction.
Meanwhile, Gosling teams up with his "La La Land" director Damien Chazelle for "First Man," about Armstrong's life and legacy walking on the Moon. Steven Spielberg is an executive producer.
Director Barry Jenkins, whose film "Moonlight" beat out "La La Land" for the best-picture Oscar after a famous onstage mixup last year, will also be at TIFF with "If Beale Street Could Talk."
The lineup also has Montreal native Jason Reitman's "The Front Runner," starring Hugh Jackman as American Senator Gary Hart who was embroiled in an adultery scandal.
While the bulk of the Canadian titles have yet to be revealed, some major homegrown films have been locked in, including "Through Black Spruce" by Toronto director Don McKellar. It's based on the acclaimed novel by Canadian author Joseph Boyden, whose claims of Indigenous ancestry were questioned last year and sparked online debates after an investigation by the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network.
Debate also surrounds the idea of having McKellar, who isn't Indigenous, directing "Through Black Spruce."
TIFF's artistic director Cameron Bailey points out that Cree activist, producer and actress Tina Keeper optioned the film rights and chose McKellar to helm it.
Bailey hopes the film will encourage more Indigenous screen projects, "including and maybe especially by Indigenous filmmakers."
"I think there are many conversations to be had coming out of all of this, and these are conversations that we've certainly been having with the filmmakers, with Tina, with Don and the other people behind it," Bailey said.
"We've got on our programming team for Canadian features, two people -- Steve Gravestock and Danis Goulet -- Danis herself is Indigenous and very well-versed in these issues."
Emmy-nominated writer-director Patricia Rozema of Kingston, Ont., returns to the fest with "Mouthpiece."
Montreal filmmaker Kim Nguyen, whose previous features include the Oscar-nominated "Rebelle," recruited an A-list cast for "The Hummingbird Project." Jesse Eisenberg, Alexander Skarsgard and Salma Hayek star in the 1990s-set story of high-frequency trading.
And while "The Sisters Brothers" is not a Canadian film, it is based on the lauded comic western novel by Vancouver Island native Patrick deWitt. "Rust and Bone" filmmaker Jacques Audiard directed and co-write the adaptation, which stars John C. Reilly, Joaquin Phoenix, and Jake Gyllenhaal.
Other heavy-hitting projects include David Lowery's bank-robber biopic "Old Man & the Gun," which is said to be Robert Redford's final onscreen performance before his planned retirement from acting. Co-stars include Casey Affleck, Danny Glover, Tom Waits and Sissy Spacek.
Steve McQueen will be at the fest with the heist thriller "Widows," which is loaded with stars including Viola Davis, Colin Farrell, and Liam Neeson.
In "What They Had" by Elizabeth Chomko, Blythe Danner plays a mother with Alzheimer's disease. Co-stars include Hilary Swank and Michael Shannon.
Emilio Estevez makes a long-awaited return to filmmaking with "The Public," in which he also stars alongside a cast including Alec Baldwin, Christian Slater, and Gabrielle Union.
A total of 17 galas and 30 special presentations were announced -- 21 of which are world premieres, and 13 of which are directed by women.
Comedies include "The Weekend" by Stella Meghie, starring Sasheer Zamata, Tone Bell, and DeWanda Wise.
"High Life" by Claire Denis is billed as a science fiction adventure drama starring Robert Pattinson and Juliette Binoche.
Bailey said they plan to announce the opening night film soon.
"We wanted to make sure that we got exactly the right film and that we got everyone lined up to be there on opening night," Bailey said.