A documentary about rock band U2 will open this year’s Toronto International Film Festival.
The festival also features the world premieres of films by Luc Besson, Terence Davies, Francis Ford Coppola and Michael Winterbottom.
Davis Guggenheim’s From The Sky Down, which charts the release of U2’s Achtung Baby in 1991, is the first documentary to open the festival. The gala, opening on 8 September, is a key event ahead of the Oscars. Last year Toronto’s top audience prize went to The King’s Speech which went on to win the Academy Award for best picture.
Among the world premieres are Luc Besson’s The Lady, which tells the story of Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi and her husband Michael Aris. The film stars Michelle Yeoh and David Thewlis.
Thewlis also appears alongside Rhys Ifans and Vanessa Redgrave in Roland Emmerich’s Anonymous, which premieres in Toronto. Set in Elizabethan England, the film speculates that William Shakespeare may not have been the true author of his plays. Terence Davies’ The Deep Blue Sea will also be unveiled, starring Rachel Weisz as a wife who walks out on her High Court judge husband (Simon Russell Beale) to be with her lover, a young ex-RAF pilot played by Tom Hiddleston.
Festival-goers will also get a first look at The Descendants, starring George Clooney and Lasse Hallstrom’s Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, starring Ewan McGregor, and Michael Winterbottom’s Trishna. Based on Thomas Hardy’s novel Tess of the d’Urbervilles, Trishna is set in contemporary India and tells the tragic love story between the son of a wealthy businessman and the daughter of a rickshaw driver. The film stars Slumdog Millionaire actress Freida Pinto and Riz Ahmed.
Francis Ford Coppola – the director of The Godfather and Apocalypse Now – will premiere Twixt, a murder mystery with Val Kilmer. Of his opening U2 documentary, Guggenheim said: “In the terrain of rock bands – implosion or explosion is seemingly inevitable.
“U2 has defied the gravitational pull towards destruction, this band has endured and thrived. The movie From The Sky Down asks the question why.”
Guggenheim won an Oscar for An Inconvenient Truth, his documentary on climate change featuring former US vice-president Al Gore. A second rock documentary, Pearl Jam Twenty by director Cameron Crowe, will also have its world premiere at the 10-day festival, which was founded in 1976.