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Mandela and The Railway Man among Toronto Film Festival world premieres


Story by Jack Foley

NELSON Mandela biopic Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom and Colin Firth World War II drama The Railway Man are among the films receiving a world premiere at this year’s Toronto Film Festival (2013).

Luther‘s Idris Elba plays Mandela in the film, which is based on the autobiography Long Walk to Freedom. Many are already tipping the British actor to be firmly in awards contention for his portrayal of the politician.

The film, directed by Justin Chadwick, chronicles the anti-apartheid campaigner’s rural upbringing and how he coped with being in prison for 27 years.

It also stars Naomie Harris as his wife, Winnie Mandela, and is scheduled to open in UK cinemas in January.

The Railway Man stars Firth and Jeremy Irvine and tells the true story of Eric Lomax, who served on the notorious Burma Railway during World War II. It is also being tipped for awards success. Find out more

The 38th Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) runs from September 5 to 15, 2013, and is often viewed as a useful showcase for which films may feature prominently come awards season.

Silver Linings Playbook won its top prize last year, ahead of landing multiple awards and Oscar nominations, including a win for Jennifer Lawrence as best actress.

Other films that will screen for the first time include The Fifth Estate, a film about Julian Assange starring Benedict Cumberbatch as the WikiLeaks founder which opens the festival, and August: Osage Country, which features Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts and Ewan McGregor in the story of the women of a family whose lives have splintered in many directions until a crisis brings them back to their childhood home.

Steve McQueen’s 12 Years A Slave, based on the autobiography of Solomon Northup and starring Chiwetel Ejiofor, will also be debuting at the festival, as will The Invisible Woman, actor Ralph Fiennes’s drama about Charles Dickens.

Rush, Ron Howard’s film about the rivalry between Formula 1 racers James Hunt and Nikki Lauda, will have its international premiere, while Submarine filmmaker and former IT Crowd luminary Richard Ayoade will use the festival to launch his comedy The Double.

Other titles tipped for awards success include Dallas Buyers Club, in which Matthew McConaughey plays a Texan who takes on the medical establishment after being diagnosed HIV positive, and Life of Crime, an adaptation of Elmore Leonard’s novel The Switch, featuring characters previously seen in Quentin Tarantino’s Jackie Brown. That film stars Jennifer Aniston, Tim Robbins, Isla Fischer and Mos Def.

And further films of keen interest include Mike Myers’ documentary Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon, based on the Hollywood talent manager, writer/director Peter Landsman’s Parkland, starring Zac Efron and Billy Bob Thornton, and Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity, starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney (which is to open Venice).

Films among the Special Presentations sidebar include Denis Villeneuve’s Prisoners, a thriller that stars Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal and Viola Davis, and Paul Haggis’ Third Person, which is headlined by James Franco and Mila Kunis.

And North American debuts booked for the Special Presentations sidebar include Stephen Frear’s Philomena; Keanu Reeves’ Man of Tai Chi; Thomas Imbach’s Mary, Queen of Scots; David Gordon Green’s Joe; Kelly Reichardt’s Night Moves; Paradise Now director Hany Abu-Assad’s Omar (which debuted at Cannes), and Jim Jarmusch’s Only Lovers Left Alive.

Piers Handling, chief executive officer and director of TIFF, said the first round of films “offers a taste of the powerhouse line-up at this year’s festival”.

“These are the works that will have everyone talking because they capture the mood of the times,” he added.

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