Documentaries steal spotlight at Toronto Film fest

Fri Sep 9, 2011 4:37pm EDT
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By Cameron French

TORONTO (Reuters) - They're not exactly squeezing Brad Pitt and George Clooney out onto the street, but documentaries are grabbing a larger share of the spotlight than usual at this year's Toronto International Film Festival.

In addition to festival opener "From the Sky Down" -- the U2 documentary by Davis Guggenheim -- documentary royalty such as Werner Herzog, Morgan Spurlock, Wim Wenders and Alex Gibney will all unspool premieres over the next week.

"We've opened up more seats in our theaters for documentaries than ever before and put them in bigger venues than ever before," said Thom Powers, documentary programer for the festival.

"It reflects the ever growing presence and importance of documentary in the culture on a number of different levels."

Several blocks away from U2's red carpet premiere on Thursday, more than one thousand people crammed in to a festival theater for the world premiere of "Into the Abyss", a documentary by "Cave of Forgotten Dreams" director Herzog.

Spurlock, who gained fame with 2004's "Super Size Me", will premiere his latest offering, "Comic Con: Episode IV - A Fan's Hope" about the wildly popular annual pop culture conference in San Diego.

Wenders will unveil "Pina" about influential dance choreographer Pina Bausch, while Gibney will premier "The Last Gladiators", which examines the world of hockey fighters.

With the U.S. election year looming, Nick Broomfield's "Sarah Palin - You Betcha!" -- billed as a quest for the "real" Sarah Palin in her home state of Alaska -- promises to be a big draw.   Continued...

<p>Workers prepare the red carpet area at Roy Thomson Hall for the start of the 36th Toronto International Film Festival in Toronto September 7, 2011. REUTERS/Mike Cassese</p>