July 25, 2017 / 6:05 PM / in 4 months

Stories of survival, women to highlight Toronto film festival

TORONTO (Reuters) - Stories of survival in turbulent times, including David Gordon Green’s world premiere of “Stronger” about a victim of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, are among the highlights in store at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival.

Angelina Jolie’s “First They Killed My Father” set in Cambodia during the Khmer Rouge and horror mystery “Mother!” by Darren Aronofsky, starring Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem, were also among the films announced on Tuesday in the first look at the festival’s lineup for 2017.

Audiences can also catch social satire “Downsizing”, directed by Alexander Payne and starring Matt Damon, and George Clooney-directed crime-comedy “Suburbicon.” Guillermo del Toro’s fantastical “The Shape of Water” will also screen.

The Toronto event, which kicks off Sept. 7, has become one of the world’s largest film festivals, known for debuting critically acclaimed films that have later won Academy Awards for best picture.

“Stronger” stars Jake Gyllenhaal as Jeff Bauman, who lost both his legs during the Boston Marathon, and Tatiana Maslany as his girlfriend.

“It’s a moment of incredible transformation, disruption, change, challenge, so I think you’ll see that reflected in the films we’re showing,” said Piers Handling, chief executive and director of the film festival, now in its 42nd year.

“One of the ideas that struck me is the whole notion of survival,” he said about the films announced so far. “It seems to be a topic that a lot of people are thinking about.”

Hany Abu-Assad’s “The Mountain Between Us,” starring Idris Elba and Kate Winslet, is about two strangers stranded on a mountain after surviving a plane crash.

Jennifer Baichwal and Nicholas de Pencier’s “Long Time Running” is a documentary about Canadian rock band The Tragically Hip’s 2016 tour as frontman Gord Downie battles terminal brain cancer.

Organizers did not announce which film will kick off the 10-day festival, but said the world premiere of “C‘est La Vie!” by Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano, the duo behind “The Intouchables,” will close.

Women will also grab the festival spotlight, with Haifaa Al Mansour’s “Mary Shelley” and Angela Robinson’s “Professor Marston & the Wonder Women” both having their world premiere in Toronto.

“We don’t program for themes, but as you begin to step back ... and you look at the films that you’ve chosen, some things begin to emerge,” Cameron Bailey, the festival’s artistic director, said in an interview.

The festival runs until Sept. 17.

Reporting by Solarina Ho; Editing by Tom Brown and Lisa Shumaker

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