Toronto Filmfest Returns to Canadian Roots for 40th

“Demolition,” the story of an investment banker who sets out to rebuild his life after losing his wife, will open the 40th Toronto International Film Festival as the movie marathon showcases its Canadian roots.

Directed by Quebec’s Jean-Marc Vallée (“Dallas Buyers Club”) and starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Naomi Watts, “Demolition” is among 49 films revealed Tuesday that will show at the Sept. 10-20 festival.

Other Canadian-directed efforts include two drug-war films: Quebec-born Denis Villeneuve’s “Sicaro,” starring Emily Blunt and Josh Brolin, is set on the Mexico-U.S. border; and “Beeba Boys,” directed by Toronto-based Deepa Mehta, which looks at an Indo-Canadian gang in Vancouver.

“We’re proud there’s a very strong Canadian presence,” TIFF Artistic Director Cameron Bailey said at a press conference.

Documentary filmmaker Michael Moore (“Roger and Me,” “Fahrenheit 9/11”) returns to the festival this year with “Where to Invade Next,” while U.K director Stephen Frears (“The Queen,” “Philomena”) takes on the story of cyclist Lance Armstrong in “The Program,” which stars Ben Foster and Dustin Hoffman.

TIFF screened 366 films from 70 countries at the festival last year, including big box-office thrillers and art-house fare. The 2014 edition had 146 world premiers of feature and short films and was attended by more than 5,000 industry delegates, according to TIFF.

The festival can be a gauge of a film’s commercial and critical chances. In 2008, “Slumdog Millionaire,” about an Indian boy’s rise from poverty to game-show riches, won the People’s Choice Award in Toronto before collecting eight Academy Awards including Best Picture. Two years later, “The King’s Speech” did the same at TIFF and garnered four Oscars.

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