WikiLeaks Thriller to Open Toronto Filmfest in September

“The Fifth Estate,” a dramatic thriller about WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, will open the 38th Toronto International Film Festival in September.

The film, directed by Bill Condon (“Dreamgirls,” “Gods and Monsters”) and starring U.K. actor Benedict Cumberbatch (“Star Trek Into Darkness”) as Assange, is among the 40 new world premieres revealed by organizers today at a press conference in Toronto.

“Fifth Estate” will join John Wells’ “August: Osage County,” an adaptation of Tracy Lett’s Pulitzer-winning play about a dysfunctional Midwest family that stars Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts and Ewan McGregor.

Other world premiers include Steve McQueen’s “12 Years a Slave,” starring Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender and Brad Pitt; Justin Chadwick’s biopic “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom,” starring Idris Elba, whose work includes the portrayal of “Stringer” Bell on the HBO TV series “The Wire”; and “Prisoners,” directed by Canadian Denis Villeneuve and starring Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal, a thriller about the abduction of two young girls.

“We don’t like to boast, but it’s a pretty great lineup,” TIFF Artistic Director Cameron Bailey said at the press conference.

Oscar Signs

TIFF, which runs Sept. 5-15, screens more than 330 films from more than 60 countries each year, including big box-office thrillers and art-house fare. Last year’s edition had 140 world premiers and was attended by more than 4,000 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 Oscars including Best Picture. Two years later, “The King’s Speech” did the same at TIFF and garnered four Academy Awards. Last year, the most popular film was “Silver Linings Playbook,” for which Jennifer Lawrence won a best actress Oscar.

TIFF organizers announced in May that Godfrey Reggio’s “Visitors” will have its world premier on Sept. 8 at a viewing with the live performance of 65 members of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. The film by the director of “Koyaanisqatsi” is Reggio’s fourth collaboration with composer Philip Glass, TIFF said.

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