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Toronto Film Festival 2017: Billie Jean King, Tonya Harding, Boston bombing movies lead roster

TIFF announces 50 films to be featured at annual festival
WATCH ABOVE: The 42nd annual Toronto International Film Festival is just over a month away and some movie titles have just been released. But as Erica Vella reports, the list of films will be shorter than previous years.

In its 42nd year, the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) features many movies about survival and overcoming adversity, reflecting the tumultuous world we currently live in.

On Tuesday at Toronto’s TIFF Bell Lightbox, Piers Handling, CEO and director of TIFF, and Cameron Bailey, artistic director of TIFF, unveiled the first round of titles premiering in the gala and special presentation programmes. While Handling and Bailey didn’t reveal the opening night film (yet) — the closer is C’est la vie!, a French movie — the two men provided a tantalizing list of other movies sure to titillate audiences.

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“Every year, we set the stage for film lovers of all ages and cultural backgrounds to come together and embrace the universal power of cinema,” said Bailey. “As the festival enters its fifth decade, we’ve challenged ourselves to adapt and build on our strengths, and we look forward to championing a new selection of films that will captivate and inspire global film audiences.”

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With many big stars gracing the credits, casual fans and movie diehards alike should be excited for one of the world’s biggest film festivals to start up on Sept. 7.

With more to be announced in the coming month, here are some of the buzziest movies coming to the festival:

Battle of the Sexes

Battle of the Sexes

Not everyone is familiar with the infamous 1973 “Battle of the Sexes” tennis match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs, which holds a strong resonance, even today. After John McEnroe’s recent comments about Serena Williams‘ tennis skills compared to that of a man, Battle of the Sexes couldn’t come at a better time.

Oscar winner Emma Stone takes on the role of King, and Steve Carell plays his best insufferable Riggs.

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I, Tonya

I, Tonya

Considering the level of hype around the 1994 international figure-skating scandal between U.S. athletes Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan, we can only assume that this movie will generate major interest with those who lived through it.

Suicide Squad star Margot Robbie plays Harding, who was eventually stripped of her 1994 championship title and banned for life from the sport after the vicious attack on Kerrigan.

The Shape of Water

The Shape of Water

Guillermo del Toro’s ‘The Shape of Water’
Guillermo del Toro’s ‘The Shape of Water’

From the mind of Guillermo del Toro, The Shape of Water looks and feels magical. At the height of the Cold War (circa 1962), two workers in a high-tech U.S. government laboratory — Sally Hawkins and Oscar-winner Octavia Spencer — discover a terrifying secret experiment.

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But is it terrifying? Or is it really beautiful?

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Long Time Running

Tragically Hip documentary ‘Long Time Running’ trailer
Tragically Hip documentary ‘Long Time Running’ trailer

A sure-fire hit with Canadians, this documentary highlights rock band The Tragically Hip on their 2016 summer tour across the country. Featuring stark footage and intimate interviews with the band, including terminally ill lead singer Gord Downie, Long Time Running is guaranteed to be a sold-out event.

The Mountain Between Us

The Mountain Between Us

‘The Mountain Between Us’ starring Idris Elba, Kate Winslet
‘The Mountain Between Us’ starring Idris Elba, Kate Winslet

Reminiscent of plane-crash movie Alive, The Mountain Between Us tells the story of a surgeon (Idris Elba) and a journalist (Kate Winslet) who must rely on each other for survival when the small plane they share crashes in the mountainous wilderness.

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Stronger

Stronger

‘Stronger’ featuring Jake Gyllenhaal, Tatiana Maslany
‘Stronger’ featuring Jake Gyllenhaal, Tatiana Maslany

One of the biggest tear-jerkers of the festival will be Stronger, which stars Jake Gyllenhaal and Canada’s own Tatiana Maslany. Gyllenhaal plays a real-life character, Jeff Bauman, who lost both his legs in the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013. Based on his memoir, the movie follows Bauman as he struggles to regain his life after his catastrophic injuries.

Lady Bird

Brought to you by “mumblecore” mastermind Greta Gerwig, Lady Bird is the opening gala film. The comedy follows the story of Lady Bird (Saoirse Ronan), who goes through a series of adventures living in northern California for a year. This is Gerwig’s directorial debut, and has a lot of expectations riding on it. (As of press time, no imagery of the film was available.)

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First They Killed My Father

First They Killed My Father

Directed by superstar Angelina Jolie (this is her fifth feature film), this is an adaptation of a memoir by Loung Ung, which recounts the author’s horrifying childhood experiences under the murderous Khmer Rouge regime in her native Cambodia. Jolie, of course, has a connection with the country, which she calls her “second home.” Two of her children, Pax and Maddox, are Cambodian.

The Toronto International Film Festival runs from Sept. 7 – 17. Visit TIFF’s official site for a full movie list and ticket information.

(All images courtesy of TIFF)