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TIFF 2011 reveals high-profile documentary line-up

New films by Werner Herzog, Morgan Spurlock and Wim Wenders have been chosen to premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival this year, joining a line-up of other high-profile documentaries.

The TIFF's Real to Reel programme features the world premiere of Into the Abyss by Mr. Herzog, the acclaimed German-born director known for the 2005 hit Grizzly Man and 2010's Cave of Forgotten Dreams. The documentary examines a triple homicide in Texas and delves into the psyches of those involved.

Also on its world premiere will be Comic-Con: Episode IV – A Fan's Hope by Mr. Spurlock, whose previous documentaries include Super Size Me and Where in the World Is Osama Bin Laden?. Mr. Spurlock's latest film examines the fringe culture of the ultimate geek mecca, San Diego's Comic-Con comic book convention.

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Meanwhile, Wim Wenders' Pina will have its Canadian premiere. The legendary German filmmaker's latest work, filmed in 3D, follows the dance world of German dancer Pina Bausch and her company Tanztheater Wuppertal.

Other documentaries in TIFF's Real to Reel line-up include Nick Broomfield's Sarah Palin – You Betcha!, Jessica Yu's Last Call at the Oasis, about the world's dwindling water supply, and The Last Gladiators, Academy Award winner Alex Gibney's look into the life of Chris "Knuckles" Nilan, one of NHL's fiercest enforcers, as he makes his transition from a hockey "gladiator" into retirement.

TIFF's Vangard programme, meanwhile, presents provocative work from young and cutting edge filmmakers from around the world. The lineup includes the world premieres of Carre Blanc by Jean-Baptise Leonetti about a couple scarred by their troubled past as teenagers placed in an orphanage with frightening education methods, Headshot by Pen-ek Ratanaruang, a story about a hit man whose world is literally turned upside down after he wakes up from a three-month coma due to a head injury during an assignment.

TIFF's selection for its Midnight Madness programme, showing every night at midnight, includes films from stand-up comedian Bobcat Goldthwait, Eduardo Sanchez, director of The Blair Witch Project, and Japanese cult director Katsuhito Ishii.

Mr. Goldthwait's God Bless America features a jobless, loveless and possibly terminally ill main character with nothing to lose. Mr. Sanchez's Lovely Molly follows a new bride's return to her abandoned, and nightmare-filled family home. And Mr. Ishii, known for Shark Skin Man and Peach Hip Girl, tells the tale of a failed actor who becomes an underground mover of everything from dead bodies to illegal goods to pay off his gambling debts in Smuggler.

"Ravenous cinephiles will devour the roster of chillers, action thrillers and pitch-black comedies that fill this year's slate," TIFF programmer Colin Geddes said in a press release, promising that the Midnight Madness line-up will "deliver the shocking and rocking experience that our loyal audience flocks to take part in, helping make these screenings so memorable."

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About the Author

Wency Leung is a general assignment reporter for the Life section. Before joining The Globe in early 2010, she has worked as a reporter in Vancouver, Prague, and Phnom Penh. More

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