Toronto Film Fest 2007: Real to Reel Docu Program

July 31, 2007–Politically engaged work and in-depth character studies pervade this year's Real to Reel as 20 of the most explosive and thought-provoking documentaries from the U.S. and around the world join the lineup for the 2007 Toronto International Film Festival, which runs September 6-15.

These films join four previously announced titles as part of Real to Reel, showcasing the best non-fiction cinema from around the world, and include new works by acclaimed filmmakers Werner Herzog, Barbet Schroeder, Kevin Macdonald and Scott Hicks, as well as stalwart documentarians Nina Davenport, Arthur Dong and Doug Pray.

“This incredible output of non-fiction works from so many top filmmakers indicates there is no turning back the rise of documentaries,” says Thom Powers, International Documentary Programmer. “These films introduce us to unforgettable characters, take us to unimaginable places and force us to confront moral dilemmas that will generate debate and conversation for many months to come.”

Trends that emerge from the documentaries announced today include complex artistic profiles in GLASS: A PORTRAIT OF PHILIP IN TWELVE PARTS, Trumbo, and Obscene; crusading activists in Body of War, Darfur Now, A Jihad for Love, The Dictator Hunter, and Very Young GirlS; and one-of-a-kind personalities in Operation Filmmaker, Surfwise and ENCOUNTERS AT THE END OF THE WORLD.

Three of the films announced today are a part of the globe-spanning initiative Why Democracy, previewing a major international broadcast event in October. These include unprecedented looks at the lives of two diverse Presidents in Iron Ladies of Liberia and Dinner With the PresidenT: A NATION'S JOURNEY.

REAL TO REEL

ALGERIE, HISTOIRES A NE PAS DIRE Jean-Pierre Lledo, Algeria

Four Algerians of Muslim origin revisit the last years of their country's War of Independence, searching for truth about their own lives while recalling memories of troubled relationships with their Jewish and Christian neighbours.

BODY OF WAR Phil Donahue and Ellen Spiro, USA

Wounded after serving in Iraq for less than a week, 25-year-old Tomas Young now paralyzed from the chest down transforms his personal suffering into political activism, evolving as a powerful voice against the ongoing war. Featuring new music by Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam.

DARFUR NOW Ted Braun, USA

A call to action to help stop the genocide in Darfur, the struggles and achievements of six very different individuals including actor Don Cheadle bring to light the situation in Darfur and illustrate the need to get involved.

THE DICTATOR HUNTER Klaartje Quirijns, The Netherlands/USA

Revisiting the horrific torture, imprisonment and murder carried out in the 1980s under the regime of former Chadian dictator Hissne Habr, THE DICTATOR HUNTER follows Human Rights Watch activist Reed Brody in his quest to bring Habr to justice.

DINNER WITH THE PRESIDENT: A NATION'S JOURNEY Sabiha Sumar and Sachithanandam Sathananthan, Pakistan

In October 1999, Pervez Musharraf assumed power in Pakistan through a bloodless military coup. Hearing his vision for Pakistan over dinner, filmmakers Sumar and Sathananthan ponder the irony of a President in army fatigues delivering democracy to the masses. A part of Why Democracy.

ENCOUNTERS AT THE END OF THE WORLD Werner Herzog, USA

In his first documentary since GRIZZLY MAN, Herzog, accompanied only by his cameraman, travels to Antarctica, gaining unrestricted access to the raw beauty and humanity of the ultimate Down Under.

GLASS: A PORTRAIT OF PHILIP IN TWELVE PARTS Scott Hicks, Australia

Filmmaker Scott Hicks (SHINE) documents an eventful year in the career and personal life of distinguished composer Philip Glass as he interacts with a number of friends and collaborators, including Chuck Close, Ravi Shankar and Woody Allen.

HOLLYWOOD CHINESE Arthur Dong, USA

Punctuated with clips from over 100 movies, HOLLYWOOD CHINESE offers a captivating revelation on the Chinese in American feature films, from the very first Chinese-American film produced in 1916 to Ang Lee's triumphant BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN.

IRON LADIES OF LIBERIA Siatta Scott Johnson and Daniel Junge, USA

At the first freely elected head of state in Africa, Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf appointed other extraordinary women to leadership positions in all areas of government. IRON LADIES OF LIBERIA asks the question, 'can Liberia's first female president bring sustainable democracy and peace to such a devastated country' A part of Why Democracy.

A JIHAD FOR LOVE Parvez Sharma, USA/UK/France/Germany/Australia

The first feature-length documentary to investigate the complex global intersections of Islam and homosexuality, Sharma's feature directorial debut brings to light the hidden lives of gay and lesbian Muslims with empowering stories from twelve countries.

MAN OF CINEMA: PIERRE RISSIENT Todd McCarthy, USA

Variety critic Todd McCarthy explores the legacy of Pierre Rissient, a key behind-the-scenes figure in Cannes for more than 40 years.

MY ENEMY'S ENEMY Kevin Macdonald, France/UK

From the director of THE LAST KING OF SCOTLAND comes a documentary about the post-war activities of one-time Gestapo commander Klaus Barbie, infamously known as the “Butcher of Lyon.”

MY KID COULD PAINT THAT Amir Bar-Lev, USA

Chronicling the rise to fame of Marla Olmstead a four-year-old painter whose work has taken in over $300,000 filmmaker Amir Bar-Lev examines society's obsession with child prodigies while exploring the complex on-going debate over what constitutes art.

OBSCENE Neil Ortenberg and Daniel O'Connor, USA

Drawn from more than 60 years of home movies, media appearances and rare archival footage, OBSCENE tells the story of American publisher Barney Rosset, who fought battles in court to put out some of the most forbidden works of the explosive post-war decades, including Tropic of Cancer and Naked Lunch.

OPERATION FILMMAKER Nina Davenport, USA

When the dreams of a young Iraqi film student are crushed following the bombing of Baghdad's film school, actor Liev Schreiber invites him to intern on the production of EVERYTHING IS ILLUMINATED. But in a comedic turn of events, Schreiber's good intentions quickly backfire as the eager student proves to have intentions of his own.

PLEASE VOTE FOR ME Weijun Chen, China

In an experiment to determine how democracy might be received in China, third-graders hold an election to select a Class Monitor, competing against one other for the coveted position while being egged on by teachers and doting parents. A part of Why Democracy.

SURFWISE Doug Pray, USA

Filmmaker Doug Pray tells the bizarre story of an eccentric family: 85-year-old legendary surfer Dr. Dorian “Doc” Paskowitz, his wife Juliette, and their nine children raised and home-schooled in a camper on a California beach.

TERROR'S ADVOCATE (L'AVOCAT DE LA TERREUR) Barbet Schroeder, France

Veteran director Barbet Schroeder explores the life, career and conscience of criminal lawyer Jacques Vergs, whose clients including Klaus Barbie, Slobodan Milosevic and Saddam Hussein are among the most infamous figures of the 20th century.

TRUMBO Peter Askin, USA

Told through spoken-word performances of some of its subject's extraordinary letters, TRUMBO presents a portrait of screenwriter Dalton Trumbo, who fought back after being blacklisted by HUAC. Featuring appearances by Donald Sutherland, Michael Douglas, Joan Allen and Liam Neeson.

VERY YOUNG GIRLS David Schisgall, USA

An eye-opening survey of teenage prostitution in New York City, David Schisgall's film also tells the story of Rachel Lloyd, the remarkable woman who founded Girls Education & Mentoring Services (GEMS), dedicating her live to help ensure that young girls avoid making the same mistakes that she did.