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Over the span of 40 years, the Toronto International Film Festival has become a powerhouse of festivals and one of the most important film and industry events in the world. Back in its first year, a full access pass could be bought for the low price of $50, and just 80 films were featured. Now, 40 years later, with over 300 films, TIFF has become a 365 day celebration of film, one of only three festivals in the world that provide year round programming.

The hottest day of the year so far didn’t stop the first set of announcements from TIFF CEO and Director Piers Handling and Cameron Bailey, the Festival’s artistic director, to announce films in the Special Presentation line up, galas and events, and of course the opening night film.

“We are celebrating our 40th anniversary in 2015 and this first round of films offers a taste of the incredible lineup at this year’s Festival,” said Handling. “Made by both established and emerging filmmakers from around the world, these films offer a global snapshot of our times.”

Aside from a series that will feature past festival selections, TIFF will also be screening Alfred Hithcock’s VERTIGO with musical accompaniment from The Toronto Symphony Orchestra, details of the free screening will be announced closer to the festival.

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The opening night film is from director Jean-Marc Vallée who has brought us such incredible films as C.R.A.Z.Y., CAFE DE FLORE, and DALLAS BUYERS CLUB. His latest film, DEMOLITION (above) stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Naomi Watts, Chris Cooper and newcomer Judah Lewis, in a story about a man whose life begins to unravel after a car crash claims his wife’s life. As Vallée is the only filmmaker in the history of the festival to have both an opening and closing night film (THE YOUNG VICTORIA), DEMOLITION is certainly one that audiences will want to check out. Incidentally, it is the first opening night selection to be directed by a Canadian since 2010’s SCORE: A HOCKEY MUSICAL.

“This year we are thrilled to share a diverse array of filmmakers from Australia, India, France, China, the United Kingdom and the USA,” said Bailey. “We look forward to sharing these fantastic films with Toronto audiences — the most engaged and enthusiastic in the world.”

And this year is looking like an impressive lineup so far. Personally, one film that I am very much looking forward to is Ridley Scott’s latest film, THE MARTIAN (below), which sees its World Premier at the festival. The film features a star studded lineup, which includes Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Kristen Wiig, Jeff Daniels, Michael Pena, Kate Mara, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Donald Glover. THE MARTIAN is about an astronaut who survived a crash on Mars and now has to learn to survive and find a way back home.

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Canadian director Denis Villeneuve who brought us PRISONERS and the incredible ENEMY will bring his new film, the much anticipated SICARIO to the festival for its North American Premier. The film stars Emily Blunt, Benicio Del Toro and Josh Brolin.

The festival will also bring new films from directors such as Deepa Mehta (BEEBA BOYS), Lenny Abrahamson (ROOM), Brian Helgeland (LEGEND), Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson (ANOMALISIA), Jason Bateman (THE FAMILY FANG), Cary Fukunaga (BEASTS OF NO NATION) , Catherine Corsini (SUMMERTIME), Stephen Frears (THE PROGRAM), Tom Hooper (THE DANISH GIRL), Hany Abu-Assad (THE IDOL), Meghna Gulzar (GUILTY), Terence Davies (SUNSET SON) and Julie Delpy (LOLO), to name only a few.

But what is a festival without a little Michael Moore who is certain to stir up some controversy with the World Premiere of his new film, WHERE TO INVADE NEXT. Moore tells the Pentagon to “stand down”— he will do the invading for America from now on. Discretely shot in several countries and under the radar of the global media, Moore has made a searing cinematic work that is both up-to-the-minute and timeless.

This first announcement from TIFF is absolutely an exciting one, and many more titles will be announced over the next few weeks as the summer comes to a close. This year, TIFF has moved its dates from early in September, to the 10th-20th of the month, so please keep that in mind! Also, if you were a fan of Festival Street last year (I know I was!), announcements will be made soon about that, as of today TIFF was in meetings with City Hall.

Happy TIFF15 everybody!

For a complete list of TIFF15 titles announced today, please visit tiff.net.

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