Barrymore to add sizzle to Toronto film fest

OTTAWA: The 34th Toronto International Film Festival next month will welcome actress Drew Barrymore, talk show host Oprah Winfrey and director Michael Moore among the more than 500 celebrities expected to attend, organisers said Thursday.

The festival, which runs from September 10-19, is to showcase 271 feature films and 64 shorts from 64 countries, including 95 world premieres.

Barrymore will make her directorial debut with "Whip It," set in the world of roller derby, starring Ellen Page, who won acclaim for role opposite Michael Cera in the 2007 hit "Juno." American filmmaker Michael Moore marks the 20th anniversary of his debut film "Roger and Me," which won the film festival's People's Choice award in 1989, with a new documentary: "Capitalism, a love story." Back then, Moore targeted General Motors. In his latest project, he takes aim at "the whole system," said a statement.

Director Sir Ridley Scott is expected to attend to support daughter Jordan Scott's feature film debut "Cracks," which he produced.

And Winfrey will be on hand to promote Lee Daniels' film "Precious," about an abused African-American girl in Harlem in 1987 dreaming of a better life, starring Mariah Carey and Lenny Kravitz.

Among the other celebrities scheduled to attend are George Clooney, Nicolas Cage, Penelope Cruz, Colin Farrell, Michael Douglas, Michael Sheen, Sir Michael Caine, Woody Harrelson, Demi Moore, David Duchovny and Viggo Mortensen.

The Toronto International Film Festival, the biggest in North America, is a key event for Oscar-conscious studios and distributors, and is attended by a sizable contingent of North American media.

Unlike Cannes and Berlin film festivals, Toronto does not award jury prizes.

But moviegoers who bought more than 470,000 tickets for the event in 2008 awarded an audience prize for best motion picture to Briton Danny Boyle's "Slumdog Millionaire." The film follows a poor boy's rise to fortune as an unlikely contestant on an Indian version of the hit television game show "Who Wants to be a Millionaire," with the eccentricities of life in Mumbai's slums as a backdrop.

It went on to win eight Oscars at the 81st Academy Awards in February, including best picture.