Toronto film fest taps WikiLeaks drama as opener

The Fifth Estate, a film that explores the story of Julian Assange and WikiLeaks, will open the Toronto International Film Festival this fall, organizers announced in Toronto this morning.

In-demand British actor Benedict Cumberbatch stars as Assange in the drama, directed by Bill Condon and co-starring Daniel Bruhl, Stanley Tucci, Laura Linney, Anthony Mackie and David Thewlis.

Cumberbatch, who played the villain in early summer's blockbuster Star Trek Into Darkness and portrays the famed titular detective in the BBC-TV series Sherlock, will also appear in several other high-profile titles at the fest.

The closing night gala will be Dan Schechter's Life of Crime, based on Elmore Leonard's story The Switch. The all-star cast features John Hawkes, yasiin bey (a.k.a. Mos Def), Jennifer Aniston, Tim Robbins, Isla Fisher and Will Forte.

Artistic director Cameron Bailey and TIFF chief executive Piers Handling unveiled the opening and closing night titles as well as dozens of films slated for the festival's gala and special presentations programs, about a quarter of the films slated for the overall lineup.

Other hotly anticipated films announced for the lineup include:

John Wells’s adaptation of the acclaimed Tracy Letts’s play August: Osage County, starring Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Ewan McGregor, Chris Cooper, Juliette Lewis and Cumberbatch.

Justin Chadwick’s Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, starring Idris Elba.

The world premiere of British artist-filmmaker Steve McQueen's 12 Years a Slave, adapted from Solomon Northup's historic book and starring Chiwetel Ejiofor, regular collaborator Michael Fassbender, Cumberbatch, Paul Giamatti and Brad Pitt.

Alfonso Curaron’s space thriller Gravity, starring George Clooney and Sandra Bullock.

Controversial Cannes Palm d'Or winner Blue is the Warmest Colour.

Kill Your Darlings, the story about the murder that united a young Allen Ginsberg (Daniel Radcliffe), Jack Kerouac (Jack Huston), and William Burroughs (Ben Foster).

Some of Canada's top filmmakers will be unveiling their latest work at this year's event, including Don McKellar (The Grand Seduction), Denis Villeneuve (Prisoners), Jean-Marc Vallée (Dallas Buyers Club), Atom Egoyan (Devil's Knot) and Paul Haggis (Third Person).

The romantic comedy Enough Said, one of the final films featuring the late actor James Gandolfini, will screen at the festival. It co-stars Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Catherine Keener.

Actors-turned-first-time filmmakers to present their directorial debuts at TIFF include Keanu Reeves (Man of Tai Chi), Mike Myers (Supermensch The Legend of Shep Gordon), Jason Bateman (Bad Words) and Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Don Jon).

Today's announcement is the festival's first of the season. Further lineup additions will come in August.

This year marks the 25th anniversary of TIFF's Midnight Madness program, the popular late-night showcase of horror, action, overseas thrillers, subculture and cult films that helped introduce titles by Quentin Tarantino, Eli Roth, Peter Jackson, John Woo, Richard Linklater and Dario Argento to North American audiences.

To celebrate, longtime programmer Colin Geddes will host a free screening of All the Boys Love Mandy Lane at TIFF on July 29, with the Midnight Madness lineup announced the day after.

The 2013 Toronto International Film Festival runs Sept. 5-15.

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