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Toronto Film Festival: Mister Rogers, Harriet Tubman and More

Jul 23, 2019

Tom Hanks as Fred Rogers, Cynthia Erivo as Harriet Tubman and Eddie Murphy as the blaxploitation hero Rudy Ray Moore. Stars playing real-life figures are a staple of the fall film season, and on Tuesday the Toronto International Film Festival unveiled a lineup of galas and special presentations filled with those biopics and more.

“A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” is based on a 1998 Esquire article about Mister Rogers. “Harriet” is reportedly the first big-screen telling of the life of the 19th-century abolitionist. And “Dolemite Is My Name” explains how the 1970s action movies with Moore as the title character came to be.

Other based-on-real-story movies set for Toronto include the closing-night film, “Radioactive,” starring Rosamund Pike as Marie Curie; “Ford v Ferrari,” about the American company’s efforts to build a racecar that could compete at Le Mans; and “Just Mercy,” with Michael B. Jordan as Bryan Stevenson, the lawyer who founded the Equal Justice Initiative on behalf of poor clients.

The festival will be showing other much-anticipated titles, including “Joker,” starring Joaquin Phoenix as the DC villain; “Hustlers,” with Jennifer Lopez, Constance Wu, Cardi B and Lizzo as strippers who steal from their clients; and “The Goldfinch,” with Nicole Kidman and Ansel Elgort in an adaptation of Donna Tartt’s novel. “Motherless Brooklyn,” Edward Norton’s take on the Jonathan Lethem novel, and “Parasite,” the top winner at Cannes, are also of note.

The roster of interesting directors includes Pedro Almodóvar with his autobiographical “Pain and Glory,” which was well received at Cannes; Noah Baumbach with “Marriage Story,” which might better be called Divorce Story as it’s about a husband and wife dealing with the demise of their relationship; and Taika Waititi with “Jojo Rabbit,” described as a World War II satire about a boy and his imaginary friend, Hitler.

The festival is set to open Sept. 5 with the music documentary “Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and the Band,” and will run through Sept. 15. For more information, go to tiff.net.

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