True tales of Katrina, Comic-Con, Sarah Palin and 'Gladiators'

Nicole Sperling
Los Angeles Times (MCT)

LOS ANGELES — Morgan Spurlock, Jonathan Demme, Werner Herzog and Alex Gibney are among the filmmakers who will bring new documentaries to the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival, organizers announced Wednesday.

The subjects are just as varied as the directors. Spurlock ("Super Size Me") will present his take on the annual geek fest in San Diego, "Comic-Con: Episode IV: A Fan's Hope." Demme, who has made documentaries on Neil Young and Jimmy Carter, among other subjects, is on tap to deliver his tale of Hurricane Katrina from one woman's eyes in "I'm Carolyn Parker: The Good, the Mad, and the Beautiful."

Herzog, who surprised audiences with his 2005 tale of grizzly bear devotee Timothy Treadwell and struck box-office gold this year with his 3-D "Cave of Forgotten Dreams," is back with an examination of a triple homicide case in Texas.

Gibney, who won an Oscar for his 2008 documentary on U.S. torture practices in "Taxi to the Dark Side," takes on an extremely different subject in "The Last Gladiators": professional hockey players. And for those unsatisfied with Stephen Bannon's recent flattering Sarah Palin film, "The Undefeated," there's "Sarah Palin — You Betcha" from Nick Broomfield ("Aileen: Life and Death of a Serial Killer").

Thom Powers, lead programmer for documentaries at the festival, said: "I'm thrilled at the large number of veteran filmmakers who have brought us new works this year. The lineup contains a wide range of memorable characters — crusaders, convicts, artists, athletes, nude dancers, comic book fans, dog lovers and more."

The festival also is presenting the world premiere of Mark Cousins' 15-hour documentary, "The Story of Film: An Odyssey," which tells the story of innovation in movies. The lengthy work traces 11 decades of cinema, features 1,000 movies and dozens of interviews with filmmakers such as Stanley Donen ("Singin' in the Rain") and Iran's Abbas Kiarostami.

Meanwhile, for the Midnight Madness genre program this year, "The Blair Witch Project" director Eduardo Sanchez will premiere his new film, "Lovely Molly," about a newlywed who returns to her long-abandoned home. And stand-up comedian Bobcat Goldthwait will unveil "God Bless America," a film he wrote and directed about a lonely man who, with the help of a 16-year-old girl, decides to kill the most repellent members of society.

The festival runs Sept. 8-18.

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