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Toronto Film Festival - 2009 - Documentaries Program

Documentary Films Presented at the 2009 Toronto Film Festival


The Toronto International Film Festival, one of North America's premiere film festivals, presents an outstanding program of documentary films from around the world. The festival's documentary film programmer is Thom Powers. The 2009 festival, held from September 10-19, is introducing a new award for documentaries: the People's Choice Award. The following documentaries are on the program:

Ahead of Time

  • Director: Bob Richman
  • Country: USA
  • World Premiere
  • Subject: Cinematographer Bob Richman (The September Issue and others) makes his directorial debut with this profile of Ruth Gruber, who became the world’s youngest Ph.D. in 1931 (at age 20), and became famous with her news coverage of the refugees aboard Exodus 1947. Gruber is a fearless, energetic and inspiring 97-year-old who’s repeatedly defied traditional limits to her sense of adventure and curiosity.

The Art of the Steal

  • Director: Don Argott
  • Country: USA
  • World Premiere
  • Subject: When Post-Impressionist art collector Albert Barnes died, his cache of marvelous paintings -- valued at billions of dollars, although the works are indeed priceless -- fell prey to a power struggle for its ownership and control. The film chronicles what happened.


  • Director: Mehran Tamadon
  • Country: Iran/France/Switzerland
  • International Premiere
  • Subject: Director Mehran Tamadon spent three years among the Bassidjis, the extremist supporters of the Islamic republic of Iran, to document their beliefs and lifestyle.

Capitalism: A Love Story

  • Director:Michael Moore
  • Country: USA
  • North American Premiere
  • Subject: In Capitalism: A Love Story, the inimitable Moore again focuses on the disastrous impact profit-driven corporate dominance has on everyday life in America and around the world.

  • Cleanflix

    • Director: Andrew James and Joshua Ligairi
    • Country: USA
    • World Premiere
    • Subject: Apparently Mormons want to enjoy blockbuster movies that contain the sort of R-rated content they eschew, so several Utah-based entrepreneurs started selling “clean” versions of the films at selected DVD stores. But their business raises serious legal issues and, as it turns out, produces its own R-rated scandal.


    • Director: Chris Smith
    • Country: USA
    • World Premiere
    • Subject: This profile of radical thinker Michael Ruppert explores his take on the future, an apocalyptic vision ongoing crises in economics, energy and the environment.


    • Director: Carter Gunn and Ross McDonnell
    • Country: Ireland
    • World Premiere
    • Subject: A beautifully shot first film that chronicles the mysterious disappearance of millions of bees, and the efforts of several American beekeepers to keep their colonies from complete disorder and collapse.

    Genius Within: The Inner Life of Glenn Gould

    • Director: Peter Raymont and Michele Hozer
    • Country: Canada
    • World Premiere
    • Subject: Pianist Glenn Gould continues to intrigue international audiences twenty-six years after his early death, and this profile provides an intimate look at the controversial ideas and personal passions of the real man behind the legend.

    Google Baby

    • Director: Zippi Brand Frank
    • Country: Israel
    • International Premiere
    • Subject: The latest area of employment outsourcing to India is surrogate motherhood. This film follows an entrepreneur who brokers the services of Indian women to carry embryos for western couples who can’t have babies.

    How to Fold a Flag

    • Director: Michael Tucker and Petra Epperlein
    • Country: USA
    • World Premiere
    • Subject: Set against the backdrop of the 2008 election, US veterans of the Iraq War seek to create new lives for themselves -- as a cage fighter in Louisiana, a Congressional candidate in New York and others.

    L’Enfer de Henri-Georges Clouzot

    • Director: Serge Bromberg and Ruxandra Medrea
    • Country: France
    • North American Premiere
    • Subject: Film archivist Serge Bromberg uncovers a treasure trove of imagery from an unfinished film called L’Enfer starring Romy Schneider and directed by the French master Henri-Georges Clouzot, known for Wages of Fear and Diabolique.

    The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers

    • Director: Judith Ehrlich and Rick Goldsmith
    • Country: USA
    • World Premiere
    • Subject: This documentary chronicles how Daniel Ellsberg, a strategist inside the American government, leaked the Pentagon Papers to expose lies pertaining to the Vietnam War and how Richard Nixon‘s handling of the case lead to the downfall of his presidency.

    Once Upon a Time Proletarian: 12 Tales of a Country

    • Director: Guo Xiaolu
    • Country: China
    • North American Premiere
    • Subject: The director’s subjective study of contemporary China in the post-Marxist era is a darkly poetic depiction of twelve different characters who live in modern China and reflect stories of loss and longing that emerge from the country’s current social and political landscape.

    Petropolis: Aerial Perspectives on the Alberta Tar Sands

    • Director: Peter Mettler
    • Country: Canada
    • North American Premiere
    • Subject: An extraordinary overview of Alberta’s (Canada) tar sands is beautifully crafted by artist Peter Mettler.

    Presumed Guilty

    • Director: Roberto Hernandez and Geoffrey Smith
    • Country: Mexico
    • World Premiere
    • Subject: Two young Mexican attorneys attempt in this documentary to exonerate a wrongly convicted man and, in the process, expose the contradictions of a judicial system that presumes suspects guilty until proven innocent.

    Reel Injun

    • Director: Neil Diamond
    • Country: Canada
    • World Premiere
    • Subject: Neil Diamond’s documentary Reel Injun is a long-needed corrective to the wildly inaccurate portrayals of native peoples in Hollywood films and filled with revealing and often poignant interviews with key players like actors Wes Studi, Adam Beach and Sacheen Littlefeather.

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