TORONTO (Reuters) – By John McCrank
Death row, Sarah Palin, and wannabe Vulcans are some of the topics audiences can explore this year through the Toronto International Film Festival's documentary line up, announced on Wednesday.
The 10-day festival opens on September 8 and includes world premier documentaries by Werner Herzog, Nick Broomfield, Morgan Spurlock and Jessica Yu.
TIFF organizers said last week that "From the Sky Down," a documentary on Irish rockers U2 by Davis Guggenheim, who directed Oscar-winning "An Inconvenient Truth," would be the festival's first nonfiction debut night movie in its 36-year history.
The films announced on Wednesday include "a wide range of memorable characters -- crusaders, convicts, artists, athletes, nude dancers, comic book fans, dog lovers and more," said Thom Powers, TIFF's lead programer for documentaries.
Herzog, whose previous documentaries include "Grizzly Man," and "Cave of Forgotten Dreams," probes a triple homicide in Texas and the 28-year-old death row inmate scheduled to die within eight days of appearing on-screen in "Into the Abyss."
In "Sarah Palin - You Betcha!", Broomfield and Joan Churchill head to Wasilla, Alaska, which TIFF says "makes Twin Peaks look like a walk in the park," to look for insight from Palin's family, friends and colleagues as to what makes the ex-hockey mom turned politician tick.
Spurlock follows fans to San Diego's Comic-Con, wildly popular among vampire- and Star Trek-lovers alike, in "Comic-Con: Episode IV - A Fan's Hope," while Yu issues a warning about the world's water supply in "Last Call at the Oasis."
Other docs debuting at TIFF this year include Mark Cousins' 15-hour epic "The Story of Film: An Odyssey," and Ron Fricke's "Samsara," the follow-up to his 1992 visual smorgasbord "Baraka."
Launched in 1976, TIFF now ranks with festivals such as Cannes and Sundance as among the world's top movie gatherings, and it serves as a launching point for international films seeking North American distribution. It also has a strong record of unearthing films that go on to success at the Academy Awards.
Last year's top prize at Toronto was given to the "The King's Speech", which went on to win four Oscars including best picture.
TIFF also announced its Midnight Madness lineup on Wednesday, which includes "Blair Witch Project" director Eduardo Sanchez's latest film, "Lovely Molly," and comedian Bobcat Goldthwait's "God Bless America."
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