Mr. Jealousy ... Filmfest feature stars Eric Stoltz and Annabella Sciora.

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Wednesday, August 13, 1997

Very Special line-up

Toronto Sun

A powerhouse lineup of name directors is featured in this year's Special Presentations series at the Toronto International Film Festival, officials announced yesterday.

The latest works from filmmakers Spike Lee, Michael Moore, Abel Ferrara, Mike Figgis, Errol Morris, Michael Apted, Jim Jarmusch and Michael Winterbottom are included.

So is Nil By Mouth, the highly-acclaimed directing debut of actor Gary Oldman, who tells a thinly-disguised autobiographical story of his terror-stricken childhood in a London slum. It scored a quiet triumph at Cannes this year.

Under filmfest director Piers Handling, the Special Presentations program has become a parallel section to the galas and the titles often carry as much prestige and star power. There are nine world premieres involved in the list so far.

Stars involved in the 24 titles, which play throughout the Sept 4-13 festival, include Wesley Snipes, Dennis Hopper, Robin Williams, Steve Martin, Matthew Modine, Alan Arkin, Nick Nolte, Woody Harrelson and Annabella Sciorra.

Not to mention Mary Pickford, the most powerful and famous movie star ever born in Toronto. The festival is including a screening of a new print of Sam Taylor's My Best Girl, a 1927 romantic comedy starring the woman that Hollywood dubbed 'America's Sweetheart.' After becoming a star she flexed her power and co-founded the United Artists studio.

The Special Presentations will include Spike Lee's first documentary, 4 Little Girls, a harrowing account of the aftermath of a 1963 church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama, which killed four youngsters.

Other highlights include three other major documentaries:

Michael Moore's The Big One, promises to take a critical look at America's current economic recovery; Jim Jarmusch's Year Of The Horse follows Canadian rocker Neil Young and his band Crazy Horse on tour in Europe last year; Michael Apted's Inspirations examines the creative muse that inspires seven people in the arts, including musician David Bowie.

Highlights among the dramas and comedies include:

Abel Ferrara's controversial drama The Blackout, starring Matthew Modine as a drug-addicted actor trying to fathom what he did during a chemically-induced blackout;

Michael Winterbottom's Welcome To Sarajevo examines the war in the former Yugoslavia from the restricted perspective of a ragtag group of journalists covering it;

Antonia Bird (of Priest fame) returns to the festival with Face, a thriller about a botched robbery;

Paul Thomas Anderson's Boogie Nights, starring Julianne Moore, Burt Reynolds and Mark Wahlberg, pries into the seedy lives of '70s porn stars in the U.S.