TIFF lands Ron Howard, Fernando Meirelles as guest speakers

Director Ron Howard will be among the guest speakers at next month’s Toronto International Film Festival, which will also feature the world premieres of TV series starring Kathryn Hahn, Rosario Dawson and Jessica Biel.

Howard and his Oscar-winning filmmaking partner Brian Grazer will kick off the 2019 TIFF Industry Conference on Sept. 6 with a conversation about their careers and the business.

The conference will conclude with a master class with Oscar-nominated Brazilian director Fernando Meirelles.

Meanwhile, the festival’s TV-focused Primetime program will have the HBO and Crave comedy Mrs. Fletcher. It stars Hahn as a divorced, empty-nest mother who discovers a new sexual fulfillment while her son is away at college. The series is written and created by Tom Perrotta, based on his bestselling novel.

Dawson stars as a political fixer who returns to her small Texas town to investigate her sister’s death in USA Network’s Briarpatch. Andy Greenwald created the mystery series based on the Ross Thomas novel.

And Biel stars in Facebook Watch’s Limetown as an American public radio journalist investigating the disappearance of hundreds of people from a Tennessee town. Zack Akers and Skip Bronkie created the series, which is based on the fictional podcast of the same name and also stars Stanley Tucci.

Other offerings in Primetime, which is now into its fifth year, include the world premiere of Australia’s Black Bitch. Rachel Griffiths co-created the series and stars as the Australian prime minister alongside Deborah Mailman as a local Indigenous politician.

The French drama Savages makes its world premiere with a look at an Arabic presidential candidate caught up in religious, cultural and family politics. Spy drama The Sleepers from the Czech Republic will make its international premiere.

The festival says 64 per cent of the episodes to be screened were created and directed by women.

Also announced Thursday is this year’s crop of international TIFF Rising Stars: Chino Darin, who is the son of Argentine actor Ricardo Darin; Geraldine Viswanathan of Australia; Kelvin Harrison Jr. of the U.S.; and Norway’s Josefine Frida.

The Rising Stars program, which also includes a group of previously announced Canadians, provides actors with access to industry and networking opportunities.

The festival runs Sept. 5-15.

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