Toons Make Toronto Fest List

The Toronto Int’l Film Festival yesterday released its list of films in competition and those to screen as special presentations during the 2004 edition, to be held Sept. 9-18. The selection committee has made room for such animated works as Mamoru Oshii’s anime sequel, Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence, Chris Landreth’s award-winning short, Ryan, Otomo Katsuhiro’s anime feature, Steamboy, and DreamWorks’ latest big-screen CG comedy, Shark Tale.

Made nine years after its groundbreaking predecessor, Ghost In The Shell 2: Innocence was the first feature film to screen in competition at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival. The film takes place in a world where certain prototype robots have begun killing their owners. Taking up the case is Section 9, an elite group of government operatives that includes a loner named Batou, whose former partner was the focus of the first Ghost in the Shell. This second anime feature to be distributed under DreamWork’s new Go Fish banner (first was Satoshi Kon’s Millennium Actress) will screen in the Midnight Madness program at Toronto, along with such psychological chillers as James Wan’s Saw and Brad Anderson’s The Machinist, starring Batman-to-be Christian Bale.

Landreth’s Ryan will compete in the Short Cuts Canada category. The innovative 3D work is based on the life of Ryan Larkin, a former animator who produced works 30 years ago at the National Film Board of Canada and today panhandles for spare change in Montreal. The short received the Jury’s Special Award at Annecy earlier this year and recently took Jury Honors at this year’s SIGGRAPH Animation Fest.

Japanese sci-fi animated feature, Steamboy, will screen as a special presentation. This well-mounted project tells the story of a 19th-century London-based inventor named Rei who receives a mysterious invention from his grandfather in America on the eve of the first World Expo. Steamboy was released in Japan on July 17. No U.S. premiere date has been set. The film will also screen at this year’s Venice Int’l Film Festival (Sept. 1-11).

Directed by Vicky Jenson and Bibo Bergeron, DreamWorks’ Shark Tale plays like a comedic, underwater melding of The Godfather and The Man Who Shot Liberty Vallance. Will Smith lends voice to Oscar, a two-bit, hustling fish who becomes a local hero when he is mistakenly given credit for killing the son of a shark mafia boss. The film’s all-star voice cast also includes Robert De Niro, Angelina Jolie, Renée Zellweger, Martin Scorsese, Peter Faulk and Jack Black. Shark Tale will also screen as part of Toronto’s VIACOM Galas and will also play out of competition at Venice.