Entertainment & Arts

Nelson Mandela biopic to have world premiere at Toronto

Idris Elba and Nelson Mandela
Image caption Elba is one of several actors to have portrayed the former South African president on screen

The film version of Nelson Mandela's autobiography Long Walk to Freedom is to have its world premiere at the Toronto Film Festival in September.

Luther's Idris Elba plays Mandela in the biopic, one of a host of titles confirmed by organisers on Tuesday.

Others include The Fifth Estate, a film about Julian Assange starring Benedict Cumberbatch as the WikiLeaks founder.

The Railway Man starring Colin Firth and August: Osage Country with Meryl Streep will also debut at the event.

The 38th Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) runs from 5 to 15 September.

Other films that will screen for the first time include 12 Years a Slave, the new film from Shame director Steve McQueen, and The Invisible Woman, actor Ralph Fiennes's drama about Charles Dickens.

Additional British film-makers in the line-up include Stephen Frears, Roger Michell and The IT Crowd's Richard Ayoade, who will use the festival to launch his comedy The Double.

Canada's own talent will also be well represented, with new films from such directors as Don McKellar, Atom Egoyan and Jean-Marc Vallee.

The latter's film - Dallas Buyers Club, in which Matthew McConaughey plays a Texan who takes on the medical establishment after being diagnosed HIV positive - is already tipped for awards success.

Image caption Rush, Ron Howard's film about racing driver James Hunt, will have its international premiere

The festival will close with Life of Crime, an adaptation of Elmore Leonard's novel The Switch, featuring characters previously seen in Quentin Tarantino's Jackie Brown.

Piers Handling, chief executive officer and director of TIFF, said the first round of films "offers a taste of the powerhouse line-up at this year's festival".

"These are the works that will have everyone talking because they capture the mood of the times."

Toronto is now regarded as a crucial launchpad for films hoping to impress voters and juries during the annual film awards season.

Silver Linings Playbook won its top prize last year, the first of many David O'Russell's romantic comedy amassed in the run-up to February's Oscar ceremony.

Some are already tipping Elba for accolades for his work in Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, which tells of the anti-apartheid campaigner's rural upbringing and how he coped with being in prison for 27 years.

Naomie Harris plays Winnie Mandela in Justin Chadwick's film, which is scheduled to have its UK release next January.

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