Irwin Winkler's Life as a House will make its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival it was announced August 7. One of the festival's gala presentations, the film stars Kevin Kline and Kristin Scott Thomas.

Life as a House is billed as a poignant, multi-layered and often humourous portrait of one fractured family's rediscovery of what they once shared together. The film also stars Mary Steenburgen, Jena Malone, Sam Robards, Scott Bakula and Jamey Sheridan. The New Line Cinema presentation is written by Mark Andrus, and produced by Winkler and Rob Cowan.

The festival will highlight the work of Austrian filmmaker Ulrich Seidl, who will be the subject of the Director's Spotlight, a program that each year celebrates a filmmaker who is little-known to North American audiences and critics. The program features four films, including Seidl's latest work, Dogdays, which makes its North American premiere. His other featured films are Models (1998), Animal Love (1995) and A Loss Is To Be Expected (1992). Seidl's roots in the documentary tradition are evident in his fictional work, as can be seen in Dogdays, an episodic drama that captures the lives of its characters with an up-close and deadpan sensibility, reflecting the filmmaker's interest in eccentric individuals isolated by their own perverse perspectives and priorities.

Also making its North American debut at a festival gala presentation is Josee Dayan's Cet Amour-là . The film is an intimate portrait of renowned French author, filmmaker and social commentator, Marguerite Duras, focusing on her later years and based on the memoirs of her much-younger lover, Yann Andrea. It stars Jeanne Moreau and newcomer Aymeric Demarigny, is produced by Alain Sarde and presented by TVA International Distribution and Studio Canal. The Festival also unveiled its lineup of documentaries, which include a total of 22 feature-film documentaries and four shorts.

The Real to Reel program includes 15 feature-length documentaries, with six world premieres, six North American premieres, and three Canadian premieres. Among the world premieres, Keith Fulton and Louis Pepe's Tilting At Windmills, a U.K. production, follows renowned filmmaker Terry Gilliam through the debacle of making a film about his literary soul mate, Don Quixote. In Much Ado About Something, Australian director Michael Rubbo delves into the mystery of who actually wrote Shakespeare's works, skeptically questioning whether the man born at Stratford-on-Avon is in fact responsible for the literary treasures. Missing Young Woman, directed by Lourdes Portillo, investigates a Mexican border town, where hundreds of women have disappeared or been murdered over the last 10 years. In Hell House, George Ratliff explores a haunted house attraction put on by a Texan Pentecostal church depicting an over-the-top fire-and-brimstone hell.

The 26th Toronto International Film Festival runs Sept. 6-15, 2001.