Oct 23, 2021
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Film elite, tabloid stars take spotlight at Toronto film festival

Many superlatives are being tossed around ahead of this year’s Toronto International Film Festival: Most world premieres! Most countries ever! Record number of female directors!

All auspicious achievements, to be sure. But the blinding star power expected to put the spotlight on the city as the 11-day event kicks off Thursday, Sept 6 is bound to quickly steer chatter back to the more usual distinctions: Hottest lead, Cutest ingenue, Surefire Oscar contender, audience favourite.

Attendees expected to showcase new projects at the fest include Ben Affleck, Ryan Gosling, Robert Redford, Johnny Depp, Susan Sarandon, Joaquin Phoenix, Keira Knightley, Tom Hanks, Kristen Stewart and Gwyneth Paltrow.

The celebrity guest list goes on, but artistic director Cameron Bailey is also taking pains to highlight the record 72 countries represented at the fest (up from 65 last year) and the fact that 25 per cent of this year’s slate is directed by women.

“The diversity of the festival seems to be the real story for us this year,” says Bailey, clearly immune to constant Gosling-Eva Mendes wedding speculation and Stewart’s tabloid-fodder trysts.”That may possibly be the largest and broadest representation globally that we’ve ever had.”

The female contingent is especially noteworthy given the lashing the Cannes Film Festival suffered in May when its competition failed to include any women. Toronto’s slate includes 91 female directors, six of them with prestigious gala slots.

TIFF boss Piers Handling says criticism of Cannes had no bearing when his programmers assembled the roster, although he admitted gender representation is something they’re “conscious of.”

“The quality of the film is, at the end of the day, always the deciding factor, especially when it comes to the gala program,” says Handling, noting the big titles must withstand the scrutiny of the international press.

“You don’t set out with any quotas in mind but some of the best films we saw this year were obviously directed by women that we wanted to put in very, very prominent positions.”

That includes Sally Potter’s Ginger and Rosa and Mira Nair’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist, neither of which was ready for Cannes.

Chief among the Canadian slate is Deepa Mehta’s ambitious adaptation of the Salman Rushdie novel Midnight’s Children.

Nevertheless, if there is one popularity game TIFF freely admits to playing, it’s chasing the next Oscar sensation – and there are several titles that could make waves come awards time.

They include the Weinstein Company’s period drama The Master – a weighty offering directed by Paul Thomas Anderson that’s said to be inspired by Scientology.

It stars Philip Seymour Hoffman as a charismatic spiritual guru and Joaquin Phoenix as a troubled war veteran.

Affleck returns to the director’s chair for his political thriller Argo, in which he also stars alongside Bryan Cranston, John Goodman and Alan Arkin.

It’s about a CIA agent who tries to rescue six U.S. citizens held hostage in Iran by pretending they are a Canadian film crew.

And Hanks hits the red carpet with his centuries-sweeping film Cloud Atlas, a massive mash-up of six stories and time periods stretching from the 19th century to a distant future.

Its dizzying celeb cast includes Sarandon, Halle Berry, Hugh Grant, Jim Sturgess, Hugo Weaving and Jim Broadbent.

“It’s been a few years since Tom Hanks has been to the festival, so to have him with Cloud Atlas is exciting for us,” Handling says.

Also sure to draw attention is Paltrow and Mark Ruffalo’s ensemble comedy Thanks for Sharing, Terrence Malick’s exploration of love To the Wonder, the West Memphis Three documentary West of Memphis, which is being promoted by Depp, and Spike Lee’s Michael Jackson documentary, Bad 25.

But there are notable films missing: Kathryn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty, about the decadelong hunt for Osama bin Laden, is skipping the fest even after Bigelow’s Oscar-winning film The Hurt Locker made its North American première at the 2008 edition.

And then there’s Ang Lee’s ambitious Life of Pi, based on the Yann Martel novel about a zookeeper’s son set adrift on the ocean with a Bengal tiger. Instead, the Montreal-shot fantasy is opening the New York Film Festival immediately after TIFF.

“Not even Cannes gets all the films they want,” Handling explains simply.

“Clearly, we’re after every single film that’s out there, but some films just decide for a variety of reasons not to come to us.”

TIFF’s crowd-pleasers will include the opening film, Looper, Bailey says, touting the timetravelling actioner as an effects-laden spectacle with brains.

It stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a hit man who is assigned to kill his future self, played by Bruce Willis.

“We wanted a film that would be exciting and fun for the audience to watch, that would be really big enough to play for the opening-night crowd,” Bailey says.

“But we also wanted a film that had some cinematic smarts to it, that understood film history and film genre, and (director) Rian Johnson does that beautifully.”

If there are any themes to be teased out of the diverse slate, Handling points to a preponderance of features on aging.

That includes Michael Haneke’s Amour, Redford’s The Company You Keep, Patrice Leconte’s The Suicide Shop, Marco Bellocchio’s Dormant Beauty and the closing-night film, Song for Marion, starring Terence Stamp and Vanessa Redgrave.

“It seemed like the baby boom generation has kind of grown up and are just dealing with these issues of aging, what it means to age,” Handling says.

There also seems to be a slew of politically minded fare, he says, pointing to Affleck’s Argo, Nair’s 9/11 themed The Reluctant Fundamentalist, Olivier Assayas’s Something In the Air, CostaGavras’s high finance feature Capital, the Chilean-set No and Potter’s Cold War-era Ginger and Rosa.

Overall, TIFF’s spotlight is shifting to more globally minded fare, Handling says.

He points to a healthy number of Eastern films in the gala and special presentations section – generally the domain of A-list Hollywood and European titles.

“We’ve spent a lot of time in Asia, China over the last 15 years. Now we’re actually starting to put some of these key films into big positions of prominence in the festival,” he says, pointing to China’s Dangerous Liaisons, Caught in the Web and The Last Supper and Japan’s Thermae Romae as some of the beneficiaries.

“Asia’s emerging, Asia’s making exciting films, Asia has been for years and now we’re acknowledging that and putting them into some of the major slots in our festival.”

Canadians hoping to make a splash include rookie filmmaker Brandon Cronenberg, son of David Cronenberg. His debut feature, Antiviral, is a sci-fi-tinged look at celebrity worship.

Meanwhile Ruba Nadda, who won the best Canadian feature prize at TIFF a few years ago, returns with the political drama Inescapable, starring Alexander Siddig, Marisa Tomei and Joshua Jackson.

The Toronto International Film Festival runs from to Sept. 16.

Source: Vancouver Sun

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Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Front Page, Industry News

Film elite, tabloid stars take spotlight at Toronto film festival

Many superlatives are being tossed around ahead of this year’s Toronto International Film Festival: Most world premieres! Most countries ever! Record number of female directors!

All auspicious achievements, to be sure. But the blinding star power expected to put the spotlight on the city as the 11-day event kicks off Thursday, Sept 6 is bound to quickly steer chatter back to the more usual distinctions: Hottest lead, Cutest ingenue, Surefire Oscar contender, audience favourite.

Attendees expected to showcase new projects at the fest include Ben Affleck, Ryan Gosling, Robert Redford, Johnny Depp, Susan Sarandon, Joaquin Phoenix, Keira Knightley, Tom Hanks, Kristen Stewart and Gwyneth Paltrow.

The celebrity guest list goes on, but artistic director Cameron Bailey is also taking pains to highlight the record 72 countries represented at the fest (up from 65 last year) and the fact that 25 per cent of this year’s slate is directed by women.

“The diversity of the festival seems to be the real story for us this year,” says Bailey, clearly immune to constant Gosling-Eva Mendes wedding speculation and Stewart’s tabloid-fodder trysts.”That may possibly be the largest and broadest representation globally that we’ve ever had.”

The female contingent is especially noteworthy given the lashing the Cannes Film Festival suffered in May when its competition failed to include any women. Toronto’s slate includes 91 female directors, six of them with prestigious gala slots.

TIFF boss Piers Handling says criticism of Cannes had no bearing when his programmers assembled the roster, although he admitted gender representation is something they’re “conscious of.”

“The quality of the film is, at the end of the day, always the deciding factor, especially when it comes to the gala program,” says Handling, noting the big titles must withstand the scrutiny of the international press.

“You don’t set out with any quotas in mind but some of the best films we saw this year were obviously directed by women that we wanted to put in very, very prominent positions.”

That includes Sally Potter’s Ginger and Rosa and Mira Nair’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist, neither of which was ready for Cannes.

Chief among the Canadian slate is Deepa Mehta’s ambitious adaptation of the Salman Rushdie novel Midnight’s Children.

Nevertheless, if there is one popularity game TIFF freely admits to playing, it’s chasing the next Oscar sensation – and there are several titles that could make waves come awards time.

They include the Weinstein Company’s period drama The Master – a weighty offering directed by Paul Thomas Anderson that’s said to be inspired by Scientology.

It stars Philip Seymour Hoffman as a charismatic spiritual guru and Joaquin Phoenix as a troubled war veteran.

Affleck returns to the director’s chair for his political thriller Argo, in which he also stars alongside Bryan Cranston, John Goodman and Alan Arkin.

It’s about a CIA agent who tries to rescue six U.S. citizens held hostage in Iran by pretending they are a Canadian film crew.

And Hanks hits the red carpet with his centuries-sweeping film Cloud Atlas, a massive mash-up of six stories and time periods stretching from the 19th century to a distant future.

Its dizzying celeb cast includes Sarandon, Halle Berry, Hugh Grant, Jim Sturgess, Hugo Weaving and Jim Broadbent.

“It’s been a few years since Tom Hanks has been to the festival, so to have him with Cloud Atlas is exciting for us,” Handling says.

Also sure to draw attention is Paltrow and Mark Ruffalo’s ensemble comedy Thanks for Sharing, Terrence Malick’s exploration of love To the Wonder, the West Memphis Three documentary West of Memphis, which is being promoted by Depp, and Spike Lee’s Michael Jackson documentary, Bad 25.

But there are notable films missing: Kathryn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty, about the decadelong hunt for Osama bin Laden, is skipping the fest even after Bigelow’s Oscar-winning film The Hurt Locker made its North American première at the 2008 edition.

And then there’s Ang Lee’s ambitious Life of Pi, based on the Yann Martel novel about a zookeeper’s son set adrift on the ocean with a Bengal tiger. Instead, the Montreal-shot fantasy is opening the New York Film Festival immediately after TIFF.

“Not even Cannes gets all the films they want,” Handling explains simply.

“Clearly, we’re after every single film that’s out there, but some films just decide for a variety of reasons not to come to us.”

TIFF’s crowd-pleasers will include the opening film, Looper, Bailey says, touting the timetravelling actioner as an effects-laden spectacle with brains.

It stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a hit man who is assigned to kill his future self, played by Bruce Willis.

“We wanted a film that would be exciting and fun for the audience to watch, that would be really big enough to play for the opening-night crowd,” Bailey says.

“But we also wanted a film that had some cinematic smarts to it, that understood film history and film genre, and (director) Rian Johnson does that beautifully.”

If there are any themes to be teased out of the diverse slate, Handling points to a preponderance of features on aging.

That includes Michael Haneke’s Amour, Redford’s The Company You Keep, Patrice Leconte’s The Suicide Shop, Marco Bellocchio’s Dormant Beauty and the closing-night film, Song for Marion, starring Terence Stamp and Vanessa Redgrave.

“It seemed like the baby boom generation has kind of grown up and are just dealing with these issues of aging, what it means to age,” Handling says.

There also seems to be a slew of politically minded fare, he says, pointing to Affleck’s Argo, Nair’s 9/11 themed The Reluctant Fundamentalist, Olivier Assayas’s Something In the Air, CostaGavras’s high finance feature Capital, the Chilean-set No and Potter’s Cold War-era Ginger and Rosa.

Overall, TIFF’s spotlight is shifting to more globally minded fare, Handling says.

He points to a healthy number of Eastern films in the gala and special presentations section – generally the domain of A-list Hollywood and European titles.

“We’ve spent a lot of time in Asia, China over the last 15 years. Now we’re actually starting to put some of these key films into big positions of prominence in the festival,” he says, pointing to China’s Dangerous Liaisons, Caught in the Web and The Last Supper and Japan’s Thermae Romae as some of the beneficiaries.

“Asia’s emerging, Asia’s making exciting films, Asia has been for years and now we’re acknowledging that and putting them into some of the major slots in our festival.”

Canadians hoping to make a splash include rookie filmmaker Brandon Cronenberg, son of David Cronenberg. His debut feature, Antiviral, is a sci-fi-tinged look at celebrity worship.

Meanwhile Ruba Nadda, who won the best Canadian feature prize at TIFF a few years ago, returns with the political drama Inescapable, starring Alexander Siddig, Marisa Tomei and Joshua Jackson.

The Toronto International Film Festival runs from to Sept. 16.

Source: Vancouver Sun

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Front Page, Industry News

Film elite, tabloid stars take spotlight at Toronto film festival

Many superlatives are being tossed around ahead of this year’s Toronto International Film Festival: Most world premieres! Most countries ever! Record number of female directors!

All auspicious achievements, to be sure. But the blinding star power expected to put the spotlight on the city as the 11-day event kicks off Thursday, Sept 6 is bound to quickly steer chatter back to the more usual distinctions: Hottest lead, Cutest ingenue, Surefire Oscar contender, audience favourite.

Attendees expected to showcase new projects at the fest include Ben Affleck, Ryan Gosling, Robert Redford, Johnny Depp, Susan Sarandon, Joaquin Phoenix, Keira Knightley, Tom Hanks, Kristen Stewart and Gwyneth Paltrow.

The celebrity guest list goes on, but artistic director Cameron Bailey is also taking pains to highlight the record 72 countries represented at the fest (up from 65 last year) and the fact that 25 per cent of this year’s slate is directed by women.

“The diversity of the festival seems to be the real story for us this year,” says Bailey, clearly immune to constant Gosling-Eva Mendes wedding speculation and Stewart’s tabloid-fodder trysts.”That may possibly be the largest and broadest representation globally that we’ve ever had.”

The female contingent is especially noteworthy given the lashing the Cannes Film Festival suffered in May when its competition failed to include any women. Toronto’s slate includes 91 female directors, six of them with prestigious gala slots.

TIFF boss Piers Handling says criticism of Cannes had no bearing when his programmers assembled the roster, although he admitted gender representation is something they’re “conscious of.”

“The quality of the film is, at the end of the day, always the deciding factor, especially when it comes to the gala program,” says Handling, noting the big titles must withstand the scrutiny of the international press.

“You don’t set out with any quotas in mind but some of the best films we saw this year were obviously directed by women that we wanted to put in very, very prominent positions.”

That includes Sally Potter’s Ginger and Rosa and Mira Nair’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist, neither of which was ready for Cannes.

Chief among the Canadian slate is Deepa Mehta’s ambitious adaptation of the Salman Rushdie novel Midnight’s Children.

Nevertheless, if there is one popularity game TIFF freely admits to playing, it’s chasing the next Oscar sensation – and there are several titles that could make waves come awards time.

They include the Weinstein Company’s period drama The Master – a weighty offering directed by Paul Thomas Anderson that’s said to be inspired by Scientology.

It stars Philip Seymour Hoffman as a charismatic spiritual guru and Joaquin Phoenix as a troubled war veteran.

Affleck returns to the director’s chair for his political thriller Argo, in which he also stars alongside Bryan Cranston, John Goodman and Alan Arkin.

It’s about a CIA agent who tries to rescue six U.S. citizens held hostage in Iran by pretending they are a Canadian film crew.

And Hanks hits the red carpet with his centuries-sweeping film Cloud Atlas, a massive mash-up of six stories and time periods stretching from the 19th century to a distant future.

Its dizzying celeb cast includes Sarandon, Halle Berry, Hugh Grant, Jim Sturgess, Hugo Weaving and Jim Broadbent.

“It’s been a few years since Tom Hanks has been to the festival, so to have him with Cloud Atlas is exciting for us,” Handling says.

Also sure to draw attention is Paltrow and Mark Ruffalo’s ensemble comedy Thanks for Sharing, Terrence Malick’s exploration of love To the Wonder, the West Memphis Three documentary West of Memphis, which is being promoted by Depp, and Spike Lee’s Michael Jackson documentary, Bad 25.

But there are notable films missing: Kathryn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty, about the decadelong hunt for Osama bin Laden, is skipping the fest even after Bigelow’s Oscar-winning film The Hurt Locker made its North American première at the 2008 edition.

And then there’s Ang Lee’s ambitious Life of Pi, based on the Yann Martel novel about a zookeeper’s son set adrift on the ocean with a Bengal tiger. Instead, the Montreal-shot fantasy is opening the New York Film Festival immediately after TIFF.

“Not even Cannes gets all the films they want,” Handling explains simply.

“Clearly, we’re after every single film that’s out there, but some films just decide for a variety of reasons not to come to us.”

TIFF’s crowd-pleasers will include the opening film, Looper, Bailey says, touting the timetravelling actioner as an effects-laden spectacle with brains.

It stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a hit man who is assigned to kill his future self, played by Bruce Willis.

“We wanted a film that would be exciting and fun for the audience to watch, that would be really big enough to play for the opening-night crowd,” Bailey says.

“But we also wanted a film that had some cinematic smarts to it, that understood film history and film genre, and (director) Rian Johnson does that beautifully.”

If there are any themes to be teased out of the diverse slate, Handling points to a preponderance of features on aging.

That includes Michael Haneke’s Amour, Redford’s The Company You Keep, Patrice Leconte’s The Suicide Shop, Marco Bellocchio’s Dormant Beauty and the closing-night film, Song for Marion, starring Terence Stamp and Vanessa Redgrave.

“It seemed like the baby boom generation has kind of grown up and are just dealing with these issues of aging, what it means to age,” Handling says.

There also seems to be a slew of politically minded fare, he says, pointing to Affleck’s Argo, Nair’s 9/11 themed The Reluctant Fundamentalist, Olivier Assayas’s Something In the Air, CostaGavras’s high finance feature Capital, the Chilean-set No and Potter’s Cold War-era Ginger and Rosa.

Overall, TIFF’s spotlight is shifting to more globally minded fare, Handling says.

He points to a healthy number of Eastern films in the gala and special presentations section – generally the domain of A-list Hollywood and European titles.

“We’ve spent a lot of time in Asia, China over the last 15 years. Now we’re actually starting to put some of these key films into big positions of prominence in the festival,” he says, pointing to China’s Dangerous Liaisons, Caught in the Web and The Last Supper and Japan’s Thermae Romae as some of the beneficiaries.

“Asia’s emerging, Asia’s making exciting films, Asia has been for years and now we’re acknowledging that and putting them into some of the major slots in our festival.”

Canadians hoping to make a splash include rookie filmmaker Brandon Cronenberg, son of David Cronenberg. His debut feature, Antiviral, is a sci-fi-tinged look at celebrity worship.

Meanwhile Ruba Nadda, who won the best Canadian feature prize at TIFF a few years ago, returns with the political drama Inescapable, starring Alexander Siddig, Marisa Tomei and Joshua Jackson.

The Toronto International Film Festival runs from to Sept. 16.

Source: Vancouver Sun

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Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

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