Ir­ish out in force in Toronto

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - News -

The 32nd Toronto In­ter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val opened last night with the world pre­miere of Jeremy Podeswa’s Fugi­tive Pieces, star­ring Stephen Dil­lane as a man trau­ma­tised by his child­hood ex­pe­ri­ences in Nazioc­cu­pied Poland. A na­tive of Toronto, Podeswa spent most of the sum­mer in Dublin, di­rect­ing episodes for the sec­ond se­ries of The Tu­dors.

Toronto, which now ri­vals Cannes as the world’s most im­por­tant fes­ti­val, will be awash with in­ter­na­tional ac­tors and film-mak­ers over the event’s 10-day du­ra­tion. The pro­gramme in­cludes more than 250 fea­ture films and is pep­pered with movies in­tended as Os­car con­tenders in the spring.

A record six fea­ture films made by Ir­ish direc­tors have been se­lected for Toronto. They in­clude the world pre­miere of Neil Jor­dan’s The Brave One and the North Amer­i­can pre­mieres of Tom Collins’s Kings and Lenny Abra­ham­son’s Garage. All three will be re­leased in Ire­land on con­sec­u­tive weeks from Septem­ber 21st (see cover story).

The other three movies by Ir­ish direc­tors will have their world pre­mieres. Boy A re­unites the In­ter­mis­sion team of di­rec­tor John Crowley and writer Mark O’Rowe. Andrew Garfield stars as a young man who has spent most of his life in ju­ve­nile in­sti­tu­tions for the mur­der of an­other child. Peter Mul­lan plays the care worker who helps him when he is re­leased and given a new iden­tity.

Ir­ish ac­tor Stu­art Townsend makes his de­but as wri­ter­di­rec­tor with Bat­tle in Seat­tle, set over five days in 1999 when demon­stra­tors took to the streets of Seat­tle in protest against the World Trade Or­gan­i­sa­tion. The cast in­cludes Char­l­ize Theron, Woody Har­rel­son, Ray Liotta and Michelle Ro­driguez.

Writer-di­rec­tor Terry Ge­orge, who won the au­di­ence award at Toronto in 2004 for Ho­tel Rwanda, will present his new film. Reser­va­tion Road fol­lows the reper­cus­sions of a young child’s death. It stars Joaquin Phoenix, Mark Ruf­falo, Jen­nifer Con­nelly and Mira Sorvino.

In ad­di­tion, Richard At­ten­bor­ough’s Clos­ing the Ring, which was filmed in North­ern Ire­land and Canada, will have its world pre­miere in Toronto. It takes place dur­ing the sec­ond World War and in the present day. The cast in­cludes Shirley MacLaine, Christo­pher

Plum­mer and Neve Camp­bell.

Star pow­ered

Ir­ish ac­tors are well rep­re­sented in the in­ter­na­tional pro­duc­tions show­ing at Toronto. Colin Farrell co-stars with Ewan McGre­gor. They play brothers tempted into crime in the new Woody Allen film, Cas­san­dra’s Dream. Young Car­low res­i­dent Saoirse Ro­nan fea­tures in two Toronto pre­sen­ta­tions, Atone­ment, which opens in Ire­land to­day, and with Catherine Zeta-Jones and Guy Pearce in Gil­lian Arm­strong’s Death De­fy­ing Acts. Eva Birthis­tle plays the wife and agent of Rem­brandt (Martin Free­man) in Peter Greenaway’s Night­watch­ing.

In ad­di­tion, Gabriel Byrne joins Susan Saran­don and Max von Sy­dow in Toronto’s clos­ing night pre­sen­ta­tion, Emo­tional Arith­metic, which ob­serves a re­union of Holo­caust sur­vivors. Pierce Bros­nan co-stars with Chris Cooper, Pa­tri­cia Clark­son and Rachel McA­dams in Mar­ried Life. And Stephen Rea plays a home­less man knocked down by a drunken driver (Mena Su­vari) in Stu­art Gor­don’s Stuck, in which Rea spends most of the movie embed­ded in the car’s wind­screen.

Werner Her­zog in the deep freeze

In Toronto last year with Res­cue Dawn, the re­li­ably idio­syn­cratic Werner Her­zog re­turns next week with his new doc­u­men­tary, En­coun­ters at the End of the World. Set among an iso­lated Antarc­tic com­mu­nity, it prom­ises en­coun­ters de­scribed in the pro­gramme as “al­ter­nately sur­real, ab­surd, pro­found and, some­times, all of the above”.

New­com­ers to the area train by cov­er­ing their heads with buck­ets to sim­u­late bliz­zard blind­ness. Un­der­wa­ter sci­en­tists ca­su­ally dis­cover three new species of life in one day. And, as a cor­rec­tive to March of the Pen­guins, an ex­pert de­scribes the birds’ aber­rant be­hav­iour, such as three­somes and all-out avian mad­ness. md­wyer@ir­ Michael Dwyer re­ports from Toronto next Tues­day and Fri­day in The Ir­ish Times

Put up or shut up: Con­nie Nielsen in Stu­art Townsend’s Bat­tle in Seat­tle

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