August 10, 2005
Winterbottom, Jordan pics make Toronto cut
By Etan Vlessing
TORONTO (Hollywood Reporter) - The Toronto International
Film Festival (Sept. 8-17) unveiled nearly a dozen world
premieres Tuesday, including the latest from returning
directors Michael Winterbottom and Neil Jordan.
premiere in the Masters program after being bypassed by Cannes.
Set in 1970s Ireland, the "Crying Game" director returns to
familiar turf with a drama that stars Cillian Murphy as a
deceptively young transvestite. Liam Neeson and Stephen Rea
also star. Sony Pictures Classics has already locked up key
world rights ahead of a fall theatrical release in the U.S.
Winterbottom's latest work, "Tristam Shandy: a Cock and
Bull Story," will receive a world premiere as a special
presentation in Toronto.
In addition, a world premiere gala screening at Roy Thomson
Hall has been set for Niki Caro's "North Country," the Charlize
Theron drama about a single mother rallying her female
co-workers to fight against sexual harrasment at a local mining
company. Frances McDormand, Sissy Spacek and Woody Harrelson
round out the cast of the Warner Bros. film.
Also lending dramatic depth to Toronto is a gala for "Mrs.
Harris," HBO Films' recreation of the true-life murder of
Scarsdale diet creator Dr. Herman Tarnower (Ben Kingsley) by
Jean Harris, played by Annette Bening. Phyllis Nagy marks her
directorial debut with "Mrs. Harris," which also stars Ellen
Burstyn, Frances Fisher and Chloe Sevigny.
In addition, there's a world premiere at Roy Thomson Hall
for John Gatin's "Dreamer: Inspired by a True Story." The
DreamWorks picture stars Kurt Russell and Dakota Fanning as
father and daughter attempting to nurse an injured horse back
to health so it can compete in the Breeders' Cup.
Toronto is also welcoming back Cameron Crowe as he brings
"Elizabethtown" to Roy Thomson Hall for a North American
premiere only days after the film bows at the Venice festival.
The film, to be released in North America by Paramount, stars
Orlando Bloom and Kirsten Dunst in a romantic drama about a
disgruntled employee who returns to his hometown in order to
ensure his dead father's wishes are met.
Also jumping the pond from Venice for North American
premieres are John Turturro's "Romance & Cigarettes,"
unspooling in the Masters sidebar; Tim Burton's "Corpse Bride"
and Steven Soderbergh's "Bubble" -- both part of the Special
Presentations showcase; and Liev Schreiber's "Everything is
Also headed north is Fox Searchlight's "Bee Season," a
world premiere for U.S. directors Scott McGehee and David
Siegel. The film follows a young girl, played by Flora Cross,
whose success in spelling competitions disrupts her family,
including her father (Richard Gere) and mother (Juliette
Binoche). The drama, to unspool in the Special Presentations
sidebar, is set for an Oct. 21 theatrical release.
Also receiving a world premiere in the Special
Presentations program is "The Notorious Bettie Page," U.S.
director Mary Harron's biopic about the notorious 1950s pinup
girl, played by Gretchen Mol. The film also stars Lili Taylor
and David Strathairn.
U.S. director Shane Black is coming to Toronto with "Kiss
Kiss, Bang Bang," the Robert Downey Jr.-starrer that screened
out of competition in Cannes.
Another slot has been reserved for Cinema Seven's "Opa!,"
the romantic comedy from British director Udayan Prasad about
an American archeologist (Matthew Modine) in Greece to uncover
a lost Biblical artifact that his late father had searched for
in vain. As he digs, the archeologist falls in love with a
tavern owner, played by Agni Scott.
Modine will also be in Toronto to tout "Mary," in which he
plays an independent director casting himself as Jesus Christ
in his film. Abel Ferrara directs the drama that includes
Juliette Binoche as an actress playing Mary Magdalene. The
drama will first bow in Venice before having its North American
premiere in Toronto.
New Zealand director Roger Donaldson is bringing "The
World's Fastest Indian" to Toronto for a world premiere in the
Special Presentations sidebar. Anthony Hopkins plays New
Zealander Burt Munro, intent on setting a new speed record for
the classic Indian motorcyle he developed on the Bonneville
Salt Flats. Diane Ladd and Paul Rodriguez also star.