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It's festival time in Toronto!

June 25, 2003 20:02 IST

In Sedigh Barmak's Osama, winner of two awards at the Cannes International Film Festival, a 12-year-old Afghan girl must marry an elderly mullah so that she can continue to live. The controversial film will be one of the entries in the Contemporary World Series to be shown at the 2003 Toronto International Film Festival.

Regarded as one of the top five world film festivals -- the list includes Cannes, Berlin and Venice -- it takes place this year under the shadow of the SARS fear. But the festival authorities expect solid attendance this year too, including top talent from Hollywood, Europe and several Asian film centres, including Mumbai and Chennai.

A still from DogvilleThe 28th Toronto International Film Festival runs from September 4 to September 13.The festival opens with Denys Arcand's Cannes' award-winner, The Barbarian Invasions. The film features veterans like Rémy Girard and Dorothée Berryman as well as a new generation of actors, including Stéphane Rousseau and Marie-Josée Croze (winner of the Best Actress award at Cannes).

The Barbarian Invasions, which revolves around a dysfunctional family, is an examination of contemporary life and asks the question if relationships can be revived effectively.


The

film, which will be released in North America by Miramax, shows Remy, divorced and in his early fifties, being hospitalised. According to the press release at Cannes, his ex-wife, Louise, asks their son Sebastien to come home from London. Sebastien hesitates; he and his father haven't had much to say to one another for many years. He flies to Montreal reluctantly but, as soon as he arrives, he seeks to bring the family and friends together. He also reunites the merry band that marked Rimy's past around his father's bedside: relatives, friends and former mistresses. What have they become in this age of 'barbarian invasions?' Sebastien wonders.

One of Canada's best known writers and filmmakers, Arcand is best known for Jesus Of Montreal (1989), about a struggling group of Montreal actors who piously play Biblical figures at night and work in beer commercials and X-rated films during the day.

Robert Altman's The Company, which explores the world of dance and features an ensemble cast including Neve Campbell as a gifted ballet dancer on the verge of becoming a star, will have its world premiere at TIFF.

Lars von Trier's much-discussed Dogville, starring Nicole Kidman, receives its North American premiere as a Gala Presentation. The Danish filmmaker is well known for the use of minimum props and allowing artistes to adlib. Kidman has said that working for him was both exhilarating and hellish.


Only the names of a dozen films to be shown at TIFF have been announced. The festival draws over 100 feature films and dozens of documentaries and short films. Some of Bollywood's top films including Lagaan have consolidated their reputation at TIFF and have found distributors soon after the festival.

More announcements on selections will be made in the next two weeks.

Arthur J Pais