July 8, 2002 
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Atom Egoyan
Controversial Turk film to open at Toronto
Atom Egoyan's film points fingers at Turkey's role in 9/11

Arthur J Pais

A movie that infuriated many Turks --- even though most of its critics might not have seen it --- will open the 27th Toronto International Film Festival.

Atom Egoyan, whose Armenian family moved from Egypt to Canada, will unveil Ararat in September. The movie was shown at the recent Cannes film festival to critical acclaim. The festival, which in recent years has become the showcase for top movies such as Oscar-winner Training Day, ends September 14.

Ararat, made at about $3 million, set in today's Toronto and revolves around two families living under the shadow of the 1915 Armenian massacre in Turkey. There are over a million Turks in North America, and many are ready to picket the film.

Egoyan, one of the most acclaimed of independent filmmakers, has said his film is not about allotting the blame but reflecting about the means to heal the past wounds.

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The Toronto festival was seriously affected by September 11 events, leading to the cancellation or restriction of many screenings. 'The world has changed since the last festival, and Ararat is a reflection of this new reality,' Egoyan, who is travelling in Europe, said in a statement to the festival authorities.

Turkey resents criticism for its role in the massacre. While the Armenian Christians call it their holocaust and say thousands were systematically killed, Turkish officials have occasionally said the numbers are highly exaggerated --- and that killings took place in regions which were seeking autonomy from Istanbul.

'Ararat is based on true events that have been systematically denied,' a festival press release said.

Because of the controversy surrounding his film, Egoyan decided not to enter it in the competition section at Cannes in May. Instead, it was shown in the Official Selection.


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