‘Garden’ grows into Toronto fest

TORONTO — “The Hanging Garden,” a feature film debut for Nova Scotia director Thom Fitzgerald, will open the Perspective Canada program Sept. 5 at the Toronto Intl. Film Festival.

David McIntosh, program coordinator for Perspective Canada, told a news conference Tuesday “The Hanging Garden” is the first film from Canada’s Atlantic provinces ever selected to open the category, devoted to Canadian features, documentaries and short films.

The film concerns the return of a young gay man to his family home in rural Nova Scotia who finds that human relations have not improved in the 10 years he’s been away.

Perspective Canada’s lineup of 21 features and 31 shorts — selected from 283 submissions — includes the latest works by Guy Maddin, John Greyson, Mina Shum and Clement Virgo.

“It’s official now. Canadian cinema is a hot property at home and abroad,” McIntosh said, citing the success of Atom Egoyan’s “The Sweet Hereafter” and Lynne Stopkewich’s “Kissed.”

Other highlights this year include Mina Shum’s (“Double Happiness”) new comedy “Drive, She Said”; Guy Maddin’s (“Tales from the Gimli Hospital,” “Archangel”) “Twilight of the Ice Nymphs”; John Greyson’s (“Zero Patience,” “Lilies”) “Uncut,” which explores the links between Pierre Trudeau, circumcision and copyright law; and Clement Virgo’s (“Rude”) “The Planet of Junior Brown.”

Six directors from Quebec have collaborated on “Cosmos,” a view of Montreal through the eyes of a cab driver, and Quebec’s Andre Forcier (“A Wind from Wyoming,” “Une Histoire inventee”) presents “La Comtesse de Baton Rouge.”

Notable documentaries showing in the Perspective Canada program include Anne Claire Poirer’s “Tu As Crie Let Me Go,” in which she ponders the murder of her drug-addicted daughter; Tim Southam’s “Drowning in Dreams,” about a man’s efforts to a raise a boat from the bottom of Lake Superior; and Kenny Holtz and Spencer Rice’s “Pitch,” which follows two would-be filmmakers harassing Hollywood stars — Roger Moore style — in their effort to raise money for a feature.

Canadian films compete for cash awards: $25,000 for best feature, $15,000 for best Canadian first feature and $2,500 for best short.

The Toronto Intl. Film Festival runs from Sept. 4 to 13.

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