Toronto fest will fete Frears

Silver anni of Canuck event to also screen Brit helmer's 'Liam'

MONTREAL — The Toronto Intl. Film Festival is planning a 25th anniversary tribute in honor of seasoned British helmer Stephen Frears. Gala will take place Sept. 9 at Roy Thomson Hall with Frears and a number of thesps, writers and producers who have worked with the filmmaker. Fest will also present the North American preem of Frears’ latest pic, “Liam.”

The full-scale tribute/soiree, the first at the Toronto fest in 15 years, is part of the event’s silver-anniversary celebrations. Frears has a long history with the festival. His breakthrough pic, crime thriller “The Hit,” screened at Toronto in 1984; “My Beautiful Laundrette,” originally shot as a TV film, launched theatrically following a berth at the Toronto fest in 1985; and “Sammy and Rosie Get Laid” was presented at Toronto in 1987. Noir drama “The Grifters” had its world preem in Toronto in 1990, and Irish comic tale “The Snapper” won the audience award at the festival in 1993.

‘A trans-Atlantic filmmaker’

“We wanted to focus on a filmmaker who has made a real contribution to international cinema,” said festival director Piers Handling. “What’s unique about Stephen Frears is how he alternates between independent British cinema and larger American films. He really is a trans-Atlantic filmmaker. We are excited and thrilled to welcome a great friend of the festival to be our tribute guest.”

“I’m flattered and embarrassed and delighted,” by the tribute, Frears said. “They made a coherent case (to do this in Toronto) because I make all sorts of different films, and I’m somehow neither a European director nor a Hollywood director.”

Frears’ most recent bigscreen release was the rock-music-themed comedy “High Fidelity,” with John Cusack. “Liam,” his latest, is a dark drama focusing on a disintegrating, impoverished family in Liverpool in the 1930s. Story is told through the eyes of a 7-year-old boy.

Pic stars Ian Hart, Claire Hackett, Anne Reid and Anthony Burrows. It will have its world premiere in competition at the Venice Film Festival before making its North American bow in Toronto.

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