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Euro blitz hits with 110+ pix

'N. American gateway to U.S. market' testing new talent

The Toronto Intl. Film Festival looks like it’s fast becoming the North American port of entry for Europeans. This year, more than 110 films by Euro directors are set to unspool at the fest.

Much of the Euro blitz can be put down to the Continent’s nascent marketing body European Film Promotion (EFP), which reps 19 nations and is supported by the Media Program of the European Union. Org is a testament to the European industry’s vow to put more promo power behind its films. Over the last four years, EFP has made it a point to introduce new talent at the fest by lobbying for more pic entries and staging a high-profile press conference with directors.

“This is now our fifth year of activities in Toronto,” says EFP’s Hamburg-based managing director Renate Rose. “As a festival of discovery, it presents many films from new directors. We consider Toronto to be the North American gateway to the U.S. market.”

Prior years have seen such helmers as Tom Tykwer (“Run Lola Run”) and Thomas Vinterberg (“Celebration”) cross the Atlantic for Toronto exposure. Tykwer’s pic ended up selling to Sony Pictures Classics for U.S. distribution after the fest.

“We are very excited by the number of talented young directors working in Europe today,” says EFP prexy Claudia Landsberger. “Not only are the new European films popular among their own domestic audiences, they have begun to reach audiences throughout Europe and the rest of the world in increasing numbers.”

Unlike in previous years, when one main press conference trotted out a cavalcade of Euro helmers, EFP will host three luncheons to introduce several new directors to key press and industryites. They’ll take place Sept. 8, 10 and 12 on the 51st floor of Toronto’s Cineplex Odeon Varsity Cinemas complex.

“The EFP director lunches are aimed at building a one-on-one relationship with the North American press,” adds Landsberger. “We hope that this will give the press more quality time with some of Europe’s emerging talents. Since there are so many Euro titles at the festival, this is a way for more directors to have the opportunity to meet with the press throughout the festival instead of on one specific day.

Among the EFP pack is Austrian helmer Ulrich Seidl, the subject of Toronto’s Directors Spotlight program this year. Seidl’s first feature, “Dogdays” (which competed at Venice) will screen at Toronto along with three of his 1990s docs on contemporary society: “Models,” “Animal Love” and “Losses to Be Expected.”

A large chunk of the Euro talent will be on display in fest program Nordic Visions: Recent Films from Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden.Program’s opening pic is Lone Scherfig’s “Italian for Beginners,” a Danish comedy that premiered and won prizes at the Berlin Intl. Film Festival earlier this year. (Pic was scooped up by Miramax at the fest.)

Norway will have four pics in the section, including a new pic from Pal Sletaune, whose rock star-kidnapping comedy “You Really Got Me,” is the follow-up to fest fave “Junk Mail.”

Works from vet Swedish helmers, including Bille August (“A Song for Martin”) and Colin Nutley (“Gossip”), also will screen in the Nordic program. All helmers are expected to be on hand for EFP luncheons.

Other Nordic entries include world preems: Jarmo Lampela’s “The River,” from Finland, and Ole Christian Madsen’s “Kira’s Reason — A Love Story,” from Denmark.

High-profile Europuddings headed for Toronto include Milcho Manchevski’s “Dust,” an Italian-German-U.K.-Macedonian co-production starring Joseph Fiennes; and Danis Tanovic’s “No Man’s Land” (Bosnia-France-Italy-Belgium-U.K.-Slovakia), which won the screenplay award at this year’s Cannes Intl. Film Festival.

Among the fest’s many French selections are: Laurent Cantet’s “L’Emploi du Temps,” a follow up to his 1999 Euro hit “Human Resources,” and new works from established names such as Jean-Pierre Jeunet (“Amelie From Montmartre), Claire Denis (“Trouble Every Day”) and Catherine Breillat (“A Ma Soeur”). All helmers are expected to attend the fest.

Beyond the lunches, EFP members and helmers will be on hand at the Rogers Industry Centre in the Park Hyatt Hotel.

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