‘Bollywood’ laffer opens Toronto fest

Canada's line-up features 20 pics, 29 shorts

TORONTO — Deepa Mehta’s romantic comedy “Bollywood/Hollywood” will world preem as the opener for the 27th Toronto Intl. Film Festival’s Perspective Canada program on Sept. 6.

Set in Toronto, “Bollywood/Hollywood” features Rahul (Rahul Khanna), a dot-com millionaire who hires an escort (Lisa Ray,) to masquerade as the “nice Indian girl” his family insists he court.

Pic is produced by David Hamilton and co-produced by Bob Wertheimer. Perspective Canada programmer Liz Czach describes “Bollywood/Hollywood” as “a nice blending of Bollywood musical exuberance and Hollywood romance.”

Pic is a light-hearted departure from Mehta’s previous films, “Fire” (1996) and “Earth” (1996.) “Fire,” which opened the Canuck program in 1996, sparked right-wing protests in India, and protests and vandalism on the set forced her to abandon filming “Water,” the third part in the trilogy.

Mehta told Daily Variety that the selection of “Bollywood/Hollywood” as the opener for perspective Canada “confirms what I believe is the best aspect of Canada, that it is a truly global society.”

“The film is not about vindication; it’s about celebration,” she added. “Life is too short, we should really just lighten up.” Fortissimo Film Sales have worldwide rights.

Twenty features and 29 shorts make up this year’s perspective Canada line-up, including the latest from documentarian Nettie Wild (“A Place Called Chiapas,”) “Fix: The Story of an Addicted City,” which follows the lives of heroin addicts and advocates.

Peter Mettler, (“Picture of Light,” “Tectonic Plates,”) returns with the highly anticipated “Gambling, Gods and LSD,” a provocative enquiry into transcendence and the quest for meaning; Jennifer Baichwal’s “The True Meaning of Pictures: Shelby Lee Adams’ Appalachia,” surveys the world and work of Kentucky photographer Adams whose “hillbilly” photos have invited much controversy.

Thom Fitzgerald, whose “Hanging Garden” won the prize for best Canuck feature in 1997 (shared with Atom Egoyan’s “Sweet Hereafter”), returns to the festival with “The Wild Dogs,” a drama set in Bucharest about a week in the lives of visiting Canuck pornographer Geordie, Bogdan the dog-catcher, and Nathalie, the lonely wife of a diplomat.

Colm Feore and Patricia Clarkson star in Michael Mackenzie’s freshman feature “The Baroness and the Pig,” a period drama shot in high definition, in which a baroness (Clarkson) takes a young girl (Caroline Dhavernas) under her wing.

Wiebke von Carolsfeld brings her first film, “Marion Bridge” to the fest. Pic stars Rebecca Jenkins, Stacy Smith and Molly Parker as estranged sisters coming together over the care of their dying mother. In “Rub & Tug,” Don McKellar plays a greenhorn manager of a massage parlor at the mercy of the street-savvy masseurs in his charge.

In addition, fest organizers announced that the Film Reference Library has acquired collections donated from McKellar and Patricia Rozema, and a re-mastered print of Rozema’s “I’ve Heard the Mermaids Singing,” is to be a special presentation at this year’s festival.

Fest runs Sept 5-14.

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