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Mounting ‘Ararat’

Egoyan pic will open Toronto Film Fest

TORONTO — Atom Egoyan’s controversial “Ararat” will make its North American as the opener of the 27th Toronto Intl. Film Festival in September, fest director Piers Handling announced Tuesday.

Set in contemporary Toronto, “Ararat” is about two families living under the shadow of the Armenian massacre in Turkey in 1915 and stars David Alpay, Charles Aznavour and Eric Bogosian.

” ‘Ararat’ is based on true events that have been systematically denied,” said a fest press release.

Turkey has never officially acknowledged the massacre, and the pic has drawn considerable heat from the worldwide Turkish community. Egoyan raised eyebrows at the Cannes fest in May after he decided not to enter “Ararat” in competition and asked for a screening in the Official Selection because of the row already surrounding the film.

Last year’s Toronto event was derailed by the 9/11 terrorist attacks when industryites were stranded in Toronto for up to a week. In a reference to that tragedy Alpay read a statement from Egoyan, who is in Moscow. It said, “The world has changed since the last festival and ‘Ararat’ is a reflection of this new reality.”

“Spider,” the latest from Canuck auteur David Cronenberg, will make its North American debut at the fest, which unspools Sept. 5-14. The psychological thriller stars Ralph Fiennes as a man who “must face the demons of his childhood and discover the truth behind his mother’s murder.” Pic also stars Miranda Richardson, Gabriel Byrne, Lynn Redgrave and John Neville.

Peter Kosminsky’s “White Oleander” will world preem at the fest. Starring Michelle Pfeiffer, Renee Zellweger, Billy Connolly and Robin Wright Penn, pic is based on the novel by Janet Fitch about a girl, played by newcomer Alison Lohman, living in a series of foster homes.

Brad Silberling’s “Moonlight Mile,” starring Dustin Hoffman, Susan Sarandon and Holly Hunter, will also world preem. Pic tells the tale of Joe Nast (Jake Gyllenhaal) as he tries to pick up the pieces after the death of his fiancee.

Im Kwon-taek’s “Chihwaseon,” about 19th-century South Korean artist Jang Seung-up, will make its North American debut. Pic stars Choi Min-sik, Ahn Sung-ki and Yoo Ho-jung.

Fest organizers also announced eight titles for the international program, this year titled Harvest: South Korean Renaissance. They include Park Ki-yong’s “Camel(s),” Kim Ki-duk’s “Bad Guy,” Hong Sang-soo’s “Turning Gate” and Park Chan-wook’s “Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance.”

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