Pic one of 20 new Canuck features in sidebar lineup

TORONTO — Gary Burns’ “A Problem With Fear,” is slated to open Perspective Canada, the Canadian portion of the Toronto Intl. Film Festival, which will unspool Sept. 4-13.

“A Problem With Fear” is one of 20 new Canuck features in the line-up unveiled Tuesday.

“Bollywood/Hollywood” helmer Deepa Mehta’s “The Republic of Love” will get its world premiere at a gala performance. Based on the 1994 book of the same title by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Carol Shields, who died in Victoria, B.C. on July 16, “Republic” follows the relationship of Tom (Bruce Greenwood,) a thrice-divorced, late-night radio talk show host, and Fay McLeod (Emilia Fox,) his gun-shy polar opposite.

The fourth feature from Burns (“Waydowntown,”) and his fourth film in the fest, “A Problem with Fear” features agoraphobe Laurie, (Paulo Costanzo,). “It’s a comic psychological drama with a pinch of sci-fi,” Burns told Daily Variety. Pic is distributed by Lions Gate and Christal Films in Quebec.

Fest will also feature a special presentation of “The Saddest Music in the World,” from Guy Madden (“Dracula: Pages from a Virgin’s Diary,”) in which Winnipeg depression-era beer baroness Lady Port-Huntly (Isabella Rossellini,) announces a competition to find the saddest music in the world.

In the masters program, veteran documentarian Allen King’s unflinching “Dying at Grace,” records the last days of five patients at a Toronto hospital.

Also in Perspective Canada: “Falling Angels,” from director Scott Smith (“Rollercoaster”), is an adaptation of the grim first novel by Barbara Gowdy that has been dubbed “Little Women on Acid.” Sudz Sutherland’s “Love, Sex and Eating the Bones” explores how porn addiction can hamper true love, and Peter O’Brian’s “Hollywood North” takes a comic look at the Canadian tax shelter films of the 1970s.

Carl Bessai (“Lola”) returns to the festival with “Emile,” starring Sir Ian McKellen as a man returning to Canada after 30 years to reunite with his estranged family, and Vincenzo Natali (“Cube”) returns with “Nothing,” in which two roomies discover they can wish away anything they hate, and Jacob Tierney’s “Twist,” is a modern retelling of the Charles Dickens classic.

There are also 38 shorts on the slate, including experimental work from David Rimmer with “An Eye for an Eye,” and “Animal Nightmares,” from Peter Lynch.

“The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz,” (1974) directed by Ted Kotcheff, is this year’s Canadian Open Vault selection, and the eight surviving films of Canadian film pioneer Nell Shipman (1892-1970), known as “The Girl from God’s Country,” will make up this year’s Canadian Retrospective.

Canadian filmmakers John Greyson, Guy Maddin and Mehta have donated their archives to The Film Reference Library, which is going online at www.filmreferencelibrary.ca, and will feature the new Canadian Film Encyclopedia.

Fest opens Sept. 4 with Denys Arcand’s “The Barbarian Invasions.”

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