‘Shop’ preems in Toronto

Fest taps 'Water,' Martin pic, 'Violence,' 'Lies'

TORONTO — “Water,” the controversial third part of Canadian filmmaker Deepa Mehta’s “Elemental Trilogy,” will open the 30th Toronto Intl. Film Festival on Sept. 8, and Steve Martin’s “Shop Girl” will world preem as a special presentation.

David Cronenberg’s “A History of Violence” and Atom Egoyan’s “Where the Truth Lies,” both of which preemed at Cannes, will have their North American premieres as galas.

“Today the festival has expanded the boundaries of what defines a Canadian film,” Mehta said at a press conference Tuesday in Toronto. “We know that Canada is multicultural, but it has never been affirmed the way it has been here today.”

Also getting its North American preem will be Ang Lee’s “Brokeback Mountain.” The story of two ranch hands (Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal) in Wyoming and Texas in the early 1960s, pic also stars Randy Quaid, Anne Hathaway and Michelle Williams.

Filming on “Water” in India had to be abandoned five years ago after protests over the pic’s subject. It concerns an 8-year-old child bride, sent to an ashram after her husband’s death, who forces the other widows to question their culture and faith. Pic stars Lisa Ray and John Abraham.

The Hindi- and English-language film eventually was shot in Sri Lanka under the name “River Moon,” a moniker selected for its cheesiness, producer David Hamilton said. An “anti-publicist” was hired to keep word of it out of the media.

The other parts of Mehta’s trilogy are “Fire” (1996) and “Earth” (1998).

Along with “Shop Girl,” starring Martin, Claire Danes and Jason Schwartzman, “Thank You for Smoking,” from director Jason Reitman, will world preem as a special presentation. Based on the novel by Christopher Buckley, pic stars Robert Duvall, Katie Holmes, Adam Brody and Sam Elliott.

Also making its world premiere will be “Mistress of Spices” about an Indian woman (Aishwarya Rai) running a spice shop in San Francisco whose magic fails her when she falls in love. Pic is from Paul Mayeda Berges and Gurinder Chadha, the team behind “Bend It Like Beckham.”

The South Africa/France/U.K. co-production “Wah-Wah,” the feature debut and semi-autobiographical coming-of-age tale of thesp Richard E. Grant, will have its international premiere at the fest. Pic also stars Gabriel Byrne, Emily Watson, Julie Walters and Miranda Richardson.

Indian filmmaker Buddhadev Dasgupta’s “Kaalpurush” will world premiere. Pic, starring Rahul Bose, follows a man struggling to come to terms with the memory of his powerful father.

Pics selected for the discovery program include Argentine film “Sisters,” the feature directing debut of Julia Solomonoff; the world preem of “Dreaming Lhasa” from Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam from India; Sarah Watt’s “Look Both Ways,” from Australia; from Ireland, “Pavee Lackeen,” the feature debut of Perry Ogden; “A Perfect Day,” a France/Lebanon co-production from Khalil Joreige and Joana Hadjithomas; and from Austria, “You Bet Your Life,” directed by Antonin Svoboda.

Added to the contemporary world cinema program are Alexey Uchitel’s “Dreaming of Space,” which took the top prize at the Moscow World Film Festival; “Amu” from first-time director Shonali Bose; “Twelve and Holding,” the second feature by Michael Cuesta (“L.I.E.,”); Zhang Yang’s “Sunflower”; “7 Virgins” from Alberto Rodriguez; Anders Thomas Jensen’s black comedy “Adam’s Apples”; and U.K./German co-prod “Shooting Dogs,” a Rwanda genocide-set tale from Michael Caton-Jones, featuring John Hurt.

Australian/U.K. co-prod “The Proposition,” directed by John Hillcoat and written by Nick Cave, joins the visions program, as does “50 Ways of Saying Fabulous” from Stewart Main and “The Quiet,” Jamie Babbit’s follow-up to “But I’m a Cheerleader,” starring Elisha Cuthbert.

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