Podeswa's film to debut at festival

The world premiere of Jeremy Podeswa’s “Fugitive Pieces” has been tapped to open the 32nd Toronto Film Festival.

“Fugitive Pieces” stars Stephen Dillane (“The Hours”) as a man struggling to overcome the losses of his childhood during WWII.

Rachelle Lefevre, Larissa Laskin and Robbie Kay also star. Podeswa penned the screenplay based on the novel by Anne Michaels.

“It’s a film of great beauty and seriousness, and we think it really speaks to experience that lots of people in Toronto, Canada and North America have gone through — an unusual and challenging story of immigration,” said fest co-director Noah Cowan.

In a particularly strong year with plenty of offerings from veteran Canadian filmmakers, “Fugitive Pieces” is thought to be something of a dark horse as opening-night pick. Industryites had tapped Francois Girard’s Keira Knightley starrer “Silk”; David Cronenberg’s “Eastern Promises,” starring Naomi Watts; and “L’Age des tenebres” (Age of Innocence), from Oscar winner Denys Arcand, as frontrunners.

Instead, programmers selected a film with no Hollywood star power.

“I am so grateful to the festival and its programmers and organizers who have supported my work from the very start,” said Podeswa. “And I’m truly overwhelmed to have this film in particular showcased in this way.”

Podeswa’s “Eclipse” and “The Five Senses” previously unspooled at the fest.

For producer Robert Lantos, pic will be his 10th to open the fest, more than any other producer.

Originally called Festival of Festivals, the Toronto event began life as a venue to celebrate fare from other festivals. This opening-night pick firms up a trend in recent years favoring world preems.

“Increasingly, we believe that world premieres are important to demonstrate both the significance of our own festival and as an important launching platform,” Cowan said. “And with the increasing strength of Canadian film these days, there’s more than enough for festivals around the world to share.”

The three opening-night films since Cowan has been at the helm — “Journals of Knud Rasmussen,” “Water” and “Being Julia” — have all been world preems.

“We like to be a festival that doesn’t do everything by the rule book,” he added, “but I think it would be proper for us to ask for world premieres for our opening-night films from here on in.”

Fest runs Sept. 6-15.

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