Toronto: Judy Cairo Heads Back Fest

During the height of the recession, producer Judy Cairo managed to break into the feature film business with a smallish indie called “Crazy Heart” through her Informant Media banner.

Since “Crazy Heart” became a major hit with Oscars for lead actor Jeff Bridges and the song “The Weary Kind,” Cairo’s been able to keep Informant in the business — so much so that she’s making her third trip the Toronto film Festival following “Hysteria” in 2011 and “Stuck in Love” in 2012.

Cairo, Carol Baum and Jane Goldenring are at TIFF this year with another music-based drama, “Boychoir,” starring Dustin Hoffman with Francois Girard (“The Red Violin”) directing. Informant is financing and producing. CAA is handling domestic sales; Embankment has international.

“It does give you confidence as a producer to get chosen for Toronto,” Cairo said. “They are great tastemakers.”

The story centers on a troubled 11-year-old who finds himself at an East Coast school, where he engages in a battle of wills with a demanding choir master, played by Hoffman. Eddie Izzard, Debra Winger, Josh Lucas, Kevin McHale and Garrett Wareing also star.

Embankment Films sold out most international markets at last year’s AFM — something Cairo credited to Hoffman’s appearance. She also praised his ability to make more of the character, above and beyond Ben Ripley’s script.

“Dustin has such a strong sense of improvisation,” she said. “During one scene, he started talking about Handel and opportunities and everyone on the set was in tears.”

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