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Tom Ford on Nudity, Fashion and Art in ‘Nocturnal Animals’

At the Toronto Film Festival premiere of “Nocturnal Animals” on Sunday night, Tom Ford said he keeps his two careers — as a fashion designer and director — separate. “Fashion is very quick,” he said at a Q&A following the screening. “Movies are forever. I don’t let them cross. In fact, you will not find one Tom Ford product in this movie. It’s not a commercial for Tom Ford. If you watch the end credits, it’s Prada, Karl Lagerfeld, Chanel. It’s completely different things.”

Ford made a strong case that his 2009 directorial debut “A Single Man” was not a fluke. “Nocturnal Animals,” which picked up the Silver Lion (runner-up) prize from last week’s Venice Film Festival, is a thrilling, Pedro Almodovar-like tale about a woman (Amy Adams) who gets lost in a novel written by her ex-husband (Jake Gyllenhaal). The Toronto crowd was especially buzzing about Michael Shannon in a career-best performance as a rough Texas sheriff (a role that could win him the best-supporting actor Oscar), as well as Aaron Taylor-Johnson, who portrays a terrifying baddie.

At the Q&A, Ford talked about how authenticity was important to him as a director. “All the art in the film is real by very well-known artists,” he said. He choreographed the film’s opening montage — where elderly, overweight women gyrate naked on podiums — expecting one thing, and then he got another.

“I’ve lived in Europe for the last 27 years, so I decided to be a European,” he said. “What do I want to say about America: the land of tits and ass, Farrah Fawcett squeezed into a little red bikini? Well, it’s gluttonous. But actually, that’s not what happened. I filmed these women and they were so joyful, I found such incredible beauty in them. In the end, they have let go of what society tells them they are supposed to be, and they are the most free.”

Focus Features opens “Nocturnal Animals” on Nov. 18. It’s expected to be a major awards contender for the specialty unit that has gone back to its art-house roots under new chairman Peter Kujawski, who is also making a splash at Toronto with “Loving” and “A Monster Calls.”

The “Nocturnal Animals” premiere was a packed house with Comcast CEO Brian Roberts, Universal chief Donna Langley, NBCUniversal vice chairman Ron Meyer and actor Taron Egerton in attendance. The midnight after-party was held at Gardiner Museum, where Adams mingled with Ford, after lounging on a sofa that looked as chic as the one her character owns in the movie.

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