A ‘Sweet’ opening

Toronto bows with Egoyan Cannes-winner

TORONTO — Canadian filmmaker Atom Egoyan’s “The Sweet Hereafter” will open the 22nd annual Toronto Intl. Film Festival, which runs Sept. 4-13.

Festival director Piers Handling announced the opener and four more of the 18 galas Tuesday at a press conference where tribute was paid to festival sponsors who underwrite the C$5.5 million ($4 million) event. More than 200 films will be shown at the festival.

Multiple Cannes winner

Egoyan’s film about the emotional aftermath of an accident that takes the lives of many of the children in a small town was a triple award-winner at Cannes, copping the Grand Prix du Jury, the Intl. Critics’ Award and the Ecumenical Prize.

“The Sweet Hereafter,” based on the novel by Russell Banks, stars Ian Holm, Bruce Greenwood and Sarah Polley.

Other galas announced Tuesday include the world premiere of “Mrs. Dalloway,” Dutch filmmaker Marleen Gorris (“Antonia’s Line”) adaptation of Virginia Woolf’s 1925 novel starring Vanessa Redgrave, Michael Kitchen, Rupert Graves and Lena Headey.

“Marquise,” a historical drama set in the time of Louis XIV by French filmmaker Vera Belmont, with Sophie Marceau, Lambert Wilson and Thierry Lhermitte, will have its North American debut as will “Regeneration,” a British-Canadian co-production based on Pat Barker’s Booker prize-winning novel about World War I. “Regeneration” is directed by Gillies MacKinnon and stars Jonathan Pryce and James Wilby.

“L.A. Confidential,” a film noir crime drama directed by Curtis Hanson, also gets its North American premiere. It stars Kevin Spacey, Russell Crowe, David Strathairn, Kim Basinger and Danny De Vito.

Helmer focus

French director Benoit Jacquot will be the focus of this year’s Director’s Spotlight, a program designed to introduce North American audiences to foreign filmmakers. Handling said the festival hopes to screen his latest film, “Le Septieme Ciel,” as well as his other eight feature films made in the last 20 years.

The festival’s national cinema program will feature films from Romania, Bulgaria and the countries of the former Yugoslavia and the work of filmmakers Emir Kusturica, Lucian Pintilie, Eduard Zahariev and Srdjan Dragojevic.

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