Par Classics sets up ‘House’ at Toronto fest

Panel of Euro helmers discusses 9/11's impacts

TORONTO — Quite a bit of business unrelated to the titles unspooling at the Toronto Intl. Film Festival is going down in Toronto hotel lobbies.

Paramount closed a pact for North America and various other rights to Venice Film Festival grand jury prize winner “House of Fools,” from vet Russian helmer Andrei Konchalovsky.

Film is a whimsical fairy tale about a young female patient in an asylum who falls in love with a Chechen soldier.

Outside of North America, Par Classics nabbed Australian, U.K, New Zealand and Latin American rights. Company plans a spring release.

Raphael Berdugo via his French shingle, Roissy Films, repped the pic’s producers and closed the pact with Paramount Classics co-presidents Ruth Vitale and David Dinerstein.

Meanwhile, distribs have been circling but not clinching pacts for domestic rights to such films as Alan Rudolph’s “The Secret Lives of Dentists” and Jeff Blitz’s docu “Spellbound.”

Focused on film biz

Most of the large U.S. contingent at the fest was planning on staying in Toronto simply because there was still work to do, including catching today’s much anticipated preem of “The Guys,” starring Sigourney Weaver and Anthony LaPaglia.

Several Euro helmers with pics in the fest gathered Tuesday at a panel set up by European Film Promotion to mull over the impact of the Sept. 11 attacks on filmmaking.

Several of the helmers suggested that rather than becoming more political post-9/11, their films would become more intimate and personal. Helmers on the panel included France’s Lucas Belvaux, Denmark’s Susanne Bier, Spain’s Daniel Calpararsoro, Italy’s Emanuele Crialese and Norway’s Unni Straume.

To mark the anniversary today, prior to 11 a.m. all festival offices will be closed for business and all theaters will be dark. There are a number of 9/11-themed pics scheduled, including “11’09″01,” a collection of short films from international filmmakers that has already drawn criticism for a perceived anti-American slant to some of the shorts.

It will clearly be a day of remembering and no one is quite sure whether emotions will get in the way of the usual fest business of pic selling and promotion.

Monday night’s hottest ticket was “The Secret Lives of Dentists,” which drew mixed reaction but considerable acquisition interest. Next up on the acquisitions radar is Larry Clark and Ed Lachman’s sexually explicit “Ken Park,” which made its public bow Tuesday night.

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