Philip Martin is something of an expert in reality, launching his career as a documentary director in 2000 with “Richard Hillary: A Fighter Pilot’s Story” and “Double Helix: The DNA Year.”

He also directed the British TV movie “Hawking” in 2004 with Benedict Cumberbatch scoring his first major role, and 2008’s “Einstein and Eddington,” about the discovery of the theory of relativity.

But Martin is at the Toronto Film Festival this year with fictional heist movie “The Forger,” in which John Travolta portrays a former art prodigy and second-generation petty thief who buys his way out of prison to spend time with his ailing son (Tye Sheridan), only to be forced to commit one last crime. The director was amazed at how well Travolta painted.

“John is really good,” Martin said. “He’s almost a savant. He really produced a lovely impressionist painting, which is what his character does in the movie. He’s a master of the physical side of capturing characters.”

Martin said the movie, shot late last year in Boston and set in the gritty world of organized crime, owes part of its success to the script by Richard D’Ovidio.

“The character is called upon to make a very calibrated journey from ugliness to beauty,” he added.

“The Forger” also stars Christopher Plummer as the father of Travolta’s character along with Jennifer Ehle and Abigail Spencer. Code Entertainment’s Al Corley, Bart Rosenblatt and Eugene Musso produced the film.

The Solution is selling international rights at Toronto. WME and ICM Partners are hanlding domestic rights.