The Toronto Film Festival’s City to City sidebar, which spotlights London in eight films, kicked off Thursday with the international premiere of Tom Hardy’s “London Road.” Rufus Norris adapted the award-winning National Theatre production (which he also directed) of the musical by playwright Alecky Blythe and composer Adam Cork about the 2006 Suffolk Strangler murders in Ipswich.
The movie, which was recently selected as the closing-night film of the San Sebastian Festival, received an enthusiastic opening-night reception, perhaps not surprising since Toronto, which boasts a large and adventurous theatre-going audience, is the only place outside England where the play has been mounted (the Canadian Stage production ran in 2014).
“It’s a very innovative, groundbreaking piece about a community healing itself,” said producer Dixie Linder of Cuba Pictures in advance of “Road’s” first Toronto screening. “Because we know the play did so well on the stage here, we were doubly excited when Toronto programmed the film.”
Linder is also an exec producer on “The Ones Below,” the feature bow of playwright and screenwriter David Farr (“Hanna”), which world premiered in City to City on Sunday.
Protagonist Pictures is repping international and U.S. rights for both “Road” and “The Ones Below.”
From the Midnight to Gala screens, British films have always figured prominently in the festival, says festival director and CEO Piers Handling, “but this program represents the next or new wave of London-based filmmakers, vital voices whose hard-hitting work speaks to domestic and international events that have impacted the city.”
Paul Katis’ “Kilo Two Bravo,” one of Handling’s favorite pics of the year, is a riveting, fact-based war film about a small group of Brit soldiers positioned on a mountain in Afghanistan, while George Amponsah’s doc “The Hard Stop,” which has its world premiere Monday evening, inhabits the neighborhood once lived in by Mark Duggan — the young African-American man whose killing by police in 2011 sparked the Tottenham riots.
The late cancellation of all “Amazing Grace” screenings opened up an early Saturday slot for Elaine Constantine’s feature bow “Northern Soul,” a coming-of-age romp about the 1970s music craze, which was set to unspool later in the fest. The Little Film Company is selling international and U.S. rights.