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More than 300 features, including a hefty 144 world premieres, are due to screen at the 23rd Toronto International Film Festival, (September 10 – 20, 1998); PAUL FISCHER, who is covering the festival for Urban Cinefile, previews the event, one of the world’s top dozen festivals.

The 1998 program has slotted 83 films by first-time filmmakers, with local production, The Red Violin by Francois Girard, set to open the Festival, which will close with the world premiere of DreamWorks' animated family movie, Antz.

Traditionally strong on star power, Toronto is expecting a heavy contingent of Hollywood stars to put in an appearance, including Tom Cruise, Meryl Streep, Holly Hunter, Sylvester Stallone, Billy Bob Thornton (pic) and Bridget Fonda.

The centerpiece Gala section has largely been revealed in earlier announcements, and the additions to the section are Hilary and Jackie, from the UK, starring Emily Watson; Kiefer Sutherland headlining a tale of Vietnam field medics in A Soldier's Sweetheart; and the English fantasy-drama, Little Voice, with Michael Caine, Brenda Blethyn, Ewan MacGregor and Jane Horrocks.

Toronto’s biggest section, Contemporary World Cinema, includes world premieres of Beauty from Hong Kong, Rose Troche's British sexuality comedy (with Hugo Weaving), Bedrooms & Hallways (pic), Last Contract from Sweden and End of August, Beginning of September from France's Olivier Assayas. American productions having their premieres include Peter Berg's Very Bad Things, Home Fries, starring Drew Barrymore; Bette Gordon's Luminous Motion with Deborah Unger, Bruce Wagner's I'm Losing You and Trance by Michael Almereyda.  The section also features The Celebration by Denmark's Thomas Vintenberg and Dream Life of Angels from France's Erick Zonca; Francis Veber's French box office hit, The Dinner Party; the controversial Happiness, by Todd Solondz; The Hole, from Taiwan; Saul Rubinek's Jerry and Tom, from Sundance; and John Maybury's Frances Bacon bio, Love is the Devil (pic).

Making their world debuts in the Special section are Dani Levi's German-Swiss The Giraffe; iconoclast John Waters' Pecker; the US thriller, Permanent Midnight, starring Ben Stiller; Britain's The Theory of Flight by Paul Greengrass, with Kenneth Branagh and Helena Bonham Carter; Deepa Mehta's Earth from India; Bryan Singer's Apt Pupil, starring Ian McKellan; Sturla Gunnarsson's Canada-UK coproduction, Such a Long Journey; and the American indies At Sachem Farm, and Finding Graceland. Also of note in Specials are James Ivory's A Soldier's Daughter Never Cries; Roberto Benigni's Life Is Beautiful; James Woods and Melanie Griffith in the Larry Clark-directed Another Day in Paradise; Dorris Dorrie's German comedy Am I Beautiful? and The Mighty, based on the children’s literary classic and directed by Peter Chelsom, featuring Sharon Stone and Gena Rowlands.

The Masters Choice selection includes Cannes Palme d'Or winner Eternity and a Day  by Theo Angelopoulos, as well as recent films by John Boorman ( The General ), Carlos Saura ( Tango ), Eric Rohmer ( Tale of Autumn ), Shohei Imamura ( Dr. Akagi ) and Mexico's Arturo Ripstein ( Divine ). Others in the series are Italian Nanni Moretti's April, Ken Loach's My Name Is Joe and Tu Ridi by Paolo and Vittorio Taviani.

The popular Midnight Madness fare ranges from American indie Six-String Samurai to Hong Kong's Mighty Peking Man. Other cult delights include Alex de la Iglesia's Perdita Durango, The Acid House from the U.K. and Matthew Harrison's The Bystander From Hell.

The cutting edge Discovery program features such previously trumpeted fare as LA indie prize winner Broken Vessels, the French-Lebanese West Beirut from Cannes; and the Estonian, Georgica. Others are India's The Terrorist, Radiance from Australia, and France's A Minute of Silence.

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23rd Toronto International Film Festival,
September 10 – 20, 1998



Eternity and a Day

Perdita Durango


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