30th Toronto International Film Festival Coverage: Day Six
Day 6 started off with the press conference for Atom Egoyan’s Where the Truth Lies. A lot of press has been given to the film’s struggles to avoid an NC17 rating and Egoyan’s recent appearance before the MPAA’s ratings board. Actor Kevin Bacon said that he felt that the U.S. was in a very conservative period and he wasn’t happy with some people’s concept of morality being forced on others. He found it interesting that his teenage children could see films with extreme violence, but could not see films that had honest portrayals of human sexuality.
Bacon also mentioned that he felt the film’s much talked about threesome ended in a homosexual act and that was what probably had the MPAA reaching for the NC17 rating. Egoyan agreed with Bacon’s observation. When he dealt with the MPAA, they kept saying over and over again that they weren’t basing their decision on the homosexual act, but their repeated insistence on that point had the director thinking otherwise.
Egoyan mentioned that the MPAA screenings were supposed to be in front of ten people, but when he got there, two members of the clergy were present. He was assured that they were “non-voting observers”, but definitely felt that their presence would add some pressure to the group. Egoyan had no problem calling the MPAA’s decision a violent act of censorship.
Producer Robert Lantos said that the sinister aspect of the decision was not who would be banned from seeing the film — after all it was not intended for children — but the fact that the decision was based on fear, which undermines the very fabric of what American society is supposed to stand for.
Actress Rachel Blanchard also made the point that some people equate an NC17 rating with pornography and though the MPAA may try to explain otherwise, some segments of society won’t let go of their preconceived notions. The panel agreed that an NC17 created a stigma that was hard to erase. With the film’s rating preventing it from being exhibited, rented or sold in many venues it would be hard for the public to see it and come to their own conclusions about the MPAA’s decision.
The next press conference of the day was for the Johnny Cash biopic Walk the Line. Joaquin Phoenix brilliantly captures the late music legend. The actor said that he found Cash’s singing voice through his speaking voice and that he also learned a lot about the man through his music.
Actress Reese Witherspoon, who also captures Cash’s soulmate, June Carter, was amazed at the dedication that Joaquin and the actors in the band showed each day. She said they’d finish a twelve hour shooting day and then head off to rehearse the music over and over. By having his actors do their own singing, director James Mangold is really able to capture an honesty in their performances.
The busy day continued with a press conference for Thumbsucker as well as premieres for Romance & Cigarettes, Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story, Walk the Line, Where the Truth Lies, Thumbsucker and Slow Burn.