30th Toronto International Film Festival Coverage: Day Two
The first few days of the film festival are always heavily loaded and today was no exception. We started off the day screening Stephen Frears delightful Mrs. Henderson Presents, which stars Judi Dench and Bob Hoskins. That was followed up by press conferences for Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang, Water and Mrs. Henderson Presents. We then moved on to the premiere of the newly restored Liza with a ‘Z’, the 1972 Liza Minnelli TV special. The crowd at the Elgin Theatre went wild when she was introduced.
The afternoon brought another press conference, Shopgirl, while the evening rolled around with premieres for Mrs. Henderson Presents, Thank You For Smoking, Shopgirl and Neverwas.
Deepa Mehta’s Water opened this year’s festival. The film is the third in Mehta’s “Elemental Trilogy”. Fire covered the politics of sexuality, Earth dealt with the politics of nationalism, and the latest, Water, delved into the politics of religion.
Water, which looks at the life of Hindu widows and the efforts of one widow to escape the social restrictions placed upon them, touched a nerve with religious extremists in India. They threatened the production in Varanasi and burnt the sets down. After a period of regrouping and refinancing, production moved to Sri Lanka. Mehta said the Sri Lankans love movies and respected the process. She noted that crowds would stop and watch silently, but then go about their business without disrupting the shoot. She said the support enabled her to have the focus she needed to shoot the film.
Though she regrets the events that stopped the original production, Mehta added that in the intervening years she felt that she got a five year reprieve that enabled her to hone her craft. In that sense, she said that she felt really lucky as it would have been a different film five years ago.