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Toronto International Film Festival Opens with Being Julia

By Keiko Beatie

The 29th Annual Toronto International Film Festival is one of the largest film festivals in the world.  Not a market unlike the Cannes Film Festival, Toronto highlights films from all around the world with a focus on film, and less hype. With 328 films that will screen during this year’s festival, more than half are World Premieres. The Festival runs from September 9 - 18 2004, in Toronto, Canada and the complete film lineup is a true gift to cinema lovers.
Opening the festival this year is Being Julia, starring Annette Bening and Jeremy Irons. Directed by Ivstvan Szabo with the screenplay by Ronald Harwood, Being Julia is based on the W. Somerset Maugham novel. It is produced by Serendipity Point Films and distributed by ThinkFilms.

Scene from Being Julia

A lush period piece set in London 1938, Being Julia shares the story of Julia Lambert portrayed by Annette Bening, an actress who has had much success on the stage.  Beautiful, smart, charming and intriguing, Julia has been a pinnacle of the London scene for years and the years are now coming to a crossroads.  Facing the hands of time, Julia finds herself seeing the roles segway into the matron and not the maid any longer.  Her husband, Michael Gosselyn, played by Jeremy Irons, is a talent producer and the marriage has been rewarding but has transcended into a relationship of mutual respect and understanding. 

With Julia longing for excitement and passion along comes one of her so called “greatest fans,” Tom Fennell, played by exciting newcomer Shaun Evans. Finding his ardor irresistible, Julia is swept away in an enrapturing affair that fulfills her ego and sensual nature. This young man feeds her spirit but then develops more of a controlling relationship as he attempts to demean her to a lower position in the affair. Summoning her inner strengths, Julia concocts an intelligent revenge that brings her back to the top of her game on the stage. Supported by a witty script, rich and vibrant costumes, the delicate approach to character portrayals have the audience enjoying the repartee of a strong woman of her time.
Bening and Iron were on hand at the red carpet to add to the Gala Opening Night. During the festival, a number of top Hollywood and world stars will be on hand to promote and see the newest in films the world film industry has to offer. Other films to screen at the festival are Stage Beauty, Shark Tale, Beyond the Sea, and I Love Huckabees.

This year's festival will screen 253 feature films, 75 shorts and with an amazing count of more than 207 of those having their world, international or North American premieres. Festival organizers indicated that they received more than 3,300 submissions this year from 61 countries.  Of the shorts screened, most are Canadian presentations with the very best of contemporary and student films available.  The Festival seeks to highlight Canadian filmmakers and rightly so as the country has seen the popularity and quality grow and develop into a powerhouse of films in the past years.

The festival will see top people within the film industry, stars, director, producers and the newest, best and brightest converge at the 29th annual Toronto Film Festival. The Festival runs from September 9-18, 2004 and will have more than 65,000 participants.  The Toronto Film Festival Group is an on going program whose mission acts as a charitable, cultural, and educational organization devoted to celebrating excellence in film and the moving image. For more information please visit www.bell.ca/filmfest


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