'Water' creates waves at Toronto Film Festival

Sep 15, 2005 IANS Sep 14


Toronto, Sep 15 (IANS) Indian origin filmmaker Deepa Mehta's "Water" created waves at the 30th annual Toronto International Film Festival when it was screened at its gala opening in this Canadian city.

The story of "Water" - the third in Deepa Mehta's elements trilogy that includes the 1996 film "Fire" and the 1998 film "Earth" - revolves around an eight-year-old child bride in pre-Independence India who is sent to a widow's ashram after her husband's death.

The film was screened Sep 8 at the opening of the 10-day festival that includes 335 entries from 52 countries, reported South Asia Observer.

The shooting of "Water" in 2000 in Varanasi, India, had been disrupted by radical Hindus. She eventually finished shooting the film in Sri Lanka.

"Water", which boasts of a great musical score by A.R. Rahman, features Lisa Ray, John Abraham and Seema Biswas. The film's star cast and Deepa Mehta were present at the festival opening.

With a choked voice, Mehta said: "It's fabulous, I just feel honoured."

Welcoming Mehta, the festival co-director Noah Cowan said: "We are extremely pleased to have Deepa Mehta open the Toronto International Film Festival for the first time with this extraordinary film. The festival has been a long time supporter of her extraordinary career and she has been a wonderful partner for us in building this festival and organisation."

Noted Bengali filmmaker Buddhadeb Dasgupta's "Memories in the Mist" (Kaalpurush) was the only complete Indian production (other films being co-productions) to be screened at the festival.

In this film, Dasgupta takes on family intimacies, global politics and time. Adapting his own novel, "America, America," he returns to the layered portraits of Bengali society that have earned him a reputation in the top ranks of world cinema. He blends satire with domestic drama.

British movie "Mistress of Spices", which stars Aishwarya Rai, was screened as a special presentation.

Tilo (Aishwarya), a member of a secret clan of women, is the mistress of a spice shop in Oakland, California. She draws on ancient wisdom and measures out remedies to cure heartache, banish bad luck and rescue the wretched from life's wrong turns. The spices also represent tradition, which she is unable to leave for western attraction. The film is co-produced by Gurinder Chadha and Deepak Nayar.

There was "John and Jane", a documentary film by Ashim Ahluwalia.

Some of the works at the festival were by filmmakers of Indian origin but not of Indian theme. "Shopgirl" was one such film, directed by Anand Tucker, produced by Ashok Amritraj, Jon Jashni and Steve Martin. There was Udayan Prasad's "Opa", set in the sun-drenched Greek islands, and Renuka Jeyapalan's short film "Big Girl".

Other red carpet events in the festival included the world premieres of Guy Ritche's "Revolver" and Jackie Chan adventure "The Myth". It also had North American premiere of first-time director and Academy Award winning actor Tommy Lee Jone's "The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada".

Action thriller "Edison" - starring Kevin Spacey, Morgan Freeman and Justin Timberlake (silver screen debut) - was scheduled for the closing night gala presentation as the final red carpet event of the festival.

Several prominent Hollywood stars were among the 500 filmmakers and actors who joined the prestigious festival. They included - Johnny Depp, Anthony Hopkins, Steve Martin, Tommy Lee Jones, Liza Minnelli, Madonna, Cameron Diaz, Helena Bonham Carter, Gwyneth Paltrow, Charlize Theron, Orlando Bloom and Heath Ledger.

Throngs of movie goers and star-struck fans caught up in festival fever stood in long lines to get tickets for their favourites, even during afternoons of workdays.

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